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Body Heat

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Body Heat (1981)

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It's a hot summer. Ned Racine is waiting for something special to happen. And when it does... He won't be ready for the consequences.

She taught him everything she knew - about passion and murder.

As the temperature rises, the suspense begins.

Lawrence Kasdan's first directorial effort is a throwback to the early days of film noir. The scene is a beastly hot Florida coastal town, where naive attorney Ned (William Hurt) is entranced by the alluring Matty (Kathleen Turner in her film debut). Ned is manipulated into killing Matty's much older husband (Richard Crenna), the plan being that Ned's knowledge of legal matters will enable both conspirators to escape scott-free. This might have been the case, had not Matty been infinitely craftier than the cloddish Ned. Just when it seems as though the film has run out of plot twists, we're handed yet another surprise

Body Heat is a 1981 American neo-noir film written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan. It stars William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Richard Crenna, Ted Danson, J.A. Preston, and Mickey Rourke. The film is inspired by Double Indemnity[3] and Out of the Past.[4]
The film launched Turner's career—Empire magazine cited the film in 1995 when it named her one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in Film History.[5] The New York Times wrote in 2005 that, propelled by her "jaw-dropping movie debut [in] Body Heat... she built a career on adventurousness and frank sexuality born of robust physicality."[6]
The film was also the directorial debut of Kasdan, who wrote the screenplays for Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back. George Lucas was one of the film's producers, but refused screen credit because he believed the film's racy content would reflect badly on his family-friendly reputation.

Body Heat was a commercial success. Produced on a budget of $9 million, it grossed $24,058,838 at the domestic box office,[2] earning $11.5 million in theatrical rentals.[1] In North America, the film was the 33rd highest grossing motion picture of 1981.[12]
Upon its release, Richard Corliss wrote "Body Heat has more narrative drive, character congestion and sense of place than any original screenplay since Chinatown, yet it leaves room for some splendid young actors to breathe, to collaborate in creating the film's texture"; it is "full of meaty characters and pungent performances—Ted Danson as a tap-dancing prosecutor, J.A. Preston as a dogged detective, and especially Mickey Rourke as a savvy young ex-con who looks and acts as if he could be Ned's sleazier twin brother."[8] Variety magazine wrote "Body Heat is an engrossing, mightily stylish meller in which sex and crime walk hand in hand down the path to tragedy, just like in the old days. Working in the imposing shadow of the late James M. Cain, screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan makes an impressively confident directorial debut."[13] Roger Ebert included the film on his "10 Best List" for the year.[14]
Janet Maslin said Body Heat was "skillfully, though slavishly, derived" from 1940's film noir classics; Maslin wrote "Mr. Hurt does a wonderful job of bringing Ned to life" but was not impressed by Miss Turner:
"[S]ex is all-important to Body Heat, as its title may indicate. And beyond that there isn't much to move the story along or to draw these characters together. A great deal of the distance between [Ned and Matty] can be attributed to the performance of Miss Turner, who looks like the quintessential forties siren, but sounds like the soap-opera actress she is. Miss Turner keeps her chin high in the air, speaks in a perfect monotone, and never seems to move from the position in which Mr. Kasdan has left her."[15]
Pauline Kael dismissed the film, citing its "insinuating, hotted-up dialogue that it would be fun to hoot at if only the hushed, sleepwalking manner of the film didn't make you cringe or yawn".[16] Ebert responded to Kael's negative review:
Yes, Lawrence Kasdan's Body Heat (1981) is aware of the films that inspired it—especially Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity (1944). But it has a power that transcends its sources. It exploits the personal style of its stars to insinuate itself; Kael is unfair to Turner, who in her debut role played a woman so sexually confident that we can believe her lover (William Hurt) could be dazed into doing almost anything for her. The moment we believe that, the movie stops being an exercise and starts working.[3]
In a home video review for Turner Classic Movies, Glenn Erickson called it "arguably the first conscious Neo Noir"; he wrote "Too often described as a quickie remake of Double Indemnity, Body Heat is more detailed in structure and more pessimistic about human nature. The noir hero for the Reagan years is ...more like the self-defeating Al Roberts of Edgar Ulmer's Detour."

Release Date: August 28, 1981

Distrib: Warner Brothers

Boxoffice: $24,058,838 2013: $70,618,700

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