Body Heat (1981) Review

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The heat is on.

Body Heat (1981): 9 out of 10: Many successful movies lose their ability to shock over the years. After hundreds of copycats, Alien isn’t as effective as when it first came out. Kramer vs. Kramer isn’t the shocking eye-opener it once was. Idiocracy is no longer some far-fetched future. That kind of thing (Okay Idiocracy isn’t actually a result of copycats but I am tired of using Die Hard and Jaws every time as an example of this phenomenon)

Body Heat should suffer the same fate. It doesn’t. Despite a hundred direct to video takes on the same story (six of them with the same title) the movie still works. It works very well.

Writer Lawrence Kasdan had just penned Raiders of the Lost Ark and Empire Strikes Back, so it is a surprise he chooses noir for his first directing outing. (His next film was The Big Chill, so this is one guy hard to pigeonhole) He both updates and upgrades the neo-noir of the past.

By setting the movie in a podunk Florida town, he invokes John D. MacDonald the way no Macdonald movie treatment has successfully done. His then-unknown actors William Hurt and Kathleen Turner are pitch-perfect.

This is a movie that brings some new things to the table as it does some old things. Like the best noir, you are too involved to even try to guess the next twist and turn.

As Scorsese in Goodfellas or Huston in the Maltese Falcon, Kasdan’s directing is obviously very good, yet his tricks remain hidden from view. Not a wasted shot and your television will sweat from all the heat generated.

Highly recommended to all fans of noir or fans of movies.

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