Take a trip to the Southern Gothicism of Florida in “Body Heat” (1981) based on Billy Wilder’s “Double Indemnity.” This overly sweaty film is riveting in its nostalgia of noir, sex and a lingering Hitchcockian camera.
Ned (William Hurt) is a sleepy lawyer on autopilot. During a nightly beach stroll, he catches sight of the smoky blonde temptress Mattie (Kathleen Turner). The two trade campy dialogue and Mattie stains her breast area with a cherry popsicle. Needless to say, Ned is in trouble, but when he turns to approach her again, she vanishes.
The next night, Ned is out on his nocturnal prowl once more and there is Mattie at a bar. Passion, foggy cinematography and long nails deep in male flesh are in evidence.
The tinkling of wind-chimes here, especially back in the 1980s, are almost as scary as Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells.
Mattie tells Ned that her husband is controlling and it does not take long for his brain to go into overdrive.
William Hurt and Kathleen Turner are both perfect here as the soporific but tormented lawyer and the icy femme fatale respectively.
Ted Danson co-stars as Ned’s dirty minded peer who displays some smooth polyester dance moves. A young Mickey Rourke also appears with his sideways smile and sparkling eyes.
Who can forget the moment when lust gets the best of Ned as he smashes a window and goes right through the living room into a kiss?
There is a surreal touch also when Ned sees a strange clown driving a car down the Florida highway. Such eerie sights recall the films “Little Murders” (1971) and “The Day of the Locust” (1975).
The film score by itself is memorable and helmed by John Barry.
Watch for a bit of black humor as well when during a legal meeting, everyone in the office lights a cigarette.
The dialogue is overtly sexual and the cameras appear to literally steam up as Ned is bathed in bright red light—a hell of his own making. Ned remains an automaton left adrift, his once lascivious blue eyes now lost in a prison beard.
It is not even certain whether Mattie, speaking in an automated clip, her long legs resembling polished metal, is at ease.
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