Blu-ray Review: Body Heat

Warner Home Video
Release date: October 7th, 2008
MSRP: $28.99

Director: Lawrence Kasdan
Stars: William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Richard Crenna, Ted Danson, Mickey Rourke

It has been almost twenty years since I last watched Body Heat. My memory is of a fairly convoluted plot, and of a young Kathleen Turner with the kind of mojo that can make a man do dumb things.

After watching at again, I have to say that the plot is convoluted and Kathleen Turner’s ex appeal should have been registered as a lethal weapon. Seriously, William Hurt never had a chance. This woman, had she been unleashed on Russia in ‘81, could have brought the entire Soviet Union to its knees.

In Body Heat, Lawrence Kasdan is at his best. He has created a steamy film that has fun with the stereotypes of the Noir genre and offers up some delightful dialogue that could be either an homage or a parody (It is clear that Kasdan watched a lot of Double Indemnity). Whichever it is, the result is a good time. Well, a good time if your idea of a good time is liars, cheaters and murder.

Ned Racine (William Hurt) is a Miami attorney with limited intellect. But that is ok, because what he lacks in brainpower, he makes up for in libido.

So when he meets Matty Walker, he is pretty much screwed. Matty is gorgeous and married (Of Course). When she comes up with a plan to off her husband (Richard Crenna), Ned is really to go.

Since this is a noir film, there is no way that they are going to live happily ever after. Not long after the husband is sent to the hereafter, Ned becomes a main suspect. Clue after clue magically lands in the hands of the cops. Even dense Ned can see he has been played for a fool.

That is when things start to get interesting. From here on in, the twists and turns come in bunches.

As I said, the plot is convoluted and offers up way too many tricks. And while that does detract from the overall quality of the fun, Body Heat is still great fun, while killer dialogue and performances that are the stuff of legends. Both Turner and Hurt nail their roles and make this a damn enjoyable film. Turner channels Barbara Stanwyck and Lauren Bacall, then adds a level of sexuality that was not acceptable back then. The pope himself would have done bad deeds to bed her.

Also worth noting are solid performances by a young Ted Danson and Mickey Rourke.
Watching it in HD is interesting. There is still the dark, hazy look to it, but the contrast between night and day is impressive. This is not a film to watch if you are looking to digital perfection, but the transfer is nice and maintains the delightful look of that is key to the film.

The score plays a major role in setting the mood and tone of the film and sounds excellent here. The dialogue is very clear and I was surprised at the amount of use of the various channels. I did not expect so much from a film this old.

For extras, we get everything from the 2006 DVD release, as well as some deleted scenes, a trailer and a 1981 interview with Turner and Hurt.

Great? No, but Body Heat embraces all of the clichés of the noir genre and has fun with them. Pour yourself a shot of whiskey, light up a smoke and step into Kasdan’s dark steamy world where the dame is always bad news and a sucker can never get an even break.

Order Body Heat on Blu-ray from Amazon.
Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.