Most romantic film #66: Body Heat (1981)

I’m not certain this is a “romantic” film per se, but it is a sexy film noir that launched the careers of actress Kathleen Turner and writer-director Lawrence Kasden, with a nod to the soon-to-be stars Mickey Rourke and Ted Danson.

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If that seems a lot for one film, this is a big movie.

I hadn’t seen BODY HEAT in a long time but watched it recently, and it is a really, really good film noir mystery.

William Hurt plays Ned Racine, a small-town lawyer in a small Florida Coast town. It is quickly clear that his morals and ethics are loose and adaptable.

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He meets Matty Walker (Turner), the sexy young wife of a rich businessman. Matty is bored and lonely, since her husband is always off on business. She and Ned begin an erotic affair that turns into love. But Matty can’t leave her husband because of a terrific pre-nup that leaves her with nothing — so she suggests that they, she and Ned, kill him.

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Here’s where we meet Mickey Rourke, as a young bombmaker who is one of Ned’s former clients. Teddy (Rourke) builds Ned a bomb.

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Ned’s best friend is the local D.A., played by Danson. Peter Lowenstein (Danson) begins to suspect something.

And so the film unrolls. Cleverly. Compellingly.

When I saw this ‘way back in 1981, I remember being struck by the young Mickey Rourke. He was electric on screen. The next film I saw him in was DINER — same deal. This is a fun film because it is sexy, intriguing, twisty and sophisticated. Couple it with another Kasden film (like THE BIG CHILL) or an earlier film noir like DOUBLE INDEMNITY. Mmm. Then be glad you don’t know anyone like Matty.

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