Body Heat (1981)

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Critic Consensus: Classic film noir gets a steamy, '80s update with Body Heat

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Movie Info

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.

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Cast

William Hurt
as Ned Racine
Kathleen Turner
as Matty Walker
Richard Crenna
as Edmund Walker
Ted Danson
as Peter Lowenstein
J.A. Preston
as Oscar Grace
Mickey Rourke
as Teddy Lewis
Kim Zimmer
as Mary Ann
Lanna Saunders
as Roz Kraft
Michael Ryan
as Miles Hardin
Carola McGuinness
as Heather Kraft
Larry Marko
as Judge Costanze
Thom Sharp
as Michael Glenn
Ruth Thom
as Mrs. Singer
Robert Traynor
as Prison Trustee
Ruth P. Strahan
as Betty, the Housekeeper
Filomena Triscari
as Hostess at Tulios
Bruce A. Lee
as Man on the Beach
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Critic Reviews for Body Heat

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (7)

There's no mistaking the fact that Kasdan loves the tawdry genre he's working in.

May 9, 2017 | Full Review…

Lawrence Kasdan's 1981 noir fable is highly derivative in its overall conception, but it finds some freshness in its details.

Feb 8, 2008 | Full Review…

Though Lawrence Kasdan's film is set in today's South Florida, its characters move through an atmosphere that suggests the confluences of decor and demeanor in a 1940s film noir.

Feb 8, 2008 | Full Review…

There's no denying the narrative confidence that brings the film to its unfashionably certain double-whammy conclusion.

Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

While Body Heat involves murder, fraud, a weak hero led astray and a seductive, double-dealing broad, it also incorporates something new: a sexual explicitness that the old films could only hint at.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4/5

Body Heat is good enough to make film noir play like we hadn't seen it before.

Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Body Heat

½

Finally got round to watching this as heard it was a great thriller and Kathleen Turner's first film role. It looks very old and dated more like an early 70's film. It starts far too slow for me with not much happening for the first half of a long run time. Once the pace picked up towards the end and plot unraveled I did like it a lot more. It has some neat twists in it and I can see how this influenced the likes of the Wild Things thrillers just for one example. If you like thrillers it's worth sticking with for the 2nd half of the film.

Dean King
Dean King

Super Reviewer

Oh my goodness it is so Dramatic wit a capital D, but in a good, film noirish, sweat-dripping-off-the-body kind of way.

Jennifer Xu
Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

½

Perfectly woven erotic thriller, made from the same cloth of noir classics "The postman always rings twice" and "Double indemnity". Sensuality fill its air thanks to great writing, John Barry's jazzy score and the debutant Kathleen Turner's presence. Destiny and greed always step on a murderous pact between lovers.

Pierluigi Puccini
Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer

Ned: You better take me up on this quick. In about 45 minutes, I'm going to give up and go away.  I'd been told Body Heat was a fantastic movie, but before watching it for myself I had my doubts. First, I was never a big Kathleen Turner fan. Also, it just didn't look like a movie that could entertain me for two hours. I'm glad to say I was wrong. Kathleen Turner turned in an amazing performance as Matty Walker and the movie was not lacking in entertainment and suspense. It had it all. It was an erotic, suspenseful crime-thriller. Watching Turner and Hurt on the screen together was real joy. This was Turner's first role and Hurt's second, but they looked like veterans on the screen. Their chemistry was spot on perfect and left you satisfied with their relationship. Ted Danson turned in a nice little supporting role as Ned's(Willaim Hurt) best friend. Although he wasn't on screen all that much, when he was, he played his role really well. The story seems pretty straight forward and I thought the movie was going to go the length without a twist. I thought it was going to be a what you see is what you get movie. That however isn't the case in the end. The film didn't cheat with it's twist though. It makes sense and if you think back, you can see how this could have happened. It's a real testament to both the filmmaker and to both Hurt and Turner.  Lawrence Kasden, in his film debut also, weaves a very compelling and believable noir. Hurt and Turner look so authentic together that you think their relationship is real. The way they look at each other. The way they talk to each other. The way they touch each other. It all looks so genuine and realistic, that I almost forgot I was watching a movie altogether.  Body Heat is a masterpiece in every single conceivable way.  It is influenced by the film noir's of the 40's and 50's and that influence is easily seen. Even in a 1980's setting the 40 and 50's influences don't seem out of place. Everything works so well together. The dialogue, settings, music, performances, and even the way the smoldering heat of Florida is used. It all fits together in the most perfect way to make an amazing film experience.

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

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