Body Heat – Don’t Leave Me This Way – tape 1545

Over to Sky Movies Gold for Body Heat. It’s written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan, at the time riding high from the success of his screenplays for The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Body Heat is very different from those films, far from family-friendly spectacle. It’s a modern film noir, a film for which the adjective ‘Steamy’ might have been invented, set, as it is, during a heatwave.

William Hurt, pre-Broadcast News, plays Ned Racine, a lawyer in Florida. He’s not a very good lawyer, and represents some low-life clients, as the first courtroom scene tells us. Ted Danson plays the prosecutor, and after the judge tells Hurt off for being badly prepared, Danson says “I’ve underestimated you, Ned, you’ve started using your incompetence as a weapon.”

That evening, he meets Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner) near the beach and strikes up conversation. After she fends off a few clumsy lines, she seems to warm too him.

                         You're not too smart, are you? 
                         I like that in a man.

                         What else do you like? Lazy? Ugly? 
                         Horny? I got 'em all.

                         You don't look lazy.

But she’s gone quickly, leaving him to spend the next few nights hanging around where he thinks she might be, in order to run into her again. He finds her in a bar, and they hook up. Her husband is out of town, so they drive to her house so Ned can ‘look at her wind chimes.’ That’s not a euphemism.

But when he’s seen the chimes, she tells him he must go, and at first he does, but he can’t stay away, and ends up throwing a chair through some french windows to get into the house. It could seem weird and stalkerish, but she’s inside waiting for him.

She’s obsessive about keeping their relationship secret, in fear of her husband finding out. At one point he goes to the house, talks to who he thinks is Matty, but it turns out to be an old friend of hers. It’s a small slip, be she reassures him her friend only wants her to be happy.

Worse, Matty’s neice comes to stay, and walks in on Ned and Matty in flagrante.

Then, Ned runs into Matty with her husband, Richard Crenna at a restaurant, and Crenna invites Ned to join them. Cue some awkward conversation, and some coded language about the kind of business Crenna does. Matty has already told him that he’s ruthless, possibly criminal, and his conversation on this subject merely cement’s Ned’s certainty that he’s a very bad man.

The next day, Matty comes to his office (making sure his receptionist was out first) and she’s scared. So Ned tells her that they have to kill her husband.

They enlist the aid of young Mickey Rourke, back when he was a beautiful young man. He’s an arson specialist, helping Ned set up the plan. We get a montage of the preparations, along with John Barry’s gorgeously sumptuous score perfectly pitched to heighten tension.

The plan is for Ned to come to the house, Matty would send her husband downstairs, and Ned would whack him over the head. The plan is almost foiled by her husband having a gun she didn’t know about, but the deed is done, Ned takes his body to an old building, stages it to look like he was hit by falling timber in the fire, and they’re done.

They should be home free.

But then Ned gets a call from a lawyer in Miami. He’s received Matty’s husband’s new will, which he says Ned drew up, and would like to discuss some problems with it. This is news to Ned, who hadn’t done any such thing.

The will is not much changed, and was witnessed by Matty’s old friend, who Ned had met earlier, but who is currently not available.

But there’s a problem, a technical issue with the language of the will, which renders it invalid, and as a result, Matty’s husband died intestate and everything went to Matty, and not split equally between her and his sister as his original will intended.

Ned knows that Matty was the one who redrew the will, but he can’t say anything without incriminating both of them, so he has to go along with it.

But now he’s free to see her, and admits even to Ted Danson and the local police detective, old drinking buddies, that he’s going to see her. They advise him strongly not to, telling him she’s dangerous, and a suspect in her husband’s death.

But he persists, and as the investigation continues, various bits of evidence starts appearing that might implicate Ned, and he discovers that Matty knew about an old case of his where he’d messed up a will, something she had claimed to know nothing.

Then Mickey Rourke, in police custody on another matter, tells him that a beautiful woman had come to him asking if he could rig another incendiary device. Shortly after, Matty phones him to tell him that her former housemaid, who had taken her husband’s glasses, a vital clue, had left them for them in the boathouse, and he has to collect them.

So he waits at the house for her. He’s now convinced he’s just a patsy for her, but when she turns up, she assures him she’s still in love with him. And to prove it, she goes to the boathouse. Which explodes.

Finally, we find Ned in jail, but he’s still trying to piece together what happened. A body was found in the boathouse, the dental records matched Matty’s records. But what if, Ned argues, his Matty had stolen her old schoolfriend’s identity even before she had married Richard Crenna, her friend had found out, which is why she was there that night, and his Matty had murdered her and left her body in the boathouse, while she escaped to live on a tropical island. But that would be too far fetched, wouldn’t it?

Next on this tape, from BBC1, Don’t Leave Me This Way, which is a sequel to A Masculine Ending which we looked at some time ago. Janet McTeer and Imelda Staunton return, what could be better?

New to this story is Pamela Salem, someone big in publishing.

Jerome Flynn is someone from her past, I think. He’s certainly been following her, and he’s very nasty to the young man who accompanies her to a book launch who turns out to be her son.

She does a bit of late night safecracking, stealing cash and a notebook from someone’s safe.

Returning from the first film is Bill Nighy as McTeer’s ex.

Sandra Neil (Salem) turns up on McTeer’s doorstep needing a place to stay for a couple of days, as something’s happening with her water. Or drains.

This is a pain, but things take a mysterious turn when she’s found dead in a car which had gone off a cliff in Suffolk.

Ian McNeice is Oscar Ghilardi, who’s investigating Sandra’s death. They meet at Sandra’s funeral.

Loretta (McTeer) goes back to her flat, and discovers a teddy bear left by Sandra. And it’s filled with cash, obviously from the safe. She’s not sure what to do with it, or to whom to entrust it, so she goes to see Bridget (Staunton).

While there, they are visited by Sandra’s young daughter, Lizzie, played by a very young Rebecca Hall (Maya Hansen in Iron Man 3) because they befriended her at the funeral and told her she was welcome to get in touch with them at any time.

Looking through some photographs taken at the book launch, they show her some photos of her mother, and point out that her brother Felix was in them too, but she can’t see him. When they point him out she tells them that the boy in the picture is Paul Elvin, a schoolfriend of Felix.

The actual Felix is played by Richard Dempsey (from the BBC’s Narnia adaptation), who has discovered that his mother is having an affair with Elvin.

Elvin himself visits Loretta to tell her that Sandra had intended to go with him to Australia on the morning after she died. He also tells her that Felix had been threatening both him and his mother.

And Felix, having been missing for a few days, turns up at the house of a family friend, George Saunders, played by John Fortune, who brings him back to his father, who we find burning his wife’s clothes, and the money from inside the teddy.

Aside – remember Mercurycard phone booths?

Felix is taken somewhere by a doctor and Lizzie is worried about him. Then, while having dinner with Oscar the detective, talking about the case, they learn that Paul Elvin has died, drowned in a lake.

It’s starting to get a bit tense, and Oscar warns Loretta and Bridget against investigating on their own, but Bridget can’t help herself and goes to investigate the health club that Sandra was involved in. The man who runs it is Jerome Flynn’s Dad, so they’re obviously prime suspects, but when they talk to her, Flynn tells her that he saw someone else at Loretta’s flat, and saw the same person in Suffolk, at Sandra’s holiday home.

The clues fall into place, and Bridget identifies the Suffolk man as George Saunders (Fortune), so she, McNeice, and a convoy of policeman, half of them drunk after a Police dinner, driving at speed to Suffolk, because young Lizzie has also gone there.

So has Loretta, who doesn’t know anything about George’s likely involvement, but she also learns that Lizzie has also gone to Suffolk, so she goes to find her, and George Saunders is also there.

The truth about what happened emerges when Lizzie’s father also arrives at the house. He and Sandra had argued, when Sandra told him that she intended to go to Australia, and she would take Lizzie with her. He hit her, she fell and hit her head, and he called his friend George who pronounced Sandra already dead, so they set up the car accident to make the best of the situation. But Saunders had lied to Sandra’s husband, and she was still alive. Flashbacks also tell us that she had been previously having an affair with Saunders, and that Lizzie was really his daughter, hence his attachment to the family, and his anger at her for having the affair with Paul Elvin.

There’s a bit of chasing around, Lizzie runs off into the dark, Saunders drives off, but comes up against the tipsy police convoy, and he ends up driving off the cliff as well.

Like the previous film, this is one that succeeds more down to the ensemble of fine actors, and Morse-inflected scenery than the details of the story. Again, there’s not a huge amount of detection going on, with most of the information being given to the protagonists by those involved, rather than being discovered by them, but you do care about the characters, and I wouldn’t have objected to a whole series featuring them.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 30th May 1993 – 21:00

After this, recording continues with a steamy trailer for the Sean Bean/Joely Richardson starring Lady Chatterley.

Then, an episode of Heart of the Matter which looks at ‘a new dilemma for the Church of England as it prepares for women priests.’

It’s interesting to see the justifications of the priests who oppose women priests. One priest says “there are already signs that the Church of England isn’t going to be a pleasant place for those who disagree. People are already being asked about their intentions, whether they wish to go to Rome, or resign from the ministry, how are they going to cope without their parishes, there are some calling for the removal of the financial provisions measure, so as not to allow for any financial support for those who are leaving. It’s not the sort of thing to dwell on before going to sleep at night.”

Then the interviewer (Joan Bakewell) says “hurtful, isn’t it?” and he replies “one feels discriminated against and unwanted.”

Irony is clearly not amongst the strengths of CofE clergy training.

Snark aside, it’s actually quite horrible to hear “In any diocesan affairs, they could expect to have dealings with women priests, so their own strict beliefs would keep them from such contamination.”

I’m half convinced that the Reverend Stephen Trott here is actually a character being played by Chris O’Dowd.

And to think, all these arguments were effectively silenced as soon as The Vicar of Dibley was first broadcast.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 30th May 1993 – 22:35

After this, there’s a trailer for Battle of the Atlantic – 50 Years On.

Then there’s the start of a programme about that battle, For Those in Peril. It talks to some of the people who were involved, on both sides, including a couple of famous faces, like Jon Pertwee

And Jim Callaghan

The tape ends after about five minutes of this programme.


One comment

  1. Do fans of Body Heat still hold that convention in the location it was made? That used to be a thing when it was a real cult movie.

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