Monday 7 January 2008

Raising temperatures with Body Heat

Lawrence Kasdan's 1981 directorial debut, Body Heat is a sexed-up modern film noir tale of seduction, murder and deception. It made stars of Kathleen Turner and William Hurt and allowed John Barry to compose one of his most sexy and sultry scores.

Kathleen Turner plays a rich and lonely housewife who uses her "womanly wiles" to entice a sleazy lawyer played by William Hurt into a plot to kill her husband. Unfortunately for Hurt's character, all is not what it seems, and like a moth who gets too close to the flame, he gets well and truly burned.

Harking back to Barry's jazzy roots Body Heat is stylistically similar to his own Playing By Heart and Jerry Goldsmith's acclaimed score for Chinatown. You can almost feel the sultry heat coming from the grooves. Perhaps it's some kind of harmonic trick but during the main title theme you can almost hear the police siren during the opening of the movie. As an aside, if you watch the opening of the IPCRESS file, you may notice that the coffee grinder in the opening scene seems to be in the same key as the music!

The original soundtrack for Body Heat was issued in a limited edition of 2,000 printed copies for Southern Cross, however in 1998 Joel McNeely re-recorded the score for a Varese Sarabande release. Twenty seven years after its release Body Heat remains a popular concert favourite and a much loved soundtrack among Barry and film score fans alike.

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