AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Body Heat
Director: Lawrence Kasdan (Dir)
Release Date:   1981
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles and New York openings: 28 Aug 1981
Production Date:   12 Nov 1980--early Feb 1981
Duration (in mins):   117
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Cast: Starring William Hurt (Ned Racine)  
  Starring Kathleen Turner (Matty Walker)  
  And Richard Crenna (Edmund Walker) as
  Co-starring: Ted Danson (Peter Lowenstein)  
    J. A. Preston (Oscar Grace)  
  [and] Mickey Rourke (Teddy Lewis)  
  Featuring: Jane Hallaren (Stella)  
    Lanna Saunders (Roz Kraft)  
    Michael Ryan (Miles Hardin)  
    Larry Marko (Judge Costanza)  
    Kim Zimmer (Mary Ann [Simpson])  
    Deborah Lucchesi (Beverly)  
    Lynn Hallowell (Angela)  
  [and] Thom J. Sharp (Michael Glenn)  
    Carola McGuinness (Heather Kraft)  
    Ruth Thom (Mrs. Singer)  
    Diane Lewis (Glenda)  
    Robert Traynor (Prison trustee)  
    Meg Kasdan (Nurse)  
    Ruth P. Strahan (Betty the housekeeper)  
    Filomena Triscari (Hostess at Tullo's)  
    Bruce A. Lee (Man on beach)  
  Cuban trio: Ramiro Velasco    
    Tomas Choy    
  [and] Servio T. Moreno    

Summary: During a Florida heat wave, lawyer Ned Racine watches from his window as a building burns in the distance, then returns to bed with his lover. The next day in court, the Judge orders Ned to make a deal with Assistant Prosecutor Peter Lowenstein since Ned presented such a bad defense for his client. That night, Ned wanders the boardwalk and stops at a bandstand. Intrigued by a beautiful woman leaving the show, he follows her and tries to engage her in conversation. Matty Walker is married and not looking for company, but Ned jokes that she should have said, “happily married.” Ned learns that Matty lives in Pine Haven with her husband, who only comes home on weekends. When Matty spills liquid on her blouse, Ned goes to get a wet cloth, but returns to find her gone. Later, Ned finds Matty alone at Pine Haven Tavern. They talk about the heat and she offers to show Ned her wind chimes, but she does not want anyone to suspect an affair, so they leave separately. At Matty’s home, it is the maid’s night off, so they are alone as Matty shows Ned the chimes, and points out the gazebo and boathouse. Asking Ned to leave, Matty kisses him goodnight and closes the door, but Ned turns back, breaks through the door, and they make love in the hallway. They continue to see each other, although Matty insists no one else can know. Later, at lunch with Lowenstein and local police officer Oscar Grace, Ned is teased that he has never before been silent about his conquests. When Matty’s husband, Edmund, leaves at the end of the weekend, Ned returns to the mansion and rushes up to “Matty” in the gazebo; however, the woman is not Matty, but a close look-alike. Matty comes outside to join them and introduces her friend, Mary Ann, to Ned. Matty hands an envelope to Mary Ann and the woman leaves. Later, Matty talks about her husband’s will and Ned learns that, among Edmund’s businesses, he owns shore-front properties, including a place called The Breakers. As Matty expresses fear of her husband and wishes him dead, Ned suggests that she leave Edmund, but Matty confesses that she signed a pre-nuptial agreement and that will not get her much money in a divorce. That weekend, Edmund brings home his niece, Heather Kraft, who will be visiting for the week. Matty tells Ned to stay away, but he surprises her late one night after Heather has gone to sleep. As they make love on the porch, Heather comes outside, sees them and runs back into the house. However, Heather does not say anything about the event and leaves with her mother, Roz, on Thursday as planned. At a local restaurant, Ned runs into Edmund and Matty, who introduces the two men, pretending not to know Ned’s first name. Edmund insists that Ned join them, and, when Matty excuses herself, Edmund admits that if Matty was adulterous, he would kill the lover with his bare hands. The next day, Matty sneaks into Ned’s office and admits that she loves him. Ned plans to kill Edmund so Matty will inherit half of his estate. Matty complains that Heather will also inherit half of Edmund’s estate, but that Roz will certainly take her daughter’s money. Matty suggests that Ned covertly rewrite Edmund’s will. Ned refuses because it would look suspicious, and Matty agrees. Sometime later, Ned meets with a former client, Teddy Lewis, who gives Ned a bomb. The next day, Ned drives to Miami and meets a client regarding a real estate deal, but leaves his car in the city and drives back to Pine Haven in a rental car. Hearing an intruder downstairs, Edmund grabs a gun and investigates. Matty yells a warning, and Ned attacks. The men struggle until Ned bashes Edmund’s head with a board. Ned wraps the body in plastic and drives Edmund’s car to The Breakers. There, Ned dumps the body inside, and sets the bomb. Just before it explodes, Matty picks up Ned and they escape. Days later, Ned gets a call from Miles Hardin, Edmund’s lawyer, who says that Matty submitted a new will written by Ned, but there is a problem. Ned meets with Hardin, Matty, Roz, Heather and Lowenstein, who is handling the inquiry into Edmund’s death. Ned pretends that he re-wrote the will with Mary Ann, who is currently out of town, as a witness. Although the will is almost identical to the original document, Hardin points to an error that Ned made in the bequest to Heather. The error renders the will invalid and the entire inheritance is therefore bequeathed to Matty. Hardin also discovered that Ned ran into serious trouble when he made a similar error in the past. When Ned and Matty leave, Matty asks to see him that night. Meanwhile, Lowenstein and Oscar want to know how Ned got involved with Matty, but Ned insists that he updated the will before she showed any interest in dating him. Later, Matty reveals that she learned how to invalidate the will from a lawyer friend, but she never would have done it if she had known about Ned’s previous error. At the police station, Oscar questions Ned and discloses that Edmund’s glasses were not found at the scene, concluding that Edmund was murdered elsewhere and moved. Roz and Heather arrive to make a statement about the man Heather saw with Matty before the murder, but Ned deliberately greets them and Heather does not recognize him. Ned tells Matty about the glasses, and she supposes that the maid has them. Later, Lowenstein warns Ned that Oscar has come to suspect him, and cautions Ned that someone is setting him up. Ned learns from another lawyer that Matty was aware that Ned had previously written an invalid will, and Teddy informs him that Matty asked him for an additional bomb, which he instructed her to rig to a door. Soon, Matty calls Ned from Miami, reporting that she received Edmund’s money and sent it somewhere safe. Confessing that she paid off the maid to leave Edmund’s glasses in the boathouse, Matty asks Ned to retrieve them, but when Ned sees the boathouse door is rigged, he realizes Matty wants to kill him. Ned gets Edmund’s gun and waits for her at the gazebo while Oscar heads for the mansion to arrest Ned. When Matty arrives, she is surprised that Ned has a gun, and he claims there were no glasses in the boathouse. Oscar arrives as Matty heads to the boathouse to find the glasses. Ned drops the gun and runs after Matty, but the boathouse explodes. In jail, Ned realizes that Matty is still alive and that Mary Ann’s body was in the boathouse as a decoy. Dental records identified the body as Matty, but Ned theorizes that the woman he knew as Mary Ann was blackmailing Matty for stealing her identity, and Matty rigged the boathouse explosion to kill both Ned and Mary Ann. Later, Ned gets a copy of Matty’s high school yearbook and learns his theory was correct; the yearbook picture of Matty is the girl he knew as Mary Ann. The photograph of her classmate, Mary Ann Simpson, depicts the woman Ned knew as Matty. As Ned sits in his prison cell, “Matty” relaxes on an exotic beach. 

Production Company: The Ladd Company  
Distribution Company: The Ladd Company  
  Warner Bros.  
Director: Lawrence Kasdan (Dir)
  Michael Grillo (1st asst dir)
  Jeffrey Chernov (2d asst dir)
  Bruce Humphrey (Directors Guild trainee)
Producer: Fred T. Gallo (Prod)
  Robert Grand (Assoc prod)
Writer: Lawrence Kasdan (Wrt)
Photography: Richard H. Kline (Dir of photog)
  Robert Sordal (Key grip)
  Pat King (2d grip)
  Larry D. Howard (Gaffer)
  Ted Morris (Elec best boy)
  Albert Bettcher (Cam op)
  Michael McGowan (Cam op)
  Eric Engler (Cam asst)
  Robert A. Wise (Cam asst)
  Bill Tobin (Cam asst)
  John Monte (Still photog)
  Ron Phillips (Still photog)
  MGM Laboratories (Film processed by)
Art Direction: Bill Kenney (Prod des)
Film Editor: Carol Littleton (Ed)
  Mia Goldman (Asst ed)
  Bruce Cannon (2d asst ed)
Set Decoration: Rick T. Gentz (Set dec)
  Robert Planck (Leadman)
  Robert Visciglia, Sr. (Prop master)
  Sonny Van Hecke (Asst prop master)
  Sig Tinglof (Set des)
  Richard McKenzie (Set des)
  Robert L. Anderson (Const coord)
  Doug Wilson (Paint foreman)
  Ray Jarvis (Standby painter)
  Dennis Butterworth (Greens foreman)
Costumes: Renie Conley (Cost des)
  Barbara Siebert Bolticoff (Cost supv)
  Winnie Brown (Cost)
Music: John Barry (Mus comp and cond)
  Clifford C. Kohlweck (Mus ed)
  Dan Wallin (Scoring mixer)
Sound: Maury Harris (Prod sd mixer)
  Richard Portman (Re-rec mixer)
  Christopher Jenkins (Re-rec mixer)
  James Cook (Re-rec mixer)
  David Sanucci (Boom man)
  Robert Grieve (Sd ed)
  Patrick Drummond (Sd ed)
Special Effects: Howard Jensen (Spec eff supv)
  Hal Bigger (Spec eff man)
  Wayne Fitzgerald (Title des)
Dance: Tad Tadlock (Choreog)
Make Up: Robert A. Sidell (Makeup artist)
  Adele Taylor (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: Wally Nicita (Casting)
  Robert Grand (Prod mgr)
  Pamela Alch (Scr supv)
  Daniel Schneider (Loc mgr)
  Mark Indig (Florida loc mgr)
  Lynne Birdt (Prod coord)
  James Antunez (Transportation coord)
  Sam Segal (Transportation capt)
  Michael Antunez (Transportation capt)
  Peter Silbermann (Unit pub)
  Bernard S. Styles (Prod asst)
  Pearl Kempton (Extras casting)
  Celeste Angiolillo (Asst to Mr. Kasdan)
  Art Schaefer (Prod accountant)
  Deborah Lucchesi (Casting coord)
  Production Payments, Inc. (Prod services by)
  Creative Mobile Studios (Loc equip by)
Stand In: Ron Stein (Stunt coord)
  Bill Burton (Stunt coord)
  Steve Chambers (Stuntman)
  Gary Combs (Stuntman)
  Jim Halty (Stuntman)
Color Personnel: Robert Raring (Col timer)
MPAA Rating: R
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: "Feel Like A Number" as performed by Bob Seger, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc., written by Bob Seger.
Composer: Bob Seger
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
The Ladd Company 24/8/1981 dd/mm/yyyy PAu329461

PCA NO: 26275
Physical Properties: Sd:
  Lenses: Panaflex® cameras and lenses by Panavision®
  Prints: Prints by Technicolor®

Genre: Drama
Subjects (Major): Femmes fatales
Subjects (Minor): Boathouses
  Faked deaths
  Husband murder
  Impersonation and imposture
  Public prosecutors

Note:        End credits include the producers' thanks to the state of Florida and the city of Lake Worth for their cooperation in the production.
       According to an article in the 26 Sep 1979 HR, Twentieth Century-Fox signed Lawrence Kasdan to write and direct an original screenplay, Body Heat. Production notes in AMPAS library files reported Alan Ladd Jr., the then president of Twentieth Century-Fox liked Kasdan’s script and also agreed to let Kasdan to direct his first feature film. Ladd, however, left Twentieth Century-Fox to form his own production company. When Kasdan insisted on hiring unknown actors for the leads and would not compromise, Twentieth Century-Fox dropped the project. The Ladd Co. promptly picked it up, but, according to an article in the 19-25 Aug 1981 Voice, they required that an experienced director be prepared to step in should Kasdan fail. Kasdan had recently assisted George Lucas by co-writing The Empire Strikes Back (1980, see entry) when Leigh Brackett died while writing the script, and Lucas agreed to back up Kasdan on Body Heat.
       An article in the 13 Sep 1981 LAT reported that Body Heat’s New York casting agents refused to let Kathleen Turner read for Kasdan, insisting that she was not right for the part. Shortly after that, while Turner was in Los Angeles testing for ...All The Marbles (1981, see entry), casting agent Wally Nicita met with her and brought Turner in to meet with Kasdan. Turner’s agent, David Guc, obtained a copy of the entire script prior to the meeting and Turner’s audition impressed Kasdan. Turner had a theater background and had worked for eighteen months on the TV soap opera The Doctors, but Ladd Co. executives were concerned that she had no film experience. However, after Turner read for the Ladd Co. executive team, they were also impressed and she was hired.
       An article in the Feb 1981 Box reported the film was originally going to be shot in New Jersey during the spring and summer, but production was postponed to the fall because of an actors strike. Since the film required warm weather, the location was moved to Florida. The 6 Aug 1980 LAT reported the film was scheduled to start shooting in Sep 1980 but the continuing strike would likely delay production. The 24 Oct 1980 DV reported that filming would begin in Florida on 12 Nov 1980, and would move to Los Angeles, CA after four weeks. An item in the Dec 1980 Box noted that a mansion on the Scotia Plantation in Hypoluxo, FL would be the location for the mansion in the film. A boathouse, that would explode in a crucial scene, would be built on the Intracoastal Waterway. Several scenes were filmed on location in Lake Worth, FL, including a boutique, a diner and City Hall. The 15 Dec 1980 HR reported Body Heat was completing principal photography at Zoetrope Studios in Los Angeles, CA, and the 5 Feb 1981 Var announced the production had finished filming.
       Body Heat opened on 28 Aug 1981 and, according to the 3 Sep 1981 HR, the film grossed $564,593 in its first three days at thirty-four theaters. The 16 Sep 1981 HR reported an eleven day box office gross of $1,584,997 at thirty-four theaters. The film opened nationwide at 730 theaters on 18 Sep 1981. The 23 Sep 1981 HR reported that the film grossed $3,027,895 in its first weekend of national release, bringing the twenty-four day box office total to $5,327,189. A chart in the 9-15 Dec 1981 Village Voice listed Body Heat as one of the fall’s “borderline” successful movies with a box office total of $13 million.
       Kathleen Turner made her feature film debut in Body Heat. Lawrence Kasdan made his feature film directorial debut with Body Heat.

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   Dec 1980.   
Box Office   Feb 1981.   
Daily Variety   24 Oct 1980.   
Hollywood Reporter   26 Sep 1979.   
Hollywood Reporter   15 Dec 1980.   
Hollywood Reporter   3 Sep 1981.   
Hollywood Reporter   16 Sep 1981.   
Hollywood Reporter   23 Sep 1981.   
Hollywood Reporter   17 Oct 1981   p. 10.
Los Angeles Times   6 Aug 1980.   
Los Angeles Times   28 Aug 1981   p. 1.
Los Angeles Times   13 Sep 1981.   
New York Times   28 Aug 1981   p. 14.
Variety   5 Feb 1981.   
Variety   19 Aug 1981   p. 20.
Village Voice   9-15 Dec 1981.   
Voice   19-25 Aug 1981.   

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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