Filmsite Movie Review
Body Heat (1981)
Pages: (1) (2)

Plot Synopsis (continued)

The Aftermath of the Murder - Legal Matters Regarding Edmund's Will:

After some time passed following the murder, Ned received a call from Edmund's concerned Miami lawyer Miles Hardin (Michael Ryan) to explain that there were problems with Edmund's revised will that was written by Ned (to his great surprise) and submitted by Mrs. Walker:

Mrs. Walker has submitted the new will you wrote up there...And frankly, Mr. Racine, I think we may have a problem."

A meeting was scheduled for the next day in West Palm Beach, with the lawyer Mr. Hardin, Matty, and Mrs. Roz Kraft, Mr. Walker's sister. Ned was unable to reach "Matty" by phone in the meantime. At the meeting, the mourning "Matty" appeared dressed in a black outfit, and Ned's friend, Ass't (or Deputy) prosecuting attorney Peter Lowenstein (Ted Danson) was also in attendance - he was handling the inquiry into Edmund Walker's death for the County Prosecutor's office.

The recent alterations to Edmund's will made Ned a prime suspect, since Edmund's lawyer Miles Hardin had never been notified about the changes. The revised will divided the Walker estate into almost equal parts between Heather Kraft and Mrs. Walker. The will was co-signed by Ned, with Mary Ann Simpson as a witness. The life-long friend of Matty's living in Europe, who was visiting when she signed the document, was now out-of-town and unavailable. The lawyer explained that the poorly-prepared will was written wrongly (by the clearly-incompetent Ned), and violated the rule against perpetuities: ("it forbids an inheritance to be passed down indefinitely for generations"), and was therefore invalid. It was concluded that: "Edmund Walker died intestate, as though there were no will at all." Racine then explained the unexpected consequences - that Matty would inherit the entire estate - although that was not Edmund's intention:

In the state of Florida, when a person dies without a will, and there are no children or surviving parents, then the spouse inherits everything.

It was soon revealed that Matty had forged Ned's name on the documents, to inherit all of the estate. "Matty" admitted to Ned that she had stolen some of Ned's stationary, and forged Edmund's and Ned's signatures in the revised will - without Ned's knowledge. She apparently knew how to make it invalid. She realized that her activity behind his back would not sit right: "I don't blame you for hating me right now," but to ease his suspicions, she invited him to her house that evening ("I want you more right now than I ever have").

Further Investigations into Edmund's Murder:

After Ned returned to his second-floor apartment after the meeting, he found that his friend Peter Lowenstein and police detective Oscar Grace (J. A. Preston) had already invited themselves in. They were in the midst of an investigation into Walker's unusual death. The two cautioned Ned to watch out for Matty Walker ("the grieving widow") - Oscar bluntly asked Ned:

Ned, how in the f--k did you ever get involved with this Matty Walker?...I mean, she's poison.

It was suspected that Edmund's sudden death was set up to look like he had botched an arson attempt, but it was probably only a cover for his murder, according to Oscar: "He didn't set it. Somebody offed him." Ned was forced to falsely admit that he had been involved in redoing the will with Edmund and Matty, and that Mary Ann Simpson had signed it as a witness (while passing through town).

Ned and Oscar were suspicious about a number of things, including "the grieving widow," and the fact that Mary Ann Simpson was missing, and that there was no passport record that she went to Europe.

Oscar and Lowenstein also noted that Matty was a suspect and that Ned (who was prone to messing up) should stay away from her - but Ned was resistant about giving up on "Matty":

Oscar: I have this feeling she's very bad news. Take some incredibly intelligent advice and stay away from her...
Lowenstein: Ned, someday your dick is gonna lead you into a very big hassle. That lady may have just killed her husband...
Ned: She's not gonna inherit anything by killing me. Besides, maybe she'll try to f--k me to death.
Oscar: Ned, you've messed up before and you'll mess up again. It's your nature. But they've always been small-time.
This might not be. She's trouble, Ned. The real thing, big-time, major-league trouble. Watch yourself.

Ignoring their advice, Ned met up with "Matty" that evening at her place in Pinehaven. As she laid atop him naked, she briefly told Ned about her past legal experience while working in a lawyer's office in Illinois when she was at a low point in her life: "I learned a lot there. That's where I picked up the business about making a will invalid." "Matty" also claimed she rewrote the will to make it invalid so that it would benefit both of them, and although she offered assuring words about her love, she did confess that she had used him:

I'm greedy, like you said. I wanted us to have it all. I don't blame you for thinking I'm bad. I am. I know it. I'd understand if you cut me off right now. If you never trusted me again, you'd probably be smart but you must believe one thing. I love you. I love you and I need you. And I want to be with you forever....We can stay together as long as we want. We're all alone now.

A third problem arose - Edmund's steel-rimmed glasses that he always wore were strangely not found at the site of his death (was he murdered elsewhere and moved there in his own car?).

While at the police station, Ned proactively approached young Heather - rather than avoiding her - so that he could call the bluff of the police (and Heather's mother Roz) who suspected that he could be identified as the one receiving fellatio on the wind-chimes porch from "Matty." Fortunately for Ned's sake, young Heather could not identify that he had the man's face attached to the erect penis she saw, when she had glanced at them in flagrante delicto: (Lowenstein later joked to Ned about the male's appearance: "Well, he looks about seven or eight inches long, shiny and very, very bald").

Although Ned began to distrust "Matty," she tried to convince him that their plan was about to come to fruition and they could be together with the inheritance:

Soon, it will be all ours. That's why we've got to stay together, Ned. It won't be long, and then we can get away from here, out from under all of this. All we have is each other. I'd kill myself if I thought this thing would destroy us. I couldn't take it.

Meanwhile, cop Oscar was pursuing leads - including Ned's reservation at the downtown hotel with valet parking, his rental car reservation, and the trail of Mary Ann Simpson when she was in Miami, etc. Lowenstein warned Ned: "Someone is putting you into deep trouble, my friend." He informed Ned that there was a phone record of someone repeatedly calling his Miami hotel room (from 3:30-5:00 am the night of the murder) but the calls were unanswered. [Note: "Matty" was trying to establish the fact that Ned's alibi was faulty.] And now, someone was trying to negotiate and give them Edmund's eye-glasses. And in addition, Ned spoke to another lawyer named Michael Glenn (Thom Sharp) and realized that "Matty" had lied to him about not knowing about his previous malpractice suit (regarding another invalid will and Ned's inadequate legal skills) before she hired him. All of the mounting evidence heightened suspicion for the ongoing investigation, while also stirring up Ned's questioning of Matty's loyalty and truthfulness.

At the County Jail where he was being detained (and being asked questions about The Breakers), Ted informed Ned in a visiting room that he had been contacted by a "real looker" female (obviously "Matty") who had asked his help to rig an additional incendiary bomb device to a doorway. "Matty" frantically phoned Ned from Miami to follow up on further developments - she fully revealed her crafty deviousness and evil nature. She excitedly promised that they would be rich: "I've got the money. I've taken it and sent it somewhere safe. It's all ours now." And then she told him that Edmund's glasses (that she claimed had been acquired from her blackmailing housekeeper Betty) had been located ("The glasses. I got them back"), and that they were in the boathouse on the Walker estate. She urged Ned: "I think you'd better get them right away," and promised to meet him at 7:30 pm.

Matty's Double-Cross:

Ned arrived early at the Pinehaven mansion and was about to enter the boathouse when he noticed the door had been rigged and booby-trapped with a wire. He suspected that Matty had rigged a similar device in the mansion's boathouse, with Ted's help. He walked over to the house, and in Edmund's bedroom closet, Ned retrieved Edmund's .38 revolver. Then in the darkened gazebo, he awaited Matty's arrival. (Meanwhile, Oscar was on his way to the Pinehaven home to arrest Ned, and after he arrived, he stood at a distance and watched the interaction between "Matty" and Ned.) When she drove up at about 10:15 pm, approached in a shimmering white dress, and excitedly told him: "It's all ours now. We could leave tonight if we wanted to," he agreed with her that everything was "over" as he handled Edmund's gun with the barrel pointed toward her. After he told her that he hadn't seen the eyeglasses, she pleaded with him: "I'd never do anything to hurt you. I love you, you've got to believe that." She confessed that she had originally set him up, but then convincingly told him of her love, but he had heard enough:

Matty: I did arrange to meet you, Ned, but that all changed. You changed it. I fell in love with you. I didn't plan that.
Ned: You never quit, do you? You just keep on coming.
Matty: How can I prove it to you? What can I say?

He feared that Matty had booby-trapped the boathouse to kill him, and forced her at gunpoint to enter the boathouse, to look for Edmund's glasses (that she knew were not there!). She vowed her loyalty and assured him (with empty words): "Ned, no matter what you think, I do love you." At the last second, Ned began running toward the boathouse - "No, Matty!" but then an explosive blast detonated. The explosion blew up the structure, and presumably killed her. "Matty" was identified by dental records and duped lover Ned was charged with her murder and imprisoned in a Florida State Penitentiary in Tallahassee.

In the surprise, knockout ending, Ned - who was serving time, finally realized that he had been duped. He awoke with a start when he realized what had really happened, and that "Matty" was somehow still alive: "She's alive!"

Ned spoke about his theories to Oscar but he had no proof - his suspicions were that for about three years, "Matty" had stolen and assumed the name and identity of her friend Mary Ann Simpson. Ned speculated that that was the reason why there had been a concerted effort to hide "Matty's" identity all along. The real Matty (Mary Ann Simpson) learned of the deception, threatened blackmail and was being paid off by "Matty." To eliminate Mary Ann and solve all her problems, and to fake her own death, "Matty" had rigged the boathouse explosion; she had planted Mary Ann's body in the boathouse before the explosion, and then escaped with her own life:

Maybe she was using this other girl's name. Since she first met Walker three years ago, since she first spotted him and decided to take him, one way or another. Maybe, Walker -- or any of us -- never knew her real name.... Maybe because there was something in her past, something so bad that she thought it would queer it with Walker if he found out -- that he'd never marry her. Let's say that she's living as this other girl, this person from her past. And there's only one person in the whole world who knows who she really is. And then just when she's got me on the line, she's finally going to collect, that person shows up. That girl finds her and threatens to expose her, so Matty starts paying her off. Maybe she even promised to cut her in on Edmund's money. Now she's gotta share it with two people. But then Matty sees a way to get rid of both of us at once, at the boathouse. A way to solve all her problems and get clear with no one looking for her...Matty killed this other girl and put her body in the boathouse. It was so perfect, so clean. You find two bodies, me and this girl. Two killers dead. Case closed.

He summarized about "Matty's" determined nature: "That was her special gift. She was relentless. Matty was the kind of person who could do what was necessary. Whatever was necessary."

[Note: Ned's words echoed Edmund's earlier advice: "Whatever is necessary."]

Everything was confirmed for Ned after he sent for "Matty's" Wheaton High School 1968 yearbook (known as the Cougars) in Illinois. In the climactic plot twist and startling conclusion, he found solid evidence inside that 'Matty' Tyler had swapped identities with Mary Ann Simpson. This was confirmed for Ned when he saw Matty Tyler's picture in the yearbook, with her name displayed as "Mary Ann Simpson" (with the nickname "The Vamp" and her ambition: "To be rich and live in an exotic land"). With Ned's concrete evidence of the masquerading character-switch, would Oscar have the proof he now needed to pursue fugitive Mary Ann Simpson?

The Surprising Twist Ending:

The final view in the film was of 'Matty Tyler' (actually Mary Ann Simpson) reclining on a beach chair in the tropics (possibly Rio in Brazil, or Portugal), wearing a black bathing suit, where she had escaped "to be rich and live in an exotic land." She turned to an unseen male companion sitting to her right who mumbled accented words to her in Portuguese: ("E muito quente") - he translated: "It is hot."

[Note: The official Kasdan script claimed he spoke the words in Spanish: "Hace Calor."]

The film commenced and concluded with comments about the intense heat.

[Note: The final scene was actually shot in Hawaii at Tunnels Beach on the north shore of the island of Kauai near Haena.]

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