Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Body Heat (1981)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Body Heat (1981)

In writer/director Lawrence Kasdan's debut feature film - a modern-day, twisting crime drama, erotic thriller and noirish tale of a deadly and obsessive love triangle, involving adultery, murderous lust, and a deceptive femme fatale, a post-noir modeled after Double Indemnity (1944) and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) ; a detailed tagline described: "It's a hot summer. Ned Racine is waiting for something special to happen. And when it does... He won't be ready for the consequences...As the temperature rises, the suspense begins":

  • the erotic thriller opened in the aftermath of a love scene in the middle of the night in a humid, sweltering southern city (fictional Miranda Beach, Florida), in view of a burning restaurant known as the Seawater Inn ("Now somebody's torched it to clear the lot"); in an upper-floor apartment bedroom, a naked, frustrated female partner named Angela (Lynn Hallowell) dressed in her airport rental car-company uniform as she told her distracted partner - seedy, dense-minded, ambulance-chasing small-town Florida lawyer/attorney Ned Racine (William Hurt): "My God, it's hot. I stepped out of the shower and started sweating again"
  • the next hot and torrid evening, while simple-minded Florida attorney Ned Racine attended a beachside bandstand concert, he noticed a tempting, sizzling, sultry, smoky-voiced, husky-voiced and highly-sensual femme fatale Matty Tyler Walker (Kathleen Turner), who strutted past him down the center aisle; he followed after her and they strolled down the boardwalk where she immediately tried to discourage him - she told him that she was a married woman (but not necessarily happy) who was not looking for any company
  • she delivered a famous line toward Ned - "You're not too smart, are you? I like that in a man"; he willingly responded: "What else do you like? Lazy, ugly, horny, I've got 'em all"
  • as they consumed 'cherry' snow-cones, she told him she had an out-of-town wealthy husband who only came around on weekends to their Pinehaven mansion located on the waterway - and then quickly deserted him
  • the next night, he found her at the only tavern-bar in the small town of Pinehaven where she lived; she mentioned her porch's wind chimes that normally made sounds during a cool breeze. The unhappily-married female told him: "Some men, once they get a whiff of it, they trail you like a hound." He falsely claimed: "I'm not that eager."
  • when she said her temperature (or "body heat") was normally high or elevated (hence the film's title), he quipped: "Maybe you need a tune-up," to which she answered - with a sexy double entendre: "Don't tell me. You have just the right tool"; she warned him about his romantic prospects with her: "You're going to be disappointed," but he didn't take the hint; he was enthralled by her mode of dress (a braless, open blouse and bright red skirt) and told her that she was seductively dangerous: "Maybe you shouldn't dress like that... you shouldn't wear that body"
  • he invited himself to her Pinehaven mansion - subtly telling her: "I wanna see the chimes"; she slapped him hard across the face - to appear as if they were having a spat and to avoid arousing any suspicion amongst other patrons, and then they left at separate times
  • at her Pinehaven property, she deliberately pointed out her home's gazebo and boathouse; and then, after briefly showing him her tinkling wind chimes on the outdoor porch, she tensely urged him: 'I think you should go now"; she asked him to leave almost immediately: "I shouldn't have let you come"
  • in the following erotic, well-edited preface to a steamy sex scene, Ned began to leave Matty's mansion. The windowed front door was symbolically marked with 'double-cross' windows. He was enticed to reenter by an eager-looking, feverish-looking Matty inside, standing at the bottom of the stairs in the foyer and non-verbally beckoning him inside. He broke into her locked house - literally breaking the rules - by busting through the side porch's windowed doors with a garden lawn chair (to the sound of her wind chimes) to the awaiting, horny and receptive Matty. After feeling her breasts and crotch through her clothing, she laid back on the floor. He removed her panties to make love to her, exclaiming: "It's so right!" She begged: "Please, Ned. Do it!"
  • during subsequent sexual encounters with her, and while taking an icy bath with her, Ned was forced to beg to give him a rest after too much sex: "You are killing me. I'm red, I'm sore...Look at it. It's about to fall off"
  • the predatory and ensnaring Matty inadvertently (but deliberately) kept referring to her wealthy husband Edmund Walker's (Richard Crenna) many faults ("I can't stand the thought of him. He's small and mean and weak")
  • in a scene that foreshadowed a future plot twist, after Ned had just arrived at Pinehaven, he rushed over to a white-dressed figure by the outdoor gazebo; he approached and offered a very forward proposition: "Hey, lady, ya wanna f--k?" Surprised, she turned slowly - revealing herself to be "Matty's" visiting look-alike high school girlfriend Mary Ann Simpson (Kim Zimmer), who slightly resembled "Matty." She responded to him: "Gee, I don't know. Maybe. This sure is a friendly town." Ned quickly apologized - and she was slightly hurt: "You mean the offer's no good?" Then she added: "You must be looking for the lady of the house"; as "Matty" walked up to them (and handed Mary Ann an envelope - a payoff?); after Mary Ann left, "Matty" explained that Mary Ann was "an old friend, she's like a sister to me. She wants me to be happy."
  • later, "Matty" continued to explain the many reasons for her marital unhappiness -- she told Ned that her husband was engaged with shady dealings (the stock market, real estate and other investments, and venture capital); and then off-handedly she explained how Edmund owned the "old place" known as The Breakers, a shorefront property near Miranda Beach; she continued to explain her horrible desires and wishes that her husband would die, part of an amorous ploy: "I wish he'd die. That's really what I want. It's horrible and it's ugly, and it's what I most want"; due to a pre-nuptial agreement and Edmund's will, Matty was discouraged from seeking a divorce because it would leave her with little money
  • while Matty's young niece Heather Kraft (Carola McGuinness) was staying at her Aunt Matty's home for a few days, Ned was cautioned to stay away, but he couldn't resist showing up to surprise Matty (once Heather had gone to bed); the young girl was awakened and caught Matty giving Ned fellatio on the porch; much later in the film, she couldn't identify the man with the erection
  • at a local restaurant, Ned happened to encounter "Matty" with her husband, who was introduced to Ned, while Matty pretended to not really know him, but had contact with him as a lawyer; during their brief conversation, Edmund claimed he would kill anyone having an adulterous affair with his wife: ("I think I'd kill the guy with my bare hands")
  • during a private meeting with Ned in his office, Matty was successful in convincing her duped lover Ned to eliminate her rich husband by murder, and he affirmed for her what they were conspiring to do
  • shortly later, Matty also proposed to Ned that Edmund's will could also be rewritten and changed; presently, Edmund's will left everything instead to his young niece, Heather, and indirectly to Heather's mother Roz (Lanna Saunders) - Edmund's sister; it appeared that Matty's ultimate objective was to get Ned to change the will: ("Every little change would mean a lot for us, Ned. And you're a lawyer. You know how to write it. It wouldn't seem so odd"); Ned was reluctant and worried about changing the will: "Forget it...Nothing strange can happen in his life now. Not one thing out of the ordinary. That's vital, the most important thing. If it does, the chances double that we get caught...We're not gonna get greedy. If we do, we'll get burned"
  • however, fueled by his lust for both Matty's body and wealth, Ned was completely committed to murdering her unsuspecting husband
  • Ned met with ex-client and arsonist Teddy Lewis (Mickey Rourke) to oversee construction of a timer-explosive to be detonated at Edmund's abandoned Breakers beachfront hotel (one of Edmund's properties), to make it look like a botched arson job that would provide Edmund with insurance money (however, Ned's plan was to also make it look like Edmund was killed in the fire)
  • the day of the planned murder of Edmund, Ned drove his red Stingray sports convertible to Miami, conducted business, rented an unconspicuous 4 door sedan and parked it, and then drove his convertible to a downtown hotel to check in; in the middle of the night, he drove back to the Walker estate in Pinehaven; in the middle of the night, he engaged in a struggle with Edmund (who was unexpectedly armed) in the hallway of his opulent home, and lethally beat him to death over the head with a wooden plank; he placed the now-dressed corpse (wrapped in plastic) in Edmund's trunk, drove to the Breakers property in heavy fog, stashed the body inside the building (and staged it to look like an accident), and detonated the explosive with Edmund's body inside; to escape, Matty picked him up in his rental car before the bomb exploded
  • after Edmund's death, at first, police suspected that an arson accident had taken his life; however, recent alterations to Edmund's will (co-signed by Ned, and with Mary Ann Simpson as a witness) made Ned a prime suspect; 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 submitted by Ned (to his surprise): "Mrs. Walker has submitted the new will you wrote up there...And frankly, Mr. Racine, I think we may have a problem."
  • during a meeting with Hardin the next day in West Palm Beach, it was revealed that the revised will equally divided the Walker estate's proceeds between Heather and Mrs. Walker; the document was purportedly witnessed by Mary Ann Simpson, the life-long friend of Matty's living in Europe who was visiting when she signed the document, but 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."
  • Matty admitted to Ned that she had stolen some of his stationary, and had forged Edmund's and Ned's signatures on the revised document (without Ned's knowledge), and she apparently knew how to make the will invalid
  • the investigation into Edmund's death was being conducted by Ned's friends: prosecutor Peter Lowenstein (Ted Danson) and police detective Oscar Grace (J. A. Preston); Ned was forced to falsely admit that he had been involved in redoing the will with Edmund and Matty, and that Mary Ann had signed it as a witness; they were suspicious about a number of things, including: (1) "the grieving widow", and (2) the fact that Mary Ann Simpson was missing, and there was no record that she went to Europe; they warned Ned that "Matty" was a suspect and that he should stay away from her, but he ignored their advice
  • at Matty's home that evening, as she laid atop him naked, she 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, although she did confess that she had used him: "I'm greedy, like you said. I wanted us to have it all."
  • 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?); fortunately for Ned's sake, young Heather could not identify the man attached to the erect penis she saw - when she had glanced at Ned receiving oral sex from Matty on her wind-chimes porch: (Lowenstein: "Well, he looks about seven or eight inches long, shiny and very, very bald")
  • two other issues arose -- Edmund's steel-rimmed glasses that he always wore were strangely not found at the site of his death, and repeated phone calls to Ned's Miami hotel room (from 3:30-5:00 am the night of the murder) went unanswered; in addition, Ned spoke to another lawyer and realized that "Matty" had lied to him about not knowing about his previous malpractice suit (regarding another invalid will) before she hired him; 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 "Matty" (identified as a "real looker") who had asked his help to rig an additional bomb device to a doorway
  • and then Matty called Ned to excitedly promise that they would be rich: "I've got the money. I've taken it and sent it somewhere safe. It's all ours now"; she also told him that Edmund's glasses (acquired from her blackmailing housekeeper) were in the boathouse on the Walker estate; her crafty deviousness and evil were now fully revealed, when she urged: "I think you'd better get them right away"; she said she would meet him at the house at 7:30 pm
  • Ned arrived early and noticed the boathouse's door had been rigged with a wire connected to a bomb; when Matty arrived about three hours later, he confronted her at the outdoor gazebo and feared that she had booby-trapped it to kill him; he forced Matty 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 - crying out: "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

The Breakers' Explosion With Edmund's Body Inside

The Boathouse Explosion Killing "Matty"
Two Explosions
  • in the surprise ending one night, Ned - while serving time awoke - with a start; he realized what had really happened and that he had been duped; he believed that "Matty" was somehow still alive: "She's alive!"
  • Ned spoke about his theories to Oscar - his suspicions were that "Matty" had eliminated the female he had met as Mary Ann Simpson, but he had no proof. "Matty" had assumed the name and life of her friend (a stolen identity for three years) - and presumably, once the real Matty learned of the deception, she threatened blackmail and was being paid off; Ned speculated that there had been a concerted effort to hide "Matty's" identity all along; to eliminate Mary Ann and solve all her problems, "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 to Oscar: "That was her special gift. She was relentless. Matty was the kind of person who could do what was necessary. Whatever was necessary"
  • everything was confirmed for Ned after he sent for "Matty's" Wheaton High School 1968 yearbook 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")
Swapped Yearbook Identities
  • the final view in the film was of 'Matty Tyler' reclining on a beach chair in the tropics where she had escaped "to be rich and live in an exotic land"

Opening Scene: Ned Racine (William Hurt) With Angela in Hot Bedroom

Matty: "You're Not Too Smart, Are You?"

On the Porch Balcony with Hanging Wind Chimes

"Matty" In Front of Her Front Door with Double-Crosses

Matty (Inside Her House): "Please, Ned. Do it!"

'Hot' Love-Making: Matty and Ned

Matty's 'Double' Mary Ann Simpson to Whom Ned Offered: "Hey, lady, ya wanna f--k?"

Niece Heather Witnessing Oral Sex

"Matty" With Husband Edmund (Richard Crenna) at Restaurant

Ned Working With Bomb-Maker Teddy Lewis (Mickey Rourke)

Edmund's Body in Plastic Bag Carried into the Breakers

Ned's Realization in the Penitentiary: "She's Alive!"

"Matty" On an Exotic Beach


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