Thursday, January 30, 2014

slip out the back way


Mrs. Kraft and her daughter Heather entering and being escorted to chairs in the waiting area by Peter Lowenstein from the county prosecutor's office.

In the next scene in
Police Detective Oscar Grace's Office,
Grace tentatively questions his friend Ned Racine.

Lowenstein enters:

"He's mad, isn't he?"

RACINE:  Nooh, no -- I'm not mad.  Why should I be mad just because my friend here, who I've known for years, wants to know of my whereabouts on the night of our recent local murder?

--------- He's perspiring.  So is everyone.

LOWENSTEIN:  Well -- it's not so recent anymore.  Maybe he's feeling a bit of - pressure.  

--------------- He drinks from a short glass bottle of Coca-Cola.


GRACE:  This whole damn case is getting crazy.

LOWENSTEIN:  Did you tell him about the glasses?
GRACE:  No...
LOWENSTEIN:  Seems Walker always wore glasses -- steel-rimmed glasses....But there were none on the scene.  Coroner says they should've been there. ...

And meanwhile Mrs. Kraft and her little girl Heather wait, in the room outside.  Lowenstein says the child has been brought in to "tell her story" about catching her Aunt Matty with some guy out on the patio, when she stayed there.  (This is turning into one big "Uh-oh"'s so tense...)  Oscar gives Ned an opportunity to "slip out the back way" instead of walking past the girl.

(Little noiseless footsteps in the dark.  EXT. - WALKERS' PATIO - NIGHT.  "Aunt Matty?")

Racine nods toward the waiting area, and tells Oscar, "I'll go out this way."

{Body Heat, screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan}


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

you must believe one thing

[Body Heat -- next scene] is at the Walker house, INT.

Ned and Matty together, she confesses to him:

...Mary Ann and I left Wheaton together and went to Chicago.  We didn't know what we were doing.  I got into bad trouble with drugs.  Speed.  Real bad.  I did things -- worse than you can imagine.  I thought I would die.  I prayed I would.

And then a man helped me.  He got me clean.  He didn't want much in return, either.  He was a lawyer, he put me to work in his office.  I learned a lot there.  That's where I picked up the business about making a will invalid.  It happened to him!

[[...thought I'd bring the will up here, maybe get lucky with a judge who didn't know estate law quite so well, maybe find one with the same kind of training as Mr. Racine...]]

I swear I never would have used that, if I'd known about your case.  I was afraid to tell you, I knew you wouldn't let me do it.  I'm greedy, like you said.  I wanted us to have it all.

[She looks deeply into his face.]

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.

RACINE:  They already think you're involved.
-- I don't care.
-- Great.
-- There's nothing we can do about it now.  In a little while we'll either have the money or we won't.  It's out of our hands.

They lie quietly together.

MATTY:  I fired the housekeeper.  We can stay together as long as we want.  We're all alone now.

{Body Heat - written by Lawrence Kasdan}


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

a very rough group of fellas


Sunshine; a dog woofs in the distance.

At his door, Ned notices it's ajar.

Inside are his friends, police detective Oscar Grace (J.A. Preston) and Lowenstein.

RACINE:  Hi guys.  Just come on in, make yourself at home.

GRACE:  Sorry about that.
LOWENSTEIN:  Not me.  The door was unlocked, inviting illegal entry.  It's behavior like that
(sounding like a VERY CONCERNED public service announcement)
makes Oscar's job so hard.

RACINE:  Sorry Oscar.  You guys want a beer?
LOWENSTEIN:  No thanks, I already had one.

GRACE:  Ned, how did you get involved with this Matty Walker?
-- What do you mean?
-- I mean she's poison!  Tell me what you know about her old man's death.
-- What I read in the paper.  He died in the fire.  Looks like arson.

LOWENSTEIN:  Was arson.
RACINE:  Okay, was arson.  You don't know if he was setting it and messed up...or if that's just what someone wanted it to look like.  His people owned the place or something...?

GRACE:  That's right.  A very rough group of fellows, too.  It's possible they wanted to cut old Edmund out.  This doesn't seem like a very neat way to handle something like that.

LOWENSTEIN:  No it's not their style.  They're very smooth.  They'd rather destroy you than kill you.  And they hate publicity.

GRACE:  Me, I'm more interested in the grieving widow.

LOWENSTEIN (with a laugh) Her sister in law's got plenty of ideas along that line too.  She could barely contain herself today, I noticed that.  But she wants to wait and see how Matty treats her on the estate. Doesn't want to blow it.

Oscar Grace asks Ned Racine,
What do you think?

Ned doesn't answer.

'Bout the wife??

I suppose it's possible.  I don't know much about her --
Except what I've seen.
(a beat)
Wouldn't shock me, either way.

LOWENSTEIN:  I've got a feeling she's very bad news.  Take some incredibly intelligent advice and stay away from her.

OSCAR:  He's right, for once.

NED:  Well I'm sorry, guys, but I just -- can't do that.

OSCAR:  Why not?

NED:  First of all, did you get a look at her?
The fact is, she invited me out there tonight....

LOWENSTEIN:  (as if to a recalcitrant teen) --Ned.
Someday your [desires] are going to lead you into a very big hassle.  That lady may have just killed her husband...!

Ned shrugs.  "She's not gonna inherit anything by killing  me. ..."

{Body Heat, written by Lawrence Kasdan}

^^^^^^^^^  When Ned first comes into his apartment, in this scene, he goes over to the refrigerator (an old one with the door rounded at the top corners) -- and it seems to be in the -- living room.  (Bachelor's place.)  Ned opens the fridge, leans in toward the cool, and removes his shirt.  Then he tosses the shirt to Oscar Grace, and Detective Grace, leaving no break in the questions-and-conversation, grabs the shirt mid-air, and swings his arm back, letting the shirt fly, not looking back, or caring, where it lands.  It's pretty funny.


Monday, January 27, 2014

other dealings

(You'll get half of everything he owns.  Whatever it is, we're going to be satisfied.  We're not going to get greedy.  If we do, we'll get burned.
-- You're right.  I'm sorry darling -- I know you're right.)

Miles Hardin tells Ned Racine over the phone, "Mrs. Walker has submitted the new will you wrote up there."

Our awareness splits now, as the audience -- there's more than one thing going on here.  We have been watching a straight-line story, going forward, from event to event, from plan to carrying-out of the plan.

Now there's something else.  Something apparently happened offfscreen.  Someone re-wrote that will.  (Matty Walker, all on her own, is what we must surmise.)  She didn't want the fortune cut in half; she wanted it all.  And despite the "You're right I'm sorry darling I know you're right"), she made sure that the situation was Taken Care Of.  This person has some laser focus on the goal, and on maximizing profits.

The Next Scene is in a conference room at a law firm in West Palm.  Miles Hardin, Ned Racine, Matty Walker, Mrs. Kraft (Edmund Walker's sister, mother of little Heather), and Peter Lowenstein (Ted Danson).

HARDIN:  Mr. Lowenstein is handling the inquiry into Edmund Walker's death for the county prosecutor's office.  He has arranged for us to talk very candidly here today, off the record so to speak.

[Problem with the will:  Mr. Racine violated the rule against perpetuities.]

I knew that a probate judge in Miami would spot the mistake right away.  So I thought I'd bring it up here to Okeelanta County -- since Edmund had the residence here -- and see if I could get lucky with a judge who didn't know estate law quite so well...
(dryly, he can't resist)
Perhaps find one with the same kind of training as Mr. Racine.

Unfortunately, my plan backfired.  I ran into a judge who'd had other dealings with Mr. Racine.  A Judge Costanza.  In fact, it seems there were problems with an estate in a case four years ago.  Very different problems, it's true.  But on a will Mr. Racine prepared.  Quite a mess.  Accusations of carelessness, a malpractice suit.  I think he called it the Gorson case.


...It means, I'm afraid, that Edmund's will is invalid. 
(portentous tone)
Edmund Walker died intestate, as though there were no will at all.

Roz Kraft looks at Matty with panicky eyes.

So -- what happens now?

Hardin looks her over coldly.
You don't know?

(calm, in her irritation)
No.  I don't.

-- Perhaps Mr. Racine would like to tell you.

[spouse inherits everything]

(looking dumbfounded)
My god.  You's all mine?

Though that was clearly not your husband's intention.  He intended Heather to benefit.

(looking back and forth, from Miles Hardin to Mrs. Kraft)
Oh -- of course.  Of course, I understand.  Of course.


Ned Racine is pretty mad.  The will was faked without his knowledge, he's getting blamed for it, and "noodged" by this other lawyer in the meeting, plus it's risky because now it looks suspicious.

("Nothing strange can happen in his life right now, Matty; not one thing out of the ordinary"....)

Still, out in the parking lot afterwards, his first words to Mrs. Walker are, "You look good in black."

{Body Heat script.  written by Lawrence Kasdan}


Friday, January 24, 2014

darling I know you're right

^^ Ned and Matty lying together at night, reviewing the plan.
NED:  And?
MATTY:  2:30, I send him down.
NED:  And?
...and the end of that scene she whispers, "I'm frightened."

And now the murder.  [in Body Heat] a sequence of scenes, brief, one after the other.  The action scenes of Ned Racine driving to Miami and taking care of business; and quiet, languorous scenes of Matty Walker at her home.

Strident, dramatic, orchestral music accompanies the Miami- and driving-to-Miami scenes.

Languid, seductive music oozes over the quiet, almost motionless scenes of Matty at the impressive Walker mansion.

^^ Ned Racine's red car driving south to Miami, fast on the highway, DAY.
^^ In Miami, DAY:  Ned Racine shaking hands and speaking with man at Rent-a-Car place.
^^ [dramatic music, interrupted by odd, quirky music]  Something catches Ned's attention:  he stares.  A car is going by, driven by someone in a clown suit and mask.

^^ [languid music] Matty Walker at home, bathing in the black bathtub with gold legs.
^^ MIAMI - DAY  Ned tips the valet who's taking his rented car to park it.  They speak a moment.
^^ EXT. - WALKER HOUSE - NIGHT.  In fog on the porch-of-chimes, a Medium Close shot of a spider web suspended in the darkness.  Chimes ding-ding, very softly.

^^ [no music] a digital clok in the bedroom.  Matty's face on her pillow, in bed, watching that clock.
^^ [dramatic music]  NIGHT - the highway.  Ned driving back up to Pine Haven, from Miami.  Intent.  Terse; tense; focus.

The murder happens.  It's dramatic and tense, building up to it; it's over quickly.  No explicit violence on-screen.

In the dark and the quiet, outside, after, with the body in the trunk of Edmund Walker's white Cadillac, Ned commands Matty, "Spend fifteen minutes inside cleaning up, then come.  You have to be careful, driving in this fog."

He pauses, & looks at her.
(urgently) - "You all right?"
She nods her head yes, after a second.

When he drives away he's so tense and unnerved, he almost wrecks, twice.  A big tree branch in the darkness in front of the car -- (was it in the road?  Or did he drive off the road?)...then, pulling out onto the highway in the darkness and fog, the elephantine "WONK" of a semi-truck's horn.  Ned just barely misses getting hit, and drives off down the road, ahead of the big truck.

Despite these moments, there is an overall sense, in this sequence of scenes, of everything going "According To Plan".  The Miami alibi...people saw him there...

^^  at "The Breakers" -- old run-down hotel ruins down on the beach, Ned deposits the body and takes Mickey Rourke's home-built bomb out of a hiding place in the old crumbling wall.

^^  Matty meets him; he drives her back to her house, wordless.  When he stops the car in the driveway, he looks straight ahead out the windshield and says to her, "We won't talk for a long time."

He drives away, alone.  Looks up into his rear-view mirror, his eyes looking at his eyes.

Drip, drip.  Creak.  The silent, soundless hiss of night-quiet.  Then the explosion WHHOOMM-POW!  And the fire's everyplace in there.

The relentless flames give way to a view of Matty Walker standing, leaning against a column, on the porch, in the dark and fog.  She hears, faintly, sirens.  We see the flames and her face superimposed over them, in this shot.



At his desk with a pad of paper before him and pencil in hand, he's having trouble concentrating.  He looks miserable and tired.  Phone rings.

The pencil drops onto the pad of paper, like a tear.

Secretary in the outer office:  "Miles Hardin; says he's a lawyer in Miami."
Mr. Hardin's voice over the phone:  "As you know, Mr. Racine, we represented Edmund Walker."
[Ned did not know that.  He's silent.]

"Mrs. Walker has submitted the new will you wrote up there."



(Forget it.  Listen to me Matty.  Nothing strange can happen in his life right now.  You'll get half of everything he owns.  We're not going to get greedy.
-- You're right.  I'm sorry darling--I know you're right. ...)

{Body Heat, written-Lawrence Kasdan}

Thursday, January 23, 2014

it's fast; it's hot; it's simple

...And the Oscar for "Best Scene" goes to --

INT.  Teddy Lewis's shop.  Night.

Crowded.  Work-bench, tools, supplies, wire, rope, cans, alarm clocks, chemical containers, and what screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan describes as a  "huge assortment of mechanical implements."

[[ Go to Google and type "Mickey Rourke in Body Heat" and you can watch this scene. ]]

Teddy (Mickey Rourke) watches as Racine concentrates on clipping two wires together, on a compact incendiary device.  He winces with frustration, watching the lawyer try to do this, then gets up, goes over to Ned, and turns down "Feel Like A Number."  You can still hear the song, as background, under the dialogue.

Whatsa matter, you can't think with a little music?
Like this, I said.  It's fast, it's hot, it's simple.

They work, together; when Racine has got it, Teddy crosses the room again and looks at him from the distance.  As they converse, Teddy Lewis moves around the shop, on edge, worried.

That's it?

Yeah, you can use the clock, or rig it to somethin' that moves.  It starts big and it'll go with just the mag chips.  If you want more, splash a little accelerator around.

Just regular gasoline?

(there is weariness in his tone)
Regular, unleaded, supreme -- whatever you like, counselor.  I got to tell you, though, this mama's got a big drawback to it.

-- What?

-- It's easy to spot.  Even after the melt-down, they're gonna know it's arson.

-- I don't care about that.

Teddy Lewis looks shocked and impatient at same time.

RACINE:  That's all there is to it?

LEWIS:  No, no, that ain't all there is to it.  You gotta get in, you gotta get out.  You gotta pick the right spot, the right time.  And you gotta try not to get famous while you're in the act.  (gestures at the device)  If that was all there was to it, any idiot could do it.

-- Sorry.

-- Hey, now I want to ask you something.
Are you listening to me, asshole? -- because I like you.  (Racine nods, his attention captured)  I got a serious question for you.  What the fuck are you doing?  This is not shit for you to be messing with.  Are you ready to hear something?  I want you to see if this sounds familiar.  Any time you try a decent crime, you got fifty ways you can fuck up.  If you think of twenty-five of them, then you're a genius.  And you ain't no genius.  (smiles)  You remember who told me that?

Racine nods.  He remembers.

TEDDY:  Hey, no smokin' in here.  Look, why don't you let me do it for you?  Gratis.  I'll do it.  I wouldn't even be on the street if it wasn't for you.

RACINE:  (shaking his head "no")  Thanks.

TEDDY:  I sure hope you know what you're doin' -- you better be damn sure.  'Cuz if you ain't sure, then don't do it.  Course that's my recommendation anyway.  Don't do it.  Because I'll tell you something, Counselor.  This arson, is serious crime.

The MUSIC comes back up --
...a stranger in this land,
I feel like a number...
"Best Scene."

{excerpt, Body Heat screenplay, written, Lawrence Kasdan}


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

after dark

Body Heat

After the scene where Ned tells Matty, "Nothing strange can happen in his life right now, not one thing out of the ordinary...You'll get half of everything he owns, and it'll be plenty....We're going to be satisfied.  We're not gonna get greedy...." --
The next scene is outside ("EXT.") at night. Shipyards.  Can hear the "lowing" of a -- boat-horn, or foghorn, "Wwho-ah.  Wwho-ah."  Some men working, moving around in the darkness.  A lot of stuff around.

Ned Racine, in polo shirt and jeans, comes toward us out of the darkness, toward car.  A workman passing by, carrying about four 6-foot-long pipes across one shoulder, watches Ned for a moment.  Like -- "that guy doesn't work here, who is he?"...or -- "that's my lawyer, from the time I had that trouble"...

Ned arrives at the car where Matty waits behind the wheel.

Ned:  I know where he is.
I don't want you with me.

-- I thought we settled that.  Gonna wait in the car.  But I want to take the risk with you.  We're both doing this.

And the Bob Seger song, "Feel Like a Number" swoops in, bam!, and does it rock!

The next scene is the one I would nominate for "Best Scene in a Movie" if the Academy Awards created that category.

Reasons why it's one of the best Scenes ever:
The music
the acting
the writing & directing
the reverses, and the compression.

When scholars and critics discuss the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop they use the word "compression" because in a small amount of words and lines, she gives you a lot.  I think the same is true of this B. Heat scene:  it has compression.

And reverses -- as you view it, you realize, Ned Racine the lawyer has come to see Teddy Lewis the guy who's apparently been on the wrong side of the law (Teddy:  "I wouldn't even be on the street if it wasn't for you").  But what Ned has come to see him about is something bad -- something he shouldn't be doing.  Now it's the lawyer who's about to be on the "wrong side" of the law.  You also realize in this scene, that in the past Racine has helped and counseled Teddy Lewis; now, it's reversed:  Teddy helps and tries to counsel the lawyer (the "counselor").

Racine has requested an explosive device, and Mr. Lewis has built it for him, and is now showing him how to use it.  However, we note that after he shows Ned Racine how to use it, he advises him not to use it at all.  ("Don't do it.")

It's this way -- and then it's that way.  Twist -- then go back.  Reverses.  Zig-zags.  Reverses.  Here's how to do it.  But -- don't do it.

{Body Heat, script by Lawrence Kasdan, 1981}


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

feel like a stranger

I take my card and I stand in line
To make a buck I work overtime
Dear-sir letters keep coming in the mail

I work my back 'til it's racked with pain
The boss can't even recall my name
I show up late and I'm docked
It never fails

I feel like just another
Spoke in a great big wheel
Like a tiny blade of grass
In a great big field

To workers I'm just another drone
To ma bell I'm just another phone
I'm just another statistic on a sheet

To teachers I'm just another child
To I-R-S, just another file
I'm just another consensus on the street

Gonna cruise out of this city
Head down to the sea
gonna shout out at the ocean
Hey it's me

And I feel like a number
Feel like a number
Feel like a stranger

A stranger in this land
I feel like a number
I'm not a number
I'm not a number

Damn, I'm a man
I said I'm a man

They have that song in the movie Body Heat, when Ned Racine (William Hurt) goes to see one of his clients, Teddy Lewis (Mickey Rourke).

We all have our days, when we are made to "feel like a stranger" ...

{"Feel Like A Number" -- Bob Seger}


Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Bridge on the River Body Heat

I have seven favorite movies which I selected on my own, to see, for my own reasons and I think they are 7 of the best movies ever, in Life.  Many great movies are not in this tiny list of seven, only because they were already classics when I saw them.  Like -- I was led to them, I didn't find them.

My own little discoveries were --

The Last Waltz
Coal Miner's Daughter
Body Heat
The Big Chill
When Harry Met Sally...

None of these won the Academy Award for "Best Picture."

I started thinking about that because in the next two scenes in Body Heat, one of them is a scene so excellent that it should have won an Academy Award for the "Best Scene in a Movie" for that year.  They don't have that, but -- it would be a good idea.  "Best Scene."  Not that the rest of the film isn't excellent as well, but ... that could add an interesting little new wrinkle, to the Academy proceedings.  (Making that damn show, once a year, even Longer!!  LOL -- it might be difficult to garner support for this idea....)

So I started thinking of the Academy and wondering why I love movies so much, and yet seem to be "out-of-step" with their thinking -- the thinking of the Academy People.  If you look at a list of movies that have won "Best Picture" you find that most of them are -- compared to "my" movies --


Bigger, more sweeping, more on a grand scale...
Many of them deal with heavy stuff -- historical significance (Schindler's List), man's struggle, personal tragedy (Terms of Endearment), intenseness (The Bridge on the River Kwai), seriousness; sometimes they're uplifting on a grand scale (or the opposite); sometimes it's heroism -- Patton; Gandhi.  And "spectacle" -- Chicago...

When you run down the list of Best Picture films through the years -- check decades worth of 'em -- there are very few --
^^ genre films (like Body Heat -- there was ONE  Oscar winner, The Sting, a "caper" movie -- and I guess In The Heat Of The Night would be a genre movie -- a "dramatic mystery")
^^ comedies  (Annie Hall, about the only comedy on that list).

Really, I object to that.  I think the prejudice, downright discrimination, against comedies as Best Picture selections results partly from Tradition (it's always been that way) and the tradition got started because a movie that is a comedy doesn't tend to make the Academy voters feel "important" enough.

And that quarantining of comedy pictures as being "not that good" may have contributed to the actual downgrading of standards in comedy movies...but -- I digress.

I tried this -- checked my seven selections, what year were they made, and which film won Best Picture that year...

Both Shag and When Harry Met Sally... came out in 1989.
Best Picture that year:  Driving Miss Daisy.

Body Heat was released in 1981.
Best Picture in 1981:  Chariots of Fire.

The Big Chill -- 1983.
Best picture in 1983, Terms of Endearment.

The Last Waltz, released -- 1978.
Best picture that year, The Deer Hunter

Coal Miner's Daughter, 1980.
Best Picture:  Ordinary People.

Witness -- 1985.
Academy Award, 1985:  Out of Africa.

As I said before, but I'd add to the thought -- compared to my selections, Academy Award - winning movies tend to be -- bigger, more sweeping, more on a grand scale, and -- sadder.

I  mean, come on --
Terms of Endearment, the mom dies;
Ordinary People, kid falls out of the boat and dies;
Out of Africa, Robert Redford dies;
The Deer Hunter -- "The scenes of Russian roulette were highly controversial"...bleah bleah...

Why can a movie not be GOOD enough to win an Academy Award for BEST PICTURE if it is not sad or depressing or horrifying...???!!!

(I love what Tina Turner said in answer to critics who thought she was somehow betraying her R & B "roots" by singing mainstream pop and rock-and-roll in the '80s...She said in rhythm and blues, it's a lifestyle you're singing about, and then she says to the interviewer, wearily, "Rock and roll is white, basically.  And white people haven't had that much of a problem, so they write about much lighter things, and funnier things.  And because I did not get depressed about my depressive life, I happened to like that the songs weren't depressing...!")

She's great.  Tina Turner should be put in charge of the Academy Awards.

I asked myself, What do I look for, in a movie?  What do I want?  What's different about me, from the Academy?...
I guess -- when I see a movie, I don't want that much.  I want something small.  Some people might opine that I am a sensitive person -- I would tend to not want to agree with that because "sensitive" is looked-down on, I think, now -- but maybe in music and movies and books, I'm (allegedly) "sensitive" enough so that -- a little goes a long way.  Maybe that's it....

I want -- music, fun, lightness, interest -- to see Bob Dylan! (in The Last Waltz) -- I want to have fun and be happy or fascinated, and get some satisfaction from it.
("The language of film noir is extravagant, & very satisfying."
--Lawrence Kasdan).
and sometimes music,
and the truth of a moment, and of a person, and of life.

a phrase
(When Harry Met Sally) -- "I'll have what she's having."
(Body Heat) -- "This sure is a friendly town!"

a song that "goes with" or "backs up" the action in a scene
(Shag) -- "I used to smoke, I used to drink -- I used to smoke, drink and dance the hootchie-koo!"
(The Big Chill) -- "I was feelin' -- so bad.  I asked my family doctor just what I had"...

---------- And come off that dumb-hillbilly act, lady!
-- Mister, if you knew Loretta, you'd know that ain't no act.
-- Thank you, Doo.

Entertainment Weekly, of all people, wrote an article titled "25 Biggest Oscar Snubs of All Time" and noted Body Heat -- [quote]-------- Kathleen Turner.  With her smoldering voice, lithe body, and a temperature that runs higher than 100 degrees, Turner's Matty Walker embodies the steamy desires of lowlife lawyer Ned Racine (William Hurt).  Turner, in her incendiary film debut, drapes Matty in haughty insolence, desperate unattainability, and seductive refinement.  With amazing assurance for an actress whose previous work was primarily in daytime soaps, Turner turned up the sexual heat of the classic femme fatale while bowing to her stylish '40s forerunners.-------[end quote]

Uhm -- yeah -- What He Said!

The Deer Hunter:  I almost went to that one evening during college, but the line was too long, so we went to see something else.  I didn't mind; it was too soon, in my feelings, to see a film about Vietnam.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

nothing strange can happen

In the movie Body Heat, Edmund Walker's career is --
"Oh -- various things; this and that; here and there."

That's his job.
(Oohhhh - kay. ...)

("They want to get rich...but they're not willing to do -- what's necessary. ...")

[from the screenplay]


Middle of the night.  No one in sight.  Now comes the only movement -- a Miranda Beach Police Patrol Car drives slowly up the street next to the old hotel and turns south on Ocean Avenue.  When it is gone, all is dead again.


Racine has watched the patrol car from the darkness of the beach.  Now he sits in the sand again, his back against the raised bank of sand on which he goes running, mornings.  He lights a flashlight and makes a notation in a small notepad.


Racine's footsteps creak through the blackness.  [Background MUSIC--mysterious, tentative, and tense].  Then his flashlight reveals a corridor in the crumbling basement of the old hotel.  Racine is not the first to have violated the premises -- scattered about are beer cans, whiskey bottles, beds made of newspapers, the remains of food.  Rats CHITTER and scamper in the shadows.  A lizard scoots over the pipes.

Racine goes through a doorway and is in what used to be a supply area at the bottom of a stairway.  Scattered about are empty wooden food crates.  The walls are lined with tall wooden shelves; one of these units is tipped over across the room, Racine shines his light in that direction and sees what caused the shelves to fall.  One of the beams which cross the ceiling has rotted loose and dropped one end to the floor.

Racine has found what he wanted.
[The MUSIC ends on a high-note crescendo.]


Racine sits smoking, watching Matty fill their tall highball glasses with ice at the bar.

Her mother works plenty hard to keep Heather on Edmund's mind.  Always bringing her around, always reporting on everything she does in school.  That Roz is a smart one. 

She brings his drink over to him.

And anything Heather inherits goes straight to Roz.  Heather won't even get a look at it.  That's the part I can't stand.  That's what seems so wrong, that half of it should go to her!

(his customary low-key, off-hand, indolent manner)
That's the way it is.  There's nothing we can do about it.

Matty turns away from his chair and moves back over toward the bar.

Are you sure?  Because I was thinking -- that maybe there is.  The will is with Edmund's lawyer in Miami, I know that.  What if I could get him to bring it home?  Couldn't we re-write it?  Change it?  Every little change would mean a lot for us, Ned. 
(she's kneeling, now, on the floor in front of his chair)
And -- you're a lawyer.  You know how to write it! It wouldn't seem so odd...I could say he brought it home, and we talked about it, and decided to make some changes up here.  And I knew you already --

[During this speech, Ned has been looking disconsolate -- up at her, then down, then staring moodily mid-distance, eyebrows first up, in surprise, then down in a slight frown.]

No.  Forget it.

I don't see why Heather should take half! --

Racine puts down his drink and turns to look down at her.

Listen to me, Matty.  Nothing strange can happen in his life right now, not one thing out of the ordinary.  That's vital, that's the most important part.  'Cause if it does, the chances double that we get caught.  You'll get half of everything he owns, and it'll be plenty.  No matter what it is, we're gonna be satisfied.  We're not going to get greedy.  If we do, we'll get burned.

She studies his face, her eyes wide, her facial expression nearly vibrating with energy.

(in her smoky Voice of passion and mystery)
You're right, darling.  I'm sorry.  I know you're right.

[Excerpts from the screenplay for Body Heat, written by Lawrence Kasdan.]


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

very careful now about the phones

In that Restaurant-Dinner scene in Body Heat, the ages of the actors playing the characters were as follows:
Kathleen Turner (Matty Walker) -- 27
William Hurt (Ned Racine) -- 31
Richard Crenna (Edmund Walker) -- 55.

So Edmund Walker is almost sort of like the "Dad"-figure at the table.  He's the one who knows how to "Get Successful" -- how to Make Money.

He is the Master Of Situations; he has been to The Mountain; (he's also picking up the check, my guess would be....)

But what is his actual career?  HOW does a person make money?  Ned Racine, with undergrad & law degrees, hasn't discovered the formula yet, so he asks Walker, "What is it, exactly?"

WALKER:  "Oh -- various things.  This and that.  Here and there."

("He's never introduced me to anyone.  I don't know if they're all legitimate.")

("He was like a lot of guys you run into -- they want to get rich, they want to do it quick, they want to be there with one score.")

(( "I'm surprised you weren't in on that toilet caper -- it could have been that quick score you've always been searching for."))

("But they're not willing to do what's necessary....
No -- I mean do what's necessary.  Whatever's necessary.")

So, does this man Make his Money by ... by hook?
...or -- by crook?

It's all a little mysterious.



Racine runs south along the beach.  Ocean waves roll-and-plow and froth toward the sand.  Racine is looking at something.  He takes out his cigarettes as he slows to a walk.  When he is directly across from what he's staring at, he sits in the sand.  He lights up.

RACINE'S POV (point-of-view) - "THE BREAKERS," an ancient wooden beach hotel, of medium size, sits at the edge of the beach.  It is closed down, boarded up, deteriorating horribly in the ocean air.


Lunchtime.  The sidewalk is full of pedestrians.  Racine is headed toward his office, briefcase in hand.  His secretary, Beverly, appears out of the noon crowd; she's going the other way in a hurry.

There are some messages on your desk.  Be back in an hour.


Racine comes into the reception room from the hall.  He's surprised the door is unlocked.  Through the Venetian blinds [those lines and shadows again -- noir!] which separate the reception area from Ned's office, he sees someone in his office.  It's Matty, wearing a summer dress. 

He enters his office.

Jesus!  Did Beverly see you?

(tense, sad, desperate)
No, I waited until I saw her leave.  Please -- don't be angry.

Angry?  I'm not angry -- How'd you get in?

It didn't lock.  Oh.  Ned, hold me.  Please just hold me.

He takes her in his arms.

Oh God, I love you.
He left this morning.  I had to see you.

(kissing her)
I know.

I couldn't call.  I'm afraid to call.  I was afraid you wouldn't let me come!

Yes, that's right.  You mustn't call.  Never call.  We have to be very careful now about the phones.  The phone company keeps records.

I am careful.  I hated it, Ned.  I hated sitting there with the two of you.  I thought I was going to scream.

(distracted, thinking)
You did good.
(finds his thought)
You've called my apartment from the house.

No, never.

No?  Those two times --

I went to phone booths.  I'm afraid of him, Ned.  I'm always afraid.

That's good.  We have to be careful about the phones now.

Why, Ned, why do you say this now?

(in his own thoughts)
We could account for a couple calls.  We've had some contact.  That would make sense.

Matty grasps his face in her hands and looks into his face.

Why, Ned?  What's happened?

Because we're going to kill him.
We both -- know that.

Matty's face looks different than we've seen it.  There's a fire burning behind there and the heat it's throwing is bringing her equal portions of dread and relief.  She stares at him.

It's what you want, isn't it?  We knew it was coming.  It's the only way we can have everything we want, isn't it?

Matty's nod is barely perceptible.

(his impassioned face very close to her hair)
That man is going to die, for no reason but we want him dead.  He doesn't deserve it.  Let's not ever say that.  We're doing it for us.  And you'll inherit half of everything he owns.  That's what the will says, right?

Again, the tiny nod.  He pulls her head close, so he doesn't have to look into her eyes anymore.

That's it then.  We're gonna kill him.  And I think I know how.

Matty reacts to this.

It's real, then?

Yeah it's real all right.  And if we're not careful, it's gonna be the last real thing we do.

{excerpt, screenplay for Body Heat, written by Lawrence Kasdan.}


After Ned says "if we're not careful it's going to be the last real thing we do" the Camera, and with it Audience POV, climbs higher and higher in the room.  Even though it's daylight out, it's dark and shadowy in the office; it is only light around the embracing couple.  His hands are on her waist.  Her hands are on his shoulders.

Camera goes up, up, up kind of hanging, swirling up higher than where the ceiling would surely have ended.  A technician in the movie crew asked director Lawrence Kasdan, "Who's point of view is this?"  And Mr. Kasdan answered, "It's God's point of view."


Monday, January 13, 2014

want to be there with one score

"Rehearse and play;
rehearse and play;
rehearse and play."  That's how the stars of the film Body Heat described director Lawrence Kasdan's way of working:  instead of rigging a scene to showcase, or emphasize, a certain emotion, speech, or word, it was done more, Kathleen Turner said, like a stage play:  rehearse and play, rehearse and play.

When I heard her say that in a Feature-interview (DVD) I thought -- maybe that is one reason I like the style of this film -- it comes across as natural, like life -- you can "buy" it, as a viewer.


                                                               WIPE TO:


They have finished their salad at a table toward the back.  A Waiter comes and takes away their dishes.  Walker has taken off his glasses and is cleaning the lenses with a lovely handkerchief.  He does this cleaning with enormous care and inordinate relish.  His manner is a mix of gruff charm and hinted menace.  There's something dangerous about the man and it's perfectly distilled in his smile, which is quick, frequent and vaguely threatening.

("He's never introduced me to anyone.  I don't know if they're all legitimate.")

I was a lawyer.  Still am, I guess.  But I don't practice.  Went to Columbia.  You?

F. S. U.

Good school.  I got bored with it quick.  I guess I didn't have the temperament for it.  I wanted to make the money faster.  Is there a living in it here?

I can afford to send out my shirts. 
(he says this with vastly understated humor, darting his eyes from one side to the other, like he's mentally calculating how much things cost...)
And to eat here once a month, if I don't -- order an appetizer.

He laughs -- a relaxed, low-key chuckle, at his own statement, and Matty Walker and her husband laugh gently, along with him.  Walker re-folds his handkerchief carefully and puts it back in the cheat pocket of his jacket.

I figured honest lawyers didn't make very much, and the other kind were too slimy for me. 
(there's that close-lipped smile)
I'd -- rather be up-front about shafting somebody.

(getting out a cigarette)
Edmund, really.  It's Mr. Racine's profession.

That's all right.  I don't like it much.

Ned lights Matty's cigarette for her.

(to Matty)
Call me Ned, will you?

What's to like?  That's the way of the world.  Most people despise their jobs.

Do you?

No.  I love it.  But -- it's not a job.

What is it, exactly?

Oh -- various things.  This and that.  Here and there.

(with a small smile)
You don't have to be specific.

Finance, basically.  Venture capital, investments, real estate.  We're into a few things.

Around here?

Some.  We own some things here.

Edmund's company owns The Breakers.

Is that right?

It's not that simple, really; we have an interest in a few places along the shore.  For the land, you know.  Someday. 
(then, tiredly, with a smile)
But don't try explaining that to her.

He tilts his head in Matty's direction, like it's a family joke -- a teasing-thing between them as a couple...'My wife doesn't Understand Business, yadda-yadda...'

Matty smiles, flicks a glance toward Ned, then toward her husband, and back again.

(smiling, eyebrows arched)
I'm too dumb.  A woman, you know.

She puts out her cigarette,  picks up her purse and stands up with a good-humored smile.  The men rise.

Well!  I'll be right back.  Then maybe we can talk about pan - ty - hose or something interesting.

She walks away from the table.  The two men chuckle in appreciation of her joke and her spirit -- Walker watches her go with a satisfied, possessive smile.  They sit.

She's something, isn't she?

She is a lovely lady.

Yes, she is.  And I'm crazy about her.  If I ever thought she was seeing another guy . . . I don't know.
(takes a sip of wine)
Oh I could understand how it could happen.  Her being the way she is.  I'd understand it.  But I think I'd kill the guy with my bare hands.

That's understanding.

Walker looks at Racine and laughs, as he picks up the wine bottle, pours for himself, and gestures if Ned wants some -- yes -- Walker empties the bottle and, with a swift, up-down gesture of a finger, orders another bottle.  As he begins to speak he focuses intently on Racine.  He seems to be trying to communicate something other than what he's saying.

You wouldn't believe the dorkus she was with when I met her.  The guy came to us with a business proposition.  We're always looking for opportunities.  If the conditions are right.  We're willing to take an occasional risk, if the downside isn't too steep.  But this guy hadn't done his homework.  He didn't know the bottom line.  That's how I knew he was full of shit.  You've gotta know the bottom line.  That's all that counts.

Again Walker takes off his glasses.  He holds them up to the light and then rubs them again with his handkerchief.

But he didn't have the goods, this guy.  He was like a lot of guys you run into -- they want to get rich, they want to do it quick, they want to be there with one score.

He puts his glasses back on, stares at Racine.

But they're not willing to do what's necessary.  Do you know what I mean?

I'm not sure.  You mean, lay the groundwork?  Earn it?

(with a laugh)
No.  I mean do what's necessary.  Whatever's necessary.

The two men stare at each other a few beats.

Yeah.  I know that kind of guy.  I can't stand that, it makes me sick...

Me too.

I'm a lot like that!

Walker ROARS with laughter, at this.  Racine laughs with him, but stops laughing while Mr. Walker's still laughing.


In that dinner scene, Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner) wears a filmy, silky dress, with a "boat-neck" and a long single strand of pearls.  Early in the conversation in this scene, there's a momentary close-up of her left hand -- wedding ring and big diamond on the ring-finger, and the gold cigarette lighter lying in a neat, shiny rectangle on the tablecloth.  Her fingers pick up the lighter and turn it over.  Then turn it over, again, moving subtly, nervously. 

Someone else who's studied this movie Commented in, 'Has anyone ever noticed the symbolism used to introduce different "acts" of the story?  1) When Maddy (sic) is having dinner with both her husband & Ned she is playing with her lighter or "playing with fire" by balancing both men.'

---------------------- When I read a Comment like that, I feel like I'm not observant or smart compared to that person, not that I wanted to compare myself to them.  But -- you know, how many times have I seen / studied / wallowed in this film, and I never came up with the idea that her nervous fingers with that lighter "symbolized" Playing-With-Fire....!  Man!  Other people come up with this stuff, and -- it's like with music, other people comment on the nuances of the rhythm and notes and the layered meanings in the lyrics, and I'm just more like, "Turn It Up!!"  And this person comes up with the "symbolism" in Body Heat, and at my level, I'm just sort of, "Symbolism, schmymbolism!  It's a Really Really Really GOOD movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

(What I lack in intellectual discernment I make up for in enthusiasm....)

{Body Heat screenplay, written-Lawrence Kasdan, 1981}