A little over twenty-one years ago, a sultry and carefully twisted mystery was unvailed to audiences in 1981. The film that I speak of was the directorial debut of Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote the screenplay to two of the most iconic films in film history, The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark and would go on to make memorable films such as The Big Chill, Silverado, The Accidental Tourist and Grand Canyon. His directorial debut was to one of the more sensual and ingeniously plotted, Body Heat, which is a film that really holds up quite well to this very day.
This mystery-thriller starred William Hurt, as a chump Florida lawyer named Ned, who gets caught up (literally) in the charms both the sexual and sensual beauty of Matty (Kathleen Turner, in a career defining role), a unhappily married woman to a rich local (Richard Crenna). Ned literally succumbs to her and would do anything (literally!) to keep their hot and steamy relationship afloat even resorting to murder. The film is filled with many plot twists and a rather surprising and shocking ending that really made the film very memorable in that regard. The film also features Ted Danson and Mickey Rourke (in a memorable breakout role as a criminal who may or may not be essential to the plot).
Capturing the mood and sultry Floridian atmosphere is the work the late John Barry, who’s magical and jazz noir score is without a doubt one of the finest of his career and one of the best of the 1980’s. Featuring the sultry sax of soloist Ronnie Lang and the memorable Fender Rhodes solos of reknowned pianist Michael Lang, Barry’s score is just exquisite in every facet and after long and consistant demand, Film Score Monthly has released this highly popular score from the late Barry’s filmography which was released as rare LP to which went for high prices in a complete and comprehensive two disc set featuring every note that Barry wrote for the film including Barry’s perferred album sequence.
The album is now ready to order from Screen Archives Entertainment for a reasonable $24.95 price tag
Here’s the press release for the album.
Taking his inspiration from such ’40s noir classics as The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity, Lawrence Kasdan struck gold with his first outing as both screenwriter and director in 1981’s Body Heat. The torrid chemistry between lead actors William Hurt and Kathleen Turner helped the film launch a neo-noir trend. Kasdan was equally fortunate in his choice of composer: John Barry.
Barry wrote a sultry, smoky score that emerged from a tradition of small jazz combos in late-night, big-city bars—but while the key musical elements of Body Heat derive from jazz ideas and jazz instrumentation (there is a certain amount of jazz-style improvisation around the melody in some cues), a good deal of the score is traditionally orchestral and the strings play an important role throughout.
The score’s haunting main theme is sexy, seductive and a little sad—a throwback to ’40s noir music yet more knowing and modern. At its heart is a jazz quartet comprised of Barry veterans Ronny Lang (alto sax), Mike Lang (piano), Chuck Domanico (bass) and John Guerin (drums).
The first well-filled disc in FSM’s 2CD presentation of Body Heat features the full score, plus alternates and a generous program of source music. Disc 2 opens with Barry’s never-released soundtrack LP, mixed by Dan Wallin and (unlike subsequent issues which featured new mixes) approved by the composer. Rounding out disc 2 are 10 early demos of Barry’s main theme, recorded with a small combo to demonstrate how it might sound with various instruments playing the melody.
The 16-page booklet, seductively illustrated with film stills by FSM art director Joe Sikoryak, features a perceptive essay on film and music (including a track-by-track analysis of the score) by authoritative film music writer Jon Burlingame.
John Barry’s Body Heat ranks among his very finest scores—it elevates the film, heightens the emotional stakes, and remains a memorable listening experience on its own.
BODY HEAT (2CD)
Label: FSMCD Vol.15 No.4
Time = 139:35
1. Main Title 3:20 2. Searching for Matty 1:11 3. Agreement 1:19 4. I’m Weak 3:25 5. She Tries 1:00 6. 3M3 / 3M4 1:42 7. Hey Lady 1:18 8. What I Want 1:10 9. Chapeau Gratis 1:17 10. Busted 2:04 11. Head / The Breakers 1:25 12. Kill for Pussy 2:53 13. I’m Frightened 2:39 14. Surprise 1:43 15. He’s Dead / Basement 2:11 16. Explosion 0:58 17. Problem 1:09 18. Nothing We Can Do / Heather and Roz 2:12 19. Us and Oscar / Oscar 2:04 20. See Ya / 11M1 1:00 21. Watch Your Step 0:53 22. Glasses 0:52 23. Better Get Him 6:10 24. Matty Was Mary Ann 4:19 BONUS TRACKS 25. Searching for Matty / Agreement (film edit) 1:23 26. She Tries (alternate) 0:55 SOURCE MUSIC 27. That Old Feeling (Lew Brown & Sammy Fain) 3:14 28. A la Harry James 3:26 29. 1M2 1:43 30. 4M3 3:11 31. 5M3 1:03 32. 5M4 1:47 33. 9M1 0:55 34. 9M1a 1:05 35. Cocktail Hour 3:09 36. Pantyhose / Maidenform (Michael Lang) 3:52 37. Tonight’s Romance / Tomorrow’s Romance (Michael Lang) 4:32
John Barry Soundtrack Album
1. Main Title 3:21 2. I’m Weak 3:25 3. Chapeau Gratis 1:17 4. Hey Lady 1:17 5. Busted 2:04 6. Kill for Pussy 2:21 7. I’m Frightened 2:39 8. Surprise 1:46 9. Us and Oscar 0:55 10. Oscar 2:06 11. Problem 3:48 12. Better Get Him 6:12 13. Matty Was Mary Ann 4:19 DEMO RECORDINGS 14. Theme Demo 1 2:47 15. Theme Demo 2 3:21 16. Theme Demo 3 2:43 17. Theme Demo 4 2:45 18. Theme Demo 5 2:51 19. Theme Demo 6 2:08 20. Theme Demo 6A 2:08 21. Theme Demo 7 2:06 22. Theme Demo 8 2:29
23. Theme Demo 9 2:19