A fitfully clever film noir that exists mainly to exude sensual steam, IN THE HEAT OF PASSION garnishes a formulaic story with 1990s trimmings. Charlie Bronson (Nick Corri) is a struggling young Hollywood actor who makes such an impact portraying the notorious Montclair Hills serial rapist on "Crimebusters," a sleazy reality TV show (and a neat takeoff...read more
A fitfully clever film noir that exists mainly to exude sensual steam, IN THE HEAT OF PASSION garnishes a formulaic story with 1990s trimmings.
Charlie Bronson (Nick Corri) is a struggling young Hollywood actor who makes such an impact portraying the notorious Montclair Hills serial rapist on "Crimebusters," a sleazy reality TV show (and a neat takeoff on the hit FBC program "America's Most Wanted"), that he's publicly mistaken for the
unidentified psychopath. Most of the time, though, Charlie pumps gas in the barrio where he lives. When ultra-sexy, rich psychiatrist Lee Adams (Sally Kirkland) drives in for service, Charlie's dipstick leads him into the danger zone. The stud thespian carries on a frenzied affair with the
enticing Lee, literally under the nose of her middle-aged dullard spouse Sanford (Michael Greene). When Sanford finally finds out about the infidelity, he's killed in a violent struggle with the lovers. Lee gets the idea to tell police that the still-at-large Montclair Hills rapist committed the
murder, and a nervous Charlie soon finds himself recalled by "Crimebusters" to reprise the role for a special broadcast about Sanford's death. Thus the hapless protagonist edgily reenacts for the cameras a homicide he himself committed.
If it sounds like a set-up, it is. "Don't you know that shrinks are the craziest people," wisecracks Lee's secretary; the only surprise delivered by the remainder of IN THE HEAT OF PASSION is the heroine's motive for sending Charlie to his ruin. It's an appropriate and cynical closer, but not
quite enough to save the picture. Excessive footage is spent unrewardingly on the couplings between Charlie and Lee, with much nudity and double-entendre dialogue better suited to a low-grade sitcom. When Charlie, disguised as a friendly TV repairman, trysts with Lee while Sanford grumbles in
another room, one can almost hear the laugh track. Corri can't do much with the underwritten, basically unsympathetic fall guy he plays. The exquisitely overripe Kirkland (ANNA, COLD FEET), often seen as a good-natured sexpot, is supposed to be somewhat sinister here, but she's far more femme than
IN THE HEAT OF PASSION was made under the stewardship of exploitation czar Roger Corman, so it's not unusual that it goes straight for the gonads. Producer-writer-director Rodman Flender came to Corman's Concorde-New Horizons group right out of Harvard, and after serving as director of advertising
Flender became, at the tender age of 27, the B-movie factory's head of production. IN THE HEAT OF PASSION is clearly the work of no dummy (whether it was intended for dummies is another matter), and its tangential nudge at today's crime-based media is the highlight. Jack Carter has fun as the
blustery host of "Crimebusters," and second-unit director Charles Philip Moore does a gonzo cameo early on as a street person who loudly claims to be a missing key witness in the JFK assassination conspiracy. (Violence, substance abuse, profanity, nudity, sexual situations, adult situations.)
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