Heat (1972)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Erotic Drama, Showbiz Drama  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Robert Firsching

In Heat, Paul Morrissey provides a backdrop of faded Hollywood for his cast to satirize. While some attention is paid to the faded glamour of old Hollywood and the finale is an obvious parody, Heat is less a tribute to Sunset Boulevard than yet another ode to Joe Dallesandro. Like in Flesh, Trash, and Flesh for Frankenstein, Morrissey's camera worships the frequently undressed Dallesandro, who is besieged by the sexual attentions of desperate women, but couldn't care less. He's on the make, and while sex is all around him, it never seems to touch him. Or does it? One could say that Dallesandro's character in these films is a mirror of Warhol -- cold, distant, asexual -- but that would miss the point. Dallesandro's eyes gave him away, and while he may not have responded sexually to all of the adulation that came his way, one look at his eyes revealed that he was hurting inside. This was a hustler with a heart rubbed raw by life's harsh reality. When one looked in Warhol's eyes, there was nothing there. This is also the paradox of Morrissey's films for Warhol. They're supposed to be jokes, but when considering the fates of many Factory Superstars (including Andrea Feldman), there's not much to laugh about. Heat does have some truly funny moments -- Eric Emerson's poolside self-abuse, Ast's massage scene with Dallesandro, and Sylvia Miles's wonderfully schizoid turn as Sally Todd. But it's also a difficult film to watch at times -- overlong, shrill, frequently boring, and it could be argued that Morrissey and company exploited the conditions that ultimately led to Feldman's suicide. Still, although it isn't the best of Morrissey's films for Warhol (that would be Trash), Heat is probably the most palatable introduction to his unusual body of work.