HEATWAVE(director/writer: Ken Hughes; screenwriter: from a book by Ken Hughes; cinematographer: Jimmy W. Harvey; editor: James Needs; cast: Alex Nicol (Mark Kendrick), Hillary Brooke (Carol Forrest), Sidney James (Beverly Forrest), Susan Stephen (Andrea Forrest), Alan Wheatley (Inspector MacLennan), Paul Carpenter (Vince), Peter Illing (Harry Stevens), Hugh Dempster (Frank); Runtime: 60; Lippert; 1954-UK)
“A tepid B-film crime yarn from Great Britain.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A tepid B-film crime yarn from Great Britain. An American hack writer, Mark Kendrick (Nicol), renting a lakeside bungalow, chronicles via flashback his part in a murder and about his relationship with his seductive neighbor, Carol Forrest (Brooke). Inspector MacLennan (Wheatley) is the interested party listening to him confess to a murder as he waits to arrest him after he finishes his confession and his bourbon, at the bar of the Lakeside Yacht Club.
Warning: spoilers throughout review.
The flashback begins when Mark receives a call from Carol, who lives across the lake in a mansion and is throwing a party. She needs him to transport some guests to her house since her husband Beverly’s (Sidney James) boat is not running. Mark is repulsed by the stuffy crowd and by the sexy Carol’s obvious affections only for piano player Vince (Carpenter). Before he exits the party, Beverly introduces himself and invites Mark in for a private game of billiards, which turns out to be an all-night game. The two bond, as Bev tells Mark he’s filthy rich and that his sultry wife has had many lovers — Vince is only the latest. He also says, “Sooner or later everyone he meets at these parties wants something from him, even though no one likes him.” Mark says: “He’s a struggling writer working for peanuts, trying to write to make money and is not writing for posterity.”
In the morning Bev’s daughter from a first marriage returns to the mansion having purposefully missed the party. Andrea (Susan Stephen) is upset to still see her step-mother with Vince and she berates her father for not doing something about it.
When Beverly throws a party to christen his new boat he invites Mark, who wryly observes that Beverly is one of the loneliest men he ever met. In their private conversation, Mark learns that Beverly is expected to die within the year. Beverly confides to Mark that his lawyers will fix it within a week so that Carol is taken out of the will. Mark only goes to the party because he knows he’s attracted to Carol, even though he can’t admit it to himself. After Bev gets drunk and takes sick, Mark will end up taking her home and passionately kissing her. Mark will later on spend the night with Carol, telling her about her husband’s plans.
Mark’s agent Harry Stevens calls and tells him the book publisher is not happy with the drafts of his new novel. The publishers decide to fire him and that leaves the writer broke and with no reason to stay at his lakeside retreat. Planning to head back to London, Beverly runs into him and invites him fishing on his new boat before he leaves. On a sultry afternoon, Carol joins them. When a thick fog covers the lake Beverly asks Mark to take the wheel. Mark hits the side of another boat and Bev falls down hurt. Carol’s idea of help is to throw her husband overboard. After first refusing to go along with her attempt to call it an accident, Mark agrees when they plan to meet in a month’s time and live off her wealthy husband’s money. But when the coroner calls the death an accident, she secretly marries Vince three weeks later and changes residences. When Mark finds out about this he angrily confronts her and she sneers at him that she only used him and that there’s nothing he could do about it. Mark confesses, even if he must go to prison.
This tawdry melodrama was presented in a flat style and the acting was stilted. Alex Nicol played his part of the sucker in a continual gruff monotone voice, which elicited no sympathy.
REVIEWED ON 4/25/2001 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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