DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
HEAT (director/writer: Paul Morrissey; screenwriter: from an idea by John Hallowell; cinematographer: Paul Morrissey; editors: Joel Johnson/Lana Jokel; music: John Cale; cast: Joe Dallesandro (Joey Davis), Sylvia Miles (Sally Todd), Andrea Feldman (Jessica Todd), Pat Ast (Lydia), Ray Vestal (Ray), P. J. Lester (Sidney), Harold Childe (Harold), John Hallowell (John), Eric Emerson (Eric), Gary Koznocha (Gary), Bonnie Walder (Bonnie); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Andy Warhol; Paramount Home Video; 1972)

 
"I got off on it."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Andy Warhol produces and Paul Morrissey ( "Flesh"/"Trash") directs this hilarious offbeat spoof on Billy Wilder's "Sunset Boulevard," showing us the absurd funny side to this dark showbiz tale of washed-up has-beens as that film never dared. It's actually more like a mainstream film than the previous ones coming from the Warhol Factory, but still is heavily dipped in sleaze, softcore porn, endless acerbic female chatter and camp.

It's set in this dumpy motel in Santa Monica, owned by the verbally abusive, to the ladies only, obese landlady Lydia (Pat Ast). Unemployed child actor Joey Davis (Joe Dallesandro) rents a room for two weeks and is recognized by the landlady as a celebrity, even though it has been some time since he held down a showbiz job. To gain a discount on the rent, Joey satisfies the landlady once a day with sex. Staying at the motel are a lesbian couple Bonnie (Bonnie Walder) and Jessica Todd (Andrea Feldman), with Jessica's infant son. It's an abusive relationship, with the suicidal Bonnie getting off by leaving cigarette burns on Jessica's body. The unloved Jessica hates her aging mother, the actress/chorus girl Sally Todd (Sylvia Miles), but needs her to foot the bills at the motel. When mom comes over with her checkbook Joey is present. They recognize each other from their days together on the TV series The Big Ranch. The vain, whiny and self-absorbed Sally now lives alone in a crumbling Hollywood mansion with 36 rooms she got as alimony from businessman hubby number four. Soon Sally gets her hooks into the quiet laid-back Joey, and he moves in with her. Joey, a boy toy, who hasn't cut his long pony-tailed hair in a year, is willing to go to bed with anyone who is willing to help get his career started again or give him a helping hand. It leads to some weird propositions: Jessica, who quits being a lesbian, enjoys having Joey's boot in her cunt; Harold, the lover of Jessica's father Sidney, mom's third hubby, makes fast time with Joey while the divorced couple argue in the other room; and showbiz brothers Gary and Eric hang out poolside, with Eric openly jerking off, and they recruit the stud for their nightclub act--where the brothers have sex together every night at 8.

When Joey leaves the mansion and returns to the motel to hang out by the seedy pool, the rejected fading old-time actress comes gunning for him. But be warned, this film has a different ending than Sunset Boulevard.

Sylvia Miles is a scream as the fading actress with the still hot body, who is in a tempestuous love/hate situation with her psychotic daughter and has an intense scene where she goes sympathetically schizoid over her young gigolo. Andrea Feldman (she became a suicide victim in 1972) provides the film's most outrageous performance, who at odd times breaks into maniacal cackling and comes up with the film's strangest but funniest lines (though on retrospect one wonders if she was acting). Joe Dallesandro, a real-life street hustler, aims for cool, trying to distance himself from all the trauma around him by pretending he's a smooth hustler on top of things because both men and women still find him attractive. 

Though not the best of Morrissey's trilogy and obviously not for everyone--but, I got off on it.

REVIEWED ON 6/18/2005        GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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