Top 5 Heat Wave Movies
Summer’s here and the time is right, for sweatin’ in the streets! As we shed those hipster turtlenecks, and swap out snowcaps for sunblock, it seems fitting to pay homage to those films that have stories set in the most sweltering of scenarios.
5. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
In what seems like the hottest day of the summer, this fact based tale of a bank robbery where everything that could go wrong, does, and ends up becoming a polarizing political event, is one of the great films of the 70s. An important element of the movie, and a character itself, is the heat, which is used by Director Sidney Lumet to great effect. The police turn the bank’s AC off, which is the catalyst for this comedic caper to get deadly serious.
4. Barton Fink (1991)
From the sweat drenched shirts to the peeling wallpaper, no film gives you that visceral sense of sultry suffocation like this warped view of Hollywood from the Coen brothers. John Goodman’s murderer may have been certifiable, but after viewing this film, a good lawyer could argue the heat did the damage to these crazed characters.
3. Do the Right Thing (1989)
A good storyteller knows time and place is as important as character and plot, and this groundbreaking film of a New York borough losing its cool, literally, on the hottest day of the summer, was a gamechanger for filmmaker Spike Lee as well as the theme of racial stereotypes. Still makes me wonder why Sal just didn’t post some brothers on the wall.
2. Falling Down (1993)
You have to have spent a summer in L.A. to really get what it is that contributes to Michael Douglas’ character “melting down” and taking to the streets to reclaim his sanity. A hero to some, a villain to the rest, this 1993 seriocomedy about a white collar everyman who decides to buck the system was one of the last good films from Joel Schumacher and a prescient fable for our current times. As an Angeleno, I dread the prophecy this film foretells.
From the perspiration on Jimmy Stewarts brow, to the couple that sleeps out on their apartment fire escape, this greatest of great Hitchcocks’ brings together many potent ingredients to make the perfect thriller. But this mediation on voyeurism, exhibitionism, obsession and domestic violence wouldn’t be half the film, if it weren’t for the heat, as palpable as the threat from the dark window across the courtyard where a single cigarette ember burns as if waiting for sundown.