Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The City of Lake Worth Beach in the Movies: “Body Heat.”

A friend let me borrow this DVD from her collection. She’s a big fan of film noir and likes this 80s version of the genre due to its setting. The movie Body Heat stars William Hurt, Kathleen Turner (many think that this film launched her career), Ted Danson, J.A. Preston and Mickey Rourke.

Two fictional towns, besides the real West Palm Beach (a city without a beach) and Miami, are settings for the movie. One of these is Miranda Beach which is where William Hurt’s lawyer character has his office (now called the City of Lake Worth Beach). The film was released in August 1981. Our heat and humidity nearly becomes the main character of the film. The combination probably played a role in the naming of the film.

You really need to watch the movie for the identifiable Lake Worth Beach scenes. You can check out what the downtown looked like back then. There are many other scenes but here are three recognizable glimpses of our past.

“Ned Racine”, actor William Hurt, with City Hall in the background. Click on images to enlarge.
A typical hot, humid summer day in “Miranda Beach”.

In this scene above, Ned Racine, Hurt’s character, is walking down Lake Avenue and we clearly see the current City Hall behind him. He eventually crosses the street and you can see a view east. Not sure if it was part of the movie set or not, but most of the buildings look occupied and there is a lot of street traffic.

His ‘office’ was somewhere in that first or second block east of Dixie Hwy. He also ducks into the former L’Anjou for dinner and he makes a comment about making enough money to eat there once a month if he doesn’t order an appetizer.

Note the makes and models of the cars in this scene:
“Ned” with a cigarette in hand walks down J Street.

The scene above is “Mr. Racine” walking north on J Street. I am guessing that the liquor store sign is where Propaganda is currently located. There is also a coffee shop called “Stella’s” which is home to a couple of scenes. Some people think that it was the former Junior’s at the southwest corner of J Street and Lucerne Ave. However it seems to be where the current AG Edwards office is.

In the picture below, you can make out City Hall in the background on the left. Notice the large glass storefront that is not there now.

Ted Danson in his earlier days as an actor:
Was this actually a coffee shop called “Stella’s” across from City Hall? Or just the setup for a movie scene? “Ned” is smoking another one. Inside the shop. Remember, this is circa 1980.

There might have been a coffee shop there. If anyone can confirm this, great! I really encourage you to watch the movie even if you may have seen it before.

Apparently, many residents were used as extras and you might see someone you know. It might be worth having a ‘PG13’ community showing of this movie sometime. Madison, Indiana shows Some Came Running, made in 1957, and is set in their historic downtown each year as part of a summer festival.

There have been other movies filmed here in the City of Lake Worth Beach too. One used the Gulfstream Hotel as a backdrop in 1984’s very unsuccessful Harry & Son, directed by Paul Newman. It was panned by the critics. One of the stars, Robby Benson, earned a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Supporting Actor.

By the way, other scenes in Body Heat were shot in Manalapan and Hypoluxo. Strangely, no scenes at all from Lake Osborne Drive.