For much of the United States, this summer has been a doozy. The country—particularly the unprepared Midwest—has been sweltering under a series of heat waves that are a result of either global warming or God holding a magnifying glass, depending on your worldview.
Now, you might be tempted to counteract the heat by watching movies that are either cold climate-wise (The Thing), emotionally (Revolutionary Road), or both (The Ice Storm). But I say the best way to shake off the summer doldrums is to watch something even hotter so you’ll feel cool by comparison. Try Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, possibly the most oppressively hot film ever made. Even the colors pop as if they were filmed through a heat-haze, and as the tension rises between Sal’s and the denizens of Bed-Stuy, it’s as if everyone’s been stuck in a pizza oven, sprinkled with racial tension, and left to bake. (And to think this pressure-cooker masterpiece was beaten out by the comparatively frigid sex, lies and videotape for the Palme d’Or.)
Dog Day Afternoon is another film that captures the awful restlessness of a true scorcher, and it’s directed by Sidney Lumet, who also made the jury-room boiler 12 Angry Men. Watch that movie and count how many times someone wipes their brow. There’s the Sidney Poitier/Rod Steiger hothouse social drama In the Heat of the Night and the steamy Body Heat, but one of my favorite depictions of broiling weather on film is Akira Kurosawa’s lesser-seen noir Stray Dog. A detective (Toshiro Mifune) has his gun stolen in post-war Tokyo and spends the rest of the film walking the burning asphalt under an unforgiving sun, trying to track the weapon down. The celluloid practically beads with sweat.
How about you? What very hot (or even worse, humid) movies are your favorites?