17 August 2015 | virek213
If You Can't Take The Heat, Stay Out Of This Made-For-TV Kitchen
One really would not think that extreme heat would make for the premise of a movie, at least not in the mid-1970s on TV, because it is a silent threat that one only feels, though it is one that can kill. And yet that's what happens in the 1974 made-for-TV melodrama HEATWAVE!, which, while it can't be called a masterpiece in the TV film genre by any stretch of the imagination, does a good enough job with a premise that, due to the lack of special effects, probably shouldn't work as well as it does.
The story basically centers on an isolated Southern California mountain community facing the ravages of a devastating heat wave in which the daytime temperatures climb rapidly towards 120 degrees. Among the residents in danger are a young couple, played by Ben Murphy (who had appeared in the TV series "Alias Smith And Jones") and Bonnie Bedelia (who had appeared in the 1969 Sydney Pollack film THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY?, and would later be Bruce Willis' wife in the 1988 blockbuster DIE HARD). Bedelia, as it so happens, is pregnant; and the extreme heat is putting both her and her soon-to-be-born in a hell of a lot of danger. Such a fairly uncomplicated premise, which, as another reviewer has said, is probably derived from a "Twilight Zone" episode (specifically "The Midnight Sun"), is made nevertheless fairly uncomfortable because of the way the heat affects the emotional behavior of those involved. The film includes such actors as Lew Ayres (ADVISE AND CONSENT), John Anderson (RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY), Dana Elcar (THE STING), and Richard Bull (HOUR OF THE GUN).
On a fairly low budget, director Jerry Jameson (who would specialize in many a made-for-TV disaster film for much of the rest of the 1970s, and direct a big-budget film in the genre, 1977's AIRPORT '77) and his cast do a fairly good job with the notion of a silent killer such as heat. And lest anyone think that this can't happen in real life as it did in this film, it should be noted that summers here in Southern California have gotten progressively hotter, with heat waves either lasting longer or being more severe over time.
In short, you have been warned. HEATWAVE! Will get a '7' rating from me.