“That doesn’t sound so bad,” Kline says with a grin after hearing this comment. “I suppose it may have seemed fresh or unique when it was released, but the story lent itself to the photography. It was hot and sexy, and our actors, William Hurt and Kathleen Turner, were very courageous. It was Kathleen’s first major film, and I was very happy to do her screen test. I suppose I used some of the lighting techniques I learned while working with Joe Walker [ASC] so many years before. He was the master of lighting women.
“Still, we didn’t go as far with our style as they did back then. I stuck to my general use of source lighting whether it was a window or sunlight or whatever and then made the lighting of the actors fit that source. A lot of cameramen I worked for didn’t care about sources; they were simply interested in what looked good. But I was interested in sources. One thing I always avoid is to allow the recipient of the light source to be hotter than the light source itself. It’s unnatural.”
Ironically, high temperatures were not something the cast and crew of Body Heat had to endure. “We shot during one of the coldest winters Florida had ever had,” Kline recalls. “There’s a scene where William Hurt is just in his skivvies out on the back deck of a house, and it was freezing cold. Goosebumps were our biggest problem.”
During prep, Kline found that Kasdan, who was making his directing debut, “was extremely prepared. We selected some films to watch, just to give us some common ground.” Kline’s choice was The Conformist, Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1970 collaboration with Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC. As Kline later explained to students at the American Film Institute, “I believe in variety. I think there are some brilliantly photographed films, but there’s a sameness. Each scene may be a work of art, but you start seeing it repeated over and over and over again. I find that Bertolucci is a master at variation, a variety of looks within a single film. I try to do that in my work as well.”
Ending his day of reminiscence at the ASC Clubhouse, Kline says with some satisfaction, “I suppose ‘variety’ has been a theme of sorts in my career. I tried to never repeat myself.”