9 Scorching Films to Help Survive the Hellish Heat Wave of 2011
The heat wave bearing down on the United States has turned much of the eastern half of the country into a hellish furnace of death, despair and crisis. Today in New York the forecast calls for a high of 99, with the humidity pushing the heat index into triple digits with the likes of Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and scores of other towns along the Eastern Seaboard. But at least we're all in this together -- and with the movies, which are rich with tales of city folks sweating out the worst seasonal crap summer has to offer. Read on and recount nine of the best.
[In chronological order. Your mileage will no doubt vary; if so, let's hear about it below.]
1. The Seven-Year Itch (1955)
"A married man! Air conditioning!" Billy Wilder's adaptation of the Broadway hit gave us Marilyn Monroe's undies in the icebox and her dress billowing in the air-jets of the Lexington Avenue IRT. It was hardly the first or even the best film to attribute such implacably erotic influence to the sultry New York summer, but it was a milestone of the form. And apart from maybe Rear Window, it's one of the earliest of that form you can rent and/or buy pretty much anywhere.
2. 12 Angry Men (1957)
What should be a routine, open-and-shut murder-case deliberation turns into something a little more challenging thanks to Henry Fonda's lone dissenter -- and the sweltering heat inside the jury room where he and his 11 peers (led by Lee J. Cobb, below) deliberate. Sidney Lumet's feature debut is claustrophobic as a sweatbox and evocative enough to make a camel melt; regardless of the life-and-death implications, you almost can't blame Jack Warden's salesman for wanting to cut out early for the Yankees game (tropical rain storm or not).
3. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Nearly 20 years later, Lumet holed up (ahem, sorry) in a bank and caught another version of New York trapped in a slow boil of social unrest, sexual longing and economic duress. Necks are dabbed and brows are wiped, but the dream of a better life for a robber and his lover withstands even the most amplified intensity from the elements -- natural and man-made alike. For a while anyway. Also: No musical score or soundtrack! This was a hard time, people. At least Al Pacino can step out for a breeze, and there is a breeze. (Clip NSFW)