Furs in Film – City Heat (1984)

I’ve covered Night Shift and Forever Lulu, so, next up in the famous furs of 80’s Hollywood series: City Heat.

City Heat – The Film

City Heat is part of the long Hollywood buddy-cop movie tradition; the “half twist” here is one of the cops retired and is now a private eye. The other twist is, get this, they don’t like each other! Imagine a buddy cop movie where they start out not liking each other, then grow to respect one another by the end of the film. Burt Reynolds plays former cop, current fast-talking private eye Mike Murphy, and Clint Eastwood plays Lieutenant Speer, a hard-nosed cop who thinks actions speak louder than words. Utterly brilliant casting here, folks. Murphy and Speer team up against a gangster, and… yeah, I don’t care either.

City Heat – The Furs

So, onto the important stuff. This is a movie set in the ’30s filmed in the ’80s. Jackpot. Though there is more than one fur in the film, the only one that anyone remembers is the full-length coat worn by Madeline Kahn’s character, Caroline Howley, who ends up being Murphy’s love interest in the film. The other furs are a bit more conservative, though, ironically, perhaps more historically accurate than the one worn by Ms. Kahn. More on that in a moment.

We need to establish some villainy very early on, and this lady is on the receiving end of it, looking good in a red fox collared coat. It’s a rather short sequence in which she spends most of it with a gun pointed at her head.

Irene Cara in a Red Fox Fur Collar - City Heat 1984

Fast forward (literally, I recommend it) to the third act where Madeline Kahn and her full-length white fox show up and are promptly kidnapped by the minions of the big bad, mob boss Primo Pitt.

Madeline Kahn in a White Fox Fur Coat - City Heat 1984

She calls Murphy to tell him about it.

Madeline Kahn in a White Fox Fur Coat - City Heat 1984

As I mentioned earlier, I call into question the historical accuracy of Ms. Kahn’s white fox coat. The fur appears to have a bit of an off-the-rack flavor for the time, “the time” being the 1980’s. This is not to disparage it at all; the fact you could find big, thick white fox coats off the rack in the was what made it such a magical time.

Madeline Kahn in a White Fox Fur Coat - City Heat 1984

Kidnapped, Madeline passes the time playing poker with her gangster hosts.

Madeline Kahn in a White Fox Fur Coat - City Heat 1984

In another total non-cliche, she beats the tough, experienced gangsters at their own game.

Madeline Kahn in a White Fox Fur Coat - City Heat 1984

I’m guessing the excuse to have her wear the coat the entire time was the fact that she’s in her “underwear” since no one else in the room seems the least bit chilly.

Madeline Kahn in a White Fox Fur Coat - City Heat 1984

Murphy rescues Caroline, and they exit out onto the street for a little smooching.

Madeline Kahn in a White Fox Fur Coat - City Heat 1984

Finally, Clint Eastwood’s love of jazz requires a final scene in a random jazz club where he plays the piano. Murphy and Caroline show up, with Caroline expressing how thrilled she is to be there. Her fox-trimmed jacket is more reminiscent of an actual period dress, though.

Madeline Kahn in a White Fox Fur Trim Coat - City Heat 1984

City Heat as a film is about a formulaic as they come, lest my earlier sarcasm was missed. Still, Madeline Kahn and her white fox fur coat, combined with judicious use of the fast forward key, make it quite an enjoyable cinematic experience. If you like Madeline Kahn in fox, you can squint at a younger version playing the Hitchcock Blonde in High Anxiety, where she’s got a blue fox fur stole. Bonus there is it’s also a really great film you won’t have to fast forward through.

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