City Heat – The Film
City Heat is part of a long Hollywood tradition of the buddy cop movie, the “half twist” here is one of the cops had retired and is now a private eye. The other twist is, get this, they don’t like each other! Imagine that, 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 30’s filmed in the 80’s. Jackpot. Though there is more than one fur in the film, the only one that anyone remembers is the full length white fox 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.
Very early on, we need to establish some villainy 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.
Fast forward (literally, I recommend it) to the third act where Madeline Kahn and her full length white fox fur coat show up and are promptly kidnapped by the minions of the big bad, mob boss Primo Pitt.
She calls Murphy to tell him about it.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, I call into question the historic 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 1980’s what made it such a magical time.
Kidnapped, Madeline passes the time playing poker with her gangster hosts.
In another total non-cliche, she beats the tough, experienced gangsters at their own game.
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.
Murphy rescues Caroline, and they exit out onto the street for a little smooching.
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 actual period dress, though.
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 in combination with judicious use of fast forward, make it quite the enjoyable cinematic experience. If you like Madeline Kahn in fox, you can squint at a younger version playing the Hitchcock Blonde in High Anxiety‘s lounge scene where she’s got a blue fox stole or wrap on the chair behind her. Bonus there is it’s also a really great film you won’t have to fast forward through.