William Hurt sadly passed away on Sunday, March 13, at just 71 years young. This Oscar-winning actor had classic good looks and a matching, magnetic panache, and one could easily see this Washington D.C. native choosing a career as a U.S. Senator or a television anchorman, which of course, he famously once played.
AHFW wanted to feature a William Hurt film as our Movie of the Week, but we couldn’t decide, so we landed on three of our favorites…from one of our favorites.
“Body Heat” (1981) – Writer/director Lawrence Kasdan – in his directorial debut – fills his madly entertaining Florida crime drama with mystery, lust, and deception, as a damsel in distress, Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner), talks her lover, Ned Racine (Hurt), into murdering her neglectful husband. Oh, that sounds illegal, and guess what? Ned is a lawyer. This complex, twisty thriller is the standard that so many later tales of suspense – like “Body Double” (1984), “Fatal Attraction” (1987), “Shattered” (1990), and “Basic Instinct” (1992) – attempted to reach. All of the aforementioned flicks burn up the screen, but there’s only one “Body Heat”.
“Broadcast News” (1987) – Hurt, Albert Brooks, and Holly Hunter are perfectly cast in this – back then – modern-day – cinematic expose. Hurt and Brooks play Washington D.C. television reporters, as Tom Grunick (Hurt), who resembles a living Ken doll, is there for his looks, and Aaron Altman (Brooks), a cynical everyman, works tirelessly. Jane Craig (Hunter) is their sharp, shrewd producer, but both news fellas want to turn their individual professional relationships into much more personal ones with her. Writer/director James L. Brooks insightful movie garnered seven Oscar nominations, and here’s the scoop: Believe the hype. “Broadcast News” is a great film!
“A History of Violence” (2005) – David Cronenberg’s horror movies have crawled, crept, and exploded on the big screen, but his adapted turn of a crime novel became his most mainstream and – arguably – the very best picture of his career. “A History of Violence” does contain one moment of gore, but otherwise, it’s a searing drama with a potential case of mistaken identity. Family man Tom Stall’s (Viggo Mortensen) life turns upside-down when a mobster (Ed Harris) waltzes into a small midwestern town and claims that our protagonist is a vicious hitman named Joey. Say what? Meanwhile, Hurt only appears in the film for – maybe – 10 minutes as a Philadelphia crime lord, but he rightfully earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. And how! Clooney won the 2006 Oscar, but we wish that Hurt stole it instead.