Review: Heat Wave or The House Across the Lake

Heat Wave is another B-movie noir from famed British group Hammer Films.  This is written and directed by Ken Hughes based on a book he also wrote.  Hughes went to Hollywood and made some big films, his most notable isn’t even close to the dark noir he made here, a little film by the name Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

This film showcases Hillary Brooke, a quintessential femme fatale in every way.  We have more than one man in her web and she doesn’t let any of those men escape through out the whole film.  She is definitely the high spot of this film and the main reason to watch this one.

The story starts with our protagonist played by Alex Nicol holed up in a cabin on the lake shore.  He is there to write his new book, but he has a bit of writers block.  He gets invited to a party across the lake where we meet our femme fatale and her husband played by Sidney James.  We soon find out our femme fatale has a boyfriend on the side and seems to be flaunting him in front of her husband and anybody else that might care.  Our protagonist and the husband become quick friends and we soon find out our husband is dying, he has about a year.  He also plans to change his will.  Our husband happily pays the bills while he is alive, but he will be damned if he will pay the bills for his cheating wife once he is gone.  His lawyer is on a trip in America and he plans to change his will as soon as the lawyer comes home.  Our protagonist writer loses his contract and is flat broke, he is also the new target of our femme fatale.  Will our hero team up with our femme fatale to kill her husband before the will is changed?  Will he save his friend from his deadly wife?  Will our femme fatale find somebody else to help her kill her dying husband before he changes his will?  He’s dying anyway and she deserves her fair share of the estate, right?

This is a pretty straight forward mid 50’s classic noir.  We are not covering new ground here by any means.  It is cheaply done, but it still has a great noir look.  The story builds for about 7/8 of the film and actually felt like an above average noir, but the story kind of falls apart at the end.  It is still worth viewing for hardcore classic film noir lovers and has its high points.  If you are new to the genre, you may want to start elsewhere, but if you see this on the tube late one night, give it a try, it may surprise you.