5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Nostalgia ain't what it used to be,
This review is from: City Heat [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Co-starring one superstar star at his box-office peak and another just about to start his slide back to TV, City Heat was one of those sure-fire things that quickly turned into a troubled production that wasn't really worth all the trouble. Teaming up Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds certainly seemed like a good idea, but shortly after starting shooting under the original title Kansas City Jazz, Eastwood fell out with director Blake Edwards, who left the picture taking co-star Julie Andrews (aka Mrs Edwards) with him and leaving an apparently nervous Richard Benjamin to take over the directorial reins amid rumors that he was simply keeping his head down, doing what the star told him and being careful not to spill his coffee. With the look of the film, that's not too much of a stretch - it's certainly lit like an Eastwood film, with the dark look the star always favored (where Reynolds opted for bad plastic surgery, Eastwood just turned all the lights out as he got older!) - but the biggest problem is that the film just seems too slight to work in more than fits and starts.
The film turned out even worse for Reynolds than it did for Edwards. Despite his penchant for period films (At Long Last Love, Nickelodeon, Lucky Lady), Reynolds never had much luck with them, and this was probably the unluckiest of them all: it may have done okay at the box-office but an accident in a fight sequence left him with a broken jaw and serious weight loss that led to rumors he was dying of AIDS that did his already failing career no favors. (Eastwood didn't come away entirely unscathed by the tabloids either: with the stars referring to each other as Stan and Ollie, this is probably where those bizarre rumors about him being Stan Laurel's lovechild began!)
Filmed on the same Warner Bros. backlot used for their classic Cagney pictures of the 30s, it's a nostalgic attempt at a gangster comedy thriller where Reynolds gets to play Cagney as a down-on-his-luck private eye and Eastwood gets the Pat O'Brien supporting role as the tough cop on his shoulder. And it is very much a supporting role. Eastwood doesn't even get much to do in the first hour but watch Reynolds get hit or shot at: this is really a Burt Reynolds film with guest appearance by Clint Eastwood (who still gets top billing). They only really team up in the film's last 30 minutes. Both get to send up their screen images, though for all his limited screen time it's Eastwood who gets the bigger laughs, especially when using words like `chagrin' or `ilk,' but the end result is a watchable film with a few funny moments but one that never really catches fire. Still, even though it was regarded as a bit of a box-office disappointment at the time it still outgrossed Once Upon a Time in America, so somebody must have liked it...