Sunday, January 30, 2011
Wanted: Betty The Housekeeper
How many times have I watched the 1981 Lawrence Kasdan film noir Body Heat? Well, I would estimate probably twenty or so times beginning to end, parts of it another dozen times. So I feel that I'm more than a little familiar, perhaps bordering on obsessed with it. Numerous times throughout the film, a character is mentioned but never seen. Betty the housekeeper. She's up to something involving a certain piece of evidence pertinent to the murder of one Edmund Walker. Before the murder took place, it seems she was a little nosy as well. Resident femme fatale siren Matty Walker washed the sheets after trysting with local lawyer Ned Racine to allay any suspicions on the part of Betty as to the extracurricular activities of the lady of the house. Matty went so far as to switch to the same brand of cigarettes that Ned smoked so Betty wouldn't wonder about any stray butts she might find in the course of her day cleaning about the house. Matty eventually fires her because she doesn't trust her. But does Betty really exist, that is my question. The credits show Betty being played by an actress named Ruth P. Strahan. Numerous Google searches don't turn up any more information about Ms. Strahan, they lead to the same IMDb profile that has no photo and only one movie credit. You guessed it, as Betty the housekeeper in Body Heat. Now that I own the dvd and have watched all the deleted scenes and other bonus tracks, there is still no sign of Betty. Is this an inside joke perpetrated upon us by Mr. Kasdan? Is Betty merely Matty's invisible imaginary friend? One who comes in handy to blame for Matty's own underhanded activities to frame her lover for the murder of her husband so she can make off with his money in order to acheive her high school yearbook dream of being very rich and living in an exotic land? After such a long-winded question I am out of breath and no closer to an answer. All I can say is, if I'm ever in a financial position to hire a housekeeper, I'll expect her to clean up the dirty sheets and butts and keep her mouth shut if she wants a Christmas bonus. Until then, I'm going to blame all the messes on my imaginary housekeeper, Betty. That's right, the next hairball on the rug and the pile of dishes that didn't get into the dishwasher and dustbunnies under the bed are all Betty's fault. It's just so hard to get good help these days.