Jake comes home to find his girlfriend with another man and has to find a new place. In between his acting workshops and his job in a vampire B-movie, he scans the paper looking for anything. He happens to meet a fellow actor who needs a house sitter. Both are pleased with the arrangement that will have Jake staying in the house and for a sweetener, Frank shows him his 'favorite neighbor', a well built woman who strips with her window open each night. Jake becomes obsessed with meeting her and is able to help recover her purse from a thief, but shows his own phobia, he is incapacitated by claustrophobia when the thief runs through a tunnel. When Jake witnesses a murder, he finds out that the police love to pin crimes on peeping Toms. Jake discovers that here are just too many coincidences but must hunt them down himself without the police. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
Body Double is directed by Brian De Palma, he also co-writes the screenplay with Robert J. Avrech. It stars Craig Wasson, Melanie Griffith, Gregg Henry, Deborah Shelton, Guy Boyd and Dennis Franz. Music is by Pino Donaggio and cinematography by Stephen H. Burum.
Brian De Palma continued his crusade to push buttons of the sensitive whilst homaging his hero Alfred Hitchcock, with this cheeky, garish, sleazy thriller. Even when moving away from Hitch like movies, he created a storm with Scarface (1983), so the critics of 1984 wondered if a return to suspense thriller territory would put the director back on an even cinematic keel? Not a bit of it! The reaction to Body Double was ridiculously over the top, apparently a misogynistic homage to the porn industry, with exploitation gore thrown in for good (bad) measure, Body Double was the devil's spawn in the eyes of critics. The public? Not so much, film was a sure fire hit at the box office.
Of course today it seems all very tame, where not even a simulated drilling killing can raise the temperature of the audience, or that frank sexual language and bare bodies no longer makes cinema goers blush. On reflection now it's easy to view De Palma's movie as a visionary piece of work, a film gently poking the ribs of Hollywood and the MPAA, and as was always the case with his 70s and 80s work, he was a director who easily elicited a response from his audience. And with his box of cinematic tricks still impressive before he became over reliant on them, Body Double is a fascinatingly lurid viewing experience.
That it's Vertigo and Rear Window spliced together is a given, but that doesn't make it a bad film, besides which it bears the De Palma stamp as well, undeniably so. Plot finds Jake Scully (Wasson), a struggling actor with claustrophobia, thrust into a world of murder, obsession, deceit and paranoia, for when he house sits for a newly acquired friend, he spies a sexy lady through the telescope apparently being stalked by an odd looking Native American. To reveal more would spoil the fun of anyone watching for the first time, but suffice to say that Jake has entered the realm where neo-noir protagonists wander around wondering how and why they are in this mess.
It's pulpy and pappy, but in the best ways possible, and unlike many other films made by directors who ventured into similar territory, it's never boring (hello Sliver). Cast are appropriately cartoonish or animated, the twists fun if not hard to see coming, and with De Palma's visual panache cosying up nicely with Donaggio's musical score, Body Double is fine entertainment brought to us by a director with a glint in his eye. 8/10
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