Jake Scully 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 Sam Bouchard, 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, Sam 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>
Melanie Griffith was once married to actor Steven Bauer who had recently starred in director Brian De Palma's Scarface (1983) and the pair had known each other prior to Body Double (1984) because of this marriage. Bauer and Griffith were married when the movie was made and both have worked with director de Palma on more than one occasion. See more »
When Jake discovers Carol cheating on him, her lover's left hand is on her right breast. When the camera switches to a close-up, his right hand is on her left breast. See more »
I admit when I rented this movie, I did so just to get some cheap thrills. I was aware of the negative reviews from uptight critics who dismissed it as sleaze, and to be honest, that's what I was in the mood for. Besides, my curiosity was aroused. (No cheap jokes, please!)
To my surprise, this is actually a compelling, well-crafted thriller. Let me take it a step further. It's an improvement over DePalma's effective but overpraised "Dressed to Kill." "Body Double" is actually better-constructed and better-paced. Perhaps the extremes of the film's content turned off some members of the critical community. And keep in mind that many of these people loved Dressed.
However, if you can stomach some of the content (it would certainly warrant an NC-17 in today's climate), there's much to like here. DePalma's approach might be manipulative, but when he does so this effectively, it's hard to complain. Technically, it's a marvel of film technique. Wasson's claustrophobic attacks are effectively conveyed to the viewer. When they hit him, they hit us just as hard. The very ending, which I wouldn't dream of giving away, is a work of pure genius. The infamous drill murder is a terrific setpiece.
One aspect that interested me was its attitude towards porno. So-called "dirty movies" are not condemned, but treated as simply being another side of the film industry. It's not considered right or wrong; it's just there. Such a nonjudgmental outlook is refreshing after hearing the tiresome rants of self-appointed "moral watchdogs." Likewise, there is a loving tribute to B-movies during the opening and closing credits.
"Body Double" isn't good art by any means, but it's good trash. Watch it, and you will behold DePalma at his sleazy best. He makes no apologies for what he does, nor would we want him to do so.
***1/2 (out of ****)
Released by Columbia Pictures
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