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Body Double (1984) - Plot Summary Poster

(1984)

Plot

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Summaries

  • A young actor's obsession with spying on a beautiful woman who lives nearby leads to a baffling series of events with drastic consequences.

  • 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.

  • After unemployed actor Jake Scully finds his girlfriend in bed with another man, he moves out and accepts an offer from fellow struggling actor Sam Bouchard to house-sit for a few weeks. Apart from getting to live in a swank and ultramodern house he also get to watch a sexy neighbor, Gloria Revelle, who does a sexy dance in front of her window every night at exactly the same time. He becomes interested in the girl, infatuated even, following her around and eventually meeting her. She also has another admirer however and while watching her one night through his telescope, Jake sees her murdered by this other man. The police are skeptical about what he claims to have seen, but the case takes an even stranger twist when, while watching adult TV, he sees a porn star do the exact same dance he had watched for all those nights. He soon realizes he has been an unwitting accomplice in a complex plot.

  • Los Angeles based actor Jake Scully is having a string of bad luck. He discovers while filming a scene in his current movie, an erotic vampire flick, that he is claustrophobic, debilitatingly so. Despite Jake's determination to work through the phobia not only for this movie but to cope in his everyday life, he is fired by the movie's director Rubin, who cannot afford the delay caused by Jake's issues. Jake also finds out by catching her in the act that his girlfriend Carol is cheating on him, he not even suspecting before that that there was a problem in their relationship. After moving out of Carol's apartment and crashing on his friend's couch for a few days, Jake, in what may be a turn in his fortunes, is offered a house-sitting gig by Sam Bouchard, a fellow actor he recently met. Sam had been sitting at this friend's luxury house in the Hollywood hills, but asks Jake to sit for him during an out-of-town run on a play in which he has been cast. Beyond the luxury of the house itself, it is an easy gig in that Jake can do whatever he wants at the house, his only task to water the plants to make sure they don't die. On top of the ease of the gig, Sam also informs Jake of a bonus in that a beautiful neighbor with long brunette hair across the valley, the interior of whose equally luxurious house can be seen through a telescope, performs a sensuous striptease every night at the same time. During the sit, Jake becomes obsessed with the brunette, first in a romantic sense because of the striptease, then later in a protective sense as he can see that there are some issues in her life. Those issues include a male in her life physically beating her, and a native American seemingly stalking her probably to rob her. Because of this specific voyeur activity, Jake is implicated in a murder investigation. A chance sighting of porn star Holly Body may give Jake some clues as to what happened in the murder, which is only further complicated by his claustrophobia.

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Spoilers

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Synopsis

  • The film begins and ends with the protagonist, Jake Scully (Craig Wasson), playing the part of a vampire on the set of a low-budget horror film. After he ruins a take by being unable to rise from a coffin due to claustrophobia, a fire breaks out on the set and he is sent home by the director Rubin (Dennis Franz).

    Scully arrives home early and catches his girlfriend having sex with another man. Since it is the girl's apartment, he must leave, so without a place to stay he heads to an acting workshop, where he makes a new friend, Sam.

    Sam offers him a house-sitting arrangement at an opulent Modernist bachelor residence high atop the Hollywood Hills. He also points out a sexy female neighbor, Gloria Revelle (Deborah Shelton), whose seemingly exhibitionistic antics can be viewed by telescope; she is a wealthy and beautiful woman who evidently performs a remarkable erotic dance at her window, nightly according to Sam, "just like clockwork."

    Scully's nightly observations of this woman quickly lead him into a murder mystery. He follows Gloria one day and attempts to warn her that she's being stalked by an Indian with a disfigured face who could be a thief or worse. The mysterious Indian snatches Gloria's purse at the beach, is chased by Scully into a tunnel, and steals what is later discovered to be a card key to Gloria's house. In an ironic twist, Gloria "rescues" Scully by leading him from the tunnel in which he had frozen in a claustrophobic seizure during the pursuit. They briefly embrace, make out, and grope each other as the camera revolves in a continuous 360-degree arc, until Scully kisses her neck and Gloria comes to her senses, apologizes and pushes him away, adjusts her bra and blouse, and departs hastily.

    Back at the home he's using, Scully then becomes an eyewitness through the telescope as the young woman is brutally attacked and killed by the Indian, who pins her down and runs an electric drill the size of a jackhammer through her body - the auguring bit repeatedly emerges from the ceiling of the room below in a torrent of blood - after she catches him removing items from a wall safe.

    (That a purported thief would have and use with extreme deadly force such an implement leads viewers to suspect that perhaps the murder was of a personal nature as opposed to merely a bungled burglary.)

    Investigating on his own, Scully pursues a porn queen, Holly Body (Melanie Griffith), whose "signature" dance - "a routine that's a sure ten on the peter meter" according to her - he recognized on a 24-hour porn channel. A descent into her sordid world follows, in which he lands a role in an adult film in order to meet her and then pretends to be a skilled porn director who wants to hire her. He takes credit for a mirror (which inadvertently reflects the camera and crew as the door on which it is hung swings open during the scene).

    Their trail takes them back to the bachelor pad, where Scully confesses that he is not a porn producer and does not want to cast her in a film, but instead points out the Revelle house and asks her if she was the woman he had observed doing the erotic dance routines in the window. During a brief telephone call from Sam to Scully, Holly identifies the voice of Sam as the man who had hired her to perform specifically for the supposedly voyeuristic Scully. She storms out in a blustery huff and is picked up while hitchhiking by the Indian, who knocks her out with a tire iron.

    Scully follows them on foot, scaling a gate through which the pair was purported to have just passed (but which is curiously locked with a double chain), and arrives at an open grave adjacent to the Owens Aqueduct that the Indian has just finished digging. (It is not explained how the grave was dug so quickly.) During the confrontation between Scully and the Indian that follows, Scully grabs at the Indian's face, inadvertently removing what is actually a makeup facial cast, revealing that the Indian is actually Sam. Sam then overpowers Scully, tossing him into the grave. When Scully is again frozen from his claustrophobia, Sam begins to bury him as he confesses his scheme, which was to set Scully up as a witness to Gloria's murder by the "Indian" and give Sam an alibi.

    The film then cuts to the set of the vampire movie, where Scully (wearing the dirt-caked leather jacket from the aqueduct grave scene instead of the vampire costume and heavy makeup as before) again freezes during the coffin scene and ruins the take. This time, however, he convinces Rubin to let him try it again.

    Cutting back to the grave, we see Scully overcome his claustrophobia and attack Sam, who is knocked into the aqueduct when his dog charges at Scully and misses. The film ends with Scully, back on the set and in his vampire costume, filming a shower sequence in which a body double of his next victim is being carefully inserted into the scene, while Holly watches with the film crew.

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