Body Double


1h 49m 1984
Body Double

Brief Synopsis

An out of work actor thinks he sees a violent crime committed against a woman with whom he's obsessed.

Film Details

Also Known As
Body Double - Vous n'en croirez pas vos yeux, Doble cuerpo
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Suspense/Mystery
Comedy
Drama
Thriller
Release Date
1984

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 49m

Synopsis

A working actor finds himself house-sitting for a friend, becomes obsessed with a beautiful woman he's been eyeing through the telescope, and ends up in the middle of a murder plot.

Crew

Dick Alexander

Sound Effects

J Arrufat

Sound Editor

Robert J Avrech

Screenplay

Kristina Boden

Assistant Editor

Emmett Brown

Key Grip

Jerry Brutsche

Stunt Coordinator

Thomas R Burman

Makeup

Stephen H Burum

Director Of Photography

Charles Butcher

Set Designer

Brian De Palma

Screenplay

Brian De Palma

From Story

Brian De Palma

Producer

Pino Donaggio

Music

Bari Dreiband-burman

Makeup

John Dunn

Sound Editor

Jimsie Eason

Production Associate

William A Elliott

Set Designer

Stephen Hunter Flick

Sound Editor

Les Fresholtz

Sound

Wilma Garscadden-gahret

Script Supervisor

Peter Gill

Song

Avram D Gold

Adr Editor

Howard Gottfried

Executive Producer

Horst Grandt

Props

Jerry Greenberg

Editor

Gloria Gresham

Costume Designer

Ted Grossman

Stunts

Barbara Guedel

Makeup

Bill Hansard

Photography

Ray Hartwick

Production Manager

D. M. Hemphill

Sound Effects

Janet Hirshenson

Casting

Lisa Horwitch

Production Assistant

Francine Jamison-tanchuck

Wardrobe Supervisor

Jane Jenkins

Casting

Holly Johnson

Song

Kelliann Ladd

Production Assistant

Shari Leibowitz

Production Coordinator

Natale Massara

Music

Karl Miller

Animal Trainer

Joanne Muhlfriedel

Song

Michael Muhlfriedel

Song

Joe Napolitano

Assistant Director

Mark O'toole

Song

Bill Pankow

Editor

Frank Pierson

Location Manager

Vern Poore

Sound

Stephen Purvis

Adr Editor

Ida Random

Production Designer

John Roesch

Foley

Nanci Rogers

Stunts

William Rosenfield

Production Assistant

Joan Rowe

Foley

Douglas Ryan

Camera Operator

T E Sadler

Foley

Eric Schwab

Location Manager

Jackson Sousa

Consultant

Richard Stone

Music Editor

James Tanenbaum

Sound

James W. Tyson

Wardrobe Supervisor

Dick Warlock

Stunts

David A. Whittaker

Sound Editor

Linda Whittlesey

Sound Editor

Marlene Wiliams

Hair

Jerry Wills

Stunts

Robert Yannetti

Assistant Director

Film Details

Also Known As
Body Double - Vous n'en croirez pas vos yeux, Doble cuerpo
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Suspense/Mystery
Comedy
Drama
Thriller
Release Date
1984

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 49m

Articles

Body Double (1984)


Brian De Palma may have gone to the well once too often with this 1984 neo-noir thriller. After winning critical acclaim for Hitchcockian thrillers like Greetings (1968), Obsession (1976) and Dressed to Kill (1980), he was raked by some critics for the obvious parallels between Body Double and such classics as Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958). Taken on its own, however, the picture is a seductive thriller with some terrific suspense scenes, most notably a pursuit through a posh Beverly Hills shopping mall, and a breakout performance by Melanie Griffith as a porn star caught up in the mayhem.

Craig Wasson stars as a struggling actor who has just lost a job in a softcore vampire film because his claustrophobia makes it impossible to shoot scenes in his character’s coffin. When his girlfriend throws him out, a new friend (Gregg Henry) hooks him up with a house-sitting job in the Hollywood Hills. As an added attraction, the house has a telescope with which he can spy on a beautiful neighbor (Deborah Shelton) who has a habit of dancing provocatively in front of her unshaded window each night. Before long Craig is obsessed, only to be thrown into a tailspin when he sees her murdered and is unable to save her. Burying his guilt and grief in porn, he watches a film featuring Holly Body (Melanie Griffith) that seems to hold a key to the murder, if he can overcome his fears long enough to follow the clues. 

De Palma had just enjoyed a huge hit with Scarface (1983), prompting Columbia Pictures to offer him a three-picture deal. As a follow-up, he decided to return to the suspense thrillers on which he had built his career. Having gone through major battles with the MPAA’s Code and Rating Administration (CARA) in the past over sex and violence in his films, he decided to make a film that would “give them everything they hate and more of it than they’ve ever seen” (De Palma, quoted in “Brian De Palma Thinks We Need More Violence in Our Lives,” Rick Lyman, Philadelphia Inquirer).

The film’s title is the industry term for an actor or actress hired to fill in for the star in a shot in which the star’s face is not visible. Body doubles are frequently used for nude scenes when the star refuses to strip for the camera. In fact, the use of a body double for Angie Dickinson’s nude shower scene in De Palma’s Dressed to Kill (1980) inspired the plot. De Palma wanted to play with the indirection involved in making one person appear to be another. He had been impressed with Robert J. Avrech’s horror thriller Death Nun (1982) and hired him to help write the screenplay. Together they screened Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Vertigo for inspiration. Originally the film was set in New York, but they moved it to Los Angeles, which offered a wealth of filmable locations like the tunnel to the beach in Long Beach and the Rodeo Collection shopping complex. The octagonal house in which Wasson stays is the “Chemosphere” in the San Fernando Valley, designed by John Lautner in 1960. It’s been called “the most modern home built in the world” (Encyclopedia Britannica).

For the male lead, De Palma cast Craig Wasson, a 29-year-old actor who had shown his comfort with sexual material in Ghost Story (1981) and had won praise for his dramatic performance in Four Friends (1981). He also cast actors with whom he had worked previously, including Gregg Henry, who had been in Scarface, and Dennis Franz, who had made four other films with De Palma, including Blow Out (1981) and Scarface. Franz modeled his director character on De Palma. Barbara Crampton made her film debut as Wasson’s cheating girlfriend before going on to a lengthy career in daytime drama (The Bold and the Beautiful, The Young and the Restless) and horror films like Re-Animator (1985) and You’re Next (2011).

In keeping with its exploration of the world of adult films, Body Double features future playwright Michael Kearns, who had appeared in the gay porn film L.A. Tool & Die (1979), centerfold Lindsay Freeman (billed as Alexandra Day) and porn stars Annette Haven and Cara Lott (billed s Pamela Weston). Haven was De Palma’s original choice for Griffith’s role, but the studio vetoed his choice because of her previous films. Other stars considered for the part include Tatum O’Neal, Jamie Lee Curtis and Carrie Fisher. Brooke Shields turned it down to attend Princeton, while Linda Hamilton was offered the role but was too busy with preparations for The Terminator (1984). De Palma already knew Griffith through her husband, Steven Bauer, who had appeared in Scarface and would do an uncredited bit here as assistant director on one of Holly’s films. Part of Griffith’s screen test was a sexually explicit scene that was destroyed at her request. In the film, the performer’s face is never seen during that scene.

As the object of Wasson’s obsessions, De Palma wanted to cast Dutch erotic star Sylvia Kristel, who became famous in Emmanuelle (1974) and its sequels. When she proved unavailable, he cast former Miss USA Deborah Shelton, who tested with scenes from Body Heat (1981) and Scenes from a Marriage (1974). During editing, De Palma decided he didn’t like her voice, so he had the role dubbed by Canadian actress Helen Shaver.

When first submitted to the CARA, Body Double was awarded an X, which would have limited its theatrical release, so De Palma made some minor cuts, mostly to the porn movie scenes, to get an R. Nonetheless, on its release, Body Double generated considerable controversy because of its depiction of the adult film world and a violent murder using a phallic power drill. Variety described it as a “sexpenser,” a portmanteau combining “sex” and “suspense.” Though their critic, Todd McCarthy, praised De Palma’s camera work, he also complained the picture was just “visual riffs on Alfred Hitchcock.” Los Angeles Times critic Sheila Benson called it “elaborately empty, silly and desperately derivative,” while Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune dismissed it as “a cheap splatter film, and not a very good one at that.” On the positive side, Roger Ebert called it “an exhilarating exercise in pure filmmaking” and Vincent Canby of The New York Times said it was “a De Palma original, a movie that might have offended Hitchcock’s wryly avuncular public personality, while appealing to his darker, most private fantasies.” The picture did not do well at the box office, prompting Columbia to cancel their three-picture deal with De Palma. To cap it all, he was nominated for Worst Director at the Golden Raspberries, only to lose to John Derek for Bolero (1984). 

Despite mixed reviews and poor box office, the film provided a big career boost for Griffith, who won the National Society of Film Critics Award and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She has said the role helped her land the leads in Something Wild (1986) and Working Girl (1988), the films that made her a star. Her performance also inspired porn star Rochelle Lee Travis to take Holly Body as her professional name.

Over the years, Body Double has become something of a cult film. Fans have come to revere it for its Hitchcock references, De Palma’s over-the-top directorial flourishes and Pino Donaggio’s soundtrack, not to mention the inclusion of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s new-wave hit “Relax,” which highlights a video-style sequence in the picture. The film-within-a-film, “Vampire’s Kiss,” would lend its name to a 1988 horror comedy starring Nicolas Cage. Body Double itself was remade in Hindi as Pahia Nasha (1993).

 

Producers: Brian De Palma, Howard Gottfried

Director: De Palma

Screenplay: Robert J. Avrech, De Palma

Based on a story by De Palma

Cinematography: Stephen H. Burum

Score: Pino Donaggio

Cast: Craig Wasson (Jake), Melanie Griffith (Holly), Gregg Henry (Sam), Deborah Shelton (Gloria), Guy Boyd (Jim McLean), Dennis Franz (Rubin), Lane Davies (Billy), Barbara Crampton (Carol)

Body Double (1984)

Body Double (1984)

Brian De Palma may have gone to the well once too often with this 1984 neo-noir thriller. After winning critical acclaim for Hitchcockian thrillers like Greetings (1968), Obsession (1976) and Dressed to Kill (1980), he was raked by some critics for the obvious parallels between Body Double and such classics as Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958). Taken on its own, however, the picture is a seductive thriller with some terrific suspense scenes, most notably a pursuit through a posh Beverly Hills shopping mall, and a breakout performance by Melanie Griffith as a porn star caught up in the mayhem.Craig Wasson stars as a struggling actor who has just lost a job in a softcore vampire film because his claustrophobia makes it impossible to shoot scenes in his character’s coffin. When his girlfriend throws him out, a new friend (Gregg Henry) hooks him up with a house-sitting job in the Hollywood Hills. As an added attraction, the house has a telescope with which he can spy on a beautiful neighbor (Deborah Shelton) who has a habit of dancing provocatively in front of her unshaded window each night. Before long Craig is obsessed, only to be thrown into a tailspin when he sees her murdered and is unable to save her. Burying his guilt and grief in porn, he watches a film featuring Holly Body (Melanie Griffith) that seems to hold a key to the murder, if he can overcome his fears long enough to follow the clues. De Palma had just enjoyed a huge hit with Scarface (1983), prompting Columbia Pictures to offer him a three-picture deal. As a follow-up, he decided to return to the suspense thrillers on which he had built his career. Having gone through major battles with the MPAA’s Code and Rating Administration (CARA) in the past over sex and violence in his films, he decided to make a film that would “give them everything they hate and more of it than they’ve ever seen” (De Palma, quoted in “Brian De Palma Thinks We Need More Violence in Our Lives,” Rick Lyman, Philadelphia Inquirer).The film’s title is the industry term for an actor or actress hired to fill in for the star in a shot in which the star’s face is not visible. Body doubles are frequently used for nude scenes when the star refuses to strip for the camera. In fact, the use of a body double for Angie Dickinson’s nude shower scene in De Palma’s Dressed to Kill (1980) inspired the plot. De Palma wanted to play with the indirection involved in making one person appear to be another. He had been impressed with Robert J. Avrech’s horror thriller Death Nun (1982) and hired him to help write the screenplay. Together they screened Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Vertigo for inspiration. Originally the film was set in New York, but they moved it to Los Angeles, which offered a wealth of filmable locations like the tunnel to the beach in Long Beach and the Rodeo Collection shopping complex. The octagonal house in which Wasson stays is the “Chemosphere” in the San Fernando Valley, designed by John Lautner in 1960. It’s been called “the most modern home built in the world” (Encyclopedia Britannica).For the male lead, De Palma cast Craig Wasson, a 29-year-old actor who had shown his comfort with sexual material in Ghost Story (1981) and had won praise for his dramatic performance in Four Friends (1981). He also cast actors with whom he had worked previously, including Gregg Henry, who had been in Scarface, and Dennis Franz, who had made four other films with De Palma, including Blow Out (1981) and Scarface. Franz modeled his director character on De Palma. Barbara Crampton made her film debut as Wasson’s cheating girlfriend before going on to a lengthy career in daytime drama (The Bold and the Beautiful, The Young and the Restless) and horror films like Re-Animator (1985) and You’re Next (2011).In keeping with its exploration of the world of adult films, Body Double features future playwright Michael Kearns, who had appeared in the gay porn film L.A. Tool & Die (1979), centerfold Lindsay Freeman (billed as Alexandra Day) and porn stars Annette Haven and Cara Lott (billed s Pamela Weston). Haven was De Palma’s original choice for Griffith’s role, but the studio vetoed his choice because of her previous films. Other stars considered for the part include Tatum O’Neal, Jamie Lee Curtis and Carrie Fisher. Brooke Shields turned it down to attend Princeton, while Linda Hamilton was offered the role but was too busy with preparations for The Terminator (1984). De Palma already knew Griffith through her husband, Steven Bauer, who had appeared in Scarface and would do an uncredited bit here as assistant director on one of Holly’s films. Part of Griffith’s screen test was a sexually explicit scene that was destroyed at her request. In the film, the performer’s face is never seen during that scene.As the object of Wasson’s obsessions, De Palma wanted to cast Dutch erotic star Sylvia Kristel, who became famous in Emmanuelle (1974) and its sequels. When she proved unavailable, he cast former Miss USA Deborah Shelton, who tested with scenes from Body Heat (1981) and Scenes from a Marriage (1974). During editing, De Palma decided he didn’t like her voice, so he had the role dubbed by Canadian actress Helen Shaver.When first submitted to the CARA, Body Double was awarded an X, which would have limited its theatrical release, so De Palma made some minor cuts, mostly to the porn movie scenes, to get an R. Nonetheless, on its release, Body Double generated considerable controversy because of its depiction of the adult film world and a violent murder using a phallic power drill. Variety described it as a “sexpenser,” a portmanteau combining “sex” and “suspense.” Though their critic, Todd McCarthy, praised De Palma’s camera work, he also complained the picture was just “visual riffs on Alfred Hitchcock.” Los Angeles Times critic Sheila Benson called it “elaborately empty, silly and desperately derivative,” while Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune dismissed it as “a cheap splatter film, and not a very good one at that.” On the positive side, Roger Ebert called it “an exhilarating exercise in pure filmmaking” and Vincent Canby of The New York Times said it was “a De Palma original, a movie that might have offended Hitchcock’s wryly avuncular public personality, while appealing to his darker, most private fantasies.” The picture did not do well at the box office, prompting Columbia to cancel their three-picture deal with De Palma. To cap it all, he was nominated for Worst Director at the Golden Raspberries, only to lose to John Derek for Bolero (1984). Despite mixed reviews and poor box office, the film provided a big career boost for Griffith, who won the National Society of Film Critics Award and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She has said the role helped her land the leads in Something Wild (1986) and Working Girl (1988), the films that made her a star. Her performance also inspired porn star Rochelle Lee Travis to take Holly Body as her professional name.Over the years, Body Double has become something of a cult film. Fans have come to revere it for its Hitchcock references, De Palma’s over-the-top directorial flourishes and Pino Donaggio’s soundtrack, not to mention the inclusion of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s new-wave hit “Relax,” which highlights a video-style sequence in the picture. The film-within-a-film, “Vampire’s Kiss,” would lend its name to a 1988 horror comedy starring Nicolas Cage. Body Double itself was remade in Hindi as Pahia Nasha (1993). Producers: Brian De Palma, Howard GottfriedDirector: De PalmaScreenplay: Robert J. Avrech, De PalmaBased on a story by De PalmaCinematography: Stephen H. BurumScore: Pino DonaggioCast: Craig Wasson (Jake), Melanie Griffith (Holly), Gregg Henry (Sam), Deborah Shelton (Gloria), Guy Boyd (Jim McLean), Dennis Franz (Rubin), Lane Davies (Billy), Barbara Crampton (Carol)

Body Double on Blu-ray


Brian De Palma makes movies about the movie experience. He takes great pleasure in playing with the artificiality of movies, with audience expectations and the way we identify with characters, with the idea of playing parts and giving performances. Body Double, like many of his films, even begins with a movie within the movie, in this case a cheesy vampire flick by way of an eighties rock video. The film open in saturated giallo color and hokey old clichés like the graveyard with headstones and crosses and howling wolves on the soundtrack. As the camera cranes down through the earth and into a vampire's coffin, the permed bloodsucker awake in the casket freezes: the actor Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) is claustrophobic. The take is halted and Jake is sent home but as far as De Palma is concerned we're still in a movie; every shot of Jake is against some artificial backdrop or set piece being moved across the studio lot. It's Scully in De Palma-land, and that's just the beginning.

Jake is a born patsy, the meek, trusting nice guy with performance anxiety and a potentially fatal weakness in crippling claustrophobia. Returning home early, flowers in hand for his girlfriend, he hears the sounds of heavy breathing and moaning as he strolls through his house but his expression is merely quizzical, a dazed smile and a cocked head, as if he was pondering what the neighbors could possibly be up to as he approaches the bedroom. Apparently his girl (Stuart Gordon favorite Barbara Crampton in a brief but revealing appearance) found someone less reserved. Betrayed and rejected, he flees, and counts himself lucky when he runs into a guy in acting class with a sublet that is too good to be true. This space age bachelor pad, which resembles a mini-Space Needle or a flying saucer on stilts, is a real-life Los Angeles landmark called the Chemosphere and it has a direct view into the open window of an exhibitionist beauty who performs a strip tease every night to her unseen audience. A telescope is helpfully positioned for optimal viewing.

Jake follows the woman in the window (Deborah Shelton) as she goes shopping for lingerie (she tries on underwear in a shop and then forgets to close the dressing room curtain) and fishes her discarded panties from the rubbish bin (because, of course, that's what beautiful women do with their used underclothes). But he's not just pathetic voyeur, he's also knight errant tracking her other stalker, a burly, leather-faced guy with yellow teeth who looks like he escaped from a sordid eighties slasher film into this silky dream horror. (Jake calls him "The Indian," another of many insensitive details plugged into the script like a provocation).

De Palma does more than quote Hitchcock's Vertigo and Rear Window, he riffs on them shamelessly, and he borrows other pieces directly from Dial M For Murder and his own Dressed to Kill. (De Palma has stated that the idea for Body Double came to him while shooting a scene with Angie Dickinson's body double). Craig Wasson is frankly weak as a leading man, which makes it hard to cheer him as a hero, but that's also part of the design. Jake is both nice guy-as-creepy sexual obsessive (predating Jeffrey in Blue Velvet) and guardian angel. He's vulnerable, gullible, non-confrontational, and more than a little obsessive.

De Palma shifts between the voyeuristic charge of his spying and his protective concern for her safety, and he choreographs the scene beautifully, exploring the geometric possibilities of their movements through the elegant Rodeo Collection mall and a lavish hotel on the beach, the play of vectors paralleling and crossing, a stalker watching another stalker also focused on the object of his obsession. The gorgeous score by regular collaborator Pino Donaggio sets it off with a lush, romantic backdrop, as if channeling Jake's own savior fantasy and stifled desire. This is De Palma the experimental filmmaker finding an abstract beauty in his loony psycho horror, but he also puts the audience into the perspective of our voyeur. While post-Halloween horror regularly put the audience in the killer's POV, Jake's perspective is more ambiguous and more unnerving. He's, shall we say, somewhat impotent as a potential savior.

As a murder mystery, this script (by De Palma and Robert J. Avrech) is absurdly elaborate and at times simply absurd. There's a brutal and gruesome murder via a giant drill (a truly grotesque and hateful act of violence), the chance recognition of the window strip tease in a porno commercial on cable (which suggests that maybe the woman in the window was a plant), and an undercover plunge into the L.A. porno industry where he finds adult star Holly Body (Melanie Griffith). Forget the seedy side of the industry, De Palma imagines a high-end adult shoot as a music video for Frankie Goes to Hollywood. That single, show-offy scene (shot in an unbroken take with a fluid camera tracking Jake through an elaborate maze of a set) surely cost more in money and man-hours than any full-length adult film of the era.

Hitchcock explored guilt and trust and suspicion and fear in his movies. De Palma doesn't really care much for psychology or motivation or, for that matter, logic. His more Hitchcockian thrillers are more about lives as films, none more so than Body Double, where the elaborate set-up of a murder and an alibi is in fact a movie created for an audience of one. It doesn't occur to Jake that the bedroom dance was a show for him, even though the woman plays to the window, a dance to be seen rather than a dance for herself, and the grotesque murder scene isn't just brutally misogynist, it's so outrageous and implausible that it comes off less an act of violence or a comment on the killer and more a performance for the sake of Jake and the police. And, of course, for an audience of film-viewing voyeurs both fascinated and appalled by De Palma's cruelty. Body Double received a hostile reception from the critics upon release, many of who were appalled by the misogyny of the violence, dismissive of the blatant swipes from Rear Window and Vertigo, and unimpressed with the lush style. It's reputation has grown, however, as we get distance from the era (it's easier to see it as De Palma's satire of eighties L.A. culture) and De Palma's career. This is grindhouse violence as pop art and emotionally-devastating ordeal as character-building experience. That anyone could emerge from such an ordeal stronger and more confident is pure fantasy. Which makes it consistent with the entire Hitchcockian pageant.

Twilight Time's Blu-ray features a strong, clean, vivid transfer. De Palma shot the film with bright, striking color to capture that eighties aesthetic, while adding a hint of soft focus of Hollywood romantic glamour to scenes. All of that comes through this excellent HD master. The soundtrack is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD and, as with almost all of Twilight Time's releases, there's an isolated audio track with Pino Donaggio's gorgeous score (and the song "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

The disc includes about forty minutes of interview featurettes, all originally produced for the 2006 DVD release. "The Seduction," "The Setup," "The Mystery," and "The Controversy," which cover different aspects of the production, are produced by De Palma scholar and disc featurette veteran Laurent Bouzreau and feature interviews with Brian De Palma and actors Melanie Griffith, Deborah Shelton, Gregg Henry, and Dennis Franz (all the major cast member but Craig Wasson). There's also an eight page booklet with an essay by Julie Kirgo.

By Sean Axmaker

Body Double on Blu-ray

Brian De Palma makes movies about the movie experience. He takes great pleasure in playing with the artificiality of movies, with audience expectations and the way we identify with characters, with the idea of playing parts and giving performances. Body Double, like many of his films, even begins with a movie within the movie, in this case a cheesy vampire flick by way of an eighties rock video. The film open in saturated giallo color and hokey old clichés like the graveyard with headstones and crosses and howling wolves on the soundtrack. As the camera cranes down through the earth and into a vampire's coffin, the permed bloodsucker awake in the casket freezes: the actor Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) is claustrophobic. The take is halted and Jake is sent home but as far as De Palma is concerned we're still in a movie; every shot of Jake is against some artificial backdrop or set piece being moved across the studio lot. It's Scully in De Palma-land, and that's just the beginning. Jake is a born patsy, the meek, trusting nice guy with performance anxiety and a potentially fatal weakness in crippling claustrophobia. Returning home early, flowers in hand for his girlfriend, he hears the sounds of heavy breathing and moaning as he strolls through his house but his expression is merely quizzical, a dazed smile and a cocked head, as if he was pondering what the neighbors could possibly be up to as he approaches the bedroom. Apparently his girl (Stuart Gordon favorite Barbara Crampton in a brief but revealing appearance) found someone less reserved. Betrayed and rejected, he flees, and counts himself lucky when he runs into a guy in acting class with a sublet that is too good to be true. This space age bachelor pad, which resembles a mini-Space Needle or a flying saucer on stilts, is a real-life Los Angeles landmark called the Chemosphere and it has a direct view into the open window of an exhibitionist beauty who performs a strip tease every night to her unseen audience. A telescope is helpfully positioned for optimal viewing. Jake follows the woman in the window (Deborah Shelton) as she goes shopping for lingerie (she tries on underwear in a shop and then forgets to close the dressing room curtain) and fishes her discarded panties from the rubbish bin (because, of course, that's what beautiful women do with their used underclothes). But he's not just pathetic voyeur, he's also knight errant tracking her other stalker, a burly, leather-faced guy with yellow teeth who looks like he escaped from a sordid eighties slasher film into this silky dream horror. (Jake calls him "The Indian," another of many insensitive details plugged into the script like a provocation). De Palma does more than quote Hitchcock's Vertigo and Rear Window, he riffs on them shamelessly, and he borrows other pieces directly from Dial M For Murder and his own Dressed to Kill. (De Palma has stated that the idea for Body Double came to him while shooting a scene with Angie Dickinson's body double). Craig Wasson is frankly weak as a leading man, which makes it hard to cheer him as a hero, but that's also part of the design. Jake is both nice guy-as-creepy sexual obsessive (predating Jeffrey in Blue Velvet) and guardian angel. He's vulnerable, gullible, non-confrontational, and more than a little obsessive. De Palma shifts between the voyeuristic charge of his spying and his protective concern for her safety, and he choreographs the scene beautifully, exploring the geometric possibilities of their movements through the elegant Rodeo Collection mall and a lavish hotel on the beach, the play of vectors paralleling and crossing, a stalker watching another stalker also focused on the object of his obsession. The gorgeous score by regular collaborator Pino Donaggio sets it off with a lush, romantic backdrop, as if channeling Jake's own savior fantasy and stifled desire. This is De Palma the experimental filmmaker finding an abstract beauty in his loony psycho horror, but he also puts the audience into the perspective of our voyeur. While post-Halloween horror regularly put the audience in the killer's POV, Jake's perspective is more ambiguous and more unnerving. He's, shall we say, somewhat impotent as a potential savior. As a murder mystery, this script (by De Palma and Robert J. Avrech) is absurdly elaborate and at times simply absurd. There's a brutal and gruesome murder via a giant drill (a truly grotesque and hateful act of violence), the chance recognition of the window strip tease in a porno commercial on cable (which suggests that maybe the woman in the window was a plant), and an undercover plunge into the L.A. porno industry where he finds adult star Holly Body (Melanie Griffith). Forget the seedy side of the industry, De Palma imagines a high-end adult shoot as a music video for Frankie Goes to Hollywood. That single, show-offy scene (shot in an unbroken take with a fluid camera tracking Jake through an elaborate maze of a set) surely cost more in money and man-hours than any full-length adult film of the era. Hitchcock explored guilt and trust and suspicion and fear in his movies. De Palma doesn't really care much for psychology or motivation or, for that matter, logic. His more Hitchcockian thrillers are more about lives as films, none more so than Body Double, where the elaborate set-up of a murder and an alibi is in fact a movie created for an audience of one. It doesn't occur to Jake that the bedroom dance was a show for him, even though the woman plays to the window, a dance to be seen rather than a dance for herself, and the grotesque murder scene isn't just brutally misogynist, it's so outrageous and implausible that it comes off less an act of violence or a comment on the killer and more a performance for the sake of Jake and the police. And, of course, for an audience of film-viewing voyeurs both fascinated and appalled by De Palma's cruelty. Body Double received a hostile reception from the critics upon release, many of who were appalled by the misogyny of the violence, dismissive of the blatant swipes from Rear Window and Vertigo, and unimpressed with the lush style. It's reputation has grown, however, as we get distance from the era (it's easier to see it as De Palma's satire of eighties L.A. culture) and De Palma's career. This is grindhouse violence as pop art and emotionally-devastating ordeal as character-building experience. That anyone could emerge from such an ordeal stronger and more confident is pure fantasy. Which makes it consistent with the entire Hitchcockian pageant. Twilight Time's Blu-ray features a strong, clean, vivid transfer. De Palma shot the film with bright, striking color to capture that eighties aesthetic, while adding a hint of soft focus of Hollywood romantic glamour to scenes. All of that comes through this excellent HD master. The soundtrack is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD and, as with almost all of Twilight Time's releases, there's an isolated audio track with Pino Donaggio's gorgeous score (and the song "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. The disc includes about forty minutes of interview featurettes, all originally produced for the 2006 DVD release. "The Seduction," "The Setup," "The Mystery," and "The Controversy," which cover different aspects of the production, are produced by De Palma scholar and disc featurette veteran Laurent Bouzreau and feature interviews with Brian De Palma and actors Melanie Griffith, Deborah Shelton, Gregg Henry, and Dennis Franz (all the major cast member but Craig Wasson). There's also an eight page booklet with an essay by Julie Kirgo. By Sean Axmaker

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Miscellaneous Notes

Voted Best Supporting Actress (Griffith) by the 1984 National Sociaty of Film Critics.

Released in United States October 1984

Released in United States Fall October 1, 1984

Began shooting February 21, 1984.

Completed shooting October 1984.

Released in United States October 1984

Released in United States Fall October 1, 1984