Re-Watching the Classics: Body Double

Body Double is a neo noir thriller from 1984. This is written and directed by Brian De Palma. De Palma definitely has his hits and his misses, but all of his movies are entertaining. This one steals a lot of plot devices from Hitchcock, something I’ve noticed De Palma does often. This one has obvious references to Rear Window.

Think of it as Rear Window in an over sexed Los Angeles in the materialistic 1980’s. I actually really enjoyed the time capsule this film is. We have some of the great cars of the early 80’s rolling by in multiple scenes. A crazy house on the hills that some may find dated, but is interesting in it’s over the top styling. The opening shows the making of a film, a vampire film that looks like it could have been a real film that would appear at the video store between Fright Night and Lost Boys. Frankie Goes To Hollywood in an unusual music video, porno mix. We see MTV playing in the background on the television. It also has a small look at the pornography industry as VHS takes over from the adult theaters.

This story starts out with actor Jack Scully, played by Craig Wasson, starts out on a soundstage, playing a vampire in a coffin. He seems to have a case of claustrophobia, as they pull him out of the coffin, frozen in fear. He goes home to recoup and finds his girlfriend in bed with somebody else. He goes to a bar to drowned his sorrows and is looking for a place to stay. He soon finds out he lost his acting gig do to freezing up on the set the day before. He also goes to acting class where he runs into a fellow actor played by Gregg Henry. The actor offers Jack a place to stay while he goes to Seattle for an acting gig. The house belongs to a wealthy man who is in Europe and somebody needs to water the plants! As the plants need to be watered right at 6, conveniently there is a telescope pointing down the hill at another house on the hill. This telescope shows a beautiful woman doing a seductive dance that you cannot turn your eyes away from. The woman down the hill is soon abused by somebody and Jack starts to get attached to her. The next night he notices a big Native American is also watching her. He soon finds the Native American following the beautiful woman around town…as Jack is also following her. We can now see she is played by Deborah Shelton, our unknowing femme fatale for this film. This part is also pretty creepy on many levels. Our hero thinks he is doing the right thing by following and spying on this woman, to protect her from a scary looking man who is following and spying on the same woman. This story continues as our femme fatale seems to get in more trouble as Jack tries his best to keep her safe. Will he succeed in protecting her? Will he fall short? Will he be the first suspect if something does happen?

This film maybe most famous for the performance by Melanie Griffith in a supporting role as porn actress Holly Body. It is a good performance for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe.

This film was very fun to revisit and worth doing so if you have not seen it in a while. If you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it. This is not De Palma’s best work, but it is a fun movie that is one of the better sex thrillers from the 1980’s.

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