Body Double


1h 49m 1984

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
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Mystery
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
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Mystery
Thriller
Release Date
1984

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 49m

Articles

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

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

Quotes

Trivia

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