Body Double

Body Double
DePalma body double.jpg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Brian De Palma
Produced by Brian De Palma
Written by Brian De Palma
Robert J. Avrech
Starring Craig Wasson
Melanie Griffith
Gregg Henry
Music by Pino Donaggio
Cinematography Stephen H. Burum
Editing by Gerald B. Greenberg
Bill Pankow
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) October 26, 1984 (1984-10-26)
Running time 114 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10,000,000
Box office $8,801,940

Body Double is a 1984 American thriller film directed by Brian De Palma and starring Craig Wasson, Melanie Griffith, and Gregg Henry. The original musical score was composed by Pino Donaggio.

The film was marketed with the tagline: “You can’t believe everything you see.”

Plot[edit source | edit]

Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) is a struggling actor who has lost his role as a vampire in a low-budget horror movie after his claustrophobia thwarts shooting. He returns home to discover his girlfriend cheating on him, so Scully is left without a place to stay.

At a method acting class, he meets Sam (Gregg Henry), who closely monitors Scully’s revelation of his fears and the childhood cause of his claustrophobia. They go to a bar, where Scully is offered a place to stay; Sam’s friend has left town temporarily and needs a house-sitter for his ultra-modern mansion in the Hollywood Hills.

Scully is shown the house that night. Sam is especially ecstatic about one feature: a female neighbor, Gloria Revelle (Deborah Shelton), who erotically dances at a specific time each night. Sam has even set up a telescope, which Scully can’t resist using voyeuristically to watch her.

One night, he sees Gloria being abused by a boyfriend. When she goes shopping the next day, Scully decides to follow her. Gloria’s behavior seems strange; she makes calls to an unknown person, promising to meet them. He also notices a disfigured “Indian,” a man he had noticed watching Gloria a few days prior.

Scully follows her to a seaside motel, where apparently Gloria has been stood up by the person she was there to meet. In a nearby tunnel, the Indian suddenly snatches her purse. Scully tries to pursue him, but his claustrophobia restrains him and he needs to be “rescued” by Gloria, who walks him out of it. They begin to impulsively and passionately kiss before she retreats.

That night, Scully is again watching through the telescope when the Indian returns. The man is seen breaking into Gloria’s home. Scully races to save her, but is attacked by the Indian’s vicious dog. Gloria is brutally murdered by the Indian with a huge handheld drill.

Scully can do nothing now but alert the police. They assume it was simply a fumbled robbery and do not plan to investigate any further. Dectective McLean (Guy Boyd), however, who found a pair of Gloria’s panties in Scully’s pocket, believes that Scully’s voyeuristic behavior was a factor in her murder.

Unable to sleep, Scully is watching a pornography channel on television when he observes that the actress on screen, Holly Body (Melanie Griffith), dances in exactly the same sensual way that he saw while watching Gloria. Now suspicious, he pretends to be a porn producer hiring for a new film so that he can meet Holly. He even ends up acting in a hardcore film himself.

Scully invites her to the house. He learns that Holly was hired by Sam to impersonate Gloria each night, dancing in the window, with Sam knowing Scully would watch her and later witness the real Gloria’s murder. Holly is offended at the suggestion she was involved in a killing. She storms out, but is picked up by the Indian, who knocks her unconscious and drives her away.

Scully follows them to an aqueduct, when the Indian is digging a grave. They fight, which is when he finds that the Indian is actually Sam in heavy make-up. Scully was a scapegoat, providing Sam with an alibi during the murder. (Sam was also Gloria’s abusive boyfriend.) Scully is overpowered and is thrown in the grave. He overcomes his fear and climbs out as Sam is accidentally knocked into the aqueduct by his own dog, where both presumably perish.

During the end credits, Jake is shown having been recast in his previous role as a vampire. Holly is there watching as an actress doing a nude scene is replaced by a body double.

Cast[edit source | edit]

At one point in the film, we see a “film within a film,” with Frankie Goes to Hollywood performing the song “Relax” on the set of a porn film, in which scream queen Brinke Stevens, adult actresses Cara Lott and Annette Haven appear. Slavitza Jovan, who appeared as Gozer the Gozerian in Ghostbusters the same year, briefly appears as a saleslady. Prolific voice actor Rob Paulsen, known for voicing Raphael of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Pinky of Pinky and the Brain, also makes a rare live action performance.

DePalma originally considered Annette Haven to play the lead female role that eventually went to Griffith. Before filming he commented, “I’m already thinking of casting. I don’t know if there’s any good young porno stars out here, but the older ones – Annette Haven, Seka – some of them can really act. And Annette Haven has a terrific body.”[1]

Locations[edit source | edit]

The film was shot in the Los Angeles area, and is notable for its inclusion of many recognizable locations, including Tail o’ the Pup (a hot dog stand formerly on La Cienega Ave. at Beverly Blvd.), the Beverly Center, Barney’s Beanery, the Farmer’s Market, the swanky Rodeo Collection mall on Rodeo Drive, the gleaming Spruce Goose dome in Long Beach, the Hollywood Tower and adjacent Hollywood Freeway, Tower Records, and the iconic Chemosphere as the Modernist bachelor pad.

Critical reception[edit source | edit]

The movie was largely dismissed by some critics upon release, and even denounced outright by others. Brian De Palma earned a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Director for his work on Body Double. Only star Melanie Griffith received rave reviews from the film, earning a National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress, a Golden Globe Nomination as Best Supporting Actress, and the Motion Picture Booker’s Club Award as “Star of Tomorrow.”

However, Roger Ebert praised the movie, giving it three and a half out of four stars. The film developed a dedicated cult following, which remains strong today, perhaps due to its directorial and aesthetic indulgences, early 1980s new wave soundtrack, and the use of iconic Los Angeles locations.

But now, review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 78% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 27 reviews, with an average rating of 6.6/10.[2]

The movie’s trailer won a Clio Award in 1984.[3]

Cultural impact[edit source | edit]

Body Double is referenced repeatedly throughout the Bret Easton Ellis novel American Psycho, as the favorite film of the protagonist and narrator, businessman and serial killer Patrick Bateman, who is drawn to the film’s lurid violence and sexuality. He mentions that he has seen the film 37 times, and rents the tape of it from a video store several times in the story. He also occasionally repeats his preferred moments (the most violent scenes) from the film to the reader or to other characters, especially “the power drill scene” (he has apparently masturbated to this scene several times).

The futuristic octagon house Jake tends is the Chemosphere, found in Los Angeles, California. Troy McClure resides in a near-identical household in an episode of The Simpsons, owing largely to Body Double.

Remake[edit source | edit]

Though often seen as partly a remake itself, Body Double was remade in 1993 in India as Pehla Nasha. The movie was directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, in his directorial debut. Deepak Tijori plays the lead role alongside Pooja Bhatt, Raveena Tandon and Paresh Rawal.

See also[edit source | edit]

References[edit source | edit]

External links[edit source | edit]

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Body Double, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.