Body Double (1984)

Body Double (1984)

“You’re my only witness to this murder, and you’re a peeper. In my book, that’s a pervert and a sex offender.”

An actor (Craig Wasson) with severe claustrophobia leaves his set one day to come home and find his girlfriend sleeping with another man. Despondent, he eventually connects with a fellow actor (Gregg Henry) who offers him a luxurious house-sitting gig, complete with a telescopic view of a woman (Deborah Shelton) who does an elaborate solo erotic dance each night. Soon Wasson finds himself enamored with Shelton, and concerned to see her threatened by a menacing man who seems determined to kill her.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Actors and Actresses
  • Brian De Palma Films
  • Framed
  • Peeping Toms

Response to Peary’s Review:
In discussing this “disappointing suspense thriller by Brian De Palma”, Peary writes that the fact that De Palma “borrows from Hitchcock’s Vertigo, Rear Window, and Psycho is not as annoying as his repeating himself” by making “so sure his scenes have parallels in Hitchcock that his own storyline gets muddled.” He notes that while “De Palma’s camera is fluid, and his direction is so imaginative at times that you almost gasp”, Wasson is “much duller here than in other films” (I think that’s intentional):

and “the storyline’s so predictable that the intricacy of De Palma’s direction seems wasted” (only the fact that Wasson’s clearly being duped is predictable; everything else caught me by surprise). Meanwhile, he asserts that “when De Palma starts showing off with one of his long non-dialogue passages (when Wasson follows Shelton), the picture becomes boring.”

He adds (I agree) that “as a platinum-blond [adult film] star, Melanie Griffith is the best reason to see this picture”.

While I’m not as dismissive of this film as Peary seems to be, I’ll agree it’s not must-see viewing and ultimately one of De Palma’s lesser films. However, there’s enough creativity to recommend it for one-time viewing, especially if you’re a De Palma fan.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Melanie Griffith as Holly
  • Good use of Los Angeles settings

  • Pino Donaggio’s score

Must See?
No, but De Palma fans will certainly want to check it out.


2 thoughts on “Body Double (1984)

  1. Agreed; not must-see and mainly for De Palma fans.

    Slick but dumb Hitch homage. It’s *really* boring in its first 15 minutes as it struggles to get started. After that, it’s just labored. As a porn star in the film’s second half, Griffith gets one very good line to a clueless listener: “Good! Good. We need more comedians in our business.”

  2. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Another slick and entertaining Hitchcock riff. DP continues in a similarly controversial vein as Dressed to Kill. Wasson is likeable but deliberately somewhat nebbish and a born patsy.

    Not by any stretch a must see despite being twisty and fun.

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