Forgotten Friday Flick – “Body Double”

Forgotten Friday FlickThis is the week where we finally see the release of the five-star doc De Palma on Blu-ray, so there’s time for one more grandiose gander at past picture pleasure via the master of suspense – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick!  For a final stab at De Palma dissection the last choice is an obvious one.  Carrie and Scarface are far from forgotten, Snake Eyes is a roll of the dice that comes up short (amazing opening shot not withstanding!) and the underrated Raising Cain has recently been reviewed by my WhySoBlu cohort Brandon Peters.  (Go fan cut!)  So with one more lurid look grab your binoculars and prepare to enter a movie world where nothing is what it seems (aka Hollywood!) – time to bring in the….Body Double!


Jake Scully is an LA actor down on his luck.  He’s been fired from his latest job playing a vampire due to coffin claustrophobia, his girlfriend is cheating on him and he has no place to live.  Enter fellow thespian Sam Bouchard.  Jake meets Sam in an acting class and after going for drinks offers Sam offers him a housesitting job – but it’s no ordinary house.  It’s a very rich, one-story octagon sky-high mansion with many perks.  One of them, Sam points out on his way out, is a naughty neighbor who puts on a sexy window show nightly and like any red-blooded male Jake begins to watch – and keeps watching.  But a simple peep finds the naïve Jake embroiled in obsession, murder and even adult films in an effort to solve a mystery.


To say Body Double isn’t afraid to show the sleazier side of LA is truly an understatement – it revels in it.  If Dressed to Kill was a more refined slice and dice ditty, Body Double plays like it’s bastard cousin.  With its sullied story of murder, peeping toms and even the porn industry, De Palma creates a salacious backdrop with which to play out his skilled suspense tricks.  And always aware of it’s own false fronts using film within a film scenarios (the bits with caustic B-movie director Dennis Franz are tasty!), keeping things in an alternate reality state (what is real in an artificial movie world?) and playing with the notion that we’re all surface creatures with lurid leanings (you like to watch?), Body Double uses all of the above for maximum movie manipulation.  Even the hero of the film, played with supreme sad sack savvy by everyman Craig Wasson, is a flawed and damaged human being making him questionable to root for.  De Palma’s Hollywood is a world ripe with hidden agendas and ulterior motives – reality gone askew.

bd mid 3

As far as a movie itself goes, Body Double has all the De Palma trimmings and then some. His suspense staging has never been better (the shopping steadicam sequence in the Rodeo Collection Mall is picturesque!), his locations are lush (from the modernist Chemosphere house to the set of scattered apartments on Long Beach all add to his signature style), his music is omnipresent (this is Pino Donaggio at his finest!) his actors are in fine form (note De Palma regular Gregg Henry as the charismatic Sam, Guy Boyd as a no-nonsense detective and even a little Barbara Crampton action!) and he isn’t afraid to even add some light into dark places.  (The whole Frankie Goes To Hollywood “Relax” music video porn shoot is a hoot!)


But if there is one stand out amongst the five-star stuff here it’s by far the unforgettable turn by an early Melanie Griffith as the sinful and sassy adult star Holly Body. A one-woman force of nature, Griffith’s porn star is far from a dim bulb, portraying toughness and independence even while spouting her personal sex scene do’s and don’ts – it’s career best character work at it’s finest and Griffith is more than up to the task.

When Body Double came out there were a lot of rumblings about the misogynistic portrayal and treatment of the female characters in the film.  And while there are some women who fall victim to malice within De Palma’s world (this is a thriller after all!), it never feels exploitative for its own sake – every movie move here has a reason.  Things may seem straightforward, but like a well-hidden puppet master De Palma is always pulling the strings.  A heightened reality, a billboard façade, a land of make-believe and the dirt found underneath it all is where Brian De Palma’s Body Double proudly lives and breathes – welcome to Hollywood.



I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

  1. No Comments