A fledgling Staten Island journalist witnesses a brutal murder in the neighboring apartment of a French-Canadian model, but the police do not believe that the crime took place. With the help of a private detective, she seeks out the truth.
Brian De Palma
Harry Valentini and Moe Dickstein are both errand boys for the Mob. When they lose two hundred fifty thousand dollars, they are set up to kill each other. But they run off to Atlantic City, and comedy follows.
Jake Scully comes home to find his girlfriend with another man and has to find a new place. In between his acting workshops and his job in a vampire B-movie, he scans the paper looking for anything. He happens to meet Sam Bouchard, a fellow actor who needs a house sitter. Both are pleased with the arrangement that will have Jake staying in the house and for a sweetener, Sam shows him his favorite neighbor, a well-built woman who strips with her window open each night. Jake becomes obsessed with meeting her and is able to help recover her purse from a thief, but shows his own phobia, he is incapacitated by claustrophobia when the thief runs through a tunnel. When Jake witnesses a murder, he finds out that the police love to pin crimes on peeping Toms. Jake discovers that here are just too many coincidences but must hunt them down himself without the police.Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
De Palma at his most subversive and satirical. Not for everyone.
Rating: ***1/2 out of 4.
Brian De Palma has had it with his critics and the rating's board. After the cuts that needed to be made to his masterpieces like DRESSED TO KILL and SCARFACE (which eventually got to be released in its intended format inconspicuously), the line is drawn. So naturally, he would make a movie about it. The result is BODY DOUBLE, a big thumb-in-the-nose to Hollywood conventions and 80's pop-culture. It's one-part Hitchcockian thriller and one-part satire, but its an all-around crazy movie.
If you despise De Palma, chances are you'd consider BODY DOUBLE as one of his worst. Here, De Palma doesn't give a damn if you get him or not. Here, he revels in who he is and what he wants. He also intentionally throws in the trashy 80's fad at the time, from a tacked in music video of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's one-hit wonder "Relax" to the voyeuristic obsession with porn, as the sufficient atmosphere (as well as a social critique) of the era. The story, which basically riffs VERTIGO and REAR WINDOW, has a B-movie actor named Jake Scully (Bill Maher look-alike Craig Wasson) who has a very bad day when first he gets fired from his only B-movie gig and later sees her girlfriend in bed with another man. Discouraged, he bumps into a friend named Sam Bouchard (Gregg Henry, the most noticeable "Hey, isn't he that guy?" character actor appearing in De Palma's films) who invites him to watch over his place; a campy-looking tower mansion that looks like it came out of an episode of LOST IN SPACE. While there, Sam introduces him to his "favorite neighbor", a beautiful woman named Glora Revelle (Deborah Shelton) who does a striptease in her bedroom, not knowing she's being watched. Every night, Jake would watch Gloria doing her routine like clockwork through a telescope, which is harmless perverted fun until he realizes that her life may be in danger; danger in the form of a weird-looking Indian(!) who's spying on her too.
It may take a lot of suspension of disbelief to understand the plot of BODY DOUBLE as it goes to even crazier heights. At first, it looks like the usual De Palma-as-Hitchcock thriller with some terrific sequences, then it turns into something out of a slasher film, then enters the sleazy world of 80's pornography where a young Melanie Griffith plays Holly Body, a porn star who may be a key to solving the crime. But when people realize that this is meant to be a thriller-cum-satirical comedy, they might enjoy it more. As usual, De Palma demonstrates his talents with staging mise-en-scene in sequences like when Jake stalks Gloria who is being stalked by the Indian (which is obviously borrowed from VERTIGO but is actually a little more voyeuristic in nature here) and there's the REAR WINDOW-inspired scene where Jake spies on Gloria while she's doing her striptease routine, backed up by a catchy score by Pino Donaggio.
Overall, it's not meant to be taken seriously. "It's only a movie!", Hitchcock once said to some of his difficult actors, and this movie screams that mantra. Wasson's character was meant to be a an average loser and his casting isn't just coincidence; he was meant to play the audience's surrogate. The film being set in Hollywood is another. And is it no wonder that the director that Dennis Franz plays is a direct copy of De Palma? BODY DOUBLE thumbs its nose at Hollywood and many pop-culture fads of the era, turning out to be both a sleazy re-working of Hitchcock's classics and a clever satire.
8 of 11 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this