Body Double (1984) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)


Tuna's notes


Body Double (1984) is a thriller by Brian De Palma, and, in my opinion is a very good one.

Jake (Craig Wasson) plays a B movie actor who has a bout of claustrophobia while filming a vampire film. He is fired, so comes home unexpectedly early, only to find his wife (Barbara Crampton) in bed with another man. Then he attends his acting workshop, and is berated by his coach. Plus he's Craig Wasson, so he always has a bad hair day.

Things look up when a classmate asks him to house-sit in what turns out to be a great home with a special bonus - his neighbor does a strip/masturbation show every evening. The second night, he notices that he is not the only one watching the show. He sees an Indian working on a nearby scaffold, and he is also watching. Jack senses that the woman is in trouble, then becomes obsessed with her, and wants to save her. Then he witnesses her murder and becomes the prime suspect.

In case there is someone who hasn't seen this film, I will stop and avoid writing a spoiler, but, at this point in the film, you have enough information to figure out the ending, but I don't know anyone who has. That is part of the strength of the film. From my viewpoint, this is an excellent thriller. It has an excellent plot, is given depth by the fact that Jake's character is fully fleshed out, and it does not cheat on the erotica. I can't account for the mediocre 6.3 score at IMDB. Rotten Tomatoes has three actual reviews, 2 positive and one negative. The negative says, "Ultimately, Body Double feels like a film that seems more interested in pleasing itself than pleasing the audience." Maybe I am just dense, but that reads like nonsense to me.



  • Full-screen and widescreen anamorphic formats


Barbara Crampton shows breasts, and a bit of bush partially obscured by her arm.

Melanie Griffith shows breasts and buns in several scenes, in a performance that earned her a Golden Globe nomination

A body double shows her stuff at the end, in a film within the film.

Scoop's notes

A fella named Wayne Myers wrote a particularly insightful review at, and I don't think I can express the film's case any better.

Underappreciated by critics, Body Double is a success on many levels. Unfairly maligned in this case for his liberal drawing on Hitchcock themes in Rear Window and Vertigo, Brian DePalma, with Body Double, has made a decisive break from Hitchcock and makes the themes of obsession, voyeurism, and pervasive duplicity and sexual betrayal entirely his own.

Mesmerized by the nightly titillating bedroom routine of sensuous neighbor Gloria Ravelle (Deborah Shelton), B-film actor Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) innocuously indulges his voyeuristic impulses--until the evening he realizes someone else is watching Gloria too. Things quickly escalate to murder. Melanie Griffith is Seka-like porn star Holly Body, who Scully discovers is the unwitting key to a brutal murder. With its triple-flip ending and beautiful photography (especially the camera's circular travel during Jake's brief erotic interlude with Gloria as Pino Donaggio's "Love and Menace" portion of the score reaches crescendo), Body Double is an exceptionally beautiful film. Pino Donaggio's superb score also deserves mention, particularly his "Love and Menace" track and his playful and titillating segment "Body Double" theme when Jake first watches Gloria, to its variations in a later scene in which elements of menace are introduced as Jake realizes someone else is watching too, and finally, its romantic variations in the sequence where Jake follows Gloria.

One of the most intriguing and ingenious sequences I've seen in film comes amid the sequence in which Jake gets himself cast in an X-rated film to investigate Holly Body's apparent link to a murder. During the "film-within-a-film" very soft-porn parody of "An American in Paris" sequence, Jake begins to have scripted raw sex with ribald Holly to the throbbing beat of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax." He suddenly finds a responsive Gloria in his arms once again as Pino Donaggio's "Love and Menace" swells on a grand scale. DePalma cross-cuts between Jake's fantasy lovemaking with Gloria and the actual raw sex he's having with Holly as illusion and reality merge to the literal climax, allowing Jake to consummate his poignant, lost romance with Gloria--while bringing Holly to orgasm at the same time! It's an incredible sequence that mixes poignancy, humor, mechanical and romantic sex.

With its knowing insight into voyeurism, Body Double may very well be Brian DePalma's best film.

I agree with Tuna and Mr Myers. Body Double has the two things I consider necessary for a good thriller.

Rule 1) There has to be more entertainment in the film than just a surprise ending. The journey should be as pleasurable as the destination. This is true of Body Double. It has lurid sex and nudity, vertiginous camera angles, ambitious camera movement, scrumptious plot twists, movie industry inside jokes, porn industry inside jokes, raunchy music, sleazy deceptions, and taboid sensationalism. Like Pulp Fiction, Body Double is an entertainment film which is actually entertaining. Yes, it owes plenty to Hitchcock and the novels of James M Cain, but it has very much its own flavor, and does a nifty job of giving an 80's sensibility to those works of the 40's and 50's.

Rule 2) The final "whodunit" surprise should be something logical, as well as something that we have seen and could have solved on our own if we were smart enough. Body Double meets the criterion. We watch the murder. It's all there in front of us, and there is only one person who could have done it, because of something perfectly logical which we see with our own eyes. As Tuna pointed out, I didn't actually figure it out, but I was kicking myself for missing it after the secret was revealed.

Fun movie! At the very top of the genre pyramid. The Citizen Kane of erotic thrillers. Truly erotic, a great mystery, beautifully directed, and entertaining non-stop.  In fact, the action is so erotic and the nudity so copious that it allows minimal crossover. This movie shocked mainstream audiences when it was released and still shocks people who are not prepared for the level of sensational content, which matches any softcore sex film. Some sexy thrillers, like Body Heat, can appeal to mainstream audiences, but only if the erotica is subtle. Body Double is lurid and over-the-top sexy. Hell, that's what I like best about it!

The Critics Vote


The People Vote ...

IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, C++++.

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