Body Double (1984)
Metrograph in NYC is showing a Brian De Palma series, showcasing 28 out
of his 29 full length films. Brian De Palma is one of my favorite
directors, having directed 4 films I would rate a 9 out of 10, which
include Carrie, Phantom Of The Paradise, Dressed To Kill and Body
Double. He has many other very good films, including Sisters, Scarface
and Hi Mom. He also has about 14 movies I have not seen yet, so this is
my chance to see as many of them as I can make time for, so expect to
see me reviewing all the ones I have missed or skipped due to
disinterest. Nothing I like more than rounding out the catalogue of
films I have yet to see of a particular director, especially one held in
such high esteem.
So June was the month when these movies played, but on days where I saw 3-5 movies a day I definitely did not get to review everything I saw and a few of these reviews are out of order and back dated, like this one. This one I got to se on June 18th, 2016, and it is one of my favorite De Palma films, along with being in my Top 100 of all time. If I had to rank it, this would be my #2 De Palma film of all time, but who knows, I might have to reshuffle that when I see them again.
Body Double is some high class sleaze that falls in the category of films like Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction, Single White Female, Poison Ivy, Sliver and so many countless others. It is about murder, lust, intrigue, porn, acting, claustrophobia and infidelity. We get to meet Jake, a low budget actor working on a low budget vampire flick. He gets stuck in his coffin due to his claustrophobia, and gets sent home early. There he finds his live in girlfriend with her face glowing, while she rides another guy in bed. This random act sets in motion a plot that, while a bit complicated at times, is well worth sitting through.
Jake ends up house sitting for a new friend, and there he sees a neighbor through a telescope set up in the house. De Palma once again revisits his urge to peep, or view others while they don't know they are being viewed. This is also something that Hitchcock was interested in, and this film is an homage to Hitchcock and the old mystery movies of yesteryear, brought up to modern times. I will skip the rest of the plot, the less I tell you the more you should enjoy it, but this is a film that can be watched and rewatched many times, as little things that you didn't notice pop up. One of the themes of the movie is claustrophobia, and while they bring up many up front references, one little thing I didn't notice until multiple screenings was the fact that Jake, the lead guy who suffers from claustrophobia, drives a convertible. It's little things like that which make Brian De Palma an amazing director and writer.
The movie stars no one of any major fame, EXCEPT for the fact that it helped make Melanie Griffith a household name. Her performance as Holly Body, a wacky but lovable porn star gave her leading role status after this movie. Meanwhile, everyone else in this movie puts on a good show, they do their jobs and do it well, and to be honest, I love the fact that there is no major star attached to this movie, as the story was the lead actor.
The depiction of the porn world is amusing and not completely off base, and the music video appearance of Frankie Goes To Hollywood doing their classic song Relax may date the film, but also gives it some appeal as it was the 1980s, and this is how it was. The score is mesmerizing, and really added to the dreamlike quality of the movie. There are also some very seriously funny moments as well, whether intentional or not, and they make me very happy.
This is a near perfect film, with just a bit of the cheese being too much at times, but all in all, one of the best of De Palma, and one worth watching again and again. I was glad to revisit this film for at least the 5th time, and will one day again if I get a chance.
9 out of 10 stars.
Location : The Metrograph, Theater 1, in NYC
Date and time : June 18, 2016 4PM
Format : 35mm print
Audience : Well attended