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Body Double

Body Double
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Brian De Palma
Produced by Brian De Palma
Written by Brian De Palma
Robert J. Avrech
Music by Pino Donaggio
Cinematography Stephen H. Burum
Edited by Gerald B. Greenberg
Bill Pankow
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • October 26, 1984 (1984-10-26)
Running time
114 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10,000,000 (estimated)
Box office $8,801,940 (USA)

Body Double is a 1984 American erotic thriller film directed by Brian De Palma and starring Craig Wasson, Melanie Griffith, Deborah Shelton and Gregg Henry.

The original musical score was composed by Pino Donaggio.

The film was a direct homage to the films of Alfred Hitchcock, specifically Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958), taking plot lines and themes (voyeurism, obsession) from both.[1][2]


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Locations 3
  • Critical reception 4
  • Cultural impact 5
  • Remake 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) is a struggling actor who has lost his role as a vampire in a low-budget horror movie after his claustrophobia thwarts shooting. He returns home to discover his girlfriend cheating on him, so Scully is left without a place to stay.

At a method acting class he meets Sam (Gregg Henry) who closely monitors Scully's revelation of his fears and the childhood cause of his claustrophobia. They go to a bar where Scully is offered a place to stay; Sam's friend has left town temporarily and needs a house-sitter for his ultra-modern home in the Hollywood Hills.

Scully is shown the house that night. Sam is especially ecstatic about one feature: a female neighbor, Gloria Revelle (Deborah Shelton), who erotically dances at a specific time each night. Sam has even set up a telescope which Scully can't resist using voyeuristically to watch her.

One night he sees Gloria being abused by a boyfriend. When she goes shopping the next day, Scully decides to follow her. Gloria's behavior seems strange; she makes calls to an unknown person promising to meet them. He also notices a disfigured "Indian", a man he had noticed watching Gloria a few days prior.

Scully follows her to a seaside motel where apparently Gloria has been stood up by the person she was there to meet. On the beach the Indian suddenly snatches her purse. Scully tries to pursue him but in a nearby tunnel his claustrophobia restrains him and he needs to be "rescued" by Gloria who walks him out of it. They begin to impulsively and passionately kiss before she retreats.

That night Scully is again watching through the telescope when the Indian returns. The man is seen breaking into Gloria's home. Scully races to save her but is attacked by Gloria's vicious dog. Gloria is brutally murdered by the Indian with a huge handheld drill.

Chemosphere, the ultramodern house used in Body Double

Scully can do nothing now but alert the police. They assume it was simply a fumbled robbery. Detective McLean (Guy Boyd), however, who found a pair of Gloria's panties in Scully's pocket, believes that Scully's voyeuristic behavior was a factor in causing her murder.

Unable to sleep, Scully watches a pornography channel on television when he observes that the actress on screen, Holly Body (Melanie Griffith), dances in exactly the same sensual way that he saw Gloria dance. Now suspicious of Holly he pretends to be a porn producer hiring for a new film so that he can meet Holly. He even ends up acting in a hardcore film himself.

Scully invites her to the house. He learns that Holly was hired by Sam to impersonate Gloria each night, dancing in the window, with Sam knowing Scully would watch her and later witness the real Gloria's murder. Holly is offended at the suggestion she was involved in a killing. She storms out but is picked up by the Indian who knocks her unconscious and drives her away.

Scully follows them to an aqueduct where the Indian is digging a grave. They fight, at which time he discovers that the Indian is actually Sam in heavy make-up. Scully was a scapegoat providing Sam with an alibi during the murder. (Sam was also Gloria's abusive boyfriend.) Scully is overpowered and is thrown into the grave. He overcomes his fear and climbs out as Sam is accidentally knocked into the aqueduct by his own dog (the same dog that attacked Scully during Gloria's murder, which was actually Sam's dog) where both perish.

During the end credits Scully is shown having been recast in his previous role as a vampire. Holly is there watching, as an actress doing a nude scene is then replaced by a body double.


At one point in the film we see a "film within a film", with Frankie Goes to Hollywood performing the song "Relax" on the set of a porn film, and in which scream queen Brinke Stevens, adult actresses Cara Lott and Annette Haven appear. Slavitza Jovan, who appeared as Gozer the Gozerian in Ghostbusters the same year briefly appears as a saleslady. Prolific voice actor Rob Paulsen, known for voicing Raphael of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Pinky of Pinky and the Brain, also makes a rare live action performance.

DePalma originally considered Annette Haven to play the lead female role that eventually went to Griffith. Before filming he commented, "I'm already thinking of casting. I don't know if there're any good young porno stars out here, but the older ones - Annette Haven, Seka - some of them can really act. And Annette Haven has a terrific body."[3]

Cast in the other female leading role, Deborah Shelton had been Miss USA 1970 and runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant.


The film was shot in the Los Angeles area and is notable for its inclusion of many recognizable locations including Tail o' the Pup (a hot dog stand formerly on La Cienega Ave. at Beverly Blvd.), the Beverly Center, Barney's Beanery, the Farmer's Market, the swanky Rodeo Collection mall on Rodeo Drive, the gleaming Spruce Goose dome in Long Beach, the Hollywood Tower and adjacent Hollywood Freeway, Tower Records, and the iconic Chemosphere as the Modernist bachelor pad.

Critical reception

The movie was largely dismissed by some critics upon release and even denounced outright by others. Brian De Palma earned a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Director for his work on Body Double. Only star Melanie Griffith received rave reviews from the film, earning a National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress, a Golden Globe Nomination as Best Supporting Actress and the Motion Picture Booker's Club Award as "Star of Tomorrow".

However, Roger Ebert praised the movie giving it three and a half out of four stars.[4] The film developed a dedicated cult following which remains strong today perhaps due to its directorial and aesthetic indulgences, its early 1980s new wave soundtrack, and the use of iconic Los Angeles locations.

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 79% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 28 reviews, with an average rating of 6.6/10.[5]

The movie's trailer won a Clio Award in 1984.[6]

Cultural impact

Body Double is referenced repeatedly throughout the Bret Easton Ellis novel American Psycho as the favorite film of the protagonist and narrator, businessman and serial killer Patrick Bateman, who is drawn to the film's lurid violence and sexuality. He mentions that he has seen the film 37 times and rents the tape of it from a video store several times in the story. He also occasionally repeats his preferred moments (the most violent scenes) from the film to the reader or to other characters, especially "the power drill scene" (he has apparently masturbated to this scene several times).

The futuristic octagon house Jake tends is the Chemosphere in Los Angeles, California. Troy McClure resides in a near-identical household in an episode of The Simpsons, owing largely to Body Double.


Body Double was remade in 1993 in India as Pehla Nasha. The film was directed by Ashutosh Gowariker in his directorial debut. Deepak Tijori plays the lead role alongside Pooja Bhatt, Raveena Tandon and Paresh Rawal.

See also


  1. ^ Williams, Linda: 'The Erotic Thriller in Contemporary Cinema', p. 86, 2005.
  2. ^ Ann Cvetkovich: "Postmodern Vertigo: The Sexual Politics of Allusion in De Palma's Body Double" from Raubicheck, Walter, and Walter Srebnick, eds., Hitchcock's Rereleased Films: From Rope to Vertigo. Detroit: Wayne State U Press, 1991.
  3. ^ Brian De Palma, Laurence F. Knapp (2003). Brian De Palma: interviews.  
  4. ^  
  5. ^ "Body Double Movie Reviews, Pictures".  
  6. ^ Saturday Nightmares: Body Double (1984)

External links

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