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Body Double

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Body Double (1984)

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A seduction. A mystery. A murder.

Brian De Palma the modern master of suspense invites you witness - A seduction. A mystery. A murder.

You can't believe everything you see.

In Body Double, director Brian DePalma pays homage to the Alfred Hitchcock movies Vertigo and Rear Window, adding a few grotesque touches all his own. Craig Wasson plays Jake, a struggling actor who keeps losing jobs because of his claustrophobia. To make matters worse, his girlfriend has walked out on him, so he has no place to sleep. His pal offers him the use of his apartment for the evening. The apartment happens to be equipped with a huge picture window and telescope, enabling him to spy on his beautiful neighbor Gloria (Deborah Shelton) while she undresses. He also bears witness to her brutal murder. And then he meets a porn star (Melanie Griffith), who has just taken a job posing as the late Gloria.

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 mansion 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.

Scully can do nothing now but alert the police. They assume it was simply a fumbled robbery and do not plan to investigate any further. 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 her murder.

Unable to sleep, Scully is watching 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 while watching Gloria. Now suspicious, 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, which is when he finds 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 in the grave. He overcomes his fear and climbs out as Sam is accidentally knocked into the aqueduct by his own dog, where both presumably perish.

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

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. The film developed a dedicated cult following, which remains strong today, perhaps due to its directorial and aesthetic indulgences, early 1980s new wave soundtrack, and the use of iconic Los Angeles locations.[citation needed]

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.[2]

The movie's trailer won a Clio Award in 1984

Release Date: October 26, 1984

Distrib: Columbia Pictures

Boxoffice: $8,801,940 2014: $21,873,900

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