Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Body Double (1984)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Body Double (1984)

In Brian De Palma's sensationalist erotic thriller with a triple-flip ending - it paid homage to Alfred Hitchcock's films: Rear Window (1954) (with a voyeuristic theme), Dial M for Murder (1954) (about a husband's plot to murder his wife), and Vertigo (1958) (with scenes of stalking) - it was criticized for being misogynistic and violent; clues were provided in the film's title and in the film's taglines - "You can't believe everything you see," and "A Seduction, A Mystery, A Murder":

  • in the opening title credits sequence - a schlocky, B-movie horror-tinged segment with wolves howling and red blood dripping off names of cast members - the camera panned down into a graveyard's open coffin - during the film's first "film within a film"; struggling, B-movie working LA actor Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) was entombed and reclined inside the open box as an undead vampire; he froze with claustrophobia when he turned toward the camera with a frightful look; the director Rubin (Dennis Franz) became worried: "Action, Jake. Jake! Action. Cut. Look, Jake, what's your problem, huh?...Something's the matter with him. That's all right, Jake, just relax"; he was experiencing trouble in acting roles in vampire films due to his claustrophobia
Opening Credits Sequence ("Film within a Film")
Actor Jake Scully as an Undead Vampire in a Open Box Coffin
  • the title screen was revealed to be a matte-painting backdrop when it was wheeled away by two nameless film-crew members on the studio's backlot
  • the set-up: the hard luck and out-of-work LA actor Jake was fired due to his frequent problems with claustrophobia; he was also emasculated after catching his live-in girlfriend Carol (Barbara Crampton) having sex with another man
  • but then fortuitously, Jake was 'hired' to house-sit in a Hollywood Hills mansion, arranged by fellow thespian actor 'Sam Bouchard' (Gregg Henry), who claimed he was Seattle-bound. As the current house-sitter, 'Sam' had been looking after the place of his friend Alan (who spent a lot of time in Europe), but needed Jake to take the job for 5 weeks while he was performing in a gig out-of-town; 'Sam' showed off "one very special feature" of the house-sitting job - the auto-erotic, exhibitionist, brunette dancer-neighbor who night-after-night stripped within easy view, and performed a self-pleasuring dance night-after-night
  • Jake became an obsessed 'peeping tom' as he voyeuristically ogled the beautiful, rich Gloria Revelle (Deborah Shelton), an auto-erotic exhibitionist, in the apartment across the way through a high-powered telescope
Jake Stalking Gloria in a Beverly Hills Mall and at the Beach
  • during a lengthy sequence, the infatuated Jake followed after the mysterious Gloria during a cat-and-mouse stalking through an upscale Rodeo Drive (Beverly Hills) mall - while she was also being tailed by a black-hatted, sun-glasses-wearing, menacing creepy Indian who snatched her purse. It appeared to be a simple theft case (the purse-snatching Indian had taken her card key). Jake watched voyeuristically as Gloria tried on a pair of panties in an open-curtained dressing room within a store; the sequence ended with Jake and Gloria kissing on the beach (with obvious back-projection) - using a stunning, Vertigo-like 360 degree revolving camera, until she declared: "I can't do this" - and ran off
  • then, one night as he was leering into Gloria's apartment, in the film's most infamous, grisly and tense sequence, he witnessed the sexy neighbor murdered by a pony-tailed, disfigured-faced 'Indian' with an erect power drill. [Note: later it was revealed that she was a rich tormented wife who had separated from her abusive husband Alexander Revelle (disguised as the creepy Indian character - and spoiler: later revealed to be 'Sam Bouchard')]; the murder weapons were a phone cord (for strangulation) and a phallic-shaped, erect power drill; during the extended killing, Jake attempted to reach her and save and rescue her, although thwarted by her dog, and he was powerless to stop the killing
  • then, Jake began an investigation of his own, and happened to be resting on his revolving bed, drinking Jack Daniels straight from the bottle; he watched late-night adult cable TV, listening to an interview with a porn star named Linda Shaw (Herself) of Linda Shaw Enterprises (known for such X-rated flicks as "The Mating Game," "One Night at a Time" and "Bold Obsession"). He also watched a short promotional clip of bleached-blonde adult film porn queen Holly Body (Melanie Griffith in a breakthrough role) in an X-rated porn shoot titled Holly Does Hollywood ("The Gone With the Wind of Adult Films" according to Eros Magazine; Erotic X Film Guide called it "A Hedonist's Heaven"). Her familiar-looking, self-pleasuring provocative dance in the porno film, in the same manner that Gloria danced, caused Jake to wonder whether Holly might provide a link to Gloria's murder. He immediately rented the video from the "Adult Section" of a local 24 hour video rental store, and watched Holly's full-length performance - confirming that she was the film's suspected "body double"
  • shortly thereafter, Jake went into undercover mode and entered the business of hardcore X-rated films as a nerdy newcomer, in order to meet Holly. He participated as a nerdy-looking supporting actor in a short music-video scene with her. It was an X-rated 'film within a film' - shot to the tune of "Relax" by British pop band Frankie Goes to Hollywood
  • during the filming of the actual X-rated raw sex scene music video with her, after Jake had spotted her in a room labeled "Sluts," he spoke his short amount of dialogue to her in his opening ironic line: "I like to watch" - followed by Holly's seduction: ("Makes you hot, doesn't it?...Makes me hot too. Why don't you come over her, and I'll show you how hot"); he became so involved in the scene (he also fantasy-imagined being in the arms of Gloria for a moment, as the camera spun around 360 degrees) when making love to her that the 'money shot' was not visible to the startled cameraman who asked: "Where's the cum shot?..The cum shot. I thought we were doing 'Body Talk' here, not 'Last Tango.'"
Jake in Another "Film Within a Film" Porn Shoot with Holly Body
  • when Jake expressed a desire to hire Holly to be in his own porn film: ("I want you in my picture"), she asserted upfront, to prevent misunderstandings later on: "I do not do animal acts. I do not do S & M or any variations of that particular bent. No water sports either. I will not shave my pussy, no fist f--king, and absolutely no coming in my face. I get $2,000 a day and I do not work without a contract"; when he asked about a routine of "a woman alone, getting herself off, it's got to be really hot," she claimed that self-pleasuring was her speciality: "I have a routine that is a sure-ten on the peter meter"
  • Jake was tipped off that the "show" ("masturbation routine") she was referring to was the same 'show' that Gloria had put on in the house nearby; both were performed by Holly: ("That was you in the Revelle house!"); she revealed that she had been paid by Alexander Revelle, Gloria's rich, disgruntled husband, to wear a dark-haired wig and dance in his house, to perform for two nights only, and impersonate his wife Gloria; her revelation would ultimately help him to unravel the conspiracy behind Gloria's murder
  • Jake was able to have Gloria confirm that "Sam's" voice during a phone conversation was the same as the man who had hired her to perform for two nights. She helped Jake to unravel the conspiracy underlying the murder - learning that it was more than "a little practical joke" but a case of murder instead
  • Jake's fellow actor 'Sam Bouchard' was actually Alexander Revelle, who knew that Jake would be watching his wife - the sexy neighbor - and ultimately witness Gloria's murder. Jake realized that he had been set-up by "Sam" to be a convenient witness/alibi to her murder: "He was throwing out a net. He was sizing me up for a part that he was casting...And I fit the bill perfectly: lovesick sucker out on his ass...The part of the witness...Alexander Revelle set me up in this house to witness the murder. And he hired a porno actress to be the bait."
  • in the conclusion set at a nearby reservoir site, the killer-Indian ("Sam") had kidnapped Holly in a Ford Bronco, and was planning on burying her in a large earthen pit. When Jake interrupted and confronted him, they fought inside the burial hole. And as they struggled, the latex face makeup came off, unmasking and revealing the rubber-faced killer-Indian to be a disguised "Sam." Jake became paralyzed with claustrophobic fear after falling into a deep earthen burial pit. As "Sam" threw dirt onto him, he admitted angrily to Jake: "Look what you did. You ruined my surprise ending. I gave you your part: the witness. You were perfect. You played it to a T. But that was it. End of part. Wrap Jake Scully. Oh no, you had to play the hero. Improvise all this crap about finding a body double and unmasking the Indian. But you didn't think it through, did you, Jake? Sometimes heroes come to tragic ends. What's the matter, Jake? A little short of breath? What a terrible way to die. Especially when you're so claustrophobic. Wait a minute, wait a minute. I'll give you another take, Jake. The only problem is, you've got to act. Come on, Jake. Action."
  • to save himself, Jake visualized himself being directed in a vampire horror film role, and fearfully frozen inside a coffin (the same sequence from the film's opening). However, this time he didn't want assistance ("I can help myself"). He begged for an immediate second take ("Let's do it") and overcame his phobia when the director warned him: "You'd better get it right this time." Returning to his predicament at the reservoir, Jake screamed, fought off "Sam" who ended up getting pushed backward (by his charging, snarling dog) to his death into the churning reservoir water below.
  • during the epilogue and end credits, Jake was recast as a full-time actor performing again in a cheap vampire horror film. In the filming of a Psycho-like scene, with Holly watching from the side, Jake was in the shower with the lead movie actress (Denise Loveday) when a 'body double' (for the nudity) named Mindy was substituted for the lead actress
  • with a heavy accent and while chewing gum, Mindy asked Jake to be careful because her breasts were very tender ("I've got my period"). After fondling her, Jake bit into her neck, causing a cascade of blood down her naked chest.
  • off-screen, Holly advised the robed lead actress watching the nude double - "You know what? You're gonna get a lot of dates when this comes out." [Note: This was De Palma's answer to his critics for using a 'body double' for Angie Dickinson in the opening of Dressed to Kill (1980).]

Title Screen: A Matte Painting

LA actor Jake Scully (Craig Wasson)

Jake's Cheating Girlfriend Carol (Barbara Crampton)

'Sam Bouchard' (Gregg Henry)

Jack's Invitation by Alexander Revelle To Voyeuristically Peep

Exhibitionist Neighbor
Gloria Revelle (Deborah Shelton) ?

The Phallic-Drill Murder of Gloria by Disguised Killer Indian

Promotional clip of Porn Queen Holly Body in X-rated Holly Does Hollywood

Unmasking a "Disguised" Alexander Revelle (alias Sam Bouchard)

"Sam" Speaking to Jake Paralyzed in Deep Earthen Burial Pit

Jake in Shower Scene with Film Actress (Denise Loveday)

Jake in Shower Scene with "Body Double" Mindy

Holly to Actress: "You're gonna get a lot of dates..."


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