Body Double

Screening on Film
Directed by Brian De Palma.
With Craig Wasson, Melanie Griffith, Gregg Henry.
US, 1984, 35mm, color, 114 min.
Print source: HFA

This film operates as the ur-text of cinephilia in the cinema, and crucially includes the first instance of a video store appearing in a Hollywood film. The snake eating its own tail. A character going to Tower Video to purchase a videotape of a pornographic film—newly relegated to the home after a decade or so of theatrical exhibition—says more about what was happening in the 1980s to American movies and cinematic evolution than anything else. Simply a perfect film, and like all the others on this list, one whose impact and importance was not immediately apparent in any academic or historical way. The fact the De Palma made Body Double, which is no doubt regarded today as a keystone to understanding him as a filmmaker, in between the iconic but atypical-for-him (at the time) Scarface and the irrelevant, unknown Wise Guys is as fascinating as Lynch going from experimental midnight movie to sweeping, Oscar-nominated historical drama and then to the catastrophe of Dune. Careers are long and strange, as I believe all four of my selections for this program exemplify. – ARP

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