mike@projection-booth.com mike@projection-booth.com

March 6, 2019

Episode 406: Body Double (1984)

Special Guests: Robert J. Avrech, Gregg Henry
Guest Co-Hosts: Bill Ackerman, Jim Vendiola

Brian De Palma’s 1984 film, Body Double  stars Craig Wasson as Jake Scully, an actor in a low budget vampire film. After a terrifying bout of claustrophobia he loses his job, his girl, and his home until fellow actor, Sam Bouchard (Gregg Henry) does Jake a favor by letting him apartment-sit at a posh pad. As an added bonus, there’s a woman across the way who performs a nightly ritual of self-pleasure and, well, Jake likes to watch. But, of course, things aren’t always what they seem in Hollywood.

Jim Vendiola and Bill Ackerman join Mike to discuss this mash-up of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo and Rear Window. Screenwriter and actor Gregg Henry talk about the behind-the-scenes of De Palma's exploration of voyeurism.

Listen/Download Now:

Buy Body Double on Blu-Ray
Buy Double De Palma by Susan Dworkin
Buy De Palma on Blu-Ray
Visit the official Annette Haven website
Read Body Double: why Brian De Palma's pornographic fiasco is worth another peek
Read De Palma Does Hollywood by Travis Woods
Read Brian De Palma’s ‘Body Double’: A Hitchcockian Thriller Executed in Completely Original Style
Read more about Pehla Nasha (1993)
Read the story about Craig Wasson on Bitchy Actress's blog
Listen to our Vertigo episode
Listen to our Blow Out episode

Original Soundtrack by Pino Donnagio
"Mr. Zero Ban Gaya Hero" - Vinod Rathod
"Relax" - Frankie Goes to Hollywood



  1. The variant of the story I learned, and which I commented upon in the synopses of the explicit movies featuring Annette Haven which I showed at the Twisted Spoke tavern was that Columbia threatened to drop its distribution of the movie if Annette Haven was the “star” hereof.
    Without a major studio boosting its distribution in the U.S.A. {but note that this was about the time when home distribution on Beta and VHS was blooming}, theatrical presentations would have been sparse. So Annette Haven's role was scaled down to cameo-level. For her, she chose to not stridently disparage her redefined role in the movie.
    For me, this is the first moment of the clampdown. Mainstream “Hollywood” movies could have moved into the explicit category. But this episode revealed that it would not. |=(}

    1. Really makes you wonder what Hollywood films would be like in present day if Hollywood movies had embraced the "Porn Chic" movement that started in the 1970's? I remember Hollywood stars like, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson publicly attending screenings for adult films like, "Deep Throat". Very interesting time to say the least.

      Makes one wonder if Adult Starlets like Kay Parker, Marilyn Chambers, Seka, ect, given the honest opportunity, would have fared in mainstream films during that particular era in Hollywood...

  2. I'm really enjoying your podcast, which I'm listening to after watching this film for the first time in something like 35 years after it first came out on video.

    You have some discussion of the casting decision around the Holly Body character and whether Annette Haven would have been a good fit. My thoughts on this: I think Melanie Griffith was the right choice for the role, for several reasons. First, there was the issue of acting ability, and being able to deliver dialogue (especially comedic dialogue) well enough to carry the role, and Annette Haven did not seem to have that. But also, it seems like this was basically a Nancy Allen-type role, analogous to the Nancy Allen roles in "Dressed to Kill" and "Blow Out". The problem was, De Palma had just divorced Allen, and they weren't going to be working together again. (Their falling out may have had to do with his casting Michelle Pfeifer rather than Allen in Scarface as Tony Montana's wife.) So he was looking for a Nancy Allen dizzy blonde 'type', something Melanie Griffith could definitely pull off, but this was actually very much the opposite of the kind of sexy-but-classy lady that was Annette Haven's persona in adult films.

    But that said, here's an inspired acting choice that unfortunately De Palma probably didn't consider - Annette Haven as Gloria Revelle! I think Haven would have been perfect in that role. Potentially better than Deborah Shelton, in fact. Dialogue wouldn't have been as big of a challange - Shelton has hardly any dialogue in the film, and what little she did have ended up being dubbed over by another actress, Helen Shaver. What Annette Haven could do very well is embody the sultry brunette beauty and physicality of the character, something I think she would have pulled off better than Deborah Shelton. Maybe she could have even delivered her lines well enough that they wouldn't have required overdubbing. It's an interesting road not taken. Of course, as mentioned above, this was the peak of the 80s Porn Wars, and Annette Haven was an outspoken critic of the anti-porn movement, so there were all manner of barriers to having her in a mainstream film, even if De Palma had considered it.