Director Brian De Palma has crafted a gripping murder mystery in Body Double, which contains further evidence of America's bewilderment about sex. Although he seems more interested in camera angles and sly tributes to Alfred Hitchcock, De Palma does deliver several striking impressions about the dehumanization inherent in voyeurism, exhibitionism, pornography, and the rampant commercialization of sex.
Jake (Craig Wasson) falls prey to double trouble when his girlfriend cheats on him and he loses his job in a vampire flick because of his claustrophobia. Sam (Greg Henry), a new acquaintance who is house sitting for a friend, sets Jake up in this sumptuous pad when he has to leave for an out-of-town acting job. Just before taking off, Sam focuses the telescope in the apartment on a house across the way where a sexy lady does a nightly erotic dance in front of her mirror. Jake is soon hooked on the pleasures of voyeurism.
He learns that the woman's name is Gloria (Deborah Shelton), and he follows her first to a shopping mall and then to the beach. Jake retrieves her purse from a thief and impulsively kisses her. But she soon vanishes, and the next evening while watching her, Jake sees the thief in the room. Although the terrified actor tries to rescue her, she is murdered and the killer flees.
Jake tries to figure out what happened. When he sees a woman on television who dances like Gloria did, he tracks her down. A porno star named Holly (Melanie Griffith), this exhibitionist holds the key to the murder and Jake's unwitting part in it.
Craig Wasson is credible as a young man whose phobia gives De Palma some interesting scenes. Melanie Griffith is both charming and disarming as the porno star. And the Los Angeles environment luxurious shopping malls, comfortable beachside condominiums, palatial houses has a life of its own, existing almost as another character in this suspense filled mystery.