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Domino is
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Washington Post
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AV Club Review
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Wednesday, September 7, 2022
AT VANITY FAIR - MODERNIST DESIGN & MURDEROUS VILLAINS
"HOW ONE MODERNIST BUILDING IN HITCHCOCK'S 'NORTH BY NORTHWEST' CHANGED CINEMA FOREVER"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/nbnw0.jpg

At Vanity Fair, Christine Madrid French adapts her book, THE ARCHITECTURE OF SUSPENSE: The Built World in the Films of Alfred Hitchcock, into an article that keys in on the Vandamm House in Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest:
After its momentous debut in The Black Cat, modernism did not appear as a villain’s lair again until Hitchcock brought it back in the mid–20th century with North by Northwest. The return of high-end modern designs on film corresponded with a critical shift in the portrayal of evil characters, morphing from a frazzled Dr. Frankenstein into a handsome Captain Nemo. Using cultivated gentility to cover malign intentions required an equally sophisticated architectural expression. One of Hitchcock’s first experiments with this portrayal is seen in The Secret Agent, in which he unveiled a villain who was “attractive, distinguished,” and “very appealing” to audiences, according to his biographer François Truffaut. Hitchcock moved forward from there with the belief that “the best way” to make a thriller work was to “keep your villains suave and clever—the kind that wouldn’t dirty their hands with ordinary gun play.”

The building that changed movies forever makes its first appearance almost two hours into North by Northwest and is onscreen a mere 14 minutes. Filmic structures are “evanescent as a flicker of light,” as noted by historian Alan Hess. Nonetheless, this design had a penetrating and lasting effect in the public consciousness. The Vandamm House itself is now a movie star with its own dedicated legion of fans. The high-quality production design of the film, and the hybrid mixing of recognizable locations with studio sets, led to many inquiries as to the “real” location of the home. Explorations in the area behind Mount Rushmore would prove futile, however, as the building is entirely conjectural, a set created by production designer Robert F. Boyle at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in Los Angeles.


Toward the end of the article, French moves forward to take a brief look at the work of architect John Lautner and its appearances on film:
In the decades following the release of North by Northwest, filmmakers enthusiastically adopted Hitchcock’s architectural precedent, crafting fictional modernist structures and rediscovering designs in Southern California that could host a score of film villains introduced in the 1960s and ’70s. Architect John Lautner designed many houses during this period that later found fame as villain’s lairs. His tactile, sensuously curved, concrete spaces exude power in their boldness and unorthodox approach. Filmic creators also appreciated the cinematic scale and the ambitiousness and improbability of the designs. Ken Adam, production designer for the James Bond series of films including Dr. No, Goldfinger, Thunderball, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Moonraker, featured the Lautner-designed Arthur Elrod House in Palm Springs in Diamonds Are Forever. Bond (played with finesse by Sean Connery) tracked billionaire Willard Whyte to his lair in the hills, protected by the acrobatic Bambi and Thumper. The women swing from the modern lighting, leap from the living room boulders, and attempt to drown Bond in the sky-high swimming pool. The perfect hideaway for a villain.

Director Brian De Palma selected the Chemosphere, another cliff-hanging Lautner design, for Body Double, a murderous homage to both Vertigo and Rear Window. The film, and the building, draw upon prevailing narratives of voyeurism, identity, and complicit shame explored by Hitchcock. Jeannine Oppewall, an Academy Award–nominated production designer for L.A. Confidential (featuring the Richard Neutra–designed Lovell House in its own villainous star turn), noted that in her line of work, “the best architecture [goes] to the film’s worst characters.”

Hitchcock manipulated our collective memory and the language of building design to create constructed expressions of human emotions, including love, envy, and the killer instinct. He was driven by an intense engagement with location and architectural form, picturing buildings not only as scenic devices but as interactive participants. For Hitchcock, the parts of a structure represent humanity and all its complications: Windows are the eyes into the soul, a stairway is a spine between the heart and mind, and a door permits entry into subliminal perceptions. His buildings—including the maternal Victorian mansion and naughty motel along the old highway in Psycho, the honeycomb of Greenwich Village apartments in Rear Window, the avian-infested Bodega Bay schoolhouse in The Birds, and the deadly skyscrapers and towers of Vertigo—illuminate the uncertain relationships we hold inside our own minds, with the built world around us, and between each other.



Posted by Geoff at 11:45 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 7, 2022 11:53 PM CDT
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Wednesday, July 6, 2022
ALL DAY FRIDAY - BODY DOUBLE AT QUAD CINEMA IN NYC
TO KICK OFF 7-DAY SERIES "SO SEXY IT HURTS: EROTIC THRILLS FROM '80s & '90s HOLLYWOOD"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/actjake435.jpg

Thanks to Hugh for letting us know about this seven-day film series that kicks off with Brian De Palma's Body Double, featuring five showtimes ("Showtime!" says Sam Bouchard) this Friday at Quad Cinema in New York City. The series, which is called "So Sexy It Hurts: Erotic Thrills from ’80s and ’90s Hollywood," continues the next day, Saturday, with Adrian Lyne's Flashdance, a film that De Palma came so close to directing, he even added a bit of a parody in the music video he directed for Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Relax." The other films in the series: Ken Russell's Crimes Of Passion, Paul Verhoeven's Basic Instinct, John McNaughton's Wild Things, Paul Schrader's American Gigolo, and Verhoeven's Showgirls, which concludes the series on Thursday, July 14th.

From the Quad Cinema series description:

The Quad invites you, as the temperature rises, to get out of the frying pan and into the fire — with our crackling series of films that are too darn hot and were too sexy for their times. Some fanned the flames of controversy, while others kindled zeitgeist interest; all generated notoriety through the ‘80s and ‘90s that kept them VHS and cable-TV staples. We are pleased to bring them back onto the big screen from whence they came and where they belong, including a brand-new 2K DCP of the now-rarely seen Crimes of Passion. From welders who scorch to “Ver-sayss”-coveting showgirls to implements being wielded in ways most definitely not manufacturer-recommended, these movies elicit both aroused and “ouch!” reactions — sometimes, perhaps, simultaneously. So, this July settle in and prepare to shift around in your seat…

And specifically about Body Double:
Determined to poke the bear that was the MPAA Ratings Board, De Palma orchestrated a return to his preferred playground of Hitchcockian homages with voyeuristic flesh and blood aplenty. Melanie Griffith’s sassy and sensual performance, as a porn star entangled with struggling actor and apparent-slaying witness Craig Wasson, catapulted her career into a thrilling second act. The aptly lurid cinematography is by Stephen Burum; other core De Palma collaborators on hand include composer Pino Donaggio and actor Dennis Franz — as a horror-movie director.


Posted by Geoff at 10:47 PM CDT
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Saturday, April 9, 2022
BODY DOUBLE - 'PROTO-CLASSIC' OF THE EROTIC THRILLER
VULTURE'S ALISON WILLMORE SAYS THE GENRE OWES EVERYTHING TO HOME VIEWERS
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/bdvideostore1.jpg

As part of Vulture's week-long series of articles on the erotic thriller genre, film critic Alison Willmore looks at the way "its existence really owes everything to home viewing" --
Most people would call the cops after finding out that their landlord is illegally spying on his residents’ every move, but not Sharon Stone in Sliver. Stone’s character, Carly Norris, is a buttoned-down book editor who specializes in tell-alls and unabashedly elbows someone aside at a cocktail party to get a better look at a couple having sex without the curtains drawn in a nearby building. A wolfish grin stretches across her face as one of the guests yelps, “She’s a voyeur! She can’t get enough!” No one would ever accuse the erotic thriller of being too subtle. Carly likes to watch, and so does her eventual lover, Zeke Hawkins (William Baldwin), who lives a few floors down in the Manhattan high-rise she just moved into and who, it turns out, also owns the building. Zeke, in fact, likes to watch so much that he has had all the apartments rigged with hidden cameras, the live feeds transmitting to a state-of-the-art room in the back of his bachelor pad.

The first time Zeke shows Carly his surveillance chamber, she storms out in disgust. Then, unable to help herself, she comes back, settling in for a long session of spying on her oblivious neighbors, so enrapt that she forgets to eat. The ability to commune with the illicit footage in an intimate setting, flipping between channels, almost matters more than what she’s seeing. It takes hours before she figures out that Zeke has a tape of the two of them fucking, and that they can watch themselves while fooling around. Basic Instinct may have secured Stone’s place as the icy blonde queen of the erotic thriller in 1992, but it was Sliver, made a year after, that highlighted a fundamental truth about the genre — that it was as obsessed with home video as the customers who enabled it to become such a phenomenon in the 1980s and ’90s.

The erotic thriller famously brought a flurry of sex and death to the multiplex, but its existence really owes everything to home viewing — to late-night cable, down-market sequels, and direct-to-video offerings. While Blockbuster refused to carry porn, it would carry a copy of In the Cold of the Night, starring Jeff Lester, Shannon Tweed, and some off-label use of a container of decorative marbles. The internet had yet to really make its arrival, but the home theater had become commonplace, and the erotic thriller thrived in private, on Skinemax or via VHS clamshells squirreled home to be watched on suburban living room screens with the curtains drawn. So it’s fitting that the genre was just as in thrall with the idea of home viewing as its primary audience. Scopophilia and surveillance were two of its regular preoccupations, but so was the possibility of having illicit recordings on tape — as leverage for blackmail, as stroke material, or simply as something that can be kept and revisited whenever the urge strikes.

There was a novelty to that control, to not just be able to watch but to rewatch. The roots of the erotic thriller are in film noir and Hitchcock, with all the subtext said out loud. Brian De Palma’s proto-classic of the genre, Body Double, is a jubilantly debased remix of Rear Window and Vertigo with added tits, with an invertebrate Craig Wasson as struggling actor Jake Scully, who obsesses over a woman he believes may be in danger without ever being able to spring into action to save her. But Michael Powell’s 1960 shocker, Peeping Tom, about a man who films the murders he commits, feels just as essential as a forerunner. To Mark (Carl Boehm), the wretched loner of a main character, the violence itself is less significant than the celluloid record he creates, and he carries a camera with him everywhere, often surreptitiously filming. He may not have the benefit of ’90s-era technology, but like Zeke in Sliver, he secretly owns the building he lives in and gets romantically involved with one of his tenants. And like Zeke, Mark has a back room where, using a projector rather than a close-circuit television, he obsessively reviews the surreptitious footage he has shot, as though the ability to watch in private gives him more control over the world outside.

Peeping Tom may be about a character who gets off on the fear on his victims’ faces, but the erotic thriller usually aims for the more quotidian pleasures of voyeurism. Zeke zooms in to watch the oblivious Carly masturbate in the bath while believing herself to be alone. Will (Andrew Stevens), the meathead hero of Night Eyes, totes a VHS cassette of his unknowing client home to watch the moment when, while having sex with someone else, she locks eyes with the camera she doesn’t know is there. A direct-to-video release that spawned a whole gauze curtains–heavy franchise, Night Eyes is about a security guard hired by a rock star to install a system of hidden recording devices in his house in order to get fodder for his lawyer on his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Nikki (Tanya Roberts). Nikki knows that Will has been brought on to protect her, but not that he’s being paid to surveil and inform on her, and before long he’s falling in love with her by way of those tapes — his own DIY softcore rentals — while wallowing in guilt. Then he finds himself appearing on one of them after acceding to her request to enact a rape fantasy, and understands that the unfiltered truth they seemed to offer is just an illusion when the footage is used against him.


Posted by Geoff at 1:40 PM CDT
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Sunday, April 3, 2022
THEMES OF PERFORMATIVE LOVE & SEDUCTION
SONDRE LERCHE CITES 'BODY DOUBLE' AS ONE OF SEVERAL INSPIRATIONS FOR DOUBLE ALBUM 'AVATARS OF LOVE'
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Brooklyn Vegan's Bill Pearis asked Sondre Lerche about the influences behind his new double album, Avatars Of Love, "and he returned with a supersized list -- this one goes to 11 -- that includes music (Joni, Jobim, Sinatra, Swift, more), movies, books and podcasts." One of the items on Lerche's list is Brian De Palma's Body Double:
I've always been inspired by some of the films and themes of Hitchcock, also visually, in videos, of course. But recently I became interested in one of his most ardent imitators and admirers in film, Brian De Palma. The video for "Cut" is obviously inspired by De Palma's Body Double, which I just got to screen and present at an old cinema in Oslo. It's so outrageous, that movie. Stupid and clever and sleazy and sophisticated in equal measures. I like that, and it captures the theme of performative love and seduction really well, which is a major theme on Avatars Of Love.


Posted by Geoff at 1:23 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, April 3, 2022 1:24 PM CDT
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Monday, March 21, 2022
'COULD HAVE INVENTED THE EROTIC THRILLER ON HIS OWN'
EW'S JOSHUA ROTHKOPF ON DE PALMA'S 'BODY DOUBLE', AND OTHER EROTIC THRILLERS
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Between The Voyeurs last year and Deep Water this past weekend, the erotic thriller isn't as dead as all that. Today, however, Entertainment Weekly's Joshua Rothkopf posted an article with the headline, "The 5 best erotic thrillers to remind you of what Deep Water could have been." With no mention of Michael Mohan's The Voyeurs, Rothkopf explains that "when we heard that director Adrian Lyne (9½ Weeks, Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal) was returning to make another movie after a 20-year hiatus, our hopes soared. Deep Water doesn't quite justify the excitement — it's neither sexy nor trashy enough — but it's as good a moment as any to return to the subgenre's high points, each paired with a suggestion for deeper exploration."

After that introduction, the first film Rothkopf chooses to highlight is Body Double:

Body Double (1984)

Brian De Palma could have invented the erotic thriller on his own, and come to think of it, pretty much did with this synthy Hitchcock-a-thon that struck the mold: a seductive female lure (Melanie Griffith's savvy pornstar, the role that later landed her Working Girl), a ridiculous kill or two, and a stellar use of a pop song (Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax"). Don't question how believable any of this is — you'll spoil the fun.

Advanced studies: Femme Fatale (2002), in which De Palma topped himself


The other four movies in Rothkopf's article are Lyne's Fatal Attraction, Paul Verhoeven's Basic Instinct, Barbet Schroeder's Single White Female, and Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan.

See Also:
Den Of Geek - Deep Water: The Wildest Thriller Movies to Watch Next
HungerTV.com - ‘Deep Water’: 9 Erotic thrillers to watch next


Posted by Geoff at 10:11 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, March 22, 2022 10:55 PM CDT
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Monday, March 7, 2022
IDA RANDOM -FROM SUSAN DWORKIN'S 'DOUBLE DE PALMA'
'BODY DOUBLE' PRODUCTION DESIGNER RECEIVED LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FROM ART DIRECTORS GUILD SATURDAY
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/brianandida.jpg

Ida Random, the production designer on Body Double, received a Lifetime Achievement Award this past Saturday from the Art Directors Guild. The award was presented to her by Kevin Costner. Deadline's Scott Huver reports that Costner's tribute "included the revelation that he might not have an an acting career without her intervention." Huver continues:
From the stage at the Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown, an admittedly nervous Costner – who’s worked with Random on his directorial efforts including The Postman – recounted the critical impact she had when he was an extra on the 1981 film Frances, on which Random served as art director.

“For six years I’d been trying to break into Hollywood, and despite all my best efforts, I was just unable to get a SAG card,” said Costner, who had a minute appearance in a scene set in an alleyway outside a theater where actress Frances Farmer, played by Jessica Lange, was exiting after appearing in the play Golden Boy.

“I’m singled out among the extras by casting director Elisabeth Leustig, who would later go on to become my casting director on Dances with Wolves,” he continued. “She walked me up to Ida, who I couldn’t help but notice on the set having been there for three days. She [Ida] was really Annie Hall before there was Annie Hall, if you know what I mean. She always seemed to be around the camera and without notice, she would move into the set as if no one was watching, pick up a book and move it. In fact, she would pick up anything – lamps, ashtrays, pictures…Anything that seemed to be bothering her she would just move it, maybe inches.”

“Suddenly I find myself standing in front of her, and she’s looking at me, and it’s safe to say that I had gone from thinking she might be in trouble [for moving things] to now wondering if I was,” Costner explained. “She looked at me in a very real way, and I don’t know how else to describe it. I had no idea what I had done or what she was looking for…What she couldn’t have possibly known as I waited for her to speak was how shamefully desperate I was to be seen as an actor.

“After a long moment – an Ida Random moment, you’d have have to see one to know one – she turned to Elizabeth said ‘This works.’” Because he fit in Random’s aesthetic vision for the scene, Costner got to deliver a single line – “Goodnight, Frances” – “and it would change the trajectory of my career.”

As he told the story, Costner choked up, and attendees were caught up in his emotional moment.

“I’ll never forget you, Ida,” he said. “You changed my life that night.”

He continued, “That’s what Ida does: She changes lives. She makes things better, sometimes by inches…She’s the director’s best friend and confidant. She’s the actor’s biggest cheerleader as she walks them through her perfect sets…You’re a filmmaker in every sense of the word, adding your most personal touch to the movies you call your paintings.”


With this, it seems like a good time to post this excerpt, highlighting Ida Random, from Susan Dworkin's 1984 book Double De Palma. The photo at the top of this post, taken by Ralph Nelson, comes from Dworkin's book, as well.


Posted by Geoff at 10:36 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, March 9, 2022 8:06 AM CST
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Friday, February 4, 2022
RELAX - BLOW OUT THE SPEAKERS - CINENATION PODCAST
BODY DOUBLE IS DE PALMA'S "MOST DE PALMA, IN A WAY"
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The podcast CineNation, hosted by Brandon Sparks and Thomas Horton, kicks off a series on the Erotic Thriller this week with an episode on Brian De Palma's Body Double. "Listen as they discuss how the film fits into the genre, and why Thomas has questions about De Palma's directing style," reads the episode description.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Saturday, February 5, 2022 11:27 AM CST
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Thursday, January 27, 2022
'I'M NOT TRYING TO OUTSMART THE NARRATIVE'
FILM CHURCH RADIO PODCASTERS TAKE A STEP BACK AS THEY WATCH & RE-WATCH 'BODY DOUBLE' - "IT PAYS OFF"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/bodydoublewindowshopping.jpg

"I actually watched this movie twice," says Brandon, one of the co-hosts of the Body Double episode of Film Church Radio. "Going into it, I was being so critical. Like, I noticed it. You know, I was like, 'I think I'm just trying really hard...' not necessarily trying really hard not to like the movie. But I'm just... I was really dissecting it, really trying to find everything, and be like, 'Well, that wasn't good. Well that wasn't good,' you know. But, when I think about it, I'm like, I really enjoyed the movie. The movie got me. If that makes sense. What the movie was supposed to do was be fun and entertaining, and all the mysterious stuff. Because it is like a mystery film. You know, I didn't figure it out beforehand. It got me. So yeah, I enjoyed it a lot."

Lewis, the other co-host of the podcast, then responds, "Yeah. I think part of how this podcast has changed how I view films at the moment is that I'm not trying to outsmart the narrative. I know that we talked about it on the Play Misty For Me episode - about kind of just watching the film and not trying to be one step ahead. And that's what I've been trying to do. And I think with this film, especially, it pays off."


Posted by Geoff at 10:54 PM CST
Updated: Friday, January 28, 2022 8:14 AM CST
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Saturday, December 4, 2021
UH, THAT AIN'T LAKE MINNETONKA...
AND, NO, THAT'S NOT MELANIE'S FACE, EITHER - VHS FILES PODCAST ON 'BODY DOUBLE'

Excerpt from the 1992 book American Mythologies by Marshall Blonsky:


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Monday, September 27, 2021
'VOYEURS' DIRECTOR TALKS ABOUT 'BODY DOUBLE'
"THIS FEVER DREAM OF A MOVIE" IS AMONG MOHAN'S SIX FAVORITE EROTIC THRILLERS
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"My new movie, The Voyeurs, is a reinvention of the erotic thriller for a modern audience," begins writer-director Michael Mohan in an article today at Talkhouse. "In preparation for the film, I devoured countless films in this lost genre and wanted to share six of my favorites." After starting with Adrian Lyne's Unfaithful, Mohan moves on to Body Double:
Watching this fever dream of a movie, it feels like Brian De Palma learned that he had six weeks left to live and decided to put all of his cinematic ideas in this film, whether or not they fit the story. It’s about an out-of-work actor who is housesitting at the Chemosphere and how he becomes more and more intrigued by a porn star he watches through a telescope. But following the plot is a fool’s errand – it’s the kind of film where you simply need to let the vibe wash over you in order to enjoy the onslaught of baffling maximalist creative decisions. From the sudden switch to rear projection mid-scene, to the abrupt musical number that happens toward the film’s climax; it’s crazy to think this is the blank check movie De Palma wanted to cash after the massive success of Scarface.

Body Double also contains one of my favorite set pieces in all of De Palma’s filmography. In a moment of pure visual storytelling, we follow the main character tailing his object of desire, while a stalker is simultaneously tailing her at the same time. It’s the kind of sequence that can only exist in a movie; it would be so challenging to read in a novel and could never work in audio form. The way De Palma carefully lays out the geography and visual design of how his three chess pieces move across the board is remarkable.

I also just love that the killer’s weapon — a giant drill — is a direct homage to Slumber Party Massacre, one of the smartest horror movies ever made, and directed by a woman.


The other four movies Mohan discusses in the article are Barbet Schroeder's Single White Female, Alain Guiraudie's Stranger by the Lake, Curtis Hanson's The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, and Harold Becker's Malice.


Posted by Geoff at 10:33 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, September 27, 2021 10:37 PM CDT
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