DOUBLE DE PALMA: A Film Study with Brian De Palma by Susan Dworkin

DOUBLE DE PALMA: A Film Study with Brian De Palma

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Dworkin, author of the sporadically entertaining Making Tootsie (1983), offers a similar behind-the-scenes report on the forthcoming Brian De Palma film Body Double--a thriller about voyeurism, sexual obsession, and porno-films. As before, there are interviews with some of the actors (a much less appealing group than the Tootsie charmers), with cameramen and other technicians. There are closeups of the filming of certain key sequences--especially a sexy chase/murder scene, ""The Big Tango,"" with some interesting details on the costuming and photographing of sex-object/victim Deborah Shelton. But, though the book is sluggishly paced and poorly organized, two primary concerns--neither of them satisfyingly explored--do emerge. First--the commercial pressures on De Palma to make sexy, bloody thrillers, with blame placed on the money-men and the public: ""God help Brian if he ever tries to get serious about substance as well as form and technique."" (Dworkin is equally protective, and equally unconvincing, when defending De Palma's borrowings from Hitchcock: ""He was inspired by Hitchcock the way Ingmar Bergman was inspired by August Strindberg."") Second--the woman-as-sex-object in De Palma films, about which Dworkin remains murkily ambivalent, again straining to absolve De Palma himself (who remains shadowy throughout) of responsibility: ""The times were against him. . . ."" If Body Double is a major hit, of course, there'll be a substantial audience for this journalistic collage. As a film-study, however, despite a few technical interest-points (the ""process plate"" device) and the curiosity of an interview with porn-star/consultant Annette Haven, it's short on personality, immediacy, and focus.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1984
Publisher: Newmarket--dist. by Scribners