Classic screen nudity – Melanie Griffith in Body Double (1984)

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Time plays with our perspective because we tend to pigeonhole ourselves within a single frame of reference. Take movies, for example. When I was a boy, let’s say in 1959 for the sake of a specific example, any film older than 32 years seemed ancient. They were primitive and from the distant past. They were filled with corny overacting, didn’t have any color, and didn’t even have sound! In contrast, Body Double is now 37 years old and doesn’t really seem that dated. 1984 doesn’t even seem that long ago from the perspective of cinema.

But that’s just within the movie realm, in which very little seems to change except for the standards of political correctness and the special effects. Other parts of modern civilization, however, have changed drastically.

This movie was being planned in 1983, a year that was in many ways the very dawn of the modern world.The first PC with a hard drive was introduced in 1983. Also in 1983, the DynaTAC 8000x was the first commercially available handheld mobile phone. The other essential technological development of 1983 occurred when ARPANET and the Defense Data Network officially changed to the TCP/IP standard, marking the birth of the Internet. Powerful personal computers, cellular phones and the internet are just about the basis of our lives today, yet they did not exist for the people who were writing and planning Body Double.

In fact, non-academic use of the Web was really still about a decade in the future. It was not until 1993 that the Mosaic browser made the web accessible to non-technical users. About two years after that, Uncle Scoopy’s Fun House, perhaps the greatest achievement of mankind to date, was born.

11 thoughts on “Classic screen nudity – Melanie Griffith in Body Double (1984)

  1. I agree with UncleScoopy’s post here almost entirely, although for me the dividing line between modern times and ancient times is a bit farther forward. It used to be 1965 for me, now it’s more like 1975.

    The only thing I would urge him to rethink is the “perhaps” in the very last line. I don’t believe in waffling when it comes to inarguable fact.

  2. Yep, and we can never go back to the way movies used to be made. No more rotary phones or booths, or a world without smart phones, internet, social media, etc – the stuff that shallowed the world, and most modern movies as a sad result. Unless it’s a period piece, and even Tarantino can’t do those quite right. He made the best effort at that with his last film, but still, the dialogue gives away that these are clearly not people from the 60’s, using hard core profanity in nearly every sentence. It wasn’t like that.

    I was just thinking last night, it applies to music too. Once upon a time you had concept albums in which songs cleverly segued into each other: most of Stevie Wonder’s 70’s albums, The Wall, Carole King’s Fantasy, etc. A lot of time & thought went into sequencing the songs in the best order and finding creative ways to crossfade them. People today primarily just download singular songs, so they wouldn’t understand the last few notes of a previous song fading into the current song, and ending with the first few notes of the next song. The concept album is dead.

    1. As an old guy, Dev J, I agree with you almost entirely. I’ve been waiting almost 50 years for this silly “TouchTone” phone fad to end, and if that doesn’t happen in the next decade or two, I will start to think about giving up.

      The only point I want to make is that the concept album is dead FOR NOW. It is remarkable what comes back if you wait long enough. Yes, it may be as dead as silent movies, but I, for one would not bet big money on it. Not if it was something people really wanted, anyway. I am not a person with great interest in music, so I don’t know.

    2. Accurate period pieces are nearly impossible to make today. If someone remade Barry Lyndon today, they’d include blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and middle-eastern actors because otherwise they’d be criticized for a lack of diversity. And if they did include blacks, well they were slaves back then, so then there would be accusations of stereotyping unless they added a black redcoat general or someone like “Ahchoo” from Robin Hood, Men in Tights.

      1. Wouldn’t what you say mean that period pieces are the only movies that a lot of white people would be comfortable seeing, because period pieces can legitimately exclude minorities on the basis that segregation was the reality of the time, no matter how how much the filmmakers (disingenuously) wish it weren’t?

        Of course, the filmmakers can show how some minorities did mix with the white majority, such as blacks who could “pass”, or better yet, closeted sexy lesbians.

        1. Well, at least for the white people who are absolutely uncomfortable seeing any non-white person on screen. I’d like to think that most people just want to see a good movie regardless of the racial/sexuality makeup of the cast. But you will still get those who complain that there are not enough minorities represented.

          So they’d never make a historically accurate movie if it involved all whites. An all Japanese or all black or all Indian cast, no problem.

          1. The progress has been interesting to watch

            In the 50s and early 60s we had white actors playing all parts, John Wayne played Genghis Khan, Larry Olivier played Othello, and Americans descended from Mediterranean ancestors played Native Americans. (Michael Ansara as Cochise, Frank de Kova as Wild Eagle, e.g.)

            Then there was a brief period when actors were hired to play characters of similar ethnicity and coloring.

            And now actors of various colors and ethnicities are hired to play white roles, as in Hamilton or Bridgerton.

            After giving this almost no thought, I have decided that I don’t care about this subject. Life happens. Things change.

            One thing I do care about is nonsense like the people who criticized Zoe Saldana for darkening her skin a little to play Nina Simone. I don’t think we need to hunt around until we find actors/singers who look exactly like the people they portray. A little bit of coloring or some prosthetics should be fine to create an illusion.

          2. Uncle Scoopy’s remarks remind me of a Tim Kazurinsky quote in an SNL bio, basically: “In the early days, Aykroyd did Jimmy Carter with a mustache; everyone laughed, people bought it. By the time I got there, you had Joe Piscopo running around screaming that someone used his prosthetics without permission. When did it become all about the prosthetics? Wasn’t it better when you could appreciate the talent instead of the makeup?”

    3. There are still plenty of concept albums in the world of progressive rock–and yes, there still exists a world of progressive rock. Start with Steven Wilson’s Hand. Cannot. Erase. (2015). You need to look for them, because in today’s musical environment they won’t come to you.

      1. A lot different now than when you had a big ol’ album in your hands, typically with fantastic artwork & packaging, lyrics inside the gatefold, etc. You could lay there on your teenage bed and get into what the artist was conveying. I used to do that a lot with Zappa & Floyd stuff. Yes too, though Jon Anderson’s idea of a concept was usually too cryptically metaphysical for me. Crossfading & sequencing used to be almost like art forms in themselves; Paul Simon sequenced songs according to emotional continuity, rhythms, key, etc. Stevie W. meticulously and seamlessly crossfaded right down to the NOTE. And of course we all know Roger Waters’ legendary skill with it.

        That kind of thing went away long ago, when the internet came around. A few people still try to make concept albums, I suppose, but such music is far from popular in a world where most people listen to music from a tiny speaker on their phone. Concepts, artwork, lyrics, etc were once things that existed for artists to convey their full vision, but we’re a long way from that now. The idea of a concept album now is Beyonce complaining that her husband cheats on her, or Bieber being religious, etc. Really sad. I appreciate Roger’s optimism but I don’t see another Waters or Wonder coming down the line any time soon.

        1. I agree with most of what you’ve said, and I wish I had pearls of wisdom to pass along. Like you, I lament that the music world has passed my personal tastes by; I’m hard pressed to find a single music radio station that doesn’t make my eyes glaze over with the sameness of it all.

          On the other hand, i’m not one of those people who are perfectly happy to listen to nothing but classic rock radio; I need to expand my life’s playlist–sometimes by looking back to music I missed the first time around, sometimes by getting online to sample new acts that radio and TV and the mainstream music media won’t touch because Max Martin didn’t write half their songs. Happily the work sometimes pays off (in my case, Steven Wilson and Gazpacho and Nightwish and Anathema, and even the occasional non-rock artist like Loreena McKennitt. I like what I like, no apologies.) And on those rare occasions when I can get someone to sample some of the stuff I like, and they find they like it, too, then I relish the little victory.

          Question for you all: what recording artist, that you personally list among your favorites, do you wish had a bigger name recognition than they do? I might give them a try myself. Always looking.

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