A young actor’s obsession with spying on a beautiful woman who lives nearby leads to a baffling series of events with drastic consequences. Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) is a struggling actor who has lost his role in a low budget Vampire B movie after his claustrophobia thwarts shooting. He discovers his girlfriend cheating on him, and is without a place to stay. At a method acting class, he meets Sam (Gregg Henry), who closely monitors Scully’s revelation of his fears and the childhood cause of his claustrophobia.
Sam takes Scully out for a drink, then tells him about a place to stay; Sam’s friend has left town temporarily, and needs a house-sitter for his ultra-modern mansion in the Hollywood Hills. Scully agrees, and Sam shows him around that night.
Sam is especially ecstatic about one feature; the female neighbour Gloria Revelle (Deborah Shelton), who erotically dances around her house at a specific time each night. Sam has even set up a telescope, which he shows Scully. Scully (who is voyeuristic) begins to watch her each night. One night, he sees her being abused by her mysterious boyfriend.
DePalma doesn’t take himself too seriously (he goes out of his way to portray TWO film directors as total buffoons in this story) he is able to achieve, in collaboration with the composer, Pino Donaggio, aesthetic moments of a kind that others couldn’t even conceive of let alone aspire to, because they would be trying so hard to be arty and significant. For example, the sound design and music for the scene leading up to the theft of Gloria’s purse on the beach is especially beautiful, as though Claude Debussy on a whim had done an MTV video.
Character to watch: Craig Wasson as Jake Scully.
Journal your answers to the following questions after you watch the movie.
- How does this particular character’s journey compare with yours?
- Did the character develop certain characteristics during the movie that you have or that you would like to have? If so, what are those characteristics?
- What obstacles did this character face? What was his or her biggest challenge?
- What would you have done differently if you had been in the same position as the character?
- Is this character the type of person you would be friends with? Why or why not?