Top positive review
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Clever, and doesn't take itself too seriously
on 9 November 2007
"Holly keeps this business where it belongs." says a sleazy TV interviewer with a smile, "In the gutter." He's talking about Holly Body (Melanie Griffth), star of Holly Does Hollywood. She's a porn queen with a tattoo on her bottom. Holly, or at least the tattoo, is the key to Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) identifying the killer who set him up.
Jake is a struggling actor who suffers from claustrophobia. He's not too bright, not too dumb, and he finds out the hard way that his wife is two-timing him. She owns their house so he has to move out. He finds a place to stay, housesitting for an absent owner a modernist home on a stalk that overlooks Hollywood. The guy who helped him find the place points out the owner's telescope, which in the evening can pick out a lush neighbor, a rich woman named Gloria Revel, who regularly does a strip dance in front of her window. Jake thinks he sees her being stalked and does some stalking of his own. One night through the telescope he sees her being attacked. He races over to save her but he's too late. The attacker uses a big power drill to kill the woman. Jake finds himself under suspicion and sets out to try to find out what was going on. And that sets up his meeting with Holly, his realization of what really happened, and his confrontation with the killer who is in the process of burying Holly alive.
This is a first-rate movie, in my opinion. De Palma is often accused of ripping off...I mean, paying homage to...Hitchcock, but Hitchcock didn't own the suspense/humor genre. He just did it better than most. Here, De Palma has come up with a clever plot that builds a nice head of tension and unease. And using the plot device of a second-rate, struggling actor trying to get ahead and the practicalities of the porn business, he comes up with a number of incongruous and funny situations. When Holly matter of factly lists the things she doesn't do..."no animal acts, no water sports, no..." (it gets more graphic), it's almost endearing. De Palma spends a long sequence with Jake following Gloria after he notices the guy who is really stalking her. The sequence takes us to an underground parking lot, an exclusive shopping mall, to Gloria's home on the side of an ocean-front hill, to the beach and through a pedestrian tunnel. There is almost no dialogue but the sequence builds a lot of tension.
Craig Wasson does a nice job as Jake, and Melanie Griffith, with her little girl voice combined with Holly's practical but honest nature, is memorable as Holly Body. The movie is twenty years old and has held up, in my opinion, very well.