"CHANGING THAT ENDING WAS THE CRITICAL THING"
The Nashville Public Library will host a free screening of Brian De Palma's Obsession this Saturday, November 19th. In anticipation of the screening, "Movies at Main" program coordinator William Chamberlain interviewed producer George Litto for the Popmatic Podcast. Litto talked about how he came to be De Palma's agent for a year, and then producer of three of the director's films. Regarding Obsession, Litto tells the story of how John Lithgow came to be cast in the film (Cliff Robertson read with Lithgow and liked him, although he told Litto he didn't "normally like to work with actors who are taller than me"). Litto also talks about how he kept nagging De Palma that he needed to fix the third act of Obsession. After impressing Bernard Herrmann as the two discussed what the composer would need in order to perform his score for the film, Litto told Chamberlain that Herrmann smiled, turned to De Palma and said, "You know, for a producer, he's not so bad. Okay, mister wiseguy producer, since you know everything, you know you need a new third act, don't you, on this movie?" Litto replied, "Mr. Herrmann, please tell that to the director." Litto then was off to Italy, while De Palma stayed in London to cast the movie. When Litto returned to London, De Palma called him to tell him he had a new third act.
Later in the interview, Chamberlain asks Litto what he would have changed about Obsession to make it better, and Litto said that that had been the one thing to change: "Well, the third act was critical. In the original version, Cliff Robertson gets on a plane to find this girl who betrayed him, not knowing it's his daughter. And he finally locates her in Florence, at a nunnery, catatonic. It would have been very downbeat, and to me, unsatisfying. It would have been, you know, a tragedy. And I said no, it's really a story of love. It's a father and daughter in search of each other. You can't leave the audience unsatisfied. So changing that ending was the critical thing."
The interview also touches on Dressed To Kill and several other films and filmmakers Litto has been involved with. In other news, Arrow Video will release a regular DVD edition of Obsession on January 30, 2012. This past summer, Arrow released a Blu-Ray edition of the film.