Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:

De Palma a la Mod


De Palma Discussion


Recent Headlines
a la Mod:

Are Snakes

De Palma & Lehman
thriller novel to be
published in France
May 16

De Palma Masterclass,
Casualties Of War,
and book signing
June 2 in Paris

Pics, quotes from
Tribeca Scarface reunion

Donaggio records
Domino score with
Massara in Belgium

Washington Post
review of Keesey book


Exclusive Passion

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario


AV Club Review
of Dumas book


« February 2011 »
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28


De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


De Palma Community

The Virtuoso
of the 7th Art

The De Palma Touch

The Swan Archives

Carrie...A Fan's Site


No Harm In Charm

Paul Schrader

Alfred Hitchcock
The Master Of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock Films

Snake Eyes
a la Mod

Mission To Mars
a la Mod

Sergio Leone
and the Infield
Fly Rule

Movie Mags


The Filmmaker Who
Came In From The Cold

Jim Emerson on
Greetings & Hi, Mom!

Scarface: Make Way
For The Bad Guy

The Big Dive
(Blow Out)

Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
Official Web Site

The Phantom Project

Welcome to the
Offices of Death Records

The Carlito's Way
Fan Page

The House Next Door

Kubrick on the

FilmLand Empire

Astigmia Cinema


Cultural Weekly

A Lonely Place

The Film Doctor


Icebox Movies

Medfly Quarantine

Not Just Movies

Hope Lies at
24 Frames Per Second

Motion Pictures Comics

Diary of a
Country Cinephile

So Why This Movie?

Obsessive Movie Nerd

Nothing Is Written

Ferdy on Films

Cashiers De Cinema

This Recording

Mike's Movie Guide

Every '70s Movie

Dangerous Minds


No Time For
Love, Dr. Jones!

The former
De Palma a la Mod

Entries by Topic
A note about topics: Some blog posts have more than one topic, in which case only one main topic can be chosen to represent that post. This means that some topics may have been discussed in posts labeled otherwise. For instance, a post that discusses both The Boston Stranglers and The Demolished Man may only be labeled one or the other. Please keep this in mind as you navigate this list.
All topics
Ambrose Chapel
Are Snakes Necessary?
Bart De Palma
Beaune Thriller Fest
Becoming Visionary
Betty Buckley
Bill Pankow
Black Dahlia
Blow Out
Blue Afternoon
Body Double
Bonfire Of The Vanities
Boston Stranglers
Bruce Springsteen
Capone Rising
Carlito's Way
Casualties Of War
Cinema Studies
Columbo - Shooting Script
Daft Punk
Dancing In The Dark
David Koepp
De Niro
De Palma & Donaggio
De Palma (doc)
De Palma Blog-A-Thon
De Palma Discussion
Demolished Man
Dionysus In '69
Dressed To Kill
Eric Schwab
Fatal Attraction
Femme Fatale
Film Series
Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Fury, The
Get To Know Your Rabbit
Happy Valley
Havana Film Fest
Hi, Mom!
Home Movies
Inspired by De Palma
Iraq, etc.
Jared Martin
Jerry Greenberg
Keith Gordon
Key Man, The
Laurent Bouzereau
Lights Out
Magic Hour
Magnificent Seven
Mission To Mars
Mission: Impossible
Montreal World Film Fest
Mr. Hughes
Murder a la Mod
Nancy Allen
Nazi Gold
Noah Baumbach
Oliver Stone
Paranormal Activity 2
Parties & Premieres
Paul Hirsch
Paul Schrader
Pauline Kael
Phantom Of The Paradise
Pino Donaggio
Prince Of The City
Print The Legend
Raggedy Ann
Raising Cain
Red Shoes, The
Responsive Eye
Rie Rasmussen
Robert De Niro
Sean Penn
Snake Eyes
Sound Mixer
Star Wars
Stepford Wives
Sweet Vengeance
Taxi Driver
Toronto Film Fest
Treasure Sierra Madre
Tru Blu
Truth And Other Lies
TV Appearances
Untitled Ashton Kutcher
Untitled Hollywood Horror
Untitled Industry-Abuse M
Venice Beach
Vilmos Zsigmond
Wedding Party
William Finley
Wise Guys
Woton's Wake
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
You are not logged in. Log in
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Thanks to Rado at the De Palma Touch for letting us know about Edgar Wright's wrap-up of his "Wright Stuff II," which took place over two weeks in January at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. On January 22nd, Wright screened Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy, Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill, and Tom Tykwer's Run Lola Run. Keith Gordon was a guest at the Dressed To Kill screening, and Wright mentions that one of his festival highlights (of which there were many!) was getting Gordon "to talk about being an 18 year aspiring director on the set" of that film. Wright also picked out a handful of De Palma trailers to play before Dressed To Kill: Carrie, Blow Out, Body Double, and Raising Cain (Quentin Tarantino also picked out the Carrie trailer to play in front of Wright's Shaun Of The Dead on opening night of "Wright Stuff II").

Prior to that night's midnight screening of Run Lola Run, Wright read out an e-mail message from Tykwer, in which the filmmaker paid tribute to De Palma:

Dearest midnight animals at the new beverly,

i am deeply frustrated that I cannot be with you tonight at my favourite theater showing my good old red hot riding hood baby. That is in particular as i am going to be in town just a few days from now. But i’ll see you at some of the other screening of Mr. Wright’s great choices later this week. Definitely not going to miss The Warriors and Thunderbolt and lightfoot. both Walter Hill and Michael Cimino have been heroes of my youth and it’s not difficult to find their traces in the movie you’re about to watch. And speaking of Mr. Brian De Palma who Edgar also salutes in this series with his super classic Dressed To Kill. Any split screen or slow motion use you’re gonna encounter in the next 80 minutesL thank you Brian, master of the universe of playfully dark sexy stylish and terrifying motion pictures.

Meanwhile – enjoy the other thing i hate to miss tonight: master of ceremony edgar wright’s introduction into: run lola run! yours, tt

Incidentally, Run Lola Run is a film De Palma himself was very impressed with when it was released back in 1998.

Posted by Geoff at 10:38 PM CST
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Sunday, January 16, 2011

Edgar Wright is currently in the middle of "The Wright Stuff II" at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. For next weekend, on Saturday and Sunday (January 22 and 23), Wright has programmed a double feature of Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy, followed by Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill. Wright plans to be at the Saturday screening of Frenzy to discuss the film, and this just in: Keith Gordon, who played the De Palma-like nerdy-science wonk role in Dressed To Kill, will appear in person during Saturday's screening of that film. Here is Wright's description of the double feature as posted on his blog, Edgar Wright Here:

Edgar says:
Late period Hitchcock and golden period De Palma, together at last. Both fantastic thrillers, breathtaking technical exercises and coal black comedies.

Frenzy had a mixed reception when first released as some were disappointed that Hitch finally showed in graphic detail what he had only hinted at before. I say this ruthless atmosphere only strengthens this grimly funny tale of a man wrongly accused of being a serial killer. As a Brit myself, I personally love the early 70’s grubbiness of the tale, murder among the fruit stalls and potatoes. Lovely!

Dressed To Kill opens with a dream sequence, but the nightmare never ends. De Palma conjures a dark cloud of doom over his ensemble and creates opera from terror. The technique in this film is absolutely incredible, one of those movies that is a mini film school in itself.

And a special bonus that Saturday (Jan. 22) at midnight: Wright will be on hand to present a screening of Tom Tykwer's Run Lola Run. Here's what he wrote about that one:

Tom Tykwer's Run Lola Run is the kind of movie I wish I’d directed; there’s such a joyful explosion of ideas and techniques, such great momentum and perpetual motion. When I first saw this it made me want to direct another movie more than ever, I remember dragging friends to see it, including Simon Pegg & Jessica Hynes. Indeed it had an influence on my favorite Spaced episode Gone (2.5). It will be great to see this again with a crowd, it’s like a great party mixtape of a movie.

Posted by Geoff at 7:57 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, January 20, 2011 6:32 PM CST
Post Comment | View Comments (10) | Permalink | Share This Post
Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It is well known that Brian De Palma used a body double for Angie Dickinson's opening shower scene in his 1980 film Dressed To Kill. Now old school De Palma regular Rutanya Alda has revealed that she provided the orgasmic vocals for Dickinson's character, Kate Miller, as she is ravished by a stranger in a taxi cab. Alda, who appeared in several early De Palma films (Greetings, Hi, Mom!, and The Fury), was the guest of honor November 19th at the New York Film Academy Screening Room, where she took part in a Q&A hosted by New York filmmakers Bryan Norton and Joe Zaso. The video above, featuring clips from several of Alda's films, was played at the start of the evening. The video concludes with the aforementioned scene from Dressed To Kill, with a note of trivia superimposed that reads, "As favor to Brian De Palma, Rutanya dubbed Angie Dickinson's hilarious moans of pleasure in this scene from DRESSED TO KILL." Jed Central has a brief account of the evening.

There have been other known or rumored instances of voice dubs in De Palma films. Dressed To Kill features another familiar voice as "Bobbi," the alter ego of Michael Cain's Dr. Elliott, voiced by William Finley, and heard within the diegesis of the film only on an answering machine. It is rumored that Helen Shaver dubbed the voice of Deborah Shelton in De Palma's Body Double (which would mean, perhaps, that Shaver's is the voice of passion in that film's "yes/no" make-out scene just outside the tunnel). Charles Durning provided a voiceover dub for the opening interrogation scene in Scarface. And finally, Amy Irving provided a favor to De Palma by dubbing the voice of the young Vietnamese-American woman played by Thuy Thu Le in the final scene of Casualties Of War. After all this dubbing, it is interesting to watch Shelton show off her lip-synching abilities in this commercial (circa early 1990s) below: 

Posted by Geoff at 11:39 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 7:19 AM CST
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Monday, October 18, 2010
[The reimagined poster for Dressed To Kill pictured here was created by Mikael Kangas. More of his illustrations can be seen at Anna Goodson Management.]

Michael Cain's latest autobiography, The Elephant To Hollywood, was published earlier this month. In the book's photo section, a caption next to an image of Bobbi in a blonde wig from Dressed To Kill has Cain wondering, "Is this me or my body double?" Cain devotes about three and a half paragraphs to Brian De Palma's film, writing, "Who would have thought that the role that would rescue my career at that point would be that of a transvestite psychiatrist turned murderer? You couldn't make it up... but Dressed To Kill became a huge box-office success. It was an opportunity for me, too, to show the versatility of my acting skills, not to mention a first outing for me in women's clothing. It had to be the most uncomfortable costume I ever wore. I hated the tights, couldn't walk in the high heels, found that the lipstick got all over my cigars and stubbornly insisted on wearing my own underpants." Despite all of that, Cain writes, "In the end, many of the long shots in the film were actually played by a double-- a real woman-- who was as tall as me, but needed a bit of padding out. It was she who played the most notorious scene in the film when my character slashes Angie Dickinson's character to death with a razor. It is a horrifying scene-- one that I only saw later on-- and it caused a lot of trouble at the time. Brian De Palma-- who is one of the most technically proficient directors I've ever worked with-- was insistent that it was the right thing to do. It was the only death in the entire movie and he wanted maximum impact: he got it, all right."

Meanwhile, Todd Gilchrist interviewed Angie Dickinson last week for the Wall Street Journal, on the eve of the Warner Archive on-demand DVD release of Roger Vadim's Pretty Maids All In A Row (the first batch of orders received copies autographed by Dickinson herself, and sold out quickly). Gilchrist asked Dickinson whether nudity was "a necessity for continuing to work" on films in the 1970s. Dickinson replied:

If I’d had a choice, I would have said, oh no, let’s do it under the covers and stay covered up. That would be my favorite way to do it. But I also was grown up enough to know, “this is how we’re doing it now.” On “Big Bad Mama,” I said, “do we have to have so much nudity?” and the director said yeah (laughs). So it’s hardly my favorite position, but I was an actor, and this is what movies were doing [then], so I did it.

The conversation turned to Dressed To Kill when Gilchrist asked Dickinson if she sees "a difference in the filmmakers who were working then and who are working now":

I haven’t worked on any of those big movies where they make you do the blue screen and all of that, so I don’t really know. The ones that I’ve done have still been the kind where once you’re on a set, you’re on a set; I can’t speak to the ones that have all of the blue screen, where you’re not really in Egypt, you’re in Burbank. The last big picture I made was “Dressed to Kill,” and it was a big budget made by a director who has great attention to detail –- Brian De Palma -– and that was very hard. Because he wanted everything exactly the way he wanted it, and rightly so -– which is hard to do sometimes. But in that, and of course that was 1980, he had to have, again, the nudity. That was just a given.

Gilchrist then asked Dickinson, "Are there any other films you made during your career that you feel like are unappreciated or deserve to be rediscovered by audiences today?"

You know, “Dressed to Kill” might be one, come to think of it. Because by those who have seen it, it’s quite admired, because it is scary as hell — but I don’t think it was actually the hit that it would be today. But that comes to mind, and I did a television series called “Pearl,” and that was a great series about Pearl Harbor on the outbreak of WWII with Robert Wagner, Dennis Weaver, Leslie Ann Warren and myself. I always loved myself in that, and that’s always been, let’s say, shoved under the rug. But “Point Blank” is already in DVD, and that one is my favorite.

Earlier this month, San Francisco's Castro Theatre featured a double bill of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and De Palma's Dressed To Kill, the former having been released 50 years ago, and the latter having been released 30 years ago. Kelly M. Hudson attended, and wrote on his blog that "there were a couple of sequences that made the audience I was watching it with erupt into enthusiastic applause and those were the attack in the subway and the finale in the doctor's office and the final dream sequence. And those people were right: they were brilliant." Dan at Dan's Movie Blog was also at the screening, and similarly stated, "I will say that a few scenes where Blake is menaced by the woman ratchets up the suspense to unusually tense levels. I'm specifically thinking about the scene in Michael Caine's office and in the bathroom at the end." Dan also recalls the "teenage boys in his clique" in the early 1980s talking "about the infamous opening scene featuring Angie Dickinson taking a shower." Dan notes that Dickinson's body double in the opening shower scene was Victoria Lynn Johnson "(August 1976 Penthouse Pet of the Month)."

Posted by Geoff at 5:14 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, October 18, 2010 5:14 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink | Share This Post
Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Movie Geeks United! tribute this week to "The De Palma Thriller" continued last night with a focus on Dressed To Kill, although several films were included in the discussion, including Home Movies (discussed with guest Keith Gordon and touched on with Nancy Allen), Obsession (discussed with guest George Litto), Mission To Mars, and more. The geeks got deep into De Palma discussion within the show's first hour, with Jamey talking about the merits of Mission To Mars, and Chris suggesting that he did not trust his not-so-thrilled assessment of De Palma's The Black Dahlia, because he knows it's De Palma, and he might look at it somewhere down the line and see that it is actually brilliant. The interviews on the show, including John Kenneth Muir, were terrific. Gordon showed a keen knowledge of De Palma's cinema that fit right at home with the geeks, who will feature a separate part of the interview with Gordon about his own directing career on an upcoming episode. Meanwhile, Nancy Allen mentioned that De Palma had her read books by Nancy Friday as preparation for her character, and in particular for her scene at the doctor's office with Michael Cain. A lot of great stuff on last night's show, which you can listen to on the site's archive. Looking forward to the final two shows: tonight, a look at Blow Out, with Allen, Muir, Litto, and Vilmos Zsigmond. Tomorrow night it's Raising Cain, again with Muir and editor Paul Hirsch.

Posted by Geoff at 12:43 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Matt Zoller Seitz and company at Salon invited 15 writers and filmmakers to recall "the movie experience I can't forget." Odienator (aka Odie Henderson) recalls his "lenient" aunt taking him and his two cousins to see Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill when he was just ten years old. They were all expecting a typical horror movie by the guy who did Carrie and The Fury. "It was supposed to be an innocent time at the movies, full of violence we knew wasn't real and scares we could tolerate," writes Odienator. "It all started at the beginning," he continues a bit later...

The movie came on, and we were treated to a dream sequence with the Policewoman taking a shower in ways they wouldn't have allowed on ABC. "What the hell?!" I heard my aunt mutter. Then, Policewoman woke up, and she was being lousily hammered by her husband.

"Jesus Christ!" said my aunt, a little louder than before.

The movie went on, and by my aunt's silence, I deduced there was nothing objectionable occurring. What also wasn't occurring was the violence one would find in a horror movie. After a seemingly interminable silent pursuit sequence in a museum, which seemed creepy but had no scary payoff, Policewoman entered a New York City cab and proceeded to engage with her co-star from the museum sequence. I had no idea what they were doing (I was 10), but it sure looked interesting. Suddenly, I felt my aunt grabbing my arm. She dragged me and my two cousins out of the theater, an angry look on her reddened face. "Come on, we're going!" she yelled.

"What's wrong, Mom?!" my cousin asked.

"There is too much fucking fucking in this movie!" she explained. "Y'all can't watch this!"

(See the slide show at Salon for Odienator's full write-up.)

There are more moments being shared in the article's comments section. "NHBill" wrote about seeing Scarface on opening night:

My wife and I, two of the Whitest people you will ever meet, Conan O'Brien White, decided to head Downtown for Dinner and a movie. It was a date night for my wife but for me it was the chance to see the new Brian De Palma film "Scarface" on opening night. I am an enormous De Palma fan. Even his failures are fascinating to me. The audience for this screening to my everlasting gratitude was predominately Black. They loved Scarface. Particularity finding all of the humor and irony in Al Pacino's performance. We screamed in laughter when Pacino dove head first into a mountain of cocaine and moments later when he invited us to "Say hello to my little friend." We were all shocked and thrilled at the violence. But I was surprised how many reviewers did not find "Scarface" the least bit amusing! Every one of us leaving that theater knew we has [sic] seen an instant classic, the ultimate roller coaster ride laughing one minute shocked in horror the next. Scarface is not my favorite film. It's not even my favorite De Palma film but it was the best film going experience of my life thanks to that fantastic audience!

A letter to Salon from Robbins Read delves into several theater experiences, including this one regarding De Palma's Carrie:

Carrie”: The first time I saw it, there was a collective gasp from the theater audience and maybe a scream or two when the hand comes out of the gravesite. I remember that I gripped my armrests tightly. When I saw it a week or two later with my cousin, the same collective gasp occurred, and he was holding my wrist tightly. And even though I knew what was coming, I was scared again!

(Thanks to Rado!)

Posted by Geoff at 10:21 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Next month marks 30 years since Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill caused a sensation in theaters across America. As The Baltimore Sun's Michael Sragow suggests, there has been a lot of discussion about Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, which turned 50 this past week, "but nothing about the 30th anniversary of Brian De Palma's Dressed to Kill." Sragow fills in that gap as a preview to tonight's screening of De Palma's classic at Baltimore's AFI Silver, calling De Palma "cinema's most underrated virtuoso." De Palma wrote the script "as if designing a set of booby-trapped Chinese boxes," writes Sragow. "The people he put inside them are one of the best ensembles ever to inhabit a blood thriller." I love what Sragow writes below about the subway scene, something that always strikes me as absurd everytime I watch the film, but in a kind of surrealist joke kind of way:

For all of its shocks, Dressed to Kill is often subtle and delicate. [Angie] Dickinson ponders picking up a sharkish-looking man in an art museum -- and De Palma registers every shift in her changeable mood with camera moves as poetic as the paintings on the walls. The film contains a terrific dated joke: at one point, [Nancy] Allen, pursued by the film's maniacal killer, runs into a subway station fit for Walter Hill's The Warriors. In 1980, before the city cleaned up its act, audiences roared at the sight of a woman seeking safety in the New York City subways.

But most of Dressed to Kill is timeless. With its most explicit surge of violence coming fairly early, this movie is a whodunit that's also a let's-hope-he-won't-do-it-again. In every decade from the 1960s on, De Palma has done terrific work. Why do you think we hear so little about Dressed to Kill and The Fury and De Palma's first masterpiece, Blow Out, also from his late-70s/early 80s heyday?

Meanwhile, The Centre Pompidou-Metz opened last month in Metz, France, and according to The National's Natasha Edwards, features an exhibition titled "Chefs-d’oeuvre?" which "investigates the notion of the masterpiece." One of the galleries in this exhibit is titled "Masterpieces Ad Infinitum," which, according to Edwards, "covers the eclectic media, complexity and referentialism of contemporary art, where uniqueness and craftsmanship no longer apply, yet the notion curiously persists. In one room, three screens simultaneously show us suave James Stewart in Hitchcock’s Vertigo, which influenced the gallery scene in Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill, which is brilliantly parodied in Brice Dellsperger’s spoof Body Double 15."

Posted by Geoff at 12:54 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, June 20, 2010 1:12 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Thursday, April 8, 2010
According to Mr. Peel, Quentin Tarantino was among the audience at a midnight screening of Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill this past weekend at Los Angeles' New Beverly Cinema, which Tarantino now owns and operates. Mr. Peel was still coming down from the screening days later. Here is an excerpt from his post on the matter:

...as much as Hitchcock is mentioned looked at how the film feels amazingly giallo-tinged, daring to bring a true sense of art to all that sleaze in those films, elements that usually make me want to take a shower—just where this movie begins in a sequence with its famous body double, come to think of it. How many giallos had De Palma taken a look at during the seventies? What is this film’s connection to the opening scene of THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS? Is there anything to be gained in pointing out the resemblance of white-clad Angie Dickinson to the also white-clad Anna Maria Rosati in TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE? So you really think that Autotron’s going up? Why can’t I stop staring at Nancy Allen as she runs through that subway station?

Posted by Geoff at 11:27 AM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Thursday, April 1, 2010
It's been a week of pranks, what with the "Scarface School Play" video making the rounds. For April Fools Day today, Kindertrauma's Unkle Lancifer has posted a preview of Tootsie 2: The Curse Of Dorothy Michaels (also known in the article as "The Revenge of Dorothy Michaels"), a new "Brian De Palma film" with plans for a 3D version, no less. Originally poised to go "head-to-head" with James Cameron's Avatar, according to the article, the once "Oscar hopeful" film, which sees Melanie Griffith replacing Jessica Lange from the original Tootsie, will now go straight to DVD. According to "Dustin Hoffman," "Dorothy is alive and well and living inside Michael, whether she’s a crazed, blood thirsty killer or just a friendly entity on hand to help solve the riddle is the film’s big mystery!" The victims are played by "an Oscar Who’s Who," including "Marisa Tomei," who refers to the film as "The Tootsies," and says that "Brian's plan was to outdo Hitchcock. Only instead of a shower, he’d use a bidet." The article suggests that De Palma "shot over four hundred hours of footage for the three minute scene." Hoffman, alluding to De Palma's Carrie, tells Kindertrauma, "As an actor you know when a character has outlived their welcome and I don’t see that ever happening with Dorothy. I’ve made sure that each and every ending we’ve filmed whether on the Earth or on the moon includes a shot of her hand coming up from the grave." He then suggests a sort of Predator vs. Alien sequel involving his Dorothy and Julia Andrews' Victor from Victor Victoria.

Posted by Geoff at 11:11 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, April 1, 2010 11:12 AM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Saturday, July 25, 2009

John Kenneth Muir, author of Horror Films Of The 1970s and Horror Films Of The 1980s, has posted an in-depth look at Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill, which opened in theaters on this day in 1980. Muir considers Dressed To Kill "a filmed 'dare' of sorts; one that nastily, brazenly, grotesquely 'creeps up' to the edge of social responsibility and acceptability, but then — finally — backs away with a tease and a knowing wink." Muir breaks down the themes running through Dressed To Kill, and in the following excerpt, also delves into its intertextual associations (although he does not mention the film's allusions to Bunuel):

Again, De Palma finds ways to honor his cherished source material. The film opens in a shower (since Psycho’s most famous sequence occurred there…) but then builds to a fever pitch in another distinctive enclosure: an elevator. By starting with Angie Dickinson in the shower, however, Dressed to Kill essentially states that it is beginning where Psycho left off. It’s the next step. (And Fincher’s Fight Club [1999] is the next iteration of the schizoid, but that’s a post for another day…)

Dressed to Kill not only quotes from Psycho, but also the Italian giallo tradition. Here we have a film with a mystery component, an operatic score, excessive blood letting, and flamboyant camera movements. Where have you seen that alchemical equation before, Bava or Argento fans? Hitchcock wasn’t able to produce Psycho in color, but De Palma makes the most of this advance in movie technology. He uses garish, bright colors in symbolic, effective fashion here. In the elevator death scene, for instance, Angie Dickinson is garbed head-to-toe in immaculate white, a color which is soon spoiled by her spilled blood during the razor attack. The red-against-white image is powerful in almost a primal way, and it works thematically (as in giallo tradition); suggesting the loss of Kate Miller’s “purity” after the marriage-wrecking affair.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, July 27, 2009 1:22 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post