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a la Mod:
Since 2009, Williams has been working with Brian De Palma and Edward R. Pressman on a stage version of Phantom Of The Paradise, something they have taken stabs at off and on for years. De Palma and Williams had tried to get a stage version going in 1987, and in 2003, Antonio Banderas discussed the possibility of taking on the title character for a stage version. For now, however, we have the incredible film from 1974. And, of course, the Baltimore Rock Opera Society.
This next bit of news comes to us courtesy the great and highly informative Swan Archives. Chicago's Music Box Theatre will screen Phantom Of The Paradise on two nights this upcoming February, as part of its ongoing Midnight Movies series. Phantom will screen on Friday and Saturday nights, February 15 and 16. Here is the Music Box website's description of the film:
"Praise be to whatever dark lord made this unholy masterpiece! Brian De Palma’s glam-rock musical, featuring songs by Paul Williams, is a coked-out mashup of T. Rex, Hitchcock, Universal Monsters, and Rocky Horror. Winslow Leach is a promising musician whose work is stolen by the evil producer Swan (played to pig-faced perfection by Paul Williams). tortured and beaten for attempting to reclaim his music, Winslow transforms into the steel-toothed, cape-wearing, leather-clad Phantom, out to wreak havoc upon Swan’s new nightclub, The Paradise!"
In his opening paragraph, Courrier mentions that he screened Phantom in a class on Alfred Hitchcock and De Palma: "Director Brian De Palma has accumulated a long list of neglected gems (The Fury, Blow Out, Casualties of War, Redacted), but the one whose neglect makes the least sense is his ingenious satirical rock musical, Phantom of the Paradise (1974). Fiendishly clever and percolating with film-making fever, De Palma provides ingenious allusions to Phantom of the Opera, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and The Picture of Dorian Gray. (Last year, while teaching a class on Alfred Hitchcock and Brian De Palma, I had more angry responses to this picture than some of De Palma's more inflammatory work.) But this pulsing musical comedy is an exhilarating modern retelling of the Faust myth (with roots in Dante's Divine Comedy) wherein a man becomes so consumed by his thirst for divine knowledge that he sells his soul to the Devil. In Phantom of the Paradise, though, the thirst is for something perhaps a little less lofty: rock immortality."
"This is not a documentary, but it's a way to understand me in a fantastical way," Peaches explained to Rolling Stone's Karen Bliss. "It's also subversive – an anti-jukebox musical. Actually, the songs relate more to what they're actually about in the musical than something like Mamma Mia, where they make up another story, or We Will Rock You, where [they have] this cheesy future crap. There's enough of a story there for me to have originality, but I also – not even parodied, but gave homage to all my favorite musicals. Like the speech at the beginning, the professor – that's kind of borrowed from The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the scene 'I Feel Cream,' when they bring in all the sets and all of a sudden we're in love. That to me is so Singin' in the Rain, An American in Paris, all those Gene Kelly [and] Fred Astaire movies."
GM: Paul Williams is a god in Winnipeg. An ex-girlfriend of mine stalked him to his hotel room. That was a strange relationship. But anyway.
AVC: Were you a Phantom fan?
GM: Saw it once. Listened to the soundtrack album a million times playing pool as an 18-year-old. Thought it was one of the iconic great films for so many years, because as a Winnipeger, it was so huge in the local zeitgeist, the civic-geist. I couldn’t believe when I later found that among De Palma buffs, it’s ranked like the 40th-best of his films. Because I was thinking, “Well okay, there’s Phantom Of Paradise, then there’s Dressed To Kill.” I thought it was like discussing Capra and going, “... It’s A Wonderful Life, which isn’t even a movie.” I’ve ridden in an elevator three times with Brian De Palma over the years. You’re in the same hotel and you’re just—“It’s Brian De Palma, I just gotta fucking…” The first time I saw him he was 6-foot-7, literally. The last time I saw him, he’s like whatever his real height is, or maybe much shorter, like 4-foot-2 or something. I don’t know, but every time I feel like throwing myself at his feet and thanking him for Phantom Of Paradise.
I didn’t even get into Phantom Of Paradise in My Winnipeg. It was too big of a subject. It’s a strange place. All I can say is, it’s one of the last isolated big cities, 700,000 people. The same size as Austin, the capital of Texas. It’s got no hinterland. There’s no one living within an eight-hour drive of the place, maybe a couple of really dinky towns. It’s just the biggest isolated city in North America; it’s right in the center, and it’s Siberia cold, so that isolation produces some quirky results. It’s a Petri dish no one sneezes on. We’re just breathing our own sneezes all the time.