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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, will present The Untouchables the "Alamo Way" by screening the film in 70mm on January 26, 27, and 28. "To see such a film not only on the big screen, but also on glorious 70mm is the type of rare cinematic experience that only the Alamo Drafthouse is lucky enough to showcase," Sam Prime states on the Alamo website. "Our Drafthouse Beverage Director Bill Norris will provide signature themed cocktails!"

At the start of his post on the film, Prime writes, "In 1987, Brian De Palma and iconic key collaborators including spitfire screenwriter David Mamet and legendary composer Ennio Morricone, set out to realize a historical crime epic like none other. De Palma is a larger than life director known to embrace bold stylistic choices, Mamet writes dialogue that comes out of some kind of curse-laden meta-reality, and Morricone’s score contains in itself a storybook quality, that every moment is deliberately crafted to dramatize history, to realize a respectful spectacle."

Posted by Geoff at 6:53 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 6:55 PM CST
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Sunday, November 25, 2012
La-La Land Records announced on Friday that it will release an expanded 2-CD set of Ennio Morricone's soundtrack to Brian De Palma's The Untouchables. The set, timed to mark the 25th anniversary of The Untouchables, will be a limited edition of 3500 units, with liner notes by Jeff Bond. It will be available on the La-La Land Records website beginning December 4th, at 1pm pacific, according to a press release posted on the Film Score Monthly Message Board. Disc one will feature the score as heard in the film, while disc two, according to the press release, "features the Grammy award winning album presentation as well a number of bonus tracks including the unused song performed by Randy Edelman that was based on the love theme from the film. What makes this release extra special is now the fans of the score can hear both versions of the Maestro’s powerful score on cd – the film mix as well as the original album mix – both have never sounded better!" A full track listing can be found at Soundtrack.net.
(Thanks to Randy!)

Posted by Geoff at 10:31 PM CST
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012
This interview is two months old, but it was kind of skipped over with all of the Passion news going on at the time. Actually, at the time, I had tried to embed the video interview to the De Palma a la Mod blog, but the embed code wouldn't work for some reason. (Update-- Go to the comments section below to see the embedded video, thanks to Rado!) MTV's Kevin P. Sullivan talked to Brian De Palma at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, and De Palma told him that he was considered as director for two Alfred Hitchcock biopics that have appeared this year: The Girl, directed by Julian Jarrold, which premiered on HBO last month; and Hitchcock, directed by Sacha Gervasi, which hits theaters this week. The former puts a close-up on the relationship between Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren, who starred in Hitchcock's The Birds and Marnie. The latter, written by John J. McLaughlin (who had for a time worked on the screenplay to Parker with De Palma before that project was taken on by Taylor Hackford) looks at the making of Hitchcock's Psycho.

"They were all sent to me," De Palma told Sullivan, "so I know exactly what they're all about. I was the top of the list." De Palma, however, turned these projects down. "We should leave the man alone," he told Sullivan. "He's a great master, and these are kind of disturbing views of him and making these movies."

A Huffington Post article by Lynn Elber starts off with this:


After a private screening of HBO's "The Girl" held for Tippi Hedren, her friends and family, including daughter Melanie Griffith, the reaction was silence.

Make that stunned silence, as the room took in the film's depiction of a scorned, vindictive Alfred Hitchcock physically and emotionally abusing Hedren during production of "The Birds."

"I've never been in a screening room where nobody moved, nobody said anything," Hedren recounted. "Until my daughter jumped up and said, `Well, now I have to go back into therapy.'"


Incidentally, Tippi Hedron portrayed the mother of Melanie Griffith's character on the season premiere of FOX-TV's Raising Hope last month-- and if you'd kept the channel tuned for the program after that, you would have seen Griffith's daughter Dakota Johnson starring in the new show Ben and Kate.

Also in the MTV interview, Sullivan asked De Palma about the Untouchables prequel, Capone Rising. "It's quite a good script," De Palma told Sullivan, "but it's owned by Paramount. We had it together with different casts at different times, but it never seemed to work out. It's still there. I've always been amazed to think about how many scripts are sitting in studio vaults that are actually great scripts, that if anybody would go down and read them, they would be amazed at what's there. There must be tons of them."

Back on September 13, De Palma was asked about the prequel by Collider's Phil Brown. "I don’t know," De Palma said regarding whether the film will ever happen. "We’ve had it cast many times, but we’ve just never been able to get everything together at the same time. It’s owned by Paramount so there’s nothing I can do." When asked who he'd planned to cast in it, De Palma replied, "At one point I think I had Nicolas Cage playing Capone. Gerald Butler was going to do the Sean Connery part. I think we even had Benicio Del Toro as Capone at one point. We had so many great people attached. It’s one of those legendarily great scripts that actors would die to play, but we’ve just never been able to get it all together with Paramount."

Posted by Geoff at 9:52 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 11:01 AM CST
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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Joe Carnahan, who at one time was going to direct Mission: Impossible 3, had recently been pitching a version of a Daredevil movie to Fox, who needed to put the franchise back into production by this October or watch the rights to the character revert back to Marvel. Carnahan used the above "sizzle reel" to pitch his idea for the film, which would have taken place in the gritty Hell's Kitchen of the 1970s. According to Carnahan, too much time has passed, and the rights will indeed be reverting back to Marvel, thus ending the chance for his version. In the meantime, Carnahan posted the above video, which features sound bites of Robert De Niro's Al Capone from Brian De Palma's The Untouchables, along with clips from other films and media, to get across his vision for the project.

Posted by Geoff at 1:12 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, August 16, 2012 1:14 AM CDT
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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Posted by Geoff at 4:29 PM CST
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Sunday, February 26, 2012
Penelope Ann Miller spent about three days filming her part in Michel Hazanavicius's The Artist, but she was one of the few actresses to show interest in taking a chance on a silent movie by a French director. The film won best picture at tonight's Academy Awards, and Hazananvicius won for best director. What initially drew Miller to the film was the chance to spend time in the world of the 1920s, a period she says she enjoys. Here she is pictured arriving at tonight's Academy Award ceremony in a dress she told the Hollywood Reporter features 1920s elements. To design the dress, she collaborated with Badgley Mischka. It is the first time Miller has ever been to the Oscar ceremony, and The Carpetbagger's Melena Ryzik makes a case for Penelope as the 2012 Award-Season M.V.P. for her tireless promotion of The Artist.

Miller has been out of the spotlight since about the 1990s, the decade in which she appeared in Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way. According to Naughty But Nice Rob, Miller was an '80s "It" girl who now, interestingly, "compares her celebrity during her acting heyday to that of Rachel McAdams today." Miller tells Rob that she stepped away from the limelight to start a family. She also talked to The Insider's Jarett Wieselman about the script for The Artist and how she came to be cast in the film:

Yes, there was a script but it was just, it was more descriptive than dialogue. It really read like a story. Michel [Hazanavicius, writer/director] really did a beautiful job -- it was bound and on each side of the page there were photographs of Berenice [Bejo] and Jean [Dujardin] in period costume, and period locations. It was very picturesque. It was definitely unusual, so I did get this almost hesitant call from my agent saying, "They're making this black and white silent film and it's set in the 20s." That perked me up because I love the 20s, and I asked, "Well, who is in it?" He said, "The two leads are French and the director is French," and I'd never heard of them nor could I pronounce their names [laughs]. And I thought that this was getting more interesting by the minute.

Miller told the Orange County Register's Richard Chang a bit more details about that initial phone call, and her first meeting with Hazanavicius:

Q: How did you get cast for this picture?

A: My agent, who has a relationship with the casting director, called me. I was interested in at least reading it. There were actors who weren't interested. They're probably kicking themselves right now. There are those of us who are willing to take that leap of risk, who had faith. Obviously, it was a very far-fetched notion. In "Chaplin," you could hear the dialogue. With this, this is like a full-blown silent film.

But I love the '20s. I'm an old movie buff. I'm very nostalgic about old Hollywood. I sort of welcomed the opportunity and thought this could be kind of fun. It definitely could be a real hit or a real miss. If it was a miss, oh well, I can move on.

Q: What was it like to work with director Michel Hazanavicius? He isn't that well-known in the U.S.

A: When I met him, I discovered he'd really done his homework. He had a really strong vision. I told him we both shared the passion for the old movies. He knew how he wanted to film it, what he was doing. He really hired the top of the line to work with him. The cinematographer was the guy he's always worked with. The hair and makeup worked with some real big stars. People on the technical side loved the artistic side of the film. How many opportunities do you get to make a movie like this? It wasn't going to be a huge, long schedule. I took it for the art of it.


When Havanavicius accepted the best picture award at tonight's Oscar ceremony, he thanked Billy Wilder, Billy Wilder, and Billy Wilder. But back in November, Hazanavicius shared with Indiewire's Eric Kohn notes on six silent films that inspired The Artist. The first of the six listed is Josef von Sternberg's Underworld. Released in 1927, the screenplay for Underworld was written by Ben Hecht, who was awarded the first-ever Academy Award for Best Screenplay for the film. Hecht went on to write the screenplay for Howard Hawks's Scarface, and De Palma's remake of that film is dedicated to Hawks and Hecht. Havanavicius states, "All of Scarface, and even Brian De Palma's The Untouchables, comes from Underworld. The way that director Josef von Sternberg shot women was incredible. It's super-sensual, and really amazing to see a gangster movie as good as anything by Tarantino from this period."

The other five silent films noted by Havanavicius are Tod Browning's The Unknown, F.W. Murnau's Sunrise and City Girl, King Vidor's The Crowd, and Charlie Chaplin's City Lights.

Posted by Geoff at 11:20 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2012 11:27 PM CST
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After watching Kevin Costner deliver a poignant eulogy last weekend at the funeral of Whitney Houston, talent agent and advisor Danny Allen recalled, in his Newzbreaker column, meeting Costner for the first time on the set of Brian De Palma's The Untouchables. Allen began his career in the 1950s as an agent for Errol Flynn, who later nicknamed Allen "Moxie Man." He first met The Untouchables' Charles Martin Smith on the set of George Lucas' American Graffiti in 1973. In 1980, he did some press work for De Palma on Dressed To Kill. In the passage below, Allen recounts meeting the young upcomer Kevin Costner on the set of The Untouchables, and how upon seeing Allen, De Palma told the crew to take a break so they could all go to lunch...

Charles called me during the late summer of 86 and said, “Moxie Man you must come to the set so you can see some of the acting Kevin Costner is doing, who I think is going to be the next big movie star on the scene.” Coming from “Smitty”, as I called him, an accomplished actor in his own regard, made his comment have merit. I arrived on the day they were shooting the scene in the church between Kevin and Sean Connery, which happens to be one of my favorite scenes in the movie.

When De Palma yelled cut, “Smitty” grabbed Kevin by the arm and raced towards me. We were introduced and Kevin had a firm handshake, and a great sincere smile. “Smitty” like many others, of course, told the Errol Flynn Story and yet another actor, (Costner) was a fan of Errol’s. De Palma saw a group forming and didn’t realize I was on the set. When he came over, he bear hugged me and told his crew, take an hour, we are going to lunch. Off Kevin, “Smitty”, Brian and I went in his limo to eat.

For the next hour, Kevin sat there listening to stories that “Smitty”, Brian and I, shared, all the time, asking great questions and soaking in any and all acting advice we could give. He was very humble, and even offered to pick up the tab, but of course, De Palma wouldn’t allow that. At the end of our lunch, Kevin and I had bonded, exchanging numbers.

For many years after our first meeting, Kevin and I have stayed in touch with him still being that humble person I met some 26 years ago. So when the rest of the world praised his eulogy at Whitney Houston’s funeral last week, I just smiled because the class act that I have known Kevin to be way away from the glaring lights of a movie set, shined through.

Posted by Geoff at 7:10 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2012 7:13 PM CST
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Costume designer Richard Bruno died of kidney failure Wednesday at the age of 87. Bruno worked on several films with Brian De Palma. He was costume designer for Wise Guys and Casualties Of War, and, having established a strong working bond with Robert De Niro on films by Martin Scorsese and Sergio Leone, among others, Bruno was a wardrobe assistant to Mr. De Niro on De Palma's The Untouchables. The Los Angeles Times' obituary for Bruno states that, "Along with tailor Henry Stewart, Bruno helped create an authentic 1930s wardrobe for DeNiro's Al Capone character in the 1987 blockbuster The Untouchables, whose costumes were overseen by Marilyn Vance-Straker. Bruno did extensive research to fine-tune the costumes; he tracked down old hats at Capone's favorite shop in Chicago and had them fashioned into new ones for DeNiro, and he had Capone's monogram embroidered on wardrobe items, including silk socks and underwear."

Posted by Geoff at 6:16 PM CST
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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Last night's episode of CW's Supernatural found one of the main characters, Dean, going back in time (apparently uncontrollably) to 1944, where he meets Eliot Ness. I haven't seen the episode, but according to Hero Complex, "Dean is thrilled to find himself with a fedora and reveals that he’s a huge fan of Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables." TV Fanatic has run a review of the episode, describing some of the nods to De Palma's film:

Of course, Dean really got to shine in his moment of pure bliss when he was transported to 1944 (if only we could all count in our heads like Dean.)

Specifically, Dean's star struck moments of meeting the leader of The Untouchables was pure awesome. It was very cool to see an iconic hero like Eliot Ness gain that Supernatural edge by making him a hunter, and it made perfect sense. It was also great that he was able to reference the fantastic Brian De Palma film, The Untouchables, with lines like "because that is the Chicago way" and punching out the witness because that's what he watched Eliot Ness do in the movie. At the same time, attempting to imitate the film fell flat for Dean, making it even more humorous for his character as he tried to fit in and seem as cool as his counterpart.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 AM CST
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Sunday, November 27, 2011
Owen Williams interviewed Billy Drago for a UK film magazine, where it was trimmed down to fit the magazine's space constraints. But Williams has posted the full interview at The Void, including a section in which Drago talks about his work on Brian De Palma's The Untouchables, in which he portrayed Frank Nitti. Here is that section:

[The Untouchables] was one of those films where even the things that went wrong went right. It was a difficult shoot in that it was period and we were actually shooting in the city so you have to periodise all those blocks. It was huge. And the studio didn’t know it was going to be a hit, and they actually called De Palma and shut it down. They said “okay we’ve seen the footage, you’ve got enough, we don’t want to spend any more money, that’s it, after the weekend you’re home”, and there were a whole load more scenes we were supposed to shoot.

That’s when they went and shot the Odessa Steps sequence in the train station, with a load of raw film stock that De Palma had stored up. That wasn’t even in the script. We were supposed to shoot at the race track and a lot of other stuff, and he said ‘We can’t shoot any of that stuff, so everybody pack up, but in the meantime I’m going to shoot my version of the Battleship Potemkin scene with all this film I’ve stolen’…

The first scene we shot was where the little kid gets blown up. So I’m outside waiting on the street where they’re lighting, and some older woman comes up with a little boy and asks for a picture, so I put my arm around the little boy and all that. And the next day in the newspaper I found that the picture was there! And the little boy was like Nitti’s great great grandson.

The guy who was my stand-in was the great grandson of a guy who’d had a Nitti contract out on him! And his grandfather had hidden out in the middle of Illinois until Nitti had died, and survived the hit. But even after that, he got ill and he was in the hospital, and the nurses complained about him because he was sleeping with a pistol under his pillow, because he was convinced he was still gonna get whacked!

I got to know the Nitti family. They still live in the Chicago area and they have grocery stores and businesses: regular businesses; they’re not mob connected anymore! They called the hotel where I was staying, which was the actual hotel that had been owned by Capone and Nitti during that period (in fact the very phone booth where Machine Gun Jack McGill was killed was right outside my door). I was down in the lobby and the concierge came over to say that the Nitti family would be by to pick me up at 8 o’clock. Nobody asked if I actually wanted to go… It was an offer I couldn’t refuse! But it would have been too interesting an adventure to turn down anyway. So at eight o’clock I’m down in the lobby and a limousine pulls up and a guy gets out and introduces himself as someone who works for the Nitti family, and we drove around every blues club in Chicago, and at every one it was like royalty had arrived. ‘The Nitti family is here!’ It was great fun but they were making me a little nervous because they gradually started treating me like I really was Frank Nitti. They made sure my back was to the wall so I could see everybody, and all the young Italian turks would come by to pay their respects, and they’d all say “Sooooo, playin’ Uncle Frank huh? Lookin’ good, lookin’ good…” It gave me a bit of an insight into what it would have been like and what had gone on…

They didn’t mind Frank being portrayed as such a villain; the legend is so big. They had to move Nitty’s grave several times because people kept digging it up to make sure he really was dead; they were so scared of him. Only the family knew where his grave was for a while. I wore a white suit in the movie because we thought of him as the angel of death. I talked to a very elderly gentleman once who’d been a policeman undercover, and he said that Nitti had found him out, and tied him up in a basement and put a gun in his mouth and waited to see if he would sweat. Nitti had a very famous saying: ‘I never killed a man who wasn’t afraid to die’. So if he’d sweated he would’ve been killed, but he didn’t so Nitti said ‘oh okay, he’s not afraid’ so he let him go.

My mother never quite forgave me for killing Sean Connery. Mom, I had to! They paid me!

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CST
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