AND JUNK FOOD DINNER PODCAST DISCUSSES 'SISTERS', 'DRESSED TO KILL', 'BLOW OUT'
This is a little old, but two issues ago (from this past December), Fangoria #338 included a new interview with Margot Kidder, in which Lee Gambin asked her about three key horror films she made in the 1970s: Sisters, Black Christmas, and The Amityville Horror. Here is the excerpt regarding Sisters:
FANG: Can you discuss your career during the years leading up to Sisters?
KIDDER: I was very young, and working nonstop. I started acting professionally in Montreal and Toronto, then moved to Hollywood at 18 with a couple of hundred bucks on me and a heart full of hope. I was very young and naive and thought, "Well, of course I'll get roles; I mean, I deserve it!" I landed a part in a Norman Jewison film [Gaily, Gaily], did a lot of low-budget movies and TV and then met Brian De Palma, who was one of those people making interesting independent movies. He loved Alfred Hitchcock-- you can see that in his work-- and he and I started seeing each other romantically.
FANG: What did you initially think of the story of Sisters?
KIDDER: Brian told me he wrote Sisters specifically for me. When he said that, I had to laugh: You thought of me to play this woman who castrates men after making love to them?! Well, ain't that nice! But I loved it. On Christmas morning, Brian came downstairs with the script, handed it to me and said, "There's your Christmas present." Then we went off and made the movie, and it was a lot of fun. It was one of his very early films; the money for it came from his mom, who owned a toy shop, and it was a wonderful time to make movies and a wonderful time to be young.
FANG: What was De Palma like as a director, and what was the most influential advice he ever gave?
KIDDER: Brian being my boyfriend didn't at all influence the way he directed me. I think his main brilliance is his true understanding of actors and what they can bring to a film. It truly is a joy working with him, and it shows in all of his movies; he just has that knack for tapping into something completely honest and real. Some of the younger directors these days agonize over getting those wonderful shots that were mastered by the likes of Brian and his friend Martin Scorsese, but what they don't get is that Brian and Marty are also extremely clued in to the fine art of working with actors, not just telling them where their marks are and whatever.
FANG: Was De Palma precious about his screenplay? Did he let you ad-lib at all?
KIDDER: There is one major secret about Brian that many people just aren't aware of, which is that he is one of the funniest people I know! He loved to inject his scripts with strong humor that played nicely along with the horror or suspense. He was always adament about what he wanted and why he wanted it, and if you thought of changing it or altering the words or whatever, you'd better also have a great reason to back it up. The character in Sisters I played was supposed to be Swedish, but I couldn't do a Swedish accent! I tried learning it, but it was just too hard, so I said, "Brian, can we make her French?" I grew up partly in Quebec so I was always around French-Canadians, and Brian was cool with that. His response was, "Fine. I just want her to be foreign."
In a comment below, the Swan Archives' Principal Archivist writes, "Margot's a little confused about where the Sisters money might have come from, I think. It was (producer) Ed Pressman's family, not De Palma's mom, that owned a toy company ... And it was a much bigger operation than a 'toy shop'!"
JUNK FOOD DINNER PODCAST DISCUSSES 'SISTERS', 'DRESSED TO KILL', 'BLOW OUT'
Speaking of Kidder's accent, the latest episode of the podcast Junk Food Dinner features discussions on De Palma's Sisters, as well as Dressed To Kill and Blow Out. The De Palma discussion begins at about the 48-minute mark (with The Kinks's "Two Sisters" as a lead-in), and is sometimes interesting, and sometimes frustrating, as the participants, despite enjoying each film overall (the consensus for best of the three is Blow Out), sometimes mention "problems" with things that are questionable as "problems." For instance, regarding Sisters, one of them complains, "How did they fit a guy in the couch?" This idea is presented by the group as a lapse in logic. However, the shot of the characters putting the guy in the couch is clear, without cuts-- they actually do put the body into the retractable bed of the couch.
Another thing several of the podcasters mention is Kidder's "pretty bogus" French accent. Now, I don't consider myself experienced enough to be able to judge a person's French accent (unless it is defiantly wrong, of course), but my understanding is that a French-Canadian accent is different than a Parisian or other French accent. And I would trust Margot Kidder, who actually grew up around French-Canadians, to have a pretty good grip on what the accent should sound like. But then the question here is, when people say about this movie, "Oh, Margot Kidder really struggles with her French accent," are we to assume that the person saying this is some sort of expert in regards to French accents? And are they aware that she is doing a French-Canadian accent, and that it is different from the French accent they are used to hearing? In any case, one of the guys mentions that Sisters felt kind of like it put a Cabin In The Woods-like twist on Hitchcock/suspense films, and that strikes me as a pretty good modern day description of what Sisters perhaps represented back in 1973.