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

De Palma a la Mod

E-mail
Geoffsongs@aol.com

De Palma Discussion
Forum

-------------

Pacino wows
in Venice

Pacino delivers a
masterclass as
a lion in winter

The Humbling
and Manglehorn
reviews

-------------

Exclusive Passion
Interviews:

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario

------------

AV Club Review
of Dumas book

Recent Headlines
a la Mod:

-Picture emerging
for Happy Valley

-De Palma's new
project with
Said Ben Said

-De Palma to team
with Pacino & Pressman
for Paterno film
Happy Valley

« October 2014 »
S M T W T F S
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 29 30 31

Interviews...

De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


Enthusiasms...

De Palma Community

The Virtuoso
of the 7th Art

The De Palma Touch

The Swan Archives

Carrie...A Fan's Site

Phantompalooza

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

Directorama

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
Guillotine

FilmLand Empire

Astigmia Cinema

LOLA

Cultural Weekly

A Lonely Place

The Film Doctor

italkyoubored

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

EatSleepLiveFilm

No Time For
Love, Dr. Jones!

The former
De Palma a la Mod
site

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
BAMcinématek
Bart De Palma
Becoming Visionary
Bill Pankow
Black Dahlia
Blow Out
Blue Afternoon
Body Double
Bonfire Of The Vanities  «
Books
Boston Stranglers
Bruce Springsteen
Cannes
Capone Rising
Carlito's Way
Carrie
Casualties Of War
Columbo - Shooting Script
Cop-Out
Cruising
Daft Punk
Dancing In The Dark
David Koepp
De Niro
De Palma Blog-A-Thon
De Palma Discussion
Demolished Man
Dionysus In '69
Dressed To Kill
Eric Schwab
Femme Fatale
Film Series
Fire
Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Fury, The
Get To Know Your Rabbit
Greetings
Happy Valley
Heat
Hi, Mom!
Hitchcock
Home Movies
Inspired by De Palma
Iraq, etc.
Key Man, The
Lithgow
Magic Hour
Mission To Mars
Mission: Impossible
Montreal World Film Fest
Mr. Hughes
Murder a la Mod
Nancy Allen
Nazi Gold
NYFF
Obsession
Oliver Stone
Paranormal Activity 2
Parker
Parties & Premieres
Passion
Paul Hirsch
Paul Schrader
Phantom Of The Paradise
Pino Donaggio
Prince Of The City
Print The Legend
Raggedy Ann
Raising Cain
Red Shoes, The
Redacted
Responsive Eye
Rie Rasmussen
Robert De Niro
Sakamoto
Scarface
Sean Penn
Sisters
Snake Eyes
Sound Mixer
Star Wars
Stepford Wives
Tabloid
Tarantino
Toronto Film Fest
Toyer
Treasure Sierra Madre
Tru Blu
TV Appearances
Untouchables
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, May 14, 2014
HOLMES: 'BONFIRE' LACKED LOVE OF SOURCE MATERIAL
THOUGHTS AS SHE READ 'DEVIL'S CANDY' AND EXPERIENCED OTHER ART WORKS OVER WEEKEND
In a "Monkey See" essay for NPR, Linda Holmes discusses three pop culture activities she experienced last weekend, including reading Julie Salamon's The Devil's Candy, which details the making of Brian De Palma's The Bonfire Of The Vanities. One of the other two activities involved spending about five hours on Saturday at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art with a rented audio guide unit. The third is described by Holmes at the beginning of this excerpt from her essay:
----------------------

Saturday night at 8:00, I saw a live performance of The Thrilling Adventure Hour, Ben Acker and Ben Blacker's "staged production in the style of old-time radio." It was packed with comedy podcast royalty and guests, including Paul F. Tompkins, Scott Aukerman, Scott Adsit, Paget Brewster, Wyatt Cenac, Busy Phillips, Zachary Levi, Jonathan Coulton, Paul and Storm, John Hodgman, Marc Evan Jackson, too many funny people to list if we're being perfectly serious as you can now see, and Dick "Yes, That Dick Cavett" Cavett. They performed radio plays about vampires, Martians, time travel, glamorous married people drinking to excess, robot hands, a succubus, and roving bands of invisible stupid wise men. The audience at Town Hall whooped and roared so unreservedly that a lady sitting near me kept sticking her fingers in her ears, overwhelmed.

In between, and all weekend, I read The Devil's Candy: The Anatomy Of A Hollywood Fiasco, Julie Salamon's 464-page, more than 20-year-old book – dishy, sad, and fascinating – about the making and flopping of Brian De Palma's film The Bonfire Of The Vanities. In the book, a project that begins with the conviction that adapting Tom Wolfe's novel can only result in the rare film both admirable and popular suffers wound upon wound: an unrealistic schedule, unrelenting industry gossip, a cynical casting change, location debacles (one involving a scene that couldn't be shot as planned in the Temple of Dendur), resistance in the Bronx to stereotypical depictions thereof, enormous egos coexisting about as successfully as a family of elephants in a college dorm room, and the fact that from the beginning, Wolfe's acidic outlook seems utterly incompatible with the desire – and, given the money being spent, the imperative – to make a hit.

At the museum, there is an ivory comb from the Egyptian Predynastic Period. Roughly 3200 B.C., they say. They suggest it might have been part of the accoutrements of someone's funeral more than 5000 years ago; more than 20 times the entire history of the country the museum is housed in. More than 115 times as long as I've been alive. The teeth of the comb are broken off; what remains is a little more than two inches tall and a little less than two inches wide, and those four square inches hold more than 20 individual renderings of animals. The carvings have symbolic significance, but they're also carefully and elegantly done, particularly on a piece so small. The comb played a role, perhaps, in an important ritual, but it's also a beautiful object, like many of the drums and bowls and pieces of blown glass.

The piece was, then, meant to be an offering of the artist's skills, to convey a meaning, to evoke an emotion, and to bring pleasure. So was The Bonfire Of The Vanities. So was The Thrilling Adventure Hour.

Those aren't the only purposes to which these other works are being put: the film was also engineered to make money, of course, perhaps cripplingly so. The live show, while far less damned by its relationship to commerce, is part of the performers' livelihoods particularly in the broad sense, since many of them remain people whose projects might well be described using, at some point, the word "cult." It supports you, the cult, but only sometimes does it keep you in food and shelter. And it demands to be fed in return, of course.

The Bonfire Of The Vanities didn't just aspire to keep people in food and shelter; it aspired to keep people in mansions and private planes. What it doesn't have that The Thrilling Adventure Hour has is an animating love of the material. Everyone involved seemed to have assumed Wolfe's book was capital-G Great, whether or not they had read it, but they began excising its controversial elements – which in this case meant its essential elements – almost immediately. There was so much money, there were so many trailers, there was so much fake rain, there were so many gowns and extras ... but the way Salamon tells the tale, few of them were – maybe nobody was – there for love.


-----------------------

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, May 15, 2014 12:07 AM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink | Share This Post
Friday, August 9, 2013
DE PALMA ON 'BONFIRE'
"LOOKING BACK, I FIND IT A VERY SUCCESSFUL PICTURE"
Bullett Media's Joshua Sperling asked Brian De Palma to discuss "5 of his most unforgettable films." Of course, one of the five is his newest, Passion, still pretty unforgettable. However, the most interesting portion of the article has De Palma talking about his adaptation of Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire Of The Vanities, which De Palma had originally defended, but then in more recent years, seemed to have conceded to having made some mistakes with the film by altering the source novel. Now, more than 20 years after its release, De Palma tells Sperling that he finds his film successful, after all. Sperling himself states that Bonfire "now ranks as one of De Palma’s most underrated and exuberant studies of the absurd theater of American politics."

Here is what De Palma said to Sperling about the film: "The opening tracking shot was a very important way into the film. It took about 27 or 28 takes to get it right. The idea for the shot actually came from observing Truman Capote stumbling into parties completely drunk or drugged-up. I had been to a lot of those parties and I thought that’s how it should be for Bruce’s character: the voyage from the parking garage up through all the different strata of New York high society until his arrival at the huge palm garden of the World Trade Center. I started out making political comedies, caustic commentaries about the state of our society. The Bonfire of the Vanities felt like an extension of that. When I read the book I quite liked it. I thought it was an acerbic rendering of a particular madness going on in the ’80s. When I was adapting it I thought I should make the central banker character a little more sympathetic than he was in the book, and Tom [Hanks] was a good choice for that. But, of course, the film unnerved everybody because it wasn’t like the novel, which was, by then, a treasured icon of the New York literary scene. I changed things to make the film more palatable but they ended up upsetting a lot of people and it got very bad reviews. Looking back, I find it a very successful picture. It just isn’t the book."

M:I - "IT'S EXCITING TO HAVE A BLOCKBUSTER"
Another film discussed is Mission: Impossible. "This was the first film Tom [Cruise] ever produced," De Palma tells Sperling. "Because I’d produced a couple of pictures at that point, he and his partner Paula [Wagner] at times relied on my judgment. I remember that Tom was very responsive and straightforward. There were two very difficult scenes in the film: the CIA vault scene and the one atop the train. We had a jet engine creating the wind for the train sequence. You couldn’t stand up without being blown off. The shot where Tom does the flip, that’s really dangerous stuff for anyone to do. He did it twice for us, which was very brave. We were on top of that train for weeks and weeks. As for the CIA vault, that was my idea. I’d wanted to do an incredible action sequence that was completely silent. And then I had to think of all the things that could go wrong as the character tried to lower himself upside-down into this mythic vault. It was a sequence I thought about for months and months before I actually filmed it. Whatever people say, it’s always exciting to have a blockbuster. Everybody thinks you’re a genius for 30 seconds."

THE MEGALOMANIA OF AMERICAN SOCIETY
De Palma also talks about Carrie and Scarface. Of the latter, he tells Sperling, "Some people say this film is excessive—I disagree. The script was a direct report by Oliver [Stone] on the places he visited in Miami. He saw all the clubs, the coke on the tables. People were cutting each other up with chainsaws! We had a battle with the MPAA because they wanted to give it an X rating. We even had narcotics cops from Florida come to testify that people should see this film because it showed what was actually happening. On a deeper, thematic level, Scarface is about something that recurs in a lot of my films: the megalomania of American society that can lead to excessiveness, greed, and very cruel interplays between people who are desperate to stay on top. Wealth and power isolates you. Whether you’re Walt Disney or Hugh Hefner, you create a bubble around yourself. It’s that old cliché: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Pacino conveyed that perfectly. He kept his Cuban accent, on- and off-set. His sidekick in the film, Steven Bauer, was Cuban, so they were constantly speaking in that accent during the shoot. There are a lot of quotable moments in the film but my favorite is, ‘Every day above ground is a good day.’"


Posted by Geoff at 12:53 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, August 9, 2013 5:55 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink | Share This Post
Sunday, April 21, 2013
VIDEO: DE PALMA INTERVIEW FROM 1990
DISCUSSES "HYPERREAL LOOK" OF 'BONFIRE', AND SAYS IT HAS SAME "SATIRIC THRUST" AS HIS EARLIER FILMS SUCH AS 'HI, MOM!' & 'RABBIT'

Posted by Geoff at 10:33 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Friday, August 17, 2012
'BONFIRE' ON BLU-RAY NOVEMBER 6



Posted by Geoff at 6:21 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Thursday, May 31, 2012
SALAMON TO SPEAK AFTER 'BONFIRE' SCREENING
JOURNALISM FILM SERIES AT NY PUBLIC LIBRARY FOR PERFORMING ARTS
Brian De Palma's The Bonfire Of The Vanities will screen at 6:30pm Thursday June 28th, as part of the film series, "All the News That's Fit to Screen." The series, which celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the New York Public Library's Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism, will be presented every Thursday from tonight through June 28 at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Journalist Julie Salamon, author of the book The Devil's Candy, which details the behind-the-scenes happenings during the making of Bonfire, will participate in a Q&A after the screening. The series kicked off tonight with Billy Ray's Shattered Glass. The other films are George Stevens' Woman Of The Year (June 7), Alexander Mackendrick's Sweet Smell of Success (June 14), and Marina Goldovskaya's A Bitter Taste of Freedom (June 21).

Posted by Geoff at 8:13 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
'BONFIRE' SCREENING & DISCUSSION TONIGHT
AS PART OF GLOBAL ECONOMIC FILM SERIES AT NEW YORK'S BUFFALO STATE COLLEGE

Brian De Palma's The Bonfire Of The Vanities will screen tonight at New York's Buffalo State College. The screening is part of a film series, "Crisis!", that "explores the global economic crisis." The series runs on select Tuesdays spread throughout the school's spring 2012 semester. There will be a panel discussion following the film, which will include "experts from Buffalo State’s faculty and the community," according to the Burchfield Penney Art Center's web site, which adds, "Audiences can expect a broad spectrum of views, as we aim to stimulate lively discussion and debate." The site further describes tonight's film screening:

In the 1980s, the obscure business of the bond trader suddenly became a new center of economic, political and cultural power. Yuppie financiers fancied themselves “masters of the universe” as their pay, their privileges and their partying reached heights not seen since the 1920s. Yet right up the street from this new zone of excess risk and empowered irresponsibilty, persistent poverty shaped the lives of millions. Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman star in this Hollywood version of Tom Wolfe’s piercing social satire of the excesses of Wall Street’s new era. Or at least its early days.

Upcoming films in the series include three documentaries and a drama: Alex Gibney's Client 9, Charles Ferguson's Inside Job, Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story, and Oliver Stone's Wall Street. Previously this semester, the series screened Orson Welles' Citizen Kane and Alan J. Pakula's Rollover.


Posted by Geoff at 6:44 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, March 4, 2012 9:44 AM CST
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
ALEXANDER PAYNE QUOTES BRIAN DE PALMA
YEARS AGO, ALAN RUDOLPH RECITED THE SAME QUOTE
Alexander Payne, Oscar-nominated earlier today as director of The Descendants, was interviewed last week by Little White Lies' Adam Woodward. Payne got into a good discussion about how the seven-year gap came about between his last film, Sideways, and his latest (he's been busy, it's just that the project he'd been spending most of his time developing hasn't quite gotten off the ground yet). Later in the interview, Payne talks about convincing the studio to allow him to make his next film, Nebraska, in black-and-white. When Woodward asks him if he can see how a film like The Artist might be a hard sell to a studio, Payne replies, "Sure, but my obligation to the studio is to be honest and to tell them, at all times, what I think a cool movie would be. My job is to see things that your research studies and your financial models cannot see. I have X-ray vision." Eventually, this discussion leads Payne to quote Brian De Palma:

Woodward: No one’s a sure bet though?

Payne: True. It’s often about compromise. I’m able to make this black-and-white movie because the studio has faith in me, but I’m having to do it with much less budget than I originally asked for had it been in colour. Little tip: it’s always worth over estimating the budget because there’ll always be cutbacks. This is now my fourth film in a row that will make money, so I do have that track record. They’re not huge hits by Hollywood standards, but they make money, so I get the benefit of the doubt more or less.

But you keep your budgets low, also.

Correct. Neat fact: I’ve never gone over budget or over schedule.

This is until you make the ‘big one’…

Bite your tongue. Brian De Palma, after [The] Bonfire of the Vanities, was quoted as saying, jokingly of course, ‘You’re nobody in Hollywood until you’ve brought a studio to its knees’.

Is it possible to recover from a major flop?

Maybe, but it’s hard. Michael Cimino had a hard time after Heaven’s Gate.

Is the fear of tanking motivating or crippling?

Anytime you have a movie that doesn’t do well, which [knocks table] I haven’t had so far, is always worrisome. But I think maybe if this one does well then people may think ‘Well even if he has a gap, he’s still got it’. Who knows…

ALAN RUDOLPH: "BRIAN DE PALMA SAID ONE OF THE GREATEST THINGS I'VE EVER HEARD"
Payne's De Palma quote above led me to Google the quote, and the only thing I came up with was this great article about Alan Rudolph's Trixie that was originally posted at About.com, but now only seems to be available at The Fabulous Brittany Murphy Fan Page. The article, by J. Sperling Reich, features interviews with Rudolph and Nick Nolte (among others) as their new movie, Trixie, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2000. In the following excerpt, Nolte leads into a discussion about the ironies of success and failure in Hollywood:

Nolte is surprised Rudolph ever had any doubt of his abilities as a filmmaker. "There isn't a thing he wants to do that he doesn't do," he said of Rudolph. "He does everything he wants to do. Now another brilliant director will complain, and will say, 'Well I wanted to do that but they wouldn't do it.' Well, to Alan, there is no 'they'. He just does it. He doesn't care about the arena, and the reason the other guys can't do it is because they care about the arena, not about the film."

Not all of Rudolph's seventeen films have been critically well received, and few have ever been big winners at the box office, a fact that Nolte shrugged off. "Failure is very important," he added. "I mean, Alan uses it as a metaphor, he says, 'I have never had a successful film, therefore I get to do anything I want'."

Rudolph began to laugh when he heard Nolte start in on this line of reasoning. He broke in before things got out of hand again, "We had a fun time one night at some festival, and Brian De Palma said one of the greatest things I've ever heard. He said, 'You're nothing until you've brought a studio to its knees'. And Nick said, 'You know why Alan's a success? Because he's never had any [success] and he doesn't need it. They think he's a failure, but he's a real success because he doesn't have to deal with that.' I don't know what success is. Success in Hollywood is if they think you are. I've left that game years ago. I can't imagine anybody more successful, maybe because I managed to figure out how to get my movies made. I must say, except for a few missteps early on, no one has ever told me what to do. I won't accept that. I've had more articles written about me. About, 'How the hell does this guy keep going?' Angry, jealous, bitter articles. Because it means I get to work with people like this. And I'm just starting to get good at this game inside."


Posted by Geoff at 8:40 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 8:44 PM CST
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink | Share This Post
Thursday, March 24, 2011
HELEN STENBORG PASSES AWAY
PORTRAYED SHERMAN'S MOTHER IN 'BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES'
Helen Stenborn, who played the mother of Sherman McCoy in Brian De Palma's film adaptation of Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire Of The Vanities, died Tuesday of cancer in her Manhattan home. She was 86. Stenborn was primarily a stage actor who appeared in supporting roles on Broadway, and was nominated for a Tony award in 1999 for her role in Noël Coward's Waiting In The Wings. Her role in Bonfire is small, but by casting a New York mainstay as the mother of the main character, De Palma added a certain gravitas of presence to his film.

New York Times obituary
Los Angeles Times obituary

Posted by Geoff at 12:20 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Thursday, December 23, 2010
CRISTOFER ON BONFIRE, 20 YEARS LATER
SAYS WB COMPLETELY UNDERMINED DE PALMA'S CASTING OF THE PICTURE

Michael Cristofer talked to Movieline's Mike Ryan this week as Brian De Palma's film of The Bonfire Of The Vanities turns 20. Cristofer, who tells Ryan that he managed to stay away from Julie Salamon's book about the making of the film, The Devil's Candy, cited two simple reasons for the film's demise: Warner Brothers' undermining of De Palma's casting, and the sudden demand two or three weeks prior to shooting that the great, detailed script he and De Palma had worked on had to be cut down from 180 pages (a three-hour film) to around 110 pages (a two-hour film). Here is what Cristofer had to say to Movieline regarding what went wrong with Bonfire Of The Vanities:

AS PROJECT BEGAN, WB AGREED ON THREE-HOUR FILM
Oh, it’s a very simple answer: When Brian De Palma and I were working on the script, Warner Brothers agreed that we would do a three-hour film. It was going to be a three-hour epic version of that book. I wrote a script that everyone around Hollywood and New York who read the script said that not only was it the best script that I had ever written, but it was one of the best screenplays ever written. And I say that humbly because it was Brian who really helped me a lot. I mean, we really worked closely on making that script. You know, he’s a genius. His IQ is like 160 or something. Really, it was a tough job and I had done a version of it and then Brian came on and then we really, really worked closely together. And he was storyboarding the whole script as we were writing it. I learned more about directing on that film then probably on any other film where I worked as a writer.

“And what happened was two things: Number one, Warner Brothers completely undermined Brian’s casting of the picture. I don’t remember who all of the people were meant to be. Tom [Hanks] was in, that was OK. But, you know, Bruce Willis, that part was supposed to be played by Michael Caine. There were other casting choices that Warner Brothers totally interfered with, and [the studio] threatened to throw Brian off of the picture if he didn’t comply.

And then, finally, like three weeks or two weeks before we started shooting, they gave us the news that the film had to be two hours. It had to be under two hours. So, what was a really terrific script, and what would have made probably a very good movie, ended up being edited down in the space of 48 hours. I mean, we just cut the sh*t out of the script. And, what happened, because of that, was it took on a kind of broader, cartoon sort of feel that just didn’t work. It just didn’t work. Because, you know, when you’ve got something that’s filled with detail and you take out all of the detail and make it shorter, it just got broader, broader, broader and broader.

“I think that’s what did it: It was 180 pages of script that we had to cut down to like 110. And we didn’t have the time to do it. There was no time do it. You know, we didn’t have four or five weeks, we had to do it overnight. I’ve actually never read the book that Salamon wrote, The Devil’s Candy. I’ve actually never read it because I manged to avoid her during the entire shoot. [Laughs] So I know a lot of other stuff went on, but the basic problem, that was it, as far as I was concerned. I look at it now and I realize the script is ruined, so the movie is ruined.”

Meanwhile, the blogger at MovieShlep thinks Bonfire Of The Vanities deserves a second look.


Posted by Geoff at 12:44 AM CST
Updated: Thursday, December 23, 2010 12:46 AM CST
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Sunday, January 10, 2010


Posted by Geoff at 1:44 PM CST
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post

Newer | Latest | Older