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a la Mod:

Domino is
a "disarmingly
work that "pushes
us to reexamine our
relationship to images
and their consumption,
not only ethically
but metaphysically"
-Collin Brinkman

De Palma on Domino
"It was not recut.
I was not involved
in the ADR, the
musical recording
sessions, the final
mix or the color
timing of the
final print."

Listen to
Donaggio's full score
for Domino online

De Palma/Lehman
rapport at work
in Snakes

De Palma/Lehman
next novel is Terry

De Palma developing
Catch And Kill,
"a horror movie
based on real things
that have happened
in the news"

Supercut video
of De Palma's films
edited by Carl Rodrigue

Washington Post
review of Keesey book


Exclusive Passion

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario


AV Club Review
of Dumas book


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De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


De Palma Community

The Virtuoso
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Carrie...A Fan's Site


No Harm In Charm

Paul Schrader

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Alfred Hitchcock Films

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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
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De Palma a la Mod

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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.
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Saturday, November 16, 2013
The Globe And Mail's James Adams has written an article headlined "The art of JFK: 10 works to remember." Introducing his list, Adams writes, "The President’s assassination and the events surrounding it have been a fount of inspiration for artists (and ‘artists’) of all stripes in the past five decades. Herewith some examples of their insinuation into the warp and woof of popular culture." Amidst works by Andy Warhol, Don DeLillo, and Lou Reed, Adams includes the Zapruder film itself ("the 26-second precedent-setter for the 'convulsive beauty' of Bonnie and Clyde, The Wild Bunch, Taxi Driver and Scanners", etc.), as well as Brian De Palma's Blow Out.

"Films have feasted heartily on the assassination," Adams writes of the latter, "using it as either direct inspiration or riff bait. Blow Out’s one fun, heady concatenation, at once a variation on Antonioni’s Blow-Up and an interpolation of the themes and events of JFK’s assassination with Ted Kennedy’s 1969 Golgotha at Chappaquidick. John Travolta stars as the Zapruder-like witness – except here it’s a microphone and tape-recorder, not a Bell & Howell camera, that make him one troubled man."

Posted by Geoff at 8:32 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, November 16, 2013 8:34 PM CST
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Friday, November 15, 2013
Brian De Palma's Passion will screen three times as part of the 27th edition of the Kinomania Film Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria. The festival, which opened last night with Lee Daniels' The Butler , continues through December 1st. Passion screens tonight, as well as November 17th and 28th.

The international festival this year includes tributes to Federico Fellini and Robert De Niro. The latter might as well double as a tribute to Martin Scorsese-- the four De Niro films being screened are Scorsese's Taxi Driver, New York, New York, Raging Bull, and The King Of Comedy. Other films in the festival include the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis, Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, and Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive.

Posted by Geoff at 6:32 PM CST
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Thursday, November 14, 2013
The Nashville Public Library's "Off The Shelf" blog featured William Chamberlain's interview with film editor Tina Hirsch on its "Legends Of Film" podcast last week. Hirsch appeared in Brian De Palma's Greetings and Hi, Mom!, so of course, Mr. Chamberlain, himself a big fan of De Palma's films, made sure to ask her a couple of related questions:

William Chamberlain: You had a small role in Brian De Palma’s Greetings that was quite humorous, with Gerrit Graham. Was it improvised?

Tina Hirsch: Yes and no. Brian and Chuck [Charles Hirsch], the producer and co-writer, wrote the scene. As originally written, Gerrit Graham was, you know, he played a Kennedy assassination buff, and he wants me to blow up a picture taken on the grassy knoll to prove that officer Tippet is Oswald’s accomplice. And that he’s hiding behind a tree. I was supposed to answer that if he blew it up, all you’d see is the grain. I mean a funny side story is that that literally was a studio in which I was working as a photographer’s assistant, and I actually blew up those shots that are shown at the end. I told Brian that I couldn’t say that line, that the movie Blow-Up was all about that. I didn’t feel comfortable saying it without crediting the other movie. So my answer became something like, “You’re not going to be able to see anything. I’ve seen Blow-Up, I know how this turns out. You’re not going to see anything but grain the size of golf balls.” Years later, Pauline Kael, the movie critic for the New Yorker, quoted the line as one of Brian’s great citations. [Laughing] But, in fact, I was the one who cited Blow-Up. That’s the way it goes.

Chamberlain: You worked also with Brian De Palma on Hi, Mom! [as well as] Greetings. Was he talking about or thinking about going to the thriller genre? Soon after that, he directed Sisters. And before he was directing sort of these social comedies. Was he discussing, “Well, maybe I should do a thriller," or of that line?

Hirsch: No, not really. I mean, the only thing that touches on that is that, you know, we all lived in New York at the time, and I remember having dinner over at his place at one point. And he and I were both sitting facing the window, where we were watching all of the activities going on in the buildings around us [begins laughing]. And the two other people with us were chatting. I mean, actually having conversation [laughs some more]. And he and I were just staring at windows. So, I think his voyeuristic tendencies might have been what got him into thrillers.


This is a good, interesting interview, running just under a half hour. Hirsch also talks about Woodstock, More American Graffiti, Mystery Date, Paul Bartel, and more.

Posted by Geoff at 6:12 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, November 14, 2013 6:15 PM CST
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Projection Booth yesterday posted a three-hour podcast centered around Brian De Palma's Blow Out, including new interviews with Nancy Allen, Dennis Franz, producer Fred C. Caruso, and Bill Mesce Jr., the latter having won the Take One magazine screenwriting contest for what was known at the time as Personal Effects. The first hour of the podcast features the show's hosts, Mike White and Rob St. Mary, discussing many facets of Blow Out with Jamey Duvall of Movie Geeks United. At about the 49-minute mark, the Mesce interview begins. Mesce says he was never a De Palma fan, but knew he was a stylist, so instead of focusing on plot, he wrote what he thought was a very De Palma-esque script. However, he laughs that with this one, De Palma decided to do a non-De Palma-esque movie. Ultimately, Mesce says, De Palma's film kept a few lines of his dialogue, and that the closest to an entire scene of his that was kept was when Sally goes to visit Manny in order to get the negatives of the photos he took.

The Fred Caruso interview begins around the 1:36 mark. Caruso tells the podcast that it was his idea to include the Mummers Parade in the film's final act, as well as the fireworks going off in the background. Caruso says there was a big question from the studio and producer George Litto about whether Nancy Allen's character should die at the end. But De Palma said, look, that's the ending. If they like it, fine, if not, so be it. He also mentions that De Palma drew his own storyboards and had his entire office filled with them, from the first scene to last.

The Nancy Allen interview begins around the 2:06 mark. She talks about the heart and warmth that John Travolta brought to what on the page was a very dark piece. She also talks about how she and editor Paul Hirsch thought Travolta had to save the girl, but "John and Brian said nope, that's not happening." She also talks about the remake of Carrie (which she doesn't seem to have seen at the time of the interview), saying she is not a fan of remakes. She doesn't see the point unless you can somehow make it better, and doesn't think that is possible with Carrie. She and Paul Verhoeven did a Q&A after a screening of Robocop last year, and when someone brought up the upcoming remakes of that film and last year's remake of his Total Recall, Verhoeven said, "It's very depressing. I should be dead." Allen laughed and said she really gets that. Allen also confirmed that it was really her scream in Blow Out.

At about the 2:42 mark, there is a conversation with Dennis Franz, who at first says he does not remember much about Blow Out, having only watched it once around the time it was first released. But after the host mentions some things, Franz begins to remember a little more, including the fact that it was shot in Philadelphia, where Franz met his future best friend, who happened to be De Palma's driver at that time. Franz recalls De Palma calling him as Dressed To Kill was in theaters, saying, "Looks like we have a hit on our hands." De Palma asked Franz if he was interested in a part in this new thing he was working on. After listing off some of the potential roles, De Palma laughed. "Why are you laughing?" Franz asked him. De Palma said he had this character named Manny Karp. Franz immediately said, "I'll take it. You're laughing about him, I like the name, I'll take it." Franz told the podcast that once De Palma starts a job, he crawls into his shell and focuses, while Allen, who De Palma was married to at the time, enjoyed being social and having people over, which weighed on De Palma a little bit after long days on the set.

Posted by Geoff at 12:55 AM CST
Updated: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 4:58 PM CST
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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Following up on Thursday's post about Chris Dumas' interview with The Fury author/screenwriter John Farris, here are some more excerpts:

Farris: "The film rights belonged to a Hollywood wannabe who was in the hotel business. I don't recall his name. Brian [De Palma] was attached to write the screenplay and direct and the project was set up at Paramount. Mike Eisner thought Brian's script needed work, although he was thrilled with the project, etc. I was brought in at Brian's suggestion. Read his draft, which I thought was excellent. I did a 30-page treatment, adding new angles but not straying far from the novel. Brian okayed the treatment. I did the new screenplay. Next thing I knew [Frank] Yablans was involved, took the project away from Paramount and gave it to Fox. There were heavy-duty politics involved in this move. But Fox passed and Brian was irate. For mnore on that story, you would have to talk to Brian. He never mentioned The Demolished Man to me again."

In the interview (which was conducted via e-mail), Dumas tells Farris, "A friend of mine -- a grad student in film studies at the time -- once had an opportunity to as Oliver Stone about De Palma; Stone replied that De Palma was 'the saddest person' he'd ever met. (I assume that by 'sad' he meant 'despondent,' rather than something like 'pathetic.') Did he strike you as a melancholy sort?"

Farris responds, "Brian was 36 when he made The Fury. I found him to be somewhat shy, not overly talkative but humorous and engaging when his guard is down, intensely observant but not judgmental, far too intelligent to be anything but annoyed by the Hollywood game, impatient with anything or anyone that caused him to lose focus. And, I think, disappointed that his career hadn't taken off like that of his friends Spielberg and Lucas. Friends, but rivals, in what Brian has referred to as 'The Competition'.

"A friend of mine since high school had played the female lead in Hi, Mom! and had briefed me on her experiences with him during filming. As a fledgling director he gave her a tough time. But he was younger then, and still unravelling the emotional knots of growing up in a prosperous but dysfunctional family. I'm not trying to psychoanalyze him. Adolescence wasn't paradise for most of us. But having heard from Brian about certain incidents in his early life, which are strictly his business and will not be related here, it's clear that they profoundly affected the direction, or trajectory if you will, his career has taken. For complex studies of where his fascination with, and terror of women has led him creatively, try watching Sisters, Dressed To Kill, and Raising Cain one after another.When Dumas asks how these things came up in the context of writing films together, Farris answers, "That grew out of discussions over lunches at Musso and Frank's, relevant to the script of The Fury and how much of the relationship between Gillian and her mom should be in the movie. Also there is something about me that often has near-strangers eager to talk about moments in their lives they wouldn't confess to a priest. Basically I guess I'm just a good and uncritical listener."

Dumas asks Farris what De Palma films he had seen prior to working on The Fury. "I had seen Sisters, Obsession and Carrie," replies Farris, "brilliant exercises in what can be done when you have almost no money to spend. Other than what my actress friend had told me about Hi, Mom! I didn't know anything about Brian's student-film years."

Dumas then continues, "Have you kept up with all of De Palma's movies since then? You mention Raising Cain, which I still think is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen, like Preston Sturges remaking Psycho -- did you have a similar reaction to it? I wonder what you thought of the particularly political ones, like Casualties Of War and Redacted and even Snake Eyes, and I especially wonder what you thought of Scarface, given its initial failure and its unprecedented second life on home video."

Farris then responds, "Scarface is my second-favourite De Palma movie, after The Untouchables. It has a near-hallucinatory quality, wonderful script and a visual flair to make any of his rivals in 'The Competition' envious. I also liked The Bonfire Of The Vanities. That one was a lose-lose situation for Brian, based as it was on an overhyped, revered 'masterpiece.' If you don't 'get' Brian, then you hate the movie. Pauline, where were you when he needed you?

"Casualties Of War is another good one. Haven't seen Redacted. As for Cain, I think it's a minor masterpiece waiting in the wings to be properly acknowledged by film scholars. The only movie Brian has made, and at a very stressful time, that is so obviously about himself."

Near the beginning of the interview, while telling Dumas how The Fury came together as a film project, Farris mentions another adaptation he and De Palma had been working on together. While working on the screenplay for The Fury between 1975 and 1976, Farris says, agent Bob Bookman "put me together with another client, Brian De Palma, to work on an adaptation of the Mary Higgins Clark best-seller Where Are The Children? which Brian was attached to direct. I spent a couple of months on a screenplay that would work. By then Brian was bored with the project. Carrie had been released and was a big success and he wanted something more challenging than a fairly mild mystery. 'What are you working on?' he asked me.

"So on January 17 we all met in Frank's office, agreed that day on Kirk Douglas as the lead, called him, and then the real work began. Seven drafts of the screenplay later, Brian began filming on a beach in Chicago."

Where Are The Children? was eventually made in 1986 by director Bruce Malmuth, with the screenplay credited to Jack Sholder. The film starred De Palma's friend, the late Jill Clayburgh, who had played the female lead in De Palma's first film, The Wedding Party. The plot/storyline synopsis on the IMDB has a similarity or two with the plot of De Palma's Femme Fatale, regarding a woman who loses her children (they are later found dead). After being convicted of their murder and then having that conviction overturned, the film moves ahead "seven years later," where the woman has changed her identity and hair color, and has a new life married to a realtor. One day she opens the newspaper and is stunned to see her picture in the local section.

SPOILER ALERT: Femme Fatale has a woman who has a premonition that she has assumed the identity of a look-alike who has committed suicide following the death of her child. The story moves ahead "seven years later" where a paparazzo takes her picture and it gets plastered in the streets of Paris, causing her to fear retribution from the thieves she had swindled in her earlier life.

Posted by Geoff at 2:14 AM CST
Updated: Sunday, November 10, 2013 2:57 AM CST
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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Posted by Geoff at 3:21 PM CST
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Thursday, November 7, 2013
The Arrow Video release of Brian De Palma's The Fury on Blu-Ray includes a booklet which has a new interview with John Farris, who wrote the Fury screenplay from his own novel. This great interview was conducted via e-mail by Chris Dumas, who also wrote a new essay for the booklet titled, "Who's Afraid Of John Cassavetes?" Farris tells Dumas that he came up with the idea to blow up Childress at the end of The Fury. When Dumas asks whether he and De Palma had discussed the ending of Antonioni's Zabriskie Point, Farris replies, "At the time we did The Fury, I hadn't seen it; I caught up to it years later. Brian never mentioned the movie to me."

While telling Dumas about changes from his novel, Farris mentions a song-and-dance couple: "As Brian worked on The Fury from his particular point of view, he requested changes, additional scenes, and eliminated other scenes, including those involving the old song-and-dance couple. I liked those characters but Brian was right: by that point in the movie they just got in the way. Another, later scene between Robin and his psychiatrist/lover in her bath was filmed but just didn't work."

When asked by Dumas whether the scenes involving the song-and-dance couple were ever filmed, Farris tells him, "Donald O'Connor and, I believe, Gloria De Haven were signed to play the song-and-dance couple and construction was underway on their apartment set when they were cut from the script, a few days before we began shooting in Chicago." Dumas further asks whether any test footage might have been shot, and Farris answers, "Test footage on O'Connor and Gray? I don't think anyone tested for The Fury. Brian knew who he wanted and what they could do."

Farris indicated above that he wasn't quite sure about who the female half of the song-and-dance couple was. According to Dumas, Farris had originally stated that the female was Dolores Gray, but just before the booklet went to press, Farris told him he was mistaken, and that it was actually De Haven. However, according to a 2005 article at Classic Images, it was Vivian Blaine. The Classic Images article also suggests that the scene with the couple may have been shot and then left on the cutting room floor.

"The Fury starring Kirk Douglas and made at Fox cast Donald O'Connor and Vivian as a song and dance movie team, similar to Marge and Gower Champion," writes Classic Images' Colin Briggs. "With a very gory horror plot, it was based on the best selling novel of the same name. When the film was previewed it was way too long and as their parts were expendable (they both meet an extremely gory end) their scenes were excised. Vivian's comments: 'My fans were disappointed but have them know, the pay was tops.'” (Thanks to Bill Fentum for sending in this article a while back!)

Farris also reveals a couple of cut/altered scenes, saying that the bus ride in the final act was originally written as a ferryboat ride across Lake Michigan (it was cut due to "budget and logistic considerations," according to Farris). "as for locations," Farris tells Dumas, "Brian wanted to do the beach scene in the Chicago Museum of Art. No Chance. As you know, the scene with Dunwoodie shadowing the girls and tuning into Gillian psychically he later adapted to great effect for Dressed To Kill. Dunwoodie's assassination and a nice overhead shot of his sprawled body with beachgoers walking around it were cut in editing." (Note: this sounds very much like the way the death scene of the former Castro confidante killed by Tony Montana in the refugee camp near the beginning of Scarface was staged and shot. The character's physical features suggest that this dying figure could have been played by Finley himself.)

There's a lot more great stuff in this interview. I'll do a second post about it tomorrow.

Posted by Geoff at 1:24 AM CST
Updated: Thursday, November 7, 2013 5:18 PM CST
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Tuesday, November 5, 2013
If you went DVD shopping today, Brian De Palma's Passion probably stood out amongst the other new releases, as the cover art was framed by its red plastic shell. Even the Blu-Ray edition is red instead of the usual blue. And to accentuate the lipstick color, the robe worn by Rachel McAdams in the film has been altered for the back cover (and the disc label-- see below) from green to red. Well, that's one way to help the product stand out amongst its competition.

Posted by Geoff at 11:00 PM CST
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Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise will be the first film to be screened by Miami's new Secret Celluloid Society. The society's screenings take place at the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In, where Phantom will play at 10pm on Friday, November 15th. The society's Nayib Estefan tells Shelly Davidov of Miami New Times that Phantom is "definitely an edgy movie. It mixes together glam rock, death rock, and a bunch of people ripped of[f] the look and makeup style of this movie, like Marilyn Manson."

Estefan added that in general, "We want to give a memorable experience to the patrons. We'll be doing things with musicians, playing live scores over movies, a lot of experimental stuff that will always be changing...We want to bring back a midnight event to Miami that hasn't been here for a long time." Not sure if that means anything special for the Phantom screening, but you never know.

Separate from the Secret Celluloid Society, the drive-in is partnering with Vice magazine to mark the 20th anniversary of De Palma's Scarface with a screening on December 7th, according to Davidov.

Posted by Geoff at 7:24 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 7:25 PM CST
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Posted by Geoff at 12:03 AM CST
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