G. ALLEN JOHNSON: SISTERS SHOWED GLIMPSE OF KIDDER'S "POTENTIAL THAT THEN SEEMED UNLIMITED"
Tonight's double feature at The Castro Theatre in San Francisco has Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (at 7pm) followed by Brian De Palma's Sisters (at 9pm). San Francisco Chronicle's G. Allen Johnson says the latter screening allows viewers to glimpse the then-seemingly unlimited potential of Margot Kidder, who passed away last month:
No offense to Amy Adams, Teri Hatcher or the great Noel Neill, but Margot Kidder will always be my Lois Lane.
With her death last month — too soon at age 69 — another piece of my childhood was consigned to history.
The truth is, the Canadian-born Kidder’s career was both elevated and burdened by Lois Lane. She became famous, and the four “Superman” films she made with Christopher Reeve were her biggest, yet at the same time her promising career hit a speed bump (Karen Allen had a similar experience after “Raiders of the Lost Ark”).
Her potential is obvious in 1972’s “Sisters,” Brian De Palma’s early foray into Alfred Hitchcock’s turf, which plays — along with Hitchcock’s “Psycho” — at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco on Thursday, June .
Kidder plays Danielle Breton, a French-Canadian fashion model who has a night of drinking and passion with Philip (Lisle Wilson), whom she met on a “Candid Camera”-like game show. They are harassed on their date by her ex-husband, Emil (the creepy William Finley), but end up spending the night together at her place on Staten Island.
In the morning, however, things take a shocking turn when Philip is stabbed to death by Danielle’s separated Siamese twin sister, Dominique (also Kidder).
The murder is witnessed through a window by a neighbor, newspaper reporter Grace Collier (Jennifer Salt). But after a quick clean-up of the crime scene by Emil, Grace has trouble convincing detectives that she saw a murder. She hires a private eye (Charles Durning) to prove it.
Although Salt, who appeared with Kidder in De Palma’s earlier “Hi Mom!” (1970), has more screen time, it is Kidder who makes the big impression, with a complicated performance (or performances, if you like) that calls for both vulnerability and ferociousness, sanity and full-out bat-crazy.
With a score by Hitchcock regular Bernard Hermann and elements of “Psycho,” “Rear Window” and “Vertigo,” “Sisters” is a film buff’s delight.
Kidder would go on to make another cult horror film in Canada, Bob Clark’s “Black Christmas,” an IRA drama “A Quiet Day in Belfast” that won Kidder best actress at the Canadian film awards, and a nice turn as Robert Redford’s on-again, off-again girlfriend in “The Great Waldo Pepper,” her first role in a big Hollywood film.
Kidder’s biggest non-“Superman” box-office success was the 1979 supernatural thriller “The Amityville Horror,” and there were also quality performances in films such as “Willie & Phil,” “Heartaches” and “Trenchcoat,” but she never achieved A-list status and quality offers dried up even before her last turn as Lois Lane in 1987’s “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.”
“Sisters,” though, provides a glimpse of a talent and potential that then seemed unlimited.