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Recent Headlines
a la Mod:

Domino is
a "disarmingly
straight-forward"
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

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Exclusive Passion
Interviews:

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario

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AV Club Review
of Dumas book

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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.
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Monday, July 9, 2018
BRIAN DE PALMA WEEK AT TRAILERS FROM HELL
KICKS OFF TODAY WITH ALLAN ARKUSH ON 'CARRIE'
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/tfhcarrie.jpg

From Allan Arkush's Trailers From Hell commentary about Carrie:
Carrie was turned down by every studio because the male executives were put off by the now-iconic shower scene where Carrie has her first menstruation. But it got made because Marcia Nasatir, the first woman production executive, believed in the book, and in Brian De Palma.

Sissy Spacek was a method actor. She surrounded herself with religious icons, studied the Bible, and imagined being stoned to death for her sins. Piper Laurie had been out of the business for 15 years, and nonetheless, again, Marcia Nasatir insisted that she was perfect for the part.

De Palma's technical skills brought a visual sophistication to the high school horror genre. Split screens, diopters for deep focus, and spinning actors, lights, and camera for the celestial prom dance. There are heavily orchestrated crane shots inspired by Hitchcock, and the mother's death by flying cutlery is an homage to Kurosawa's Throne Of Blood. But battles with cowardly studio execs continued: "Pig's blood? Does it have to be pig's blood, Brian? How about confetti?"

On a $1.8 million dollar budget, it grossed $33 million. Roger Ebert wrote that it was "absolutely spellbinding." Every male UA exec claimed it was their project. Marcia Nasatir went on to develop Coming Home and Rocky. Then, there is the last scare-- Carrie's ultimate revenge. Sissy Spacek insisted that it be her hand, and she'd be buried in the grave. The audience is still screaming.


Previously:
Femme Fatale at Trailers From Hell

Posted by Geoff at 11:57 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, July 10, 2018 12:41 AM CDT
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Sunday, July 8, 2018
WAGNER MOURA CAST AS LEAD IN 'SWEET VENGEANCE'
BRAZILIAN NEWSPAPER REVEALS, SAYS START DATE IS JAN 2019, SCREENPLAY BY DE PALMA
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/wagnermoura.jpgWagner Moura has been cast as the lead in Brian De Palma's Sweet Vengeance, according to O Globo's Lauro Jardim, who posted the news today. Moura is known for his role as Pablo Escobar on the Netflix series Narcos, as well as for Elite Squad, which was directed by José Padilha, who is also a producer of Narcos and directed the first two episodes of that series. Sweet Vengeance, which is being produced by Brazilian Rodrigo Teixeira, will be set in the U.S., but will be filmed in Montevideo, Uruguay. According to Jardim, the original screenplay is written by De Palma, and the film will begin shooting in January 2019. Previous reports had suggested a ten-week shoot that would begin in November.

Sweet Vengeance, which will be shot by José Luis Alcaine, is a thriller based on two real-life murders that De Palma has melded into one contemporary murder story. De Palma has mentioned that with this film, he is interested in the way television presents stories of true crime. He has also mentioned that he is designing an elaborate drone shot.

Previously:
Alcaine to shoot De Palma's Sweet Vengeance
Sweet Vengeance to frontline two international leads, male & female
De Palma designing complex drone shot for new film


Posted by Geoff at 6:38 PM CDT
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Thursday, July 5, 2018
ANTWERP SUMMER FILM SCHOOL ON DE PALMA JULY 9-14
FOLLOWED BY 2ND SERIES IN ROTTERDAM JULY 18-22; ADRIAN MARTIN & CHRISTINA ALVAREZ LOPEZ
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/zomer2018.jpgLast March, I posted about the upcoming Summer Film School Rotterdam, running July 18-22, with lectures and screenings of five Brian De Palma features all presented by Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin.

What I missed is that, the week prior to that, there is another Summer Film College in Antwerp (July 9-14), this one including six De Palma films and lectures, all, again, presented by Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin (with two extra films bookending the series: Carlito's Way and Scarface, sans lecture). That series is titled, " BRIAN DE PALMA: VISION, OBSESSION AND SET-UP." Here is the schedule of De Palma films in Antwerp:
July 9
Sisters (1972, 93’, 35mm) - De Palma’s Beginnings: Art, Music and the Counter-Culture
Carlito's Way (1993, 144', 35mm) - Introduction by Adrian Martin & Cristina Álvarez López

July 10
Dressed To Kill (1980, 105', 35mm) - The Hitchcockian Model and its Variations

July 11
Blow Out (1981, 107’, 35mm) - Vision and Sound: The Complex Machine

July 12
Raising Cain (1992, 92', 35mm) - Story, Identity and Point-of-View

July 13
Femme Fatale (2002, 115', 35mm) — The Dream-Film: De Palma’s Testament

July 14
Passion (2012, 102', 35mm) — The Langian Model: Narrative and Society as Trap
Scarface (1983, 169’, 35mm)


Summer Film School Rotterdam

July 18 — De Palma’s Beginnings: Art, Music and the Counter-Culture
Phantom of the Paradise (1974, 92’, DCP)
July 19 — The Hitchcockian Model and its Variations
Obsession (1976, 98’, DCP)
July 20 — Vision and Sound: The Complex Machine
Carrie (1976, 98’, DCP)
July 21 — Story, Identity and Point-of-View
Body Double (1984, 114’, DCP)
July 22 — The Langian Model: Narrative and Society as Trap
The Black Dahlia (2006, 121’, 35mm) 

 



Posted by Geoff at 6:23 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, July 5, 2018 6:31 PM CDT
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Wednesday, July 4, 2018
ALCAINE TO SHOOT DE PALMA'S 'SWEET VENGEANCE'
DE PALMA'S 3RD STRAIGHT COLLAB w/LENSER, FOLLOWING 'PASSION' & 'DOMINO'
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/alcaineunspecified.jpg

José Luis Alcaine, currently shooting Pedro Almodóvar's latest film, Pain & Glory, will be the cinematographer on Brian De Palma's Sweet Vengeance, a U.S-set thriller that will shoot in Uruguay for about ten weeks beginning this November. This will be the third straight De Palma film to be shot by Alcaine, following Passion and the yet-to-be-released Domino. Alcaine mentioned the new project at the Cannes Film Festival this past May during an interview with Manu Yáñez Murillo for the current July/August 2018 issue of Film Comment. Alcaine states he will shoot the film with De Palma in October, but the project has since been announced with a November start date.

HOW DIGITAL HAS CHANGED THE WAY DIRECTORS WORK
In the interview, Alcaine mentions Sweet Vengeance while discussing how digital technology has changed his work:

Most of all, the digital revolution has changed the way that directors work. There's a famous memo in which David O. Selznick warned King Vidor not to do more than five takes of each shot while filming Duel in the Sun. Today, thanks to the low cost of digital technology, one can shoot countless takes, and with several cameras! Many movies are shot with three, four, or even eight cameras. That destroys any notion of the director's point of view. There are still directors who shoot with only one camera, such as Asghar, Pedro, or Brian De Palma, with whom I'll shoot Sweet Vengeance in October. But there are directors who have no idea what they're going to edit while they're shooting. They use three or four cameras and the end result looks like a television broadcast.

"TOO MANY MOVIES NOW ARE LIKE BABY FOOD"
Alcaine was at Cannes for the premiere of Asghar Farhadi's Everybody Knows, and Yáñez Murillo begins the interview by asking Alcaine how he contributed to Farhadi's vision in the film:
Rather than national identity, I was focused on doing justice to the narrative complexity and the choral structure of the film through the image, something that is not very common in contemporary cinema. Many film directors today come from the advertising or television worlds, and when they shoot, they're thinking in small screen terms. They tend to employ open diaphragms that drive the viewer's attention toward one character, leaving everything else out of focus. The resulting image can be very beautiful, with an impressionistic touch, but for me that means stealing something from the viewer. Cinema ahould invite the audience to embark on an active experience, but too many movies now are like baby food, where everything's ground up, simplified, so the viewer can consume it and forget it easily. In Everybody Knows, there are many shots of an entire family sitting at a table or at a party, with all the characters in focus, so the viewer can choose who and what subplot to focus on.

You seem to advocate for a cinema open to the ambiguous nature of reality.

There's a great book that was written 50 years ago, Hitchcock/Truffaut, which is wonderful but had a side effect. At one point, Hitchcock claims that, at the beginning of every shoot, he has the entire movie already visualized in his head. In my opinion, that presupposes that the movie has no life of its own. When dealing with emotions, some movies, like Everybody Knows, find their form along the way thanks to the collaboration between the director, the actors, the DP, and the rest of the crew. That's the life of a film.


Previously:
Alcaine: "Digital brings me closer to painting"
Alcaine focuses on the life of each movie

Posted by Geoff at 4:35 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 4, 2018 4:41 PM CDT
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Tuesday, July 3, 2018
PODCAST FLASHBACK - HUNTER LURIE TALKS DE PALMA
LURIE, WHO PASSED AWAY YESTERDAY AT 27, DISCUSSING 'RAISING CAIN' & 'MISSION TO MARS'
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/tweethunterlurie.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 11:29 PM CDT
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Friday, June 29, 2018
OZON - 'I REALLY LIKE DE PALMA'S FEARLESSNESS'
"HE'S NOT EVEN AFRAID OF BAD TASTE, NOT AFRAID TO GO FURTHER"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/ozondepalmafearlessness.jpgFrançois Ozon's Double Lover was released on Blu-ray and DVD last week-- if you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it: a boldly stylish sexual thriller with some truly audacious images. The discs include a 17-minute interview with Ozon and lead actress Marine Vacth, conducted by Richard Peña at the Quad Cinema in New York. When Peña asks how Ozon became interested in adapting a novel by Joyce Carol Oates, Ozon replies:

"I've long read and been a fan of Joyce Carol Oates. Once, an article said even she had a double-- she wrote detective novels under pseudonym. I was very surprised. I wanted to see what she wrote. I finally found this book of hers, Lives of the Twins, translated as L'Amour en double (Double love). I read it as the perfect material for a psychological sexual thriller, a vintage Hitchcock or Brian De Palma. So, I got started working on it, and then learned that the rights were taken, so I stopped. Years later, my producer said the rights were available again, they were in the U.S. I worked and developed the adaptation. I changed a few things, preserving the toxic, perverse, and sexual spirit of Joyce Carol Oates."

Later on in the interview is the following exchange:

Peña: Were there other films that were coursing through your mind while you were making this film? Because it seems to me there are a number of different references, conscious or otherwise...

Yes, certain images do come to you working on a psycho-sexual thriller. First, yes, there's Hitchcock, my favorite filmmaker. I watch him regularly-- a master of narrative and also of manipulation. So, certainly, there are references to him. The same goes for Brian De Palma. He too replays along Hitchcock's lines. So, I fall in that line of art. As a filmmaker, I really like Brian De Palma's fearlessness. He's not even afraid of bad taste, not afraid to go further. He gets deep into his subject, in... in an extreme way. He has a very visual form. There's work behind it. I thought that this film, this story, would give me formal freedom.


Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, June 30, 2018 12:01 AM CDT
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Thursday, June 28, 2018
'PSYCHO' & 'SISTERS' DOUBLE BILL TONIGHT IN SAN FRAN
G. ALLEN JOHNSON: SISTERS SHOWED GLIMPSE OF KIDDER'S "POTENTIAL THAT THEN SEEMED UNLIMITED"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/castrosisters2018.jpgTonight'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 [28].

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.


Posted by Geoff at 7:23 PM CDT
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Monday, June 25, 2018
UPDATE - 'SWEET VENGEANCE' TO SHOOT NOV '18 - FEB '19
CASTING NOW, MAJOR MALE & FEMALE LEADS, U.S.-SET THRILLER TO FILM IN URUGUAY


El País' Pablo Staricco reported yesterday that Brian De Palma will arrive in Uruguay sometime in November to begin shooting his new thriller Sweet Vengeance. According to a June 26 article by La Diaria's Débora Quiring, the shoot, said to be 4-10 weeks, will last through February 2019 in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, and the east coast of the country. Sweet Vengeance is inspired by two true murder stories, and although it will be shot in Uruguay, it will be set in the United States. Two "front-line" international actors will play the male and female leads, according to Oriental Features' Santiago López and Diego Robino, although they could not yet reveal the actors' names, as casting and talks are still in progress. Quiring's article adds that some secondary roles and extras will be filled out by Uruguayan and regional actors.

"For 30 or 40 years," De Palma told the press in Paris earlier this month, "I have seen a number of true stories of crimes presented on television, as in the program 48 Hours. I'm interested in how they tell the story of the crime, so I'll do it the way they do it on television, based on two real cases."

Oriental Features, a division of Oriental Films, is the Uruguayan production company in charge of filming, in collaboration with Rodrigo Teixeira of RT Features from Brazil, and De Palma's own team. Here's more from Staricco's article, with Google-assisted translation:

The new project of the American director, who recently completed his last film Domino, reached the Uruguayans by the hand of Teixeira. The Brazilian, who has independent films such as Frances Ha, The Witch and the Oscar-Winner Call Me By Your Name, previously worked with Oriental Features on the filming of the series The Hypnotist (HBO), as well as the films The Silence Of The Sky and Severina.

Teixeira told the Uruguayans, two years ago, that he planned to produce the new De Palma film. After an intense search of locations, López and Robino managed to position Uruguay as the best place to shoot Sweet Vengeance. The inspection of the places was done with an assistant director of the filmmaker.

Robino described that search for locations as a "very strong" process. "There were very specific things that had to look like another place different from the Uruguayan architectural landscape," said the producer, under the halo of secrecy that surrounds all cinematographic projects in their initial stages. It will be filmed in Montevideo and in the east.

Of the plot of Sweet Vengeance it is known that it is based on two real crimes that took place in the United States, and its story will be set in that country. "It's a contemporary film," said Robino. De Palma "unites these crimes and builds a thriller under his own stamp," he added.

"It grabs us solid," López said about the challenge after reviewing the recent work of the producer, which includes the latest film by Federico Veiroj, "El cambista" ("It's spectacular", the producer said); and the Argentinean "El motoarrebatador" -which was premiered at the Cannes Festival- and "El otro hermano", by the Uruguayan Israel Adrián Caetano.

In addition, this will not be the first time that Oriental Features is under the command of a renowned director. In December of 2017 the producer filmed, during a weekend, part of the movie The Pope, of Netflx, directed by Fernando Meirelles (City of God) and which was photographed by the Uruguayan César Charlone. That creative duo had brought, in 2007, the shooting of Blindness, which had Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo filming in Montevideo.

With their future work with De Palma, Robino and López hope to continue opening the doors of Uruguay to the world of international cinema. They recognized that the challenge is great and that the director is not known to maintain a calm climate in his sets.

The pre-production will start in November, but both producers said they are ready. "It will be complex and to that we must add that it is Brian De Palma," said López. "It is a demand that we must have without hesitation."


Previously:
De Palma designing complex drone shot for new film

Posted by Geoff at 3:15 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, June 26, 2018 7:11 PM CDT
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Friday, June 22, 2018
VIDEO LINK - DE PALMA DISCUSSES 'CASUALTIES OF WAR'
AT CINEMATHEQUE MASTERCLASS EARLIER THIS MONTH - CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LINK
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/artemasterclassjune2018.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 8:16 AM CDT
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Sunday, June 17, 2018
MARTIN BREGMAN DIES AT 92
PRODUCER OF 'SCARFACE' & 'CARLITO'S WAY' HAD LONG ASSOCIATION WITH AL PACINO


Martin Bregman, producer of the great Al Pacino/Brian De Palma collaborations Scarface and Carlito's Way, died Saturday of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 92.

Bregman discovered Al Pacino in an Off Broadway play. "I think it was The Indian Wants the Bronx, one of the early plays by Israel Horovitz in the late ’60s," Bregman's son, Michael Bregman (a co-producer on Carlito's Way) tells Deadline's Mike Fleming Jr. Bregman signed Pacino and became his personal and business manager. At various times throughout his career, Bregman also managed Alan Alda, Barbra Streisand, Woody Allen, Faye Dunaway, Candice Bergen and Bette Midler.

According to a Variety obit by Carmel Dagan:

Bregman nurtured Pacino as the actor built his stage and then his film career, helping Pacino land his first starring role in a feature, 1971’s “Panic in Needle Park,” for which the actor beat out Robert De Niro.

Building film projects around the young Pacino, Bergman produced his first films in 1973’s “Serpico” and 1975’s “Dog Day Afternoon,” both memorably starring the actor [and both directed by Sidney Lumet]. The two would later reteam for 1983’s “Scarface,” 1989’s “Sea of Love” and 1993’s “Carlito’s Way.”


Pacino has always believably stated that a remake of Scarface was his idea to begin with. However, Bregman told Ken Tucker, author of Scarface Nation, that the idea "was mine. The concept was to do a film about the rise and fall of an American gangster, or the rise and fall of an American businessman. Or somebody with power. And that's what [excited] the audience for this. If you go into the hip-hop world, they consider it a story about coming up-- do you know what 'coming up' means? Coming from nothing. Which, let's face it, most of the people in this country-- in this world-- come from nothing. We weren't all blessed with rich fathers."

Talking to Tucker about changing the story from Chicago to Miami, Bregman said, "It was Sidney Lumet's idea. When I first went to Sidney, with whom I disagreed later on a political issue, in the initial discussion, he had a great idea. Sidney said, 'Well, liquor is no longer outlawed, there's no such thing as Prohibition, and why don't you look into the cocaine world,' which at the time was reaching epidemic proportions as an illegal import into the country, and largely through ports in southern Florida. And that was it. That was a brilliant idea of his."

More from Tucker's Scarface Nation:

While completing the editing of Blow Out, De Palma was approached by producer Martin Bregman about remaking Hawks's Scarface with Pacino as its star. De Palma was intrigued by Bregman's idea-- which at that point was Scarface as a period piece, set during the early 1930s-- and began working on a script with the playwright David Rabe. (De Palma had collaborated with Rabe off-Broadway, in a revival of the 1971 play The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, and on an early version of Prince of the City, which, with a different script, would eventually be directed by Sidney Lumet.)

But De Palma and Rabe never found a way to do the story that pleased them, and so they bowed out of Bregman's project, which the producer then took to-- in a tidy coincidence-- Sidney Lumet. Bregman paired Lumet with Oliver Stone. "I brought Stone in," Bregman told me. "I'd known him for years. I'd once optioned a script he'd written that I couldn't get anyone to make and that film was Platoon." (Ah, the ones that get away, eh?)

"Oliver was a wonderful writer and had experienced the ups and downs of cocaine. I'm not telling you anything out of school, because he'd tell you the same thing." And indeed Stone has, to me and in numerous interviews...

Stone's druggy days are, even in his own mind, legion. "I'll admit that cocaine kicked my ass. It's one of the things that beat me in life," he's said. "Cocaine took me to the edge."

Stone ticks off this era of his filmography as something of a pharmaceutical event: "Conan was written on cocaine and downers. The drug period was from Conan through The Hand, and into my research for Scarface.

Stone seized on Lumet's idea to transform Scarface from a '30s Chicago gangster to an '80s Cuban immigrant-turned-gangster. "Scarface grew out of this Lumet idea of the Marielitos coming to America, the brazenness, the drug trade, making it big, taking over from the old Cuban mob." Stone has said, "The Marielitos at the time had gained a lot of publicity for their open brazenness. The Marielitos were the 'crazies.' They were deported by castro in 1981 to America... it was perceived he was dumping all the criminals into the American system. According to the police enforcement in Miami Beach, they were the poorest people, the roughest people in the prisons, who would kill for a dollar. How could you get this outlandish, operatic character inside an American, contemporary framework?... That was the artistic challenge."

Stone did a lot of first-person research "in Florida and the Caribbean. I had been in South America [and] I saw quite a bit of the drug trade from the legal point of view as well as the gangster point of view... There's no law down there; they'll just shoot you in your hotel room. It got hairy; it gave me all this color. I wanted to do a sun-drenched, tropical, Third World gangster, sexy Miami movie."

Bregman told me that he, too, went with Stone on some of these expeditions: "We spent a good deal of time in Florida. Pretty much everything I saw was in the film. The way the big drug lords were depicted were [as] very successful businessmen, and their business was cocaine."

Stone lit out for Paris to complete the script. "I moved to Paris and got out of the cocaine world," he told Creative Screenwriting. "I was an addictive personality. I did it... to where I was stale mentally... I moved to Paris to try and get into another world... and I wrote the script totally fucking cold sober."

But when Stone turned in his script, Lumet balked, considering Stone's work florid, melodramatic, and simplistic-- more the blueprint for an exploitation film than the movie of ideas that Lumet had envisioned. He wanted to explore the politics and human plight of an immigrant who is forced by circumstance into crime. Stone says, "Sidney did not understand my script, whereas Bregman wanted to continue in that direction with Al."

Bregman put it to me more bluntly: "When I had completed the script"-- these producers, they take credit for everything, don't they?-- "Pacino wanted Sidney, okay? I had made two successful films with Lumet and Al, Dog Day Afternoon and Serpico, so I wasn't opposed to that. Sidney's a good director, and in my discussions with him, that's how the whole liquor [theme] changed to cocaine. But then Sidney said, 'I have a problem with this script. The problem is it's not political enough. I see the Reagan administration being heavily involved in the cocaine world.' Which is a crock of shit. There was nothing political about [the cocaine trade]-- it was a business."

For his part, Lumet says that he objected to "the corny elements" in the script, specifically the sentimental portrayal of Tony's mother and sister. "I also wanted to introduce political ramifications, exploring the CIA's involvement of drugs as part of their anti-Communist drive. I didn't want to do it on just a gangster or cop level. As it stood, it was a comic strip."

"And I wasn't about to do anything that would indict [then-President] Reagan, over something he had nothing to do with," retorts Bregman. "He wasn't involved in the cocaine world. At that point I said to Sidney, 'We're talking about a different film. Go make it. It's not this film.' So we separated.

As far as Lumet's dismissal of the script as cartoonish is concerned, Bregman has been quoted by writer Andrew Yule as saying, "De Palma and I had no intention of making a comic strip. We wanted to give the whole thing a larger-than-life, operatic quality." The italics [underlined] are Yule's; the "operatic" is, as I've said, the adjective that will be used by all principals in this production to give a high-culture gloss to its grand-grunge melodrama.


Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, June 18, 2018 1:37 AM CDT
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