2021 ILLUSTRATION BY MIKE PAPPA
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From a 16-Bit 4K Scan of the Original Camera Negative!
Dressed to Kill (1980) Starring Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Keith Gordon & Dennis Franz – Shot by Ralf D. Bode (Saturday Night Fever) – Music by Pino Donaggio (Body Double) – Written & Directed by Brian De Palma (Carrie, The Untouchables).
Special Guests: Joseph Aisenberg, Nancy Allen, William Katt, Piper Laurie, Joe Maddrey
Guest Co-Hosts: Jamey Duvall, Keith Gordon
We’re wrapping up #Shocktober 2021 with a look at Brian De Palma's Carrie (1976). Based on the novel by Stephen King, the film stars Sissy Spacek as the titular Carrie White. She’s a young woman who’s lived under her mother’s thumb and religious fervor. When she experiences her first period, she also experiences a new ability to move objects with her mind.
Keith Gordon and Jamey Duvall join Mike to discuss the film. Interviews include Piper Laurie, William Katt, Nancy Allen, Joseph Aisenberg (Studies in the Horror Film: Carrie), and Joe Maddrey (Adapting Stephen King: Volume 1, Carrie, 'Salem's Lot and The Shining from Novel to Screenplay).
Who were you closest with on set? Was it Nancy Allen [again, she played Chris], since most of your scenes were with her?
Yeah, Nancy and I are still really, really good friends. And we were very close [on set]. I was always trying to steer her away from having a crush on Brian. Didn’t work — she married him! And got divorced [Laughs.] But I tried to warn her, I said, “Why are you doing this? Look, he’s got that look on his face, like he’s enjoying all this. There’s a sadistic guy in there.” [Pretending to be Nancy], “Oh, he’s so cute.” No, Nancy, no! I was also close to Betty Buckley [who played Miss Collins], she actually had been a previous girlfriend of Brian’s. And she didn’t know how to drive and I had a blue pickup truck, and Brian asked if I would pick her up every day at the Chateau Marmont and bring her to the set. And so I’d go by every day and pick up Betty, who would pull down the visor and put on makeup. And I’d go, “It’s 6 a.m., Betty, we’ll be in makeup in like half an hour. What are you doing?” She’d go, “Brian’s gonna see me, I want to look my best!” I’d go, “Brian? He’s not even gonna look at us. We’re gonna go right to makeup.”
So Brian was the set stud?
Well, I wouldn’t say that. I think Nancy had a crush on him and Betty was an ex-girlfriend. She was nervous about how he was going to do away with her character, that’s all she would talk about. Because it wasn’t specified in the script. It said, like, “chaos in the gymnasium” and then it was up to Brian how each individual person was killed. Like, my character got killed by the fire hose, which obviously wasn’t in the Stephen King book because there was no Norma in the book. But Betty was nervous about how he was going to do away with her and then the basketball, the backboard comes crashing down on her. She was terrified of that.
Were Brian and Nancy actually dating on set or did that come after? No, no, I think it was once it ended. I mean, everybody was busy. We filmed all day long and then Brian was one of the rare directors that would say, “Come on, kids, let’s go look at the dailies.” And then we’d all march over to the screening room and watch dailies together. It always amazed me that he would want us in there, because he was making his notes, working, while we were in there laughing, going, “Hahaha, look at that.”
Was he inclusive, then? I thought he was known for being more like a dictator. He wasn’t really a dictator. It was definitely his set. You always know who the director is: They’re the one in charge and they’re sitting in the higher chair. But he wasn’t very verbal. For instance, at the end of a scene, a lot of directors will go, “Cut. That’s great, let’s do another one.” Or, “Oh, that’s great, we can move on.” He would say cut and then you’d look and if he had this sly smile on his face, you knew he liked it. And then he’d just kind of mumble. And if you saw the camera move, you’d go, I guess we’re moving on. That’s good. We’re not gonna do it again. So it wasn’t a loud set; it was a very quiet set. It was really about the shots, and the lighting, and the look. We came in at the last minute like a football team, like, Okay, run this play. We have the field mowed, the people in the stands, and then the players come in to run one play. We were sort of the afterthought to everything that was going on. Everything that led up to it was what took the time, and it looks like that. To me, when I watch it now, it looks like a work of art; it looks like somebody painted this movie.
In 1975, when the film was made, the community center was the just-closed Pier Avenue School, on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach. The art deco building today operates as a theater and public gymnasium, and is the home to the Hermosa Beach Historical Museum.
The building’s exterior and the outside stairway in the back played pivotal roles in “Carrie,” according to Jack Fisk, an art director on the film who has also been married to Spacek since 1974.
Pier Avenue School was one of three schools used to represent Bates High in the film, Fisk said in the 2001 documentary “Visualizing Carrie.” The bone-chilling final indoor scene was shot on a sound stage to take advantage of special effects involving fire, he said.
This week’s film screening, hosted by students from Mira Costa and Redondo Union high schools, will include a 1970s-themed costume party and a discussion of the film’s Hermosa Beach history.
Jamie Erickson, director of operations at the Hermosa Beach Historical Museum, will also show off a portion of the girl’s shower stall with the original pink tile that was part of a key scene. That part of “Carrie” happens early in the film, when classmates tease the shy Carrie White, whose fanatically religious mother fails to tell her what to expect when she gets her period.
The other photo was taken at a 2018 screening of Carrie at the Hermosa Beach Museum. It shows the shower that can be seen in the film, and which is currently in a city storage area at the Hermosa Beach Community Center and is not accessible to the public:
TheMovieScores exclusive VIDEO INTERVIEW with the great Italian composer, who tells us his story, his beginnings in classical music, his time in pop-rock, and his foray into film music, with his extensive collaboration with the American director BRIAN DE PALMA in films such as Carrie, Blow Out, Dressed to Kill, Body Double, with JOE DANTE in Piranha and The Howling, and also with directors such as Darío Argento, George A. Romero, Pupi Avati, Lucio Fulci, and Tinto Brass, among much others. A very interesting conversation, in which the Venetian master contributed unpublished data, told curious anecdotes and even allowed himself to joke about certain aspects of his prolific career, with more than 200 soundtracks to his credit. A luxury and a pleasure to have had the opportunity to interview PINO DONAGGIO, one of the last sacred monsters of film music of all time. Thanks, Pino !!!!!!