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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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De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
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Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
Official Web Site

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italkyoubored

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De Palma a la Mod
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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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Wednesday, February 1, 2023
AN INNATE SENSE OF RIGHT & WRONG
UNSUNG CINEMA FEATURE AT MOVIE FINATICS LOOKS AT DE PALMA'S 'CASUALTIES OF WAR'
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/casualties14a.jpg

At Movie Finatics, the latest "Unsung Cinema" feature looks at Casualties Of War. Here's the start of it:
To put it simply, Brian De Palma’s Casualties of War is a devastatingly sad anti-war drama. Based on actual events of the 1966 incident on Hill 192 during the Vietnam War, a Vietnamese woman was kidnapped from her village by a squad of American soldiers who raped and murdered her. It’s essentially about morality and how there is an innate sense of right and wrong in a dire situation like war, or is it all about survival? It’s about following orders or going along with the crowd vs. standing up for some injustice you’ve seen, no matter the cost. It’s also about the brutality of violence, the trauma of war, the brutality of masculinity, and the brutality of misogyny. These are not pleasant subject matters to deal with on screen. Not a film where you gather the family for a night of escapism at the movies. You’ll likely never forget Casualties of War after seeing it, and it’s all the greater because of it.

By 1989, Vietnam pictures had become a staple in American cinema. Films like The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, Platoon, and Full Metal Jacket came out with tremendous success and fanfare. Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July was released later that year with immense success. They told the horrors of the Vietnam War at a time when Americans were beginning to reexamine that terrible criminal nightmare. By the time Casualties of War came out, it had received some excellent reviews but did not do well at the box office. Critics like Siskel and Ebert liked the film but did not give it as high of marks as they did Platoon. The timing of the release clouded the critical reaction at the time. It also was out during the infamous Summer of 1989 with films like Uncle Buck, Batman, Parenthood, The Abyss, When Harry Met Sally, Lethal Weapon 2, and Turner & Hooch were going strong. For a film with a genuinely tricky subject matter like the one it portrays to compete with these more mass entertainment films was asking a lot. For De Palma, this came after the tremendous success of The Untouchables. Casualties of War, and The Bonfire of the Vanities, would lead to a career setback for him.

Like most De Palma films, though, Casualties of War has undergone critical reexamination and praise. However, it’s still not considered as significant as more infamous Vietnam films like the ones mentioned above. I’m here to argue that it is just as monumental and maybe one of the most powerful anti-war films ever made. I almost hesitate to call it a war film because while there are few battles and action scenes, it’s more about the moral problem faced by our main character and the horror unleashed on an innocent Vietnamese woman. De Palma films in his usual theatrical style which I love a lot. Big set pieces, dramatic music, and appalling beauty. He usually boiled down his films to three or four big visual set pieces. You’ll never come out of a De Palma film not interested in visual storytelling. That’s who De Palma is at heart, is a visual cinematic storyteller. He’s one of my all-time favorite filmmakers, and my love of visual storytelling comes from films like his and Hitchcock.



Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Sunday, January 29, 2023
'BLOW OUT' ART - VIA JANUARY TWEETS
IN COLOR, BY TIM SINCLAIR - IN BLACK & WHITE, BY VANESSA McKEE - CLICK IMAGES FOR LINKS
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/timsinclair2023.jpg


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Saturday, January 28, 2023
DIGITAL SOUNDTRACK FOR 'SNAKE EYES' RELEASED
INCLUDES RYUICHI SAKAMOTO SCORE, AND MEREDITH BROOKS' END CREDITS SONG
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/snakeeyessoundtrack.jpg

Film Music Reporter reports:
Hollywood Records has released a digital version of the soundtrack album for the 1998 thriller Snake Eyes directed by Brian De Palma and starring Nicolas Cage, Gary Sinise, Carla Gugino, Stan Shaw, John Heard, Joel Fabiani, Kevin Dunn and Luis Guzmán. The album features the original score from the Paramount Pictures and Touchstone Pictures production composed by Academy Award winner Ryuichi Sakamoto (The Last Emperor, The Revenant, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, Little Buddha, Femme Fatale). Also included is the song Sin City written and performed by Meredith Brooks. Visit Amazon or any other major digital music services to stream/download the soundtrack. The label has previously released a CD version (which also features an additional song, The Freaky Things by LaKiesha Berri) when the movie opened in theaters in 1998. Snake Eyes is now available on VOD, Blu-ray and DVD.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Sunday, January 29, 2023 12:06 AM CST
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Friday, January 27, 2023
CRITICISM AS AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN 'CINEMA SPECULATION'
COLUMBIA DAILY'S JAMES OWEN ON WHY HE PREFERS TARANTINO'S STYLE OF CRITICISM
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/qtblowoutvid.jpg

James Owen, the film columnist for the Columbia Daily Tribune, has written an interesting piece about Quentin Tarantino's new book, Cinema Speculation. Here's an excerpt:
Cinema Speculation” is a hardcovered series of essays Tarantino wrote about formative films he watched from the late sixties to the early eighties. Each chapter is presented as a piece of film criticism. Although it also reads as a memoir of a young film geek who tagged along with his mom and her dates watching age-inappropriate films with rowdy crowds. If you wonder how Tarantino developed his oddly hyperkinetic personality, “Speculation” is rich in psychological self-evaluation.

The book also provides insight into a defining modern filmmaker. When Tarantino talks about other movies, he is really identifying films and filmmakers that formed his style. A write-up of Brian De Palma or John Ford reads not so much as objective analysis but rather how those directors influenced Tarantino’s work. In that way, “Cinema Speculation” is not so much film criticism as it is autobiography. Which, frankly, is more valuable than criticism.

Writing about Tarantino’s collection requires us to define what film criticism is. Many mistake it for someone offering their opinion. That’s more like being a film columnist, which is what I do. Although I try and give context to an opinion so the reader can formulate their own decision to watch a movie or read a book or whatever. Criticism is about context. Criticism digs into the history and tastes of the filmmakers. The method of acting style employed by the performer. But criticism doesn’t just concern itself with technicalities. Considerations for evaluating a movie should also include the time and place where it was conceived and later consumed by audiences. All of these factors help define a movie and its place in the larger cultural conversation. That’s criticism.

Using that standard, Tarantino does much more. He does do a good job of explaining why films like “Dirty Harry” or “Taxi Driver” thrived at the time they did. He delves into whether Eastwood’s Harry Callahan is fascist or Paul Schrader’s take on the lone cab driver is meant to be racist.

If you dig into what film critics were saying at the time these films were released, Tarantino isn’t saying anything new. In fact, Tarantino goes out of his way to quote immediate reactions that offered these very arguments. What’s interesting is how the filmmaker talks about these controversies. Tarantino, too, has been accused of racism and glorifying violence. When he defends these films, you hear self-defense. You may not agree with the position taken, but Tarantino makes a vigorous and entertaining case.

When the topic turns to plot points or camera angles, Tarantino talks why this certain scene worked and something else does not. By talking technique, Tarantino offers a glimpse into how he works. He talks about the decisions he would have made had he directed those earlier films. This, again, isn’t criticism, but rather a glimpse into his own moviemaking in a very engaging and entertaining writing style.

If you’re not much of a reader, there are other options to observe Tarantino’s metamorphosis as the co-host of the “Video Achieves” podcast with fellow filmmaker Roger Avary. Both shared the Oscar for writing “Pulp Fiction” and both got their start as clerks at the Video Achieves store in Manhattan Beach. There, a burgeoning QT dazzled customers with his encyclopedic knowledge of every movie known to man. (Indeed much of the Tarantino myth is that he absorbed all of this knowledge and became a legendary director seemingly through osmosis.)

When the store closed, Tarantino bought the entire inventory and now he and Avary spends ninety minutes every week talking about titles they seemingly pluck out of the air.

I’ve listened to every episode and never once been compelled to seek out any of these exploitative grindhouse flicks. What captivates me about the podcast – as well as “Cinema Speculation” – is how Tarantino lets you into his filmmaking mind. Not only that, but Tarantino has such enthusiasm for watching movies. Every filmgoing experience has the promise of something amazing. This certainly is out of vogue for most critics who seem to look for reasons to hate everything they see. I don’t relate to that; Tarantino suspects most critics hate themselves or their job. I don’t disagree so I reject most other critics.

But the unbridled hopefulness endears me to Tarantino, who remains a fan despite going into his fourth decade as a Hollywood veteran that could make anyone a cynic.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Wednesday, January 25, 2023
JoBlo VIDEO LOOKS AT HOW 'SCARFACE' REMAKE GOT MADE
"HOW A BONA FIDE AMERICAN MASTERPIECE HAS REMAINED SUCH AN ALL-TIME GREAT MOVIE"

Previously:
JoBlo video looks at how Carrie film got made


Posted by Geoff at 10:59 PM CST
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Tuesday, January 24, 2023
DE PALMA'S 'HOME MOVIES' & SPIELBERG'S 'FABELMANS'
RYAN GILBEY ON "THE EXPLORATION OF FILM AS COPING MECHANISM, DISTANCING DEVICE, & VOYEURISTIC TOOL"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/homemoviesvhsart135.jpg

Brian De Palma's own mid-career, drawn-from-real-life "Fabelmans" was straight-up comedy - he made Home Movies as a project for a film class he was teaching at Sarah Lawrence College in 1979 with students so they could learn, hands-on, by making a film themselves. Steven Spielberg was one friend who helped him with funding. When asked about his childhood, De Palma told one interviewer, "See Home Movies, it's all there." (The figure at the center of this poster art above, holding the camera, looks nothing like Keith Gordon, who is actually the De Palma surrogate/main character in this film.)

In a review of Spielberg's The Fabelmans at New Statesman, Ryan Gilbey writes:

Movies enter Sammy’s life in 1952 when he is taken by her and his father, a placid engineer named Burt (Paul Dano), to see The Greatest Show on Earth. He emerges startled from the film – which really did inspire Spielberg’s youthful wish, long since surpassed, to become the “Cecil B DeMille of science-fiction” – but is soon demanding an electric train set for Hanukkah so that he can recreate its spectacular crash at home. Mitzi suggests that he shoot the scene on his father’s cine camera to avoid damaging the toys in repeated pile-ups. Only later does she comprehend the function of filming: it enables Sammy to control the chaos of reality.

As a teenager, he sees life through an invisible viewfinder. Visiting a dying relative, he notices the pulse drumming feebly in her neck. When his parents fight, he pictures himself weaving among them, capturing all the best angles. Shooting a home movie on a family camping trip, Sammy inadvertently uncovers a secret: Mitzi and his father’s goofy best friend, Bennie (Seth Rogen), are in love.

We have already heard Sammy’s feral Uncle Boris (Judd Hirsch) raging about how the competing demands of family and art will “tear you in two”. The exploration of film as coping mechanism, distancing device and voyeuristic tool, however, nudges The Fabelmans briefly into the territory of Brian De Palma. Spielberg’s friend and fellow “movie brat” amassed evidence of his own father’s infidelities, his predilection for surveillance later driving thrillers such as Dressed to Kill and Blow Out. What a surprise to find Spielberg, the supreme sentimentalist, occupying that murky realm. We didn’t know he had it in him.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Monday, January 23, 2023
PRETTY MUCH
DE PALMA/SAKAMOTO SLEEPER DOUBLE-FEATURE ON TWITTER
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/tweetffslept.jpg



Posted by Geoff at 10:29 PM CST
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Friday, January 20, 2023
SLUG'S IAN BLACK STRIVED TO MAKE CHALLENGING ALBUM
PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, SHOCK TREATMENT, & THE FILMS OF JOHN WATERS PLAY INTO HIS VISION
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/slug2023.jpg

In an interview by Linsey Teggert at NARC, Ian Black mentions Phantom Of The Paradise as one of several inspirations for SLUG's new album, Thy Socialite!:
When Ian Black, aka SLUG, set about making his third album, he wasn’t thinking about how he could please and impress his fanbase. “I wondered if I could make an album where people who listen to my music ask, ‘are you sure you want to do this?’” he recalls.

Black had been thinking about albums released by revered artists that had largely been rejected by their respective fanbases. Tranquillity Base Hotel And Casino by Arctic Monkeys, Lou Reed’s Berlin and Leonard Cohen’s Death Of A Ladies Man, to be specific. “My friend Lucas Renney said Berlin sounded like Andrew Lloyd Webber on bad drugs having a breakdown. That sounded amazing to me!”

So, the Sunderland native began his mission to make an album that would challenge the listener, without just releasing ‘bad’ music. With his previous records, 2015’s RIPE and 2018’s Higgledypiggledy, Black developed his art school approach to music with an eclectic palette of pop, indie, rock and surf all held together with a healthy dose of groove. With new record, Thy Socialite!, it was time to throw some classic rock into the mix.

“I wondered what would happen if I took the really cheesy bits of my own record collection, the less indie audience friendly stuff: Toto, ZZ Top, Sweet, Def Leppard, and merged it with that SLUG sensibility. I wanted to amuse myself really, and amuse the people who have followed my music so far. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just want to make music that was bad, but I love that element of risk. If you’re playing it safe, then you’re doing it wrong.”

The result is still very much a SLUG record in a wonderfully weird way, but with added pomp and a cheeky wink to hard rock theatrics. It’s an idea that could have easily become a novelty pastiche, but, as with every musical genre that Black turns his hand to, he weaves it so deftly into the SLUG sound that it seems it’s always belonged there.

Black’s venture into classic rock territory is nowhere more apparent than on opener Insults Sweet Like Treacle and closer Cut Of Your Jib, cleverly bookending the album to take the listener along on this new journey from beginning to end. Glam rock stomper Insults Sweet Like Treacle is dedicated to the dearly missed Dave Harper, drummer in Frankie & The Heartstrings and Pop Recs Ltd.’s founder, while Cut Of Your Jib is pure riff-heavy stadium rock.

“I’d never recommend this to anyone, but my wife was on a night out, so I decided to get some tins in and watch a full ZZ Top gig on YouTube. In that haze of drunkenness, as I walked to the fridge to get another tin, the idea for Cut Of Your Jib popped into my brain and hooked itself in there. I remember finishing it in the studio and thinking maybe I’ve gone a bit too far with this one, but then one of the members of ZZ Top died the day after I finished it, and I thought, well, that has to go on the album now!”

It’s not just the music of Thy Socialite! that revolts against modern trends; lyrically Black decided to experiment with what he refers to as “self-character assassination”. Seeing messages of positivity and inspiration in a lot of current music, he decided to do the complete opposite, or as he bluntly puts it with a knowing laugh, he decided to make himself “sound like a twat.”

“Times at the moment are so gloomy that people want to write music that cheers people up or makes them feel good about themselves – take the Self Esteem album for example – it’s brilliant and I understand why people find it uplifting. I really can’t do anything as good as that inspirationally, so you need people like me to come and write songs, knowingly of course, that go the other way. People say I’ve got quite a dark sense of humour, and that bleeds into a lot of the writing I do.”

Citing John Waters’ films, Brian De Palma’s Phantom Of The Paradise and the follow-up to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Shock Treatment, as inspiration for their “campy, acidic humour”, the Ian Black of Thy Socialite! is very much an outlandish, satirical character. He’s the influencer you love-to-hate, the partygoer who always wants to be in the spotlight.

It’s all part of Black’s journey to create something challenging, but it’s all presented with a wink and tongue firmly in cheek. “I like the idea that people can look at the more acidic lyrics and wonder which ones are completely made up and which ones are thoughts I’ve had personally,” he explains. “We all have those thoughts; they can be as fleeting as a couple of seconds and then you check yourself. It’s all part of being human.”


Posted by Geoff at 10:34 PM CST
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Thursday, January 19, 2023
EDWARD PRESSMAN HAS PASSED AWAY
PRODUCER OF 'SISTERS' ALSO ENJOYED INTEGRAL ROLE IN MAKING 'PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE'
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/edpressmancirca1991.jpg

Edward Pressman, the independent producer who produced Brian De Palma's Sisters and Phantom Of The Paradise, passed away Tuesday in Los Angeles, according to Variety. He was 79.

In conversation with Samuel Blumenfeld and Laurent Vachaud, De Palma said that Pressman "notably produced Phantom of the Paradise and Terrence Malick's first film, Badlands. I met Ed when I was in Los Angeles. Martin Ransohoff had refused to do Sisters, and I had just bought the screenplay from him! When he read it Ed immediately wanted to do it. He managed to find enough money, two hundred thousand dollars, to get the movie started. Then he continued fundraising while filming, and the budget eventually came to six hundred thousand dollars." As De Palma explained to Blumenfeld and Vachaud, Pressman-Williams was the production company Pressman had created with Paul Williams, who was not the songwriter who plays Swan in Phantom, but the "director of two films with Jon Voight. The Revolutionary and Out of it."

Pressman was an integral part of making those films with Williams, and continued that sort of passion with the films he went on to make with De Palma. "Ed's parents had a toy company," De Palma continued, "Pressman Toys, one of whose offices was located at 23rd Street and Broadway. Pressman-Williams had set up its headquarters there. I was working in their offices after the disaster of Get To Know Your Rabbit, and Paul Williams was still a director working at Warner whose film Dealing ended in disaster. Dealing was adapted from the first novel by Michael Crichton. He had written it with his brother Douglas when they were students at Harvard."

More to come on Ed Pressman this weekend, but here's a portion of the Variety article:

The fiercely independent producer had an impressive track record for discovering new talent, having worked with an array of notable filmmakers including Oliver Stone, Werner Herzog, Kathryn Bigelow, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Alex Cox, Brian De Palma, Abel Ferrara, Terrence Malick, John Milius and Mary Harron.

Pressman shepherded De Palma’s early films “Sisters” and “Phantom of the Paradise,” as well as Malick’s directorial debut “Badlands” with Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen.

His longtime collaboration with Oliver Stone started with the filmmaker’s directing debut “The Hand,” and Pressman met his future wife, actor Annie McEnroe, on the set of that film. Pressman went on to produce Stone’s “Talk Radio” and “Wall Street,” and the sequel “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.”

Pressman and Stone co-produced Bigelow’s early thriller “Blue Steel,” starring Jamie Lee Curtis.

One of the first producers to adapt comic books, such as “Conan the Barbarian” and “The Crow,” as well as films based on video games and toys, he also founded ContentFilm with John Schmidt to focus on digital production. 

Pressman’s upcoming projects were set to include the immersive VR experience “Evolver,” produced with Malick and Cate Blanchett, and the upcoming reboot of “The Crow” directed by Rupert Sanders with Bill Skarsgard and FKA Twigs.

Pressman was born in New York to Jack and Lynn Pressman, the founders of Pressman Toy. After studying philosophy at Stanford, he went to grad school at the London School of Economics, where he met director Paul Williams. The filmmakers came to Hollywood, where they secured a two-picture deal from United Artists.

Among his numerous honors were the Chevalier Des Arts et Lettres from the French government, the IFP Gotham Award for lifetime achievement, and tributes at the National Film Theatre in London, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Pacific Film Archives and the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Cinematek. 

He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Annie McEnroe Pressman, and son Sam Pressman. Sam Pressman has worked for Edward R. Pressman Productions for the past decade and will continue producing films for the company in honor of his father.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Friday, January 20, 2023 10:44 PM CST
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Wednesday, January 18, 2023
1994 'CARLITO'S WAY' ART BY TOSHIAKI HONTANI
FROM THE MAY 1994 ISSUE OF ANIMAGE - TWEETED LAST WEEK BY ARTSAKUGAhttps://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/toshiakihontani1994animage.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 7:43 AM CST
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