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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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Interviews...

De Palma interviewed
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De Palma discusses
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No Harm In Charm

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The Filmmaker Who
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Jim Emerson on
Greetings & Hi, Mom!

Scarface: Make Way
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The Big Dive
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Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
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The Carlito's Way
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italkyoubored

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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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Tuesday, March 21, 2023
'NEAR-GLEEFUL DISDAIN FOR REALITY'
WILLAMETTE WEEK'S CHANCE SOLEM-PFEIFER ON DE PALMA'S 'HI, MOM!'
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/jonoutthewindow55.jpg

A 35mm print of Brian De Palma's Hi, Mom! will screen next week at the Hollywood Theatre in Portland, Oregon. According to the screening description for March 28,, "The Grindhouse Film Festival presents the only known 35mm print of this overlooked 1970 Brian De Palma masterpiece!" Willamette Week's Chance Solem-Pfeifer highlights the film in a column about what to see this upcoming week at Portland’s repertory theaters:
In the earliest work of any storied filmmaker, you’ll likely glimpse the raw elements of masterpieces to come. But rarely are those nascent films so brazenly unrefined that the audience is treated to arguably greater extremes than what the later movies offer.

So it is with Brian De Palma’s iconoclastic Greenwich Village beginnings, especially Hi, Mom!, a satire of media obsession and radicalism-as-fashion. An eerily fresh-faced Robert De Niro (still pre-Mean Streets) stars as an erotic filmmaker who peeps endlessly on his neighbors before planning his move in front of the camera.

Many of De Palma’s trademarks are present: the unabashed Hitchcock iterating (Rear Window in this case), the self-consciously voyeuristic camera, holding up the filmed image as the ultimate instrument of perverse arousal. But Hi, Mom! also toys with sitcom hyperbole, on-the-street journalism and bracingly committed satire wherein performance artists (many of them white) try to simulate “the Black experience” for unsuspecting New Yorkers.

It’s both a critique and a comedic experiment—to the point of near-gleeful disdain for reality. De Palma certainly gained skill, balance and the familiar comforts of genre in all his classics to come, but rarely got his Robert Downey Sr. freak on quite this way again.


Posted by Geoff at 11:32 PM CDT
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Monday, March 20, 2023
'THE IRAQ WAR WE WANT TO PRETEND DIDN'T EXIST'
SAM SWEENEY AT NATIONAL REVIEW LOOKS AT "IRAQ WAR FILMS, 20 YEARS ON"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/redacted545.jpg

At National Review, Sam Sweeney includes Brian De Palma's Redacted in his look at "Iraq War Films, 20 Years On" -
Brian De Palma’s film based on the Mahmudiyah incident, in which American soldiers raped a 15-year-old girl and murdered her and her family in 2006, is unsettling to watch. It is the Iraq War we want to pretend didn’t exist. It is the dark underbelly of the war, in which policy-makers put soldiers in the middle of an unwinnable war, but where the war’s moral failings were not just at the top of the chain of command. It is a picture of ourselves that we don’t want to see. The film isn’t perfect and has plenty of shortcomings. Some criticized the film for not acknowledging that those responsible for the crimes were charged and convicted, but the point is not that the crimes were committed with impunity, but rather that they were committed at all. They need not be representative of the war in Iraq to be significant.

De Palma uses his film to explore both the nature of violence in war as well as the nature of media. Every scene in the film is viewed through some form of media present in the film itself. A soldier records his day-to-day interactions as part of a film project to help him get into film school. A French documentary crew makes a film about a checkpoint manned by U.S. soldiers. Local Arabic-language media covers violence perpetrated by the U.S. We watch events through security-camera footage, web chats, deposition videos, and terrorist propaganda videos uploaded online. The film is meant to feel like a documentary. The effect is heavy-handed at times, but almost 15 years later the saturation of media at every event, where people record the smallest thing on their cellphones, has become more pronounced. Is the camera a neutral observer? These questions go beyond just the Iraq War; just ask the kids at Covington Catholic.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, March 21, 2023 7:41 AM CDT
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Sunday, March 19, 2023
'I COULD JUST HEAR HIM START TO HOWL'
NEW ZEALAND HERALD LOOKS AT HOW KEY SCENES IN 'MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE' CAME ABOUT
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/mifloor55.jpg

At the New Zealand Herlad today, Wenlei Ma looks at the ways that several key scenes from Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible came about from a creative standpoint:
One thing that hasn’t changed from De Palma’s first instalment to the eighth, helmed by Christopher McQuarrie, who has been on the franchise since the fifth movie, is the propensity to start with the stunts and set-pieces and then work backwards to the actual script.

McQuarrie had previously revealed the team started rolling the cameras on Fallout (number six) without a script, merely an outline. The working relationship between McQuarrie and Cruise is such that sometimes the actor tells the filmmaker what stunts he’s interested in trying and McQuarrie writes around those desires.

That philosophy clearly started early, with De Palma’s movie. Cruise said in a video interview to mark the 25th anniversary that De Palma pitched him two very clear ideas, now the film’s most iconic sequences – the CIA vault heist and the climactic train set-piece – and later worked out how to fit them into a story that wasn’t yet on the page.

Cruise recalled when De Palma raised the ideas, “I remember the train. He was like, ‘I wanna do a train’ and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s fantastic’. And so, how do we do it? How are we going to shoot this thing?

“And we didn’t have the story – surprise! – and we were like, ‘This is a cool idea, how do we, what could happen, what shots? He would set up shots and then we would go back and work on the story, who would be in it and then go back and forth.”

Cruise also recounted how De Palma called Cruise while the A-lister was stuck in traffic in Japan, and pitched him that intense CIA vault scene – “This movie is really cool, this guy is brilliant. It was a phenomenal idea”.

But when it came to shooting it, it wasn’t working – gravity can really work against you – and Cruise kept faceplanting on the floor on every take.

Cruise explained in another 25th anniversary video that they were running out of time before they had to move on, so he went up to the stunt guys to ask for coins to stuff into his shoes to recalibrate the balance.

De Palma gave Cruise one more take, and Cruise replied he was confident it would work this time.

“I said, ‘I can do it’. It was very physical, like straining, and I’m going it. So I went down, starting at the computer, went all the way down to the floor and I didn’t touch it. And I was holding it, holding it, holding it. I’m sweating and he just keeps rolling.

“And I just hear him off-camera and when he laughs, it makes me laugh, I could just hear him start to howl and he goes, ‘Alright, cut’.”

Still, not every light bulb moment ended up being the right idea.

Mission Impossible originally had a different beginning and it was cinema legend and De Palma’s friend George Lucas who told him to scrap it.

De Palma told the Light the Fuse podcast in 2021 that Lucas had seen an early cut and berated him for not having enough set-up.

“When George saw Mission Impossible, you know he said, ‘There’s no set-up to this thing, you’ve got to set this thing up! You’re going to do this, you’re going to do that, you’ve got to have that scene where that scene where they’re all sitting around the table and everybody gets their instructions about what’s going to happen.”

The original start was scene involving jealous tension between Ethan Hunt and Jim and Claire Phelps, the married spy characters portrayed by Jon Voight and Emmanuelle Beart. Even De Palma now conceded it was a “very strange scene”.

Following Lucas’ advice, De Palma went back with the cast to reshoot the beginning.


Posted by Geoff at 10:58 PM CDT
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Saturday, March 18, 2023
TWEET - DE PALMA AS ROMANTIC FILMMAKER
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/tweetromantic.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 11:57 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, March 18, 2023 11:58 PM CDT
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Friday, March 17, 2023
'PHANTOM' - GUILLERMO DEL TORO'S WEEKEND MODEL
"SCULPTING WAS A LITTLE ROUGH BUT VERY EXPRESSIVE"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/gdtmarch16th2023d.jpg

Guillermo del Toro tweeted some pictures last night, including the one above, with the caption, "Weekend model. Quick paint job. Sculpting was a little rough but very expressive." He then asked, "Has anyone made a model kit of Swan - from Phantom of the Paradise?" This was eventually followed by, "I am going to commission a SWAN w Silver Mask kit (glasses in acrylic) for myself. Stay Tuned."


Posted by Geoff at 12:10 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, March 17, 2023 10:58 PM CDT
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Thursday, March 16, 2023
VIDEO - PIANO ARRANGEMENT OF 'THE FURY' THEME
BRETT MITCHELL PERFORMS HIS SOLO PIANO ARRANGEMENT

Posted by Geoff at 11:37 PM CDT
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Wednesday, March 15, 2023
45 YEARS AGO TODAY, THE FURY OPENS IN U.S. THEATERS
PAULINE KAEL: "IT COULD BE THAT HE'S DEVELOPING ONE OF THE GREAT FILM STYLES"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/fury45th1.jpg

Brian De Palma's The Fury was released in U.S. theaters 45 years ago today. Filmed largely in the Chicago area (including a memorable sequence filmed at "Old Chicago" in Bolingbrook), it features an extraordinary score by the great John Williams. It's a magnificent film. In a 1980 interview with Rolling Stone, Jean-Luc Godard mentioned The Fury's standout use of slow motion, "where it was used for an entire sequence and wasn't just a gadget." The movie critic known as Pauline Kael, enraptured, wrote of The Fury in The New Yorker:
No other director shows such clear-cut development in technique from film to film. In camera terms, De Palma was learning fluid, romantic steps in Obsession; he started to move his own way in Carrie—swirling and figure skating, sensuously. You could still see the calculation. Now he has stopped worrying about the steps. He’s caught up with his instructors — with Welles in Touch of Evil, with Scorsese in Mean Streets. What distinguishes De Palma's visual style is smoothness combined with a jazzy willingness to appear crazy or campy; it could be that he's developing one of the great film styles—a style in which he stretches out suspense while grinning his notorious alligator grin. He has such a grip on technique in The Fury that you get the sense of a director who cares about little else; there's a frightening total purity in his fixation on the humor of horror. It makes the film seem very peaceful, even as one's knees are shaking.

At The Spool this week, Chicago-based critic Peter Sobczynski writes about The Fury at 45:
If this project, with its obvious echoes of Carrie, seems like an odd choice for De Palma to have chosen to follow, it appears that he looked upon it largely as a means to a particular end. At the time, he was keenly interested in doing an adaptation of Alfred Bester’s 1953 novel The Demolished Man, a sci-fi-thriller involving a murder in a futuristic telepathic society, and had even co-written a screenplay for it with author John Farris. As a way of working out the elaborate visual storytelling and special effects required to bring that project to life, De Palma elected to first make a film of Farris’s 1976 novel The Fury with the author doing the screenplay, changing a considerable amount of the narrative in the process.

At the time of release, Roger Ebert wrote in his review for the Chicago Sun-Times:
De Palma's almost nonstop action carries the film along well (and distracts us from the holes in its plot), and Kirk Douglas was a good casting choice as the avenging father. In his best roles, he seems to be barely in control of a manic energy, and this time, being chased down the L tracks, he seems just right. Cassavetes always makes a suitably hateful villain (he plays the bad guys as if they're distracted by inner thoughts of even worse things they could be doing), and Carrie Snodgress, returning to movies after several years of voluntary retirement, is complex and interesting as the government employee who falls in love with Kirk Douglas.

Big-eyed and beautiful Amy Irving, vulnerable and tough at the same time, is just fine. She was Sissy Spacek's "friend" and final victim in De Palma's "Carrie," and I guess it's only fair that this time she gets to unleash the Fury in the final scene. Is it as scary as the final moment in "Carrie"? Not quite, but it'll leave your head spinning.



Posted by Geoff at 11:05 PM CDT
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Tuesday, March 14, 2023
15 YEARS AGO TODAY, 'REDACTED' RELEASED IN LONDON
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/redactedposterlondon35.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 11:23 PM CDT
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Monday, March 13, 2023
COLLIDER - 'SNAKE EYES' IS ONE OF CAGE'S BEST THRILLERS
"A CAREER-BEST PERFORMANCE FROM ONE OF OUR MOST INTERESTING LIVING MOVIE STARS"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/fivepeople45.jpg

At Collider, Nick L writes about Brian De Palma's Snake Eyes as an underrated work of film craft that is one of Nicolas Cage's best thrillers:
One movie that doesn’t quite get the love it deserves in this regard is Snake Eyes, in which Cage goes fully wacky for the legendary director Brian De Palma. Ask your average film-lover what their favorite De Palma movie happens to be, and we doubt very many people would say Snake Eyes. You’re more likely to get an intersection of answers that encompasses one or more of the following: Carrie, Scarface, The Untouchables, etc. While we would never claim Snake Eyes to be Top 5 De Palma, watching the movie against the backdrop of today’s weightlessly anemic mainstream thrillers makes it much easier to appreciate Snake Eyes’ formal inventiveness, the heedless zeal of its filmmaking style, and Cage’s hellacious, go-for-broke lead performance.

The fact that Snake Eyes doesn’t labor under the pretense of being high art, ironically, is ultimately made it easier for critics to attack it. In his slam of a review, Roger Ebert called Snake Eyes “the worst kind of bad film: the kind that gets you all worked up and then lets you down, instead of just being lousy from the first shot.” Elsewhere, Kenneth Turan, writing for the Los Angeles Times, labeled the movie “coarse and undernourished” as an exercise in drama.

Of course, reviews are meant to be taken within the context of the time in which they were published. We have seen many instances of poorly-reviewed films that would go on to be reappraised as good or even great in the years/decades following their release (Richard Kelly’s infamously maligned Southland Tales is only one of a few examples of this). Snake Eyes isn’t a reinvention of the wheel, or even of De Palma’s usual playbook: as usual, he is doing Hitchcock one better, reveling in the suspense and skeeziness and explosive visual fireworks that this genre affords its practitioners.

Like the John Travolta-starring Blow Out — arguably De Palma’s masterpiece, at least in this writer’s opinion — the plot of Snake Eyes orbits around an instance of suspicious malfeasance that then spiderwebs into a veritable conspiracy of corruption. Cage struts up a storm, holding every inch of our attention as spectacularly flashy Atlantic City cop Rick Santoro. Rick is introduced in the film’s bravura opening sequence: a long, and we do mean long Steadicam take that follows Rick throughout every inch of a cacophonous boxing arena before that evening's big event. Cage reads his lines in an operatic, knowingly ludicrous register — the unbroken virtuosity of the camerawork seems to be communicating the sentiment that this is merely Rick Santoro’s world, and we’re just lucky to be living in. Though multiple viewings reveal that, by detailing every nook and cranny of his only real principal location, De Palma is laying out narrative clues in plain sight.

The crowd is fired up, the place is alive with bloodlust... sounds like a nice night for an assassination with a side dish of collusion, no? Cover-ups and double-crosses become the name of the game in Snake Eyes after an unseen gunman proceeds to shoot and kill the U.S. Defense Secretary amidst the high-stakes throes of the boxing match. Already, the setup for a thriller of this sort is delicious, but De Palma has more than one surprise up his sleeve.

Several other key figures factor into the ensuing mystery: a shadowy Naval official (Gary Sinise) whose intentions are not what they seem, a femme fatale (Carla Gugino) who witnessed the attack, and Truck Turner actor Stan Shaw as a heavyweight fighter with a face straight out of a '40s noir. Much of Snake Eyes, particularly with its labyrinth of a plot and the world-weary cynicism of Cage’s seen-it-all antihero, feels like De Palma’s fevered version of a contemporary film noir, though the Obsession director ultimately made a more traditional noir exercise with his undervalued, admittedly quite sordid 2006 vehicle, The Black Dahlia. The craft on display in Snake Eyes is nothing less than arresting: deftly sophisticated visual storytelling like the kind De Palma provides in even his lesser-praised work is virtually nonexistent in our current movie-going climate, which make the retrospective pleasures of something like this slept-on thriller all the easier to appreciate.


Read the whole article at Collider.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, March 14, 2023 6:24 PM CDT
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Sunday, March 12, 2023
AN EDWARD R. PRESSMAN TIMELINE OF SORTS
AS TONIGHT'S OSCARS PAID TRIBUTE TO PRODUCER IN MEMORIAM SEGMENT
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/oscars2023pressman45.jpg

Tonight's Oscar's broadcast included an "In Memoriam" segment in which Lenny Kravitz, at the piano, performed his song "Calling All Angels", accompanied by guitarist Craig Ross. The tribute included Edward R. Pressman. A few weeks ago, I promised a followup post about Pressman, and so here it is - a sort of timeline of Pressman's first few years in the film industry.

Paul Williams, from the 1973 book Directors In Action, edited by Bob Thomas:

In college I did still photography and made three short films, and wrote dozens of earnest film reviews for the school newspaper. The next year I went to England and met Edward Pressman, a young producer and philosopher. We made a short together which eventually won a Golden Eagle, which gave us the unjustified confidence to embark on our first feature film. I wrote it, Ed titled it: The Man Who Killed Men. Budgeted at five million dollars, TMWKM (as it became known) interested United Artists, but since we insisted on my directing and would not consider selling the property, United Artists explained that they couldn't have a twenty-one-year-old direct a picture of that size. I think it was Chris Mankiewicz who suggested, "Try something smaller, first."

Since we didn't want to waste potential production money on a script, we decided that I should write an original. I think I wrote a simple but honest semiautobiographi- cal script about a sensitive kid in high school who never got laid. We called the movie Out of It and it took us seven months to find out that no major or minor or schlock company would finance a first feature film (a) based on a "plotless" original script about kids; (b) which called for and would use no stars; (c) to be directed by a young virgin, so to speak. "Strike three!" said Sid Kiwitt, then of Seven Arts.

Ed Pressman, a prince, to put it mildly, then privately raised 100,000 dollars which is more easily written about than done (this was before the American Film Institute, a wonderful thing, existed). In fact, it took Ed long enough to raise the bread for me to almost finish studying advanced acting and directing with Herbert Berghof and elementary techniques with Elizabeth Dillon (it was Ed's idea, based on casual observation of my short films, that I study acting).

During the summer of 1967, when I was twenty-three and Ed was twenty-four, we made Out of It, starring, as the ads read now, Barry Gordon and Jon Voight. (I was knocked out when I first met Jon, told him so and have stayed that way since.) Out of It ended up costing 350,000 dollars with deferrals (everybody) and took seven weeks to shoot and ten months to edit. When David Picker of United Artists saw it. he said to Ed, "I like it. What do you want to do next?"

Making decisions daily, based so tangibly on time, heightened my awareness of categories hadn't thought adequately about before shooting. I think AFI apprentices should be required to stay in the editing room, too, as long as they don't tell anybody about what happens in there.

I had complete freedom, except for the basic economic limitations. Ed Pressman and I have had an unusual and happy professional relationship on both Out Of It and The Revolutionary. I am responsible for artistic decisions once certain perimeters are set.

On both films had final cut and final responsibility for casting, but Ed and were constantly consulting and didn't have any arguments about control or responsibility. It's hard to think of him as my producer-"partner" sounds better to me, anyway. Of course, people ask about the distributor. United Artists didn't touch a frame after they bought Out of It. They also gave me complete freedom on The Revolutionary. They are a marvelous company in that department.


IndieWire, Jul 31, 2003 - Ed Pressman Talks About 30+ Years of Producing

by Matthew Ross

indieWIRE: How did you get started in filmmaking?

Ed Pressman: I really started during graduate school, when I studied philosophy at the London School of Economics. Before then, I had always loved film, but it had seemed totally remote as a career. In England, I met a young American filmmaker named Paul Williams. He was a very confident, outgoing director who had made a short film at Harvard. After a few days of talking incessantly about movies, we decided to form a partnership. We made a short together, and after that experience, everything else, compared to filmmaking, seemed so limited. At the time we started, film seemed to be a way of changing the world.

Paul was very precocious. He really gave me the confidence to get into the profession. Together he and I made films that Paul directed. The first one was a feature called “Out of It.” It was Jon Voight‘s first film, and John Avildsen was the cameraman. We shot it for about $200,000 at my folks’ summer house in Atlantic Beach, using credit cards and small investments. At the time, that method of making a film without distribution already in place was very, very rare. Cassavetes was doing it and that was about it; the studios really made the movies. But we made the film and sold it to David Picker, who was running United Artists. He then gave us a three-picture deal. We were 21 at the time, and it all seemed so simple. It was a great experience right off the bat. Unfortunately, that film was held back from release because right after United Artists bought it Jon was signed up to star in “Midnight Cowboy,” and they wanted to wait until after that movie was done to get our film some visibility. The next film Paul and I made was “The Revolutionary,” which starred Jon Voigt and Robert Duvall.

iW: How did your partnership with Paul work out?

Pressman: We worked together for about eight years. Paul directed three films, the last of which was “Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues,” based on a book by a young writer named Michael Crichton. Then we started to produce films with other directors. We made “Badlands” with Terrence Malick and “Sisters” and “Phantom of the Paradise” with Brian de Palma. A lot of young filmmakers used to hang out at our office, including Brian and Martin Scorsese, because Paul was really one of the first directors of our generation to make it. Then he went on a spiritual trip. He gave up all his possessions, split up with his wife, and left filmmaking. He’s since come back, and he’s made some interesting low-budget films over the past few years; but it’s hard to get back into the groove after you’ve been gone for so long.

When he went away, he sold his interest in the partnership to me, and I went out on my own. The next time I had a partnership was when I started ContentFilm with John Schmidt two years ago.


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."

Ed Pressman on Mystic & Severe Radio, July 27, 2020

Brian was a friend from New York, and he’d done a film called Greetings, and Hi, Mom!, which were low-budget, very independent movies. And I was a fan and a friend. And Brian then went on to do a studio movie called Get To Know Your Rabbit at Warner Bros. And he had a very unhappy experience. He called me and said, “I’ve got these two projects under option to Warners that I’d do anything to get out.” And, you know, asked if I could find a way to get the properties free. And we were able to do that, and then we had Sisters and Phantom Of The Paradise, and decided, not because of …. [too much occurred? Absurd?] … but because it was simpler to start with Sisters. And we worked with a team of actors and friends who all knew each other from Margot Kidder to Jennifer Salt, Brian and Chuck Durning. So there was an immediate ability to bring it together and do the film for a low budget. And the film opened fairly weakly, but then at that time, there were drive-in theaters. And the drive-in theaters did very substantial business all of a sudden, so it just took on a life that, you know, wouldn’t have existed without the drive-in audience, which was more exploitational.

So we did that, and then started to do Phantom Of The Paradise with the same company that distributed Sisters. I remember two weeks before we started to shoot Phantom, they asked to cut the budget by five million dollars, and we couldn’t see a way to do that. So we were fortunate enough to meet an independent financier and Gus Berne and partner Gabe Katzka, who, by a great piece of luck, agreed to come in and take over the financing of the film. So we did it independently, and sold it to Fox after it was made, which at that time was not a common thing.


Ed Pressman, 2012 interview about Badlands:
There were a lot of naysayers, doing the film. I remember the initial line producer, who I had worked with on another film, was let go because he didn’t get along with Terry. And he went back to New York and told my mother, who was really helping me finance the movie, that this film was a mess, and don’t waste your money on this. My gut told me to believe in Terry. And I think that was a good lesson.

March 2023 article abouyt Lynn Pressman at Queens History
Lynn Pressman Raymond was born Lynn Rambach in Woodhaven in 1912. As she grew older, her family moved to Brooklyn where she was a standout at Erasmus Hall High School in Flatbush. As a young woman, she began her career in sales and marketing by rising through the ranks of various stores (including Abraham & Straus) as a publicist.

Eventually, her talents caught the attention of James McCreery & Co., a fashionable department store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, where she soon found herself in charge of publicity.

But her true calling was the acquisition of toys and games and she found herself drawn to positive and educational products. She also found herself drawn to Jack Pressman, who owned a toy and game company and earned the nickname “The Marble King” because of how many marbles he purchased to supply all the Chinese Checker games that he sold.

In 1942, they married and as vice president of Pressman Toys, Lynn Pressman developed a toy that made a fortune and still sells in stores to this day. She developed the children’s toy doctor bag as a way to ease the fear that children felt when visiting the doctor.

It came with toy versions of doctor’s tools (stethoscope, thermometer and a syringe) and a small bottle of candy pills. The doctor’s bag was a runaway success, leading to variations such as a nurse bag and even versions for Ken and Barbie.

Her husband’s health made it necessary for Lynn Pressman to take an even more active role running Pressman Toys and upon his passing in 1959, she assumed control. She was, at the time, one of the very few women executives running a large company.

This led to issues getting credit, even from the bank her husband had done business with for years, but she eventually secured credit and overcame all obstacles to become one of the more powerful women executives in the United States.

She was a pioneer in licensing the rights to popular television and movie characters for use in creating toys, creating games based on Disney characters along with Superman and the Lone Ranger. She was also known for licensing athletes and creating games using their likenesses on the packaging.

When she took over Pressman Toys, she made one major change to the company policy that undoubtedly impacted the bottom line. Lynn Pressman stated that her company would no longer manufacture, market or sell any toy guns or rifles to children.

Keep in mind that this was the early 1960s and toy guns and rifles were big sellers, but from that moment on, her company followed this principle.

Ms. Pressman, an outspoken opponent of the war in Vietnam, worked together with peace organizations in the late ’60s to encourage other companies to refrain from making “toys that symbolize destruction.”

Through her relationship with UNICEF, she developed a line of Pen Pal Dolls, based on Walt Disney’s Small World attraction at the World’s Fair. Each doll came with a pen and paper and information about the doll’s country.

Later in life, she enjoyed a second career and a bit of enjoyable notoriety through her son, Edward. In fact, Lynn Pressman is listed in the credits as a co-producer of Phantom of the Paradise, directed by Brian De Palma. Lynn Pressman also served as an extra in several of her son’s films.


[From the Scream Factory interview with Edward R Pressman (2002)]

Phantom was pretty inclusive. We were financing the film, we were using our family’s toy factory to shoot the film, and we were present throughout the shooting in Dallas and New York. You know, a time I try to enjoy the most, when I’m most involved. It’s easy to be removed and be more of an executive, but at that time I was very integral in the process.

A person who is never recognized for her help in making the film was my mother, Lynn Pressman. Because Lynn Pressman ran Pressman Toy Company, my family toy company. And she allowed and encouraged us to use the factory for the prison scene, and the scene in the record pressing plant. There was a moment of terror when the machine seemed to be actually almost crushing Bill’s head… fortunately, it didn’t. But Lynn’s help in letting us use the factory in the prison scene and the record scene, and generally helping us finance the movie, with the help of Gus Berne and Gabe Katzka… If there’s one person who I’ve never really recognized for helping this movie, it was Lynn.


From Ed Pressman 2012 interview about Badlands
Ironically, after the Warner Brothers release of Badlands, which was a failure, we did re-release the film, maybe six years or eight years later. And we arranged our own distribution in Little Rock, Arkansas, which was the least expensive television market. So we could make ads and promote the film on television with modest means. And then we went to Memphis and did the same thing, and then to Dallas. And once the film was proven in Dallas, then Warner Brothers re-released the film. We had proven that the film could do business. We did the same three-city model with Phantom Of The Paradise, with Brian De Palma’s film, a few years later. And at that time, you could kind of distribute the films yourself.

After Phantom came out – Sisters, Badlands, Phantom – those films were all, in one way or another successful, either artistically or business-wise, Fox came to us and offered us a deal to pay our overhead and give us a development fund. And so we thought, that’s great, and we took the deal. And that was the most unproductive period of my life, because we worked at a studio and management changed after we made the deal. So the new management was, I think Daryl Zanuck came, and he didn’t want to do any things we wanted to do. So we spent two or three years not making movies. You know, had offices, and had money to develop things, but we weren’t making movies. So after that I decided I’d rather take my chances and stay independent and get the films made, even if it was not as comfortable.


The Maverick Producer - 1987 New York Times article by Thomas Carney
ON AN EARLY SUMMER EVENING IN 1973, Ed Pressman found himself in an apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side, celebrating the engagement of his thrice-widowed mother, Lynn, to a stockbroker. There he met Gustave Berne, an energetic real estate tycoon in his 70's who had also dabbled in the movie business.

Pressman was soon telling Berne about a problem he was having with his sixth movie, ''Phantom of the Paradise,'' a Faustian legend set in the world of rock music. American International Pictures had agreed to finance the project, which Brian De Palma would direct. But A.I.P. had suddenly cut the budget in half. ''I don't know whether they're just squeezing us,'' Pressman said, ''or if Sam Arkoff has changed his mind.''

Berne studied Pressman for a moment. ''I think we can do something, Eddie,'' he said. ''Let's meet tomorrow for lunch.''

Berne checked out the 30-year-old producer and the next day, when Pressman showed up at the Italian Pavilion, Berne boomed out: ''You're O.K., kid. Let's make a deal.''

Pressman's new partner came up with $900,000, the bulk of the ''Phantom'' budget. They estimated the overage - the amount necessary to insure that a movie will be completed even if the budget runs over - at $200,000. That became Pressman's responsibility.

Ed Pressman was an unlikely recruit for the movie business. The son of Jack Pressman, a toy executive known in the 1930's as the Marble King, he appears to have passed smoothly from one play world into another, bringing with him a universe of contacts not often available to those in the film industry.

Pressman's father had died when Ed was 16, and his mother took over the family concern, the third-largest maker of board games in the United States. But Pressman did not want to spend his life dreaming up games for Pressman Toys. As a boy in New York, he worked the refreshment stand at the Lane movie theater, owned by his uncle, Morris Lane. After graduating from Stanford University, he had spent a year at the London School of Economics - but for days hung around the London offices of Columbia Pictures. ''I went into film for the same reason I majored in philosophy,'' he says. ''They are both world-encompassing subjects.''

With $5,000, Pressman bankrolled Paul Williams, another young American abroad, to make a 12-minute short called ''Girl,'' which won a 1966 Golden Eagle Award for nontheatrical films. Back in New York, Pressman confessed to his mother with characteristic understatement why he had overdrawn his bank account: ''Mother, I did this film, and it won an award. And I'd like to go into the movie business.'' In 1969, the novice producer tested his mother's generosity once again when he failed to get studio backing for his first feature-length film, ''Out of It,'' also written by Paul Williams. Lynn Pressman gave her son not only most of the $225,000 he needed but also the run of her summer house on Long Island as a location to shoot the movie. ''I learned to be a producer just by jumping in and doing it,'' says Pressman. ''I was very skeptical about film school. With 'Out of It' I did everything, from the catering on.'' Pressman sold the completed film to United Artists for $250,000. He and Williams then took the check and laid it on Pressman's mother's desk at Pressman Toys.

Over the next five years, the two men made ''The Revolutionary,'' ''Dealing,'' ''Sisters'' and ''Badlands.'' This was the era of ''Easy Rider,'' when studio production heads were willing to take a chance on emerging talent. Williams was the wild-haired young genius while Pressman, prematurely bald, with his calm, deliberate air, seemed older, the stable businessman. Williams eventually stopped making movies, but the early alliances he and Pressman forged with such film writers and directors as Brian De Palma and Oliver Stone were to have lasting importance for Pressman's career. For altogether different reasons, the partnership with Gus Berne also proved a memorable experience. When ''Phantom of the Paradise'' was finished in 1974, 20th Century-Fox bought the film for $2 million. That seemed to assure Pressman and Berne a tidy $800,000 profit. Then Universal enjoined the movie, claiming that ''Phantom of the Paradise'' was a remake of their film ''The Phantom of the Opera.''

''It wasn't. It was a parody,'' says Pressman, ''but we settled the suit out of court, at a cost to Berne and myself of about $350,000."


Ed Pressman quote from 1989 interview in Australia
Most of the films are the work of a single writer-director—the expression of a single vision. As I like to say, the work of John Milius in Conan The Barbarian is as valid in its way as Brian De Palma in Sisters. They’re very different, but they’re all, at least to me, original, cinematically, and somehow tied to the currents of the time.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Monday, March 13, 2023 1:20 AM CDT
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