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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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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, October 30, 2023
HARMONIOUS MARRIAGE OF FORMAL BOMBAST & TENDER HUMANITY
FLOOD'S GREG CWIK ON MOTHER/DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP IN CARRIE
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/carriecareful.jpg

At FLOOD Magazine, Greg Cwik's essay "Mommie Dearest: On the Mother/Daughter Relationship at the Heart of Carrie" carries the subheadline: "The tragic undertones of Brian De Palma’s 1976 adaptation of Stephen King’s debut horror novel are anchored by a staggering performance by the late Piper Laurie." Here's a bit of it:
In Carrie, Brian De Palma flaunts his virtuosity as a filmmaker (is there a passage in ’70s Hollywood as elegant as Carrie’s long, slow walk to the stage, culminating in the fall of the blood bucket, at which point the somnolent slowness goes from lovely to agonizing?) as much as he displays his bone-aching empathy for the tragic Carrie White (Sissy Spacek). Adapting Stephen King’s debut novel at the advent of King’s reign in the book world and in Hollywood, on his way to becoming the most pervasive presence in pop-culture of the 1980s (it was his endorsement that helped bring Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead success), De Palma creates a harmonious marriage of formal bombast and tender humanity, capturing the panic spread by the unusual and the pain of the daily banalities of being a teenage girl in America.

“Virtuosity” and “humanity” also describe Piper Laurie’s staggering performance as Margaret White, Carrie’s mother, a fervid acolyte of some notion of Christ whose beliefs and implementation of punishment for minute sins are unorthodox, but she believes with all her heart. Her faith remains unwavering. The film’s cast is an eclectic array of characters with quirks and personalities, some modest and “realistic” (Amy Irving’s Sue, afflicted with guilt) and some decidedly villainous (Allen’s queen bitch and her thuggish, beer-swilling, swine-killing boyfriend played by John Travolta) in that distinct, classic way of the pre-slasher horror picture, a genre founded upon fear of the strange (Baudelaire’s affinity for the anomalous is very much relevant here).

Laurie’s God-fearing matriarch is outlandish, realized with some capital-A acting at the apogee of New Hollywood histrionics and opposite Spacek’s very internalized, kind-and-loving performance, emotions conveyed in meek terseness and downward-gazing eyes. With hair the color of sin sticking out all frizzy and unkempt, her makeup-less face wide in divine expression as she spreads the word of God translated into her own sui generis piousness, Laurie’s return to Hollywood after a 15-year absence (following her acclaimed performance in 1961’s The Hustler) is indelible and incendiary. Her presence in the film is exaggerated, a performance with an exclamation point, yet still steeped in humanity, strangled by the trauma of corrupted innocence and the desperation to make sense of one’s life. She had a kid and it ruined hers; you hear such stories all the time, hear the sanctimony of parents telling teens to abstain because the last thing they want is a kid too young.

When Margaret hurls her daughter into the closet for blaspheming, it’s not hatred of her daughter that has her quaking, but hatred of herself for birthing spawn that possesses the power of the Devil.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Sunday, October 29, 2023
LIKE MELVILLE'S 'LE SAMOURAI' REIMAGINED BY BRIAN DE PALMA
REVIEWS OF DAVID FINCHER'S THE KILLER FROM KEITH AT THE MOVIES & VARIETY
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/killer2.jpg

Keith Garlington, Keith and the Movies:
The Killer” has a cool and alluring style but with a gritty veneer. It’s as if Jean-Pierre Melville’s “Le Samourai” was reimagined by Brian De Palma. The action comes in spurts and often leaves indelible impressions (Fincher shoots one of the best hand-to-hand fight sequences you’ll see). And it’s all accentuated by yet another simmering score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

But perhaps most appealing is how Fincher embraces and subverts genre expectations. From one angle he has delivered a pretty straightforward hitman movie. But as you look closer you see the markings of a filmmaker with more on his mind. They’re markings that go beyond mere craftsmanship and execution (although those things are critical). And ultimately that is what sets this film apart. “The Killer” will show in select theaters on October 27th before streaming on Netflix November 10th.


Owen Gleiberman, Variety:
Just watching Fassbender do push-ups in his black rubber gloves wires up the atmosphere. At one point, the door of the WeWork office opens. And when the killer puts music on his earbuds (the Smiths’ “Well I Wonder”) to get into his groove, it becomes the needle drop as homicidal pop-opera soundtrack. The target arrives, and as we watch him move about the apartment, the film generates the hypnotic tension one remembers from “The Day of the Jackal” or certain moments in Brian De Palma films. We realize that the chemistry of cinema hasn’t just put us in the killer’s shoes — it has put us on his side. We want to see him do the deed.

The posters and ads for “The Killer,” a Netflix movie that’s premiering at the Venice Film festival, feature a terrific tagline: “Execution is everything.” The pun is crystal clear in its cleverness, yet there’s a third layer of meaning to it. For just as the killer’s execution of his job depends on coldly calibrating every moment (no empathy, no mistakes), Fincher has made “The Killer” with more or less the same attitude. The film is based on a French graphic novel, written by Alexis “Matz” Nolent and illustrated by Luc Jacamon, that was published in 12 volumes starting in 1998. And as staged by Fincher, from a meticulous bare-bones script by Andrew Kevin Walker (who wrote Fincher’s “Se7en”), the film is all about its own execution. It’s a minimalist nihilist action opera of procedure.


Posted by Geoff at 11:31 PM CDT
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Saturday, October 28, 2023
'PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE' AT THE PARADISE IN TORONTO
FRIDAY NOV. 24 SCREENING PRESENTED BY 'DRAG ME TO THE MOVIES'
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/dragmetothemovies2023a.jpg

Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise will screen at The Paradise Theatre in Toronto on Friday, November 24, in an interactive evening hosted by "Drag Me To The Movies" -
DRAG ME TO THE MOVIES is an interactive movie-going experience featuring drag artists, movie bingo and prizes. It is hosted by Weird Alice.

THE MUSIC MADE HIM DO IT! Join Weird Alice and special guest Continental Breakfast for the second as they rock and haunt the stage with the second annual special presentation of 1974's PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE! You asked- we are bringing it back because there is no better place to celebrate Brian De Palma's epic horror-fantasy-musical-ultimate masterpiece of cult cinema than Live at the Paradise Theatre!

In this rock opera hybrid of Phantom of the Opera and Faust, fledgling singer-songwriter Winslow Leach finds himself double-crossed by the nefarious music producer Swan, who steals both his music and the girl Leach wants to sing it, Phoenix, for the grand opening of his rock palace, The Paradise. After Swan sends Leach to prison for trespassing, Leach endures a freak accident which leaves him disfigured and plans his revenge on both Swan and the Paradise, thus becoming the PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE.

Friday November 24th, 7 PM/6:30 PM Doors

Early Bird $17.50 | General Admission $20 | Door Entry $25


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, October 29, 2023 1:06 AM CDT
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Friday, October 27, 2023
'SUITABLE FLESH' REVIEW SEES INFLUENCE OF DE PALMA & GORDON
"SPLIT SCREENS, CAMERA SWIVELS, COMPOSER STEVE MOORE'S PINO DONAGGIO-LIKE SCORE"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/suitablefleshposter.jpg

Robert Abele at the Los Angeles Times reviews Joe Lynch's Suitable Flesh:
Giggles have always had their place in the enjoyment of horror, whether tacked onto the end of a prolonged freakout or as a nervous placeholder that acknowledges a silly premise before we fully get owned by terror and blood.

But Stuart Gordon, who died in 2020, believed real laughs belonged in true horror, like a complementary energy source, as his gore-ific cult hits “Re-Animator” and “From Beyond” proved. It’s fitting that he’s the dedicatee at the end of director Joe Lynch’s body-possession lark “Suitable Flesh,” since it’s a mostly amusing throwback to Gordon’s brand of blackly comic grisliness, starting with the fact that it’s also an H.P. Lovecraft adaptation (of his 1937 short story “The Thing on the Doorstep”), written by frequent Gordon collaborator Dennis Paoli, and starring the late director’s mainstay Barbara Crampton (also a producer) in a prime role.

Just as prominent in Lynch’s shout-out sweepstakes, however, are the naughty-peekaboo trappings of Brian de Palma’s violent melodramas, which initially take pride of place here as Heather Graham’s institutionalized, wild-eyed psychiatrist Elizabeth Derby spins a tale from her padded cell to her doctor friend Daniella (Crampton) about a malevolent force trying to get her. (Another connection: We’re in the same Miskatonic med school where “Re-Animator” was set.)

Days prior, an anxious young patient named Asa (Judah Lewis) had come to Elizabeth with a tale of being the target of body possession, complete with an in-session seizure and instant change to a more arrogant, suggestive, darker personality. Later, during sexy time with her horny, ignored husband (Johnathon Schaech), a vision of Asa briefly takes over Elizabeth’s mind. Since Elizabeth wrote the book on mind/body splits (there’s always a cutaway to a thick tome as proof), her way of helping means getting more involved. She visits the creepy house where Asa lives with his father (Bruce Davison), who appears angrily haunted as well, and soon the corporeally hungry, lascivious force takes over Elizabeth too.

In her possession scenes, Graham has great fun dialing down her golden-girl shine and ramping up a smirking, predatory air, a refreshingly parodic twist on years of sexpot-role survival in a male-dominated industry. Too bad the weak body-swapping farce she’s given to play isn’t worthy of her gameness, a missed opportunity to fuse Lovecraft, Blake Edwards and Paul Verhoeven. Lynch does exhibit a winking fondness for the sax-scored signposts of ‘90s cable eroticism, but it’s not always clear what’s intentionally funny about these style tags.

Meanwhile, the De Palma-fication — split screens, camera swivels, composer Steve Moore’s Pino Donaggio-like score — doesn’t really add anything except make one wish to be more authentically inside the premise’s nightmare ride (which De Palma was so expert at) rather than observing a fan’s riff. Much more enjoyable are the parts where Gordon’s influence is prominent, especially the splattery transference-apalooza at the psych ward, where the story catches up to where it all started and we know what we’re laughing and wincing at. Crampton’s genre-burnished authority is particularly disarming here, juggling the preposterous and the believable as memorably as she did in Gordon’s madness-and-mayhem classics.


Posted by Geoff at 11:10 PM CDT
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Tuesday, October 24, 2023
DECIDER'S WALTER CHAW ON PIPER LAURIE IN 'CARRIE'
"A VOLCANO IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/piperincarrie335.jpg

"Piper Laurie Was A Volcano In Sheep’s Clothing," reads the headline at Decider, where Walter Chaw delves into three of Laurie's most well-known roles, including Margaret White in Carrie:
I first met Margaret White in the pages of Stephen King’s Carrie in elementary school and it was all because of a crush. After the release of Children of the Corn in 1984, I saw the prettiest girl in fifth grade carrying around Night Shift, the short story collection in which its source was anthologized. With no other way to get close to her, I got my parents to buy me the book and fast became obsessed by King and the illicit charge of what I’d read. Finished in a fever, I had gone in search of more King and landed on Carrie, his first book. King describes Margaret White in its first pages as a “holy roller” so obsessed by the notion of sin that she could not conceive she was pregnant until she birthed Carrie on her own on a blood-drenched mattress in an empty home surrounded by neighbors who hate her. The book, these stories and characters, have anchored themselves in me. The image of Margaret White — a person so pugnacious, so broken by experience and yet so resourceful, so driven and unknowable — immediately lodged itself in my imagination. When I finally saw Brian De Palma’s adaptation of Carrie on a VHS tape I wasn’t technically allowed to rent, the moment Piper Laurie appears on screen I knew immediately that this was Margaret White, a more-rounded, more terrifyingly human Margaret White: a volcano in sheep’s clothing.

What Laurie captured so well was not just the monstrousness of a woman who refers to breasts as “dirty pillows,” not the middle-distance gaze, the sense that not all was well with Margaret who had one foot in reality and the other with the cruel angels of her own divining, but the woman who had her own sad stories to tell — but no one to tell them to. King says Margaret believed her pregnancy was a rapidly-spreading “cancer of the womanly parts” and that she was going to die soon. I can see her belief manifested in Laurie’s performance: the fatalism and mortality, the surety that comes with ignorance and unquestioned faith, the beatific arrogance of the saved forged in the fire of ostracization and isolation. Margaret first appears ten minutes into Carrie, a witch from a fairytale all in black with black cloak, her red hair an untamed thicket come to call on a hapless neighbor with a poisoned apple of the Good News promising salvation in a Godless time. She proselytizes with orgasmic bliss to an increasingly unnerved neighbor before being sent away with ten dollars. She experiences the same kind of rapture when she’s beating her daughter, Carrie (Sissy Spacek), and forcing the child to confess to sins she hasn’t committed. She’s transferring the rejection of her evangelism into rage at a daughter whose budding sexuality she can’t stem. Margaret can’t save her. She’s failed as a parent. Margaret’s humiliation is Carrie’s fault, Carrie who is learning how terrible the world is for young women despite all the precautions Margaret’s taken. Margaret wants to protect Carrie from the rejection and humiliation that she, herself, suffers daily. She’s a terrible mother but what makes her indelible in Carrie is how Laurie makes us believe she has good intentions.

A lot of actors would be up to the task of playing unhinged, but few could also do what Laurie does later when Carrie, fresh from a round of punishments and forced isolation, kisses her mother sweetly on the cheek before bed. Laurie underplays the moment. Her Margaret has no shame for her behavior — why should she? just pleasure over how things have returned to her sense of normal. Laurie underplays it but if you look close, her eyes are glassy and ecstatic. Margaret isn’t sliding up and down an emotional scale, she’s burning at the same temperature whatever her outward expression. When she’s not in the midst of an eruption, she’s still vibrating, maniacally, dangerously in place. I think among Laurie’s peers in the Hollywood of the 1950s, where she got her start as a contract player for Universal, only Ida Lupino had the same quality of dangerous, even explosive potential in stillness. I don’t know that even Lupino could have played Margaret White as something other than a camp caricature, some “psycho-biddy” refugee from a Robert Aldrich exploitation film. As played by Laurie, Margaret’s story has the awful weight of history and melancholy: her story becomes a blueprint for suffering for her daughter, of trauma left to metastasize into madness and of mental illness shunned rather than treated.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Monday, October 23, 2023
'CARLITO'S WAY' & THE PURSUIT OF A SECOND CHANCE
ESSAY BY TOUSEF ISLAM AT THE BUSINESS STANDARD
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/carlitostation55c.jpg

At The Business Standard, Tousef Islam writes about Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way ("Fate's fiddle on the road to redemption") -
Carlito Brigante, portrayed with poignant charisma by Al Pacino, is a character coloured with constraints and contradictions - capturing the essence of a man at odds with his own identity. His journey is fraught with emotional tension, and it serves as an allegory for the human struggle against the shackles of one's own history.

The film's central conflict revolves around Carlito's unwavering desire to escape his criminal ties, juxtaposed with the inescapable lure of the life he once led, inevitably leading to an inexorable showdown with his destiny.

Brian De Palma's signature tracking shots, exquisite cinematography, and meticulous attention to detail create a film that is both visually stunning and emotionally resonant. The seductive aura of 1970s New York City, with its gritty allure and corrupt underbelly, is vividly brought to life through De Palma's lens.

It preserves the essence of a bygone era with meticulous attention to period detail. The film's costume design, soundtrack, and setting pay homage to the turbulent 1970s. The result is an immersive experience that transports the viewer to a world where flamboyant fashion and a pulsating soundtrack merge seamlessly with the gritty narrative.

The supporting characters are equally well-crafted, offering a glimpse into the diverse and often treacherous world of organised crime. Sean Penn's performance as David Kleinfeld, a slimy and unpredictable lawyer, mirrors Carlito's descent while showcasing the destructiveness of hubris. Gail, portrayed by Penelope Ann Miller, serves as a symbol of hope and love, albeit tinged with tragedy.

The film's evocative soundtrack, composed by Patrick Doyle, complements the narrative and heightens the emotional impact of the story. The Spanish guitar melodies and Latin rhythms imbue the film with a distinct fervour, enhancing the authenticity of its setting and characters.

Carlito's Way explores themes of loyalty and betrayal. Carlito's unyielding loyalty to those close to him contrasts against the backdrop of a world marred by treachery and deceit highlighting the moral complexity of the criminal underworld. His misguided trust becomes a tragic catalyst, emphasising the treacherous nature of a pursuit for a second chance.

The interplay of these themes provides an intricate introspection of human relationships - displaying the fragility of trust and the inescapable consequences of deception.

It is a tale of seeking salvation in a world filled with moral ambiguity, where the choices made are fraught with consequences. Carlito's attempt to escape his past is an allegory for the human condition itself—a struggle against the heaviness of one's history.

The film is rife with symbolism, from the religious iconography woven throughout the narrative to the omnipresent visual motif of the escalator, symbolizing Carlito's constant struggle to ascend from his criminal past. Every element of the film has been carefully constructed to imbue the story with a deeper layer of meaning, making it a rich and thought-provoking experience.

One of the key elements that makes Carlito's quest for redemption so intriguing is its ambiguity. Carlito is acutely aware of the consequences of his past actions and sincerely wants to change, but his loyalty to his old associations keeps him tethered to a world he's trying to escape. This tension between his desire to do good and his inability to completely sever ties with his criminal past depicts a universal dilemma – whether true redemption is even possible?


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Wednesday, October 18, 2023
DE PALMA & LASSER'S 'SENSUOUS WOMAN' SCREENPLAY - 1971
UNMADE ADAPTATION OF BEST-SELLER - FINLEY'S PERSONAL COPY IS PART OF BONHAMS AUCTION
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/louisesensuous.jpg

Last month, it was announced that the late William Finley's complete costume from Phantom Of The Paradise was going up for auction in October (as in, right now, at Bonhams), along with other treasures from Finley's personal collections. Some of those treaures have now been posted at Bonhams, and one in particular stands out as a surprise. Under the heading, "William Finley Collection of Four Brian De Palma Scripts", grouped with scripts for Dressed To Kill, Deja Vu, and The Demolished Man, there is a screenplay described as: "1971. Studio bound and bradded Sensuous Woman 135-page screenplay dated "December 15, 1972" on the interior title page." In the footnotes is the following description:
The Sensuous Woman is an unfilmed, loose adaptation by De Palma and comedienne Louise Lasser of Terry Garrity's (under the pseudonym "J") groundbreaking guide to female sexuality from a woman's perspective.

I had not heard of this screenplay before - as we know, De Palma had made Get To Know Your Rabbit in 1971 (released in 1972/1973), after which he made Sisters. I was able to find a brief about this potential film in A. H. Weiler's New York Times movie column dated January 7, 1973:
A movie of “The Sensuous Woman” by “J” that won't be rated “X”? Independent producer William L. Snyder thinks he can bring it off.

Snyder has owned the screen rights to the best‐selling sex primer for two years and, although he admits it's been a toughie to translate into film terms, he says he's got it. The screenplay is the work of three writers: Louise Lasser, Brian De Palma and Jeannie Sakol. Since Miss Lasser, the former wife of Woody Allen, is well known as an actress in such Allen films as “Bananas” and “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex,” she will naturally star in “The Sensuous Woman.” And since De Palma has achieved some fame as the director of “Greetings” and “Hi, Mom!,” he will direct.

How are they escaping that damning “X”? Snyder explained that “the script is not the kind of instructional thing the book was but a wry comedy about a married woman with two kids who decides to break away to a freer, more sensuous life style.” She will start breaking away in March in Toronto.


According to the March 20, 1972 issue of Publishers Weekly, Sakol had already completed her rewrite of De Palma and Lasser's screenplay, and a paperback edition of Sakol's 1968 book The Seducer: & How To Be Carnally Knowledgeable was about to be published.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, October 19, 2023 12:08 AM CDT
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Tuesday, October 17, 2023
VIDEO - ROSANNA NORTON REVISITS 'PHANTOM' COSTUME
PRIOR TO UPCOMING AUCTION, COSTUME DESIGNER RECALLS WORKING ON IT WITH WILLIAM FINLEY, ETC.

Posted by Geoff at 11:44 PM CDT
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Monday, October 16, 2023
LARA PARKER HAS DIED, AT 84
ON BREAK FROM DARK SHADOWS, SHE PLAYED A HOUSEWIFE WITH A CAMERA IN HI, MOM!
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/laracam1.jpg

Lara Parker, who played a housewife making a film diary in Brian De Palma's Hi, Mom! (1970), has died at 84. Her daughter Caitlin told The Hollywood Reporter that Lara died in her sleep this past Thursday.

Known for her role as Angelique on the ABC soap opera Dark Shadows, on which she appeared from 1967 to its final episode in 1971, Parker worked on Hi, Mom during a production break. Having scripted lines to read on a daily soap opera, Parker was not accustomed to the improvisatory nature of De Palma's film. In a 2016 interview with Den of Geek's Tony Sokol, Parker said, "Brian De Palma cast me and they actually put in my two children. He was doing improvised theater. We were improvising on film, without lines, without a character to play. It was a whole different thing and I actually was not very good at it." Parker had a bathtub scene that De Palma had asked her to improvise, but it ended up being cut from the film. "I was very naive and not very courageous," Parker said in 2013. "He wanted me to improvise sexual fantasies ... in a bathtub … with bubbles … in the nude."

In an interview conducted after only the first day of filming, De Palma described the housewife character for Joseph Gelmis, in Gelmis' book, The Film Director as Superstar:

I got the idea for a housewife making a film diary of her life from David Holzman's Diary. She starts out with home movies. It gets more and more obsessive. She's very concerned with things. She has a scene where she talks about her body the way she talks about chairs and objects. Everything becomes an object for her.

Here's an excerpt from the Hollywood Reporter obituary by Mike Barnes:

Mere days after arriving in New York in 1967, the green-eyed Parker auditioned for Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis, who cast her as Angelique in a story arc that would detail the origin of the tortured vampire Barnabas.

A soldier and the son of a shipping magnate, Barnabas in 1795 seduced and abandoned a servant girl from Martinique not realizing she was a witch. That girl was Angelique. “He just dallied with her and then dismissed her, and she was not to be dismissed,” Parker said in an undated interview for a Dark Shadows home video release.

An enraged Angelique would damn Barnabas to enteral life as a vampire, kicking off a battle between the two that would continue through different time periods.

“I played her as somebody who was much more of a tragic figure, who was desperately, desperately in love,” Parker said in 2016. “And her heart was broken. That’s much more sympathetic than just being a mean old witch. I felt that her acts were acts of desperation, not acts of evil.”

Though Angelique and others she would inhabit would perish, she would remain with the daytime serial through its April 1971 demise.

“Dan Curtis [would call Parker and say], ‘You’ve been great, kiddo, but we’re going to kill your character. Thanks a lot for everything,” she recalled in 2020. “Of course I was very sad, but about two months later they called me and said that they wanted me back.

“We were kind of the first team, and the fans seemed to watch it more when Angelique and Barnabas were fighting it out. That seemed to be the most popular part of the show, so [Curtis] brought me back many, many times.”

Parker was born Mary Lamar Rickey on Oct. 27, 1938, in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her father, Albert, was an attorney, and her mother, Ann, was active in civic groups.

She graduated from Central High School in Memphis and attended Vassar — she roomed with Jane Fonda there — and Rhodes College in Memphis, where at 19 she served as Wink Martindale’s assistant on his WHBQ-TV show, Dance Party. She then earned a master’s degree from the University of Iowa.

After a busy summer acting at the Millbrook Playhouse in Pennsylvania, Parker left her husband and two kids in Wisconsin for a spell to see if she could find work as an actor in New York. “By the time the children were 6 and 7 years old,” she said in a 1972 interview for Mid-South magazine, “I knew that I just couldn’t sit there and look at those fields for the rest of my life.”

In New York for her second-ever professional audition, she was cast as Angelique. “I think my only reaction to it was paralyzed fear,” she said.

Dark Shadows, which had debuted in June 1966, received a viewership jolt when Frid was introduced as Barnabas in April 1967. Parker arrived in the fictional town of Collinsport, Maine, seven months later.

“We realized [the show] was popular,” she said. “Everywhere we went [the cast was] recognized. There was a huge crowd outside the [Manhattan] studio when we finished in the afternoon of autograph seekers. People would show up, the same people every single day, day after day. They worshipped some of us and would walk us to the subway.

“I can remember standing on the subway when school got out and seeing 200 or 300 kids all waiting to take the train. They would see me and start screaming and run to the other end of the platform! They were so terrified because I was so evil.”

Meanwhile, feminists admired Parker because of her character’s strength, she said. “She was coming in at the beginning of the women’s movement and she was very independent,” Parker noted. “They sort of missed the fact that she was obsessed with her love for Barnabas and that was destroying her.”

On Facebook, her Dark Shadows co-star Kathryn Leigh Scott wrote Monday that Parker’s death left her “heartbroken, as all of us are who knew and loved her. She graced our lives with her beauty and talent, and we are all richer for having had her in our lives.”

During breaks in production, Parker acted on Broadway in September 1968 in Woman Is My Idea, which lasted just five performances, and in the early Brian De Palma film Hi, Mom! (1970), starring Robert De Niro.



Posted by Geoff at 8:15 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, October 16, 2023 8:18 PM CDT
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Saturday, October 14, 2023
PIPER LAURIE HAS DIED, AT 91
"SUBCONSCIOUSLY I THINK I GAVE MYSELF PERMISSION TO BE OVER THE TOP & LARGER THAN LIFE"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/piperlaurie1953.jpg

Piper Laurie posed for the photograph above in 1953, more than two decades before she so memorably portrayed Margaret White in Brian De Palma's adaptation of Stephen King's Carrie (1976). As The Hollywood Reporter's Mike Barnes reports, Laurie passed away earlier today:
Piper Laurie, the three-time Oscar-nominated actress known for her performances in The Hustler and Carrie and for her outlandish two-character, two-gender turn on the original Twin Peaks, died Saturday morning in Los Angeles. She was 91.

Laurie had not been well for some time, her rep, Marion Rosenberg, told The Hollywood Reporter.


Piper Laurie's early career in the 1950s included work in live television drama, directed by greats such as Sydney Lumet and John Frankenheimer (the latter for Days Of Wine And Roses). After starring with Paul Newman in Robert Rossen's The Hustler (1961), she made a decision to leave the film industry to get to know herself better. She got married, had a daughter, and didn't make another film for 15 years, until De Palma cast her in Carrie. She was Oscar nominated for both The Hustler and Carrie, and then again for her role in Randa HainesChildren Of A Lesser God (1986). She later worked with David Lynch, on the first two seasons of Twin Peaks (1990/1991). Through the years, Laurie appeared in many more films, including Walter Murch’s Return To Oz (1985), Norman Jewison’s Other People’s Money (1991), Dario Argento's Trauma (1993), Sean Penn’s The Crossing Guard (1995), and Robert RodriguezThe Faculty (1998).

In Lee Gambin's book, Like Being on Mars: An Oral History of Carrie (1976), Laurie says that she "absolutely used immense amounts of stagecraft with the role" of Margaret White. "I think it definitely needed to go there, to get to those operatic and grandiose theatrical levels. I watched Brian's movie Phantom Of The Paradise a few times before doing Carrie, and I saw how operatic and over the top that was! So subconsciously I think I gave myself permission to be over the top and larger than life. I think that benefits such a wonderfully operatic story. It is really an extension of a heightened reality!"

Regarding Laurie's time on Twin Peaks, Barnes writes:

After Laurie’s unscrupulous Catherine Martell of the Packard Sawmill presumably had perished in a fire during the first season of ABC’s Twin Peaks, series co-creator David Lynch called her and said he wanted the actress to return for season two — to play Martell disguised as a man.

“‘What kind of man is going to be up to you,'” she said he told her. “‘You could be a Mexican, a Frenchman, whatever you think.’ I was beside myself with the power to be able to pick my part like that. I decided I would be a Japanese businessman because I thought it would be less predictable.”

Incredibly, the cast and crew were kept in the dark about this. Laurie was told not to tell anyone — not even her family — that she was back on Twin Peaks, and her name was kept out of the credits. And so, sporting a black hairpiece, Fu Manchu mustache and dark glasses, Laurie arrived on the set as actor Fumio Yamaguchi, there to portray the character Mr. Tojamura.

“The cast would never come very close to me,” Laurie said. “They were told to be respectful to this actor who had come over from Japan specifically for the show and had only worked with [Akira] Kurosawa.”

She said that, eventually, some in the cast began to realize something was amiss — but Peggy Lipton, Laurie noted, thought Yamaguchi was actually Isabella Rossellini in disguise.

The actress earned Emmy noms in 1990 and 1991 for her work on the show.


From Dan Callahan's tribute to Piper Laurie at RogerEbert.com:

Thoughts about Piper Laurie must begin with the darkness and throatiness of her mature speaking voice and the frightening directness and strength of her gaze, which could seem nearly Satanic sometimes, as if she were intimately aware of all the worst that life had to offer. She had been born Rosetta Jacobs to Jewish parents in Detroit, and it was only after signing a contract at Universal that she got her new name. Laurie never thought seriously of discarding that name from her ingenue days, even when its incongruous birdlike cheerfulness became so at odds with the watchful quality she was so apt to offer to the camera, with its hints of unspeakable depravity.

In the 1950s, Universal put out lots of cockamamie press stories about its young starlet; in one of them, the young Laurie supposedly only ate flower petals. In her colorfully indiscreet 2011 memoir “Learning to Live Out Loud,” Laurie writes of how she lost her virginity to future-president Ronald Reagan after they starred together in a movie called “Louisa” (1950), and she is unsparing about how coldly technical and un-romantic this was (she claimed that Reagan even told her how much money he spent on condoms). Laurie made pictures with Tony Curtis and Rock Hudson and looked pretty in Technicolor, but only those watching very closely may have discerned that there was something more to her than what Universal required, something like a bomb that needed to go off.

By the late 1950s, Laurie was fed up with Hollywood and went to New York to study acting. It wasn’t easy to live down her past or get casting agents and directors to take her seriously, but Laurie made a serious impression on live TV when she played an alcoholic in “Days of Wine and Roses” (1958) for director John Frankenheimer. This eventually led to her getting the role of Sarah Packard in Robert Rossen’s “The Hustler” (1961) opposite Paul Newman, a performance that earned her an Academy Award nomination for best actress and put Laurie on a new level.

Laurie’s Sarah Packard is an alcoholic, and she walks with a limp. Any man with sense would know right away that Sarah is trouble with a capital “T,” and she tells Newman’s “Fast” Eddie Felson to his face that she is trouble, and a bad lot, and not worth bothering about. But Sarah Packard has a kind of allure in her consummate solitude; there is something somehow glamorous even about her self-loathing.

How does Sarah earn her living? Sarah tells Eddie that she is living off what the last rich man she was with gave her, and so she has been around the block more than a few times. When she was younger, Sarah had tried to be an actress, but that’s all finished; now she mainly drinks and broods. When she isn’t drinking, Sarah takes college classes, but without any ultimate aim in mind. The look on Sarah’s face is so isolated and so self-destructive that it is as if ultimate aims are beneath her. She hates herself so much that there is something untouchably romantic about her.

The Hustler” remorselessly charts the hopes that begin to grow in Sarah that she might actually deign to accept the love of another human being and then their final destruction when she enters the orbit of Bert Gordon (George C. Scott), a man who wants to exploit Eddie’s talent for pool playing and sees Sarah as an encumbrance. Bert says things meant to wound Sarah, and she begins to crumble away. There comes a point when Bert whispers something in Sarah’s ear, and we never find out what it was, but it is so bad that she is finished by it; she cannot go on any further.

Laurie’s Sarah Packard is a woman who once had many possibilities, and she still has them almost up to the end; all it takes is one more bit of deliberate cruelty to destroy her, and Scott’s Bert Gordon tips that scale for her. This is tragic, because Sarah Packard isn’t the sort of person who is a hopeless case, but she is too sensitive, and she is also perverse, and that is a deadly combination.

Laurie did not capitalize on her success in “The Hustler.” Instead, she married the film critic Joe Morgenstern and didn’t make any more movies until she was offered the role of the religious fanatic mother Margaret White in Brian De Palma’s “Carrie” (1976), in which she gives one of the campiest performances of all time even though Laurie plays it all with such a straight face. It was that poker face of hers that let Laurie get away with anything in this movie and somehow still seem serious and seriously scary, even when Margaret speaks of the “dirty pillows” of her daughter Carrie (Sissy Spacek) and runs around smiling with a large knife, her long, curly hair flowing behind her.

Carrie” brought Laurie another Oscar nomination, this time for best supporting actress, and Laurie obtained far more work now after this second comeback. She headlined a horror vehicle for director Curtis Harrington called “Ruby” (1977), played Judy Garland’s fearsome stage mother on television in 1978, and was flat-out terrifying as Magda Goebbels in “The Bunker” (1981), especially in the scene where she poisons her own children.

But Laurie gave maybe her most perverse performance of all as a well-to-do woman who develops a yen for a mentally handicapped young hunk (Mel Gibson) in “Tim” (1979), which is meant to be a sentimental love story but is steered directly into the most disturbing possible direction by Laurie from the moment her character first sets eyes on her young prey in his tight shorts (in her memoir, Laurie wrote that she slept with Gibson shortly after the shooting wrapped, for she wasn’t shy about detailing such perks of her profession).

Laurie worked quite a bit in the 1980s, getting one more Oscar nomination for “Children of a Lesser God” (1986) in the supporting category. But it was in 1990 that she received a role that will stand with her Sarah Packard and her Margaret White for her legacy: the authoritative Catherine Martell on David Lynch’s classic surreal TV series “Twin Peaks,” an unscrupulous lady who will stop at nothing to get what she wants, the inverse of the romantic loser Sarah Packard.


Posted by Geoff at 9:46 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, October 16, 2023 6:39 PM CDT
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