CENSORED VIDEO VERSION RELEASED DAY AFTER FULL-ON THEATRICAL
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a la Mod:
There are movies that are not only hallmarks of our popular culture, but resonate with their audience with such ferocity, that they inspire and influence a generation, for life. Phantom of the Paradise is one of those special movies, and it continues to captivate new generations. All the planets aligned in 1974 with a break-out directorial feat for a young Brian DePalma and his screenplay, a score and songs by the legendary Paul Williams, makeup by FX pioneer John Chambers, and a sexy leather bondage ensemble by Rosanna Norton, worn with finesse by the unforgettable character actor William Finley. All this magic wrapped up in camp and, most notably, Rock & Roll! Small wonder a legion of future filmmakers was mesmerized by this miraculous, modern, monster movie.
And as is the case with many off-beat, trend-setting efforts, who could predict the ever-growing cult fandom that would follow this film right up to this day. As much attention and acclaim as the film has earned, it's shocking how little material exists from production. Collectors have been known to pay tens of thousands of dollars just for a replica helmet! There's barely a trace of prop or fabric...until now! This is the screen worn, complete "Winslow / Phantom" costume worn by William Finley in the film, stored away by the actor for nearly half a century, and discovered in perfect condition by Mr. Finley's family after his passing.
Twentieth Century-Fox, 1974. The custom costume includes: 1-leather strap and metal buckle tunic, 1-long sleeved turtleneck under tunic, 1-matching pair of leather buckle pants, 1-pair of leather gloves, 1-pair of leather boots, 1-crushed velvet red and black character cape, 1-black and silver character cape, 1-two-piece cast fiberglass shell visor helmet with one smoked eye lens painted in gunmetal silver, and 1-set of chromed dentures that would slip over the actor's own teeth. The costume even includes the sport socks Finley wore in character. The rarity of this holy grail costume can't be over-emphasized, and provenance is unquestionable.
Other movie-related William Finley treasures available as well. The cornerstone of our Music & Monsters auction can be the cornerstone of your collection!
I somehow had no idea that that was Stephen Bishop, before he became well-known, as one of the people auditioning for Swan...! Earlier today, Bishop shared the post below on his Facebook page:
In the following passage, filmbee89 delves into a couple of key moments between technique, score, editing, and performance:
Fast forward to 1975, and Courtland is still very much obsessed with his late wife and often visits a monument he has had built in her memory, a replica of the church (the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte) in Florence, Italy, where the two of them first met. To show the transition of time, De Palma’s cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and Paul Hirsch (who frequently collaborated with the director), pan the camera across from Courtland in 1950 then across to the monument and back to Courtland in 1975. Coupled with Bernard Herrmann‘s beautiful but haunting score and the sound of the howling wind, De Palma manages to capture Courtland’s feelings of sorrow, loss and regret.
Courtland’s business partner Robert LaSalle (John Lithgow) manages to convince the widower to accompany him on a work trip to Florence. While there, Courtland revisits the church and finds a young woman named Sandra (Bujold) who resembles his late wife. Courtland is very much taken aback by Sandra’s appearance and begins to court her. In a touching scene, Sandra asks Courtland what happened to his wife, and he ‘admits’ that he killed her. Much has been said about Robertson’s performance, but his deadpan delivery helps to reflect how ‘zombie-like’ and ‘out-of-it’ his character is.
Reading up on the final third act proposed by Schrader, I can’t help but think that it would have been a complicated and convoluted third act that ultimately would have completely ruined the emotional impact of the film’s conclusion. (For those interested in reading Schrader’s full three-act script, it was released as part of the Arrow video Blu-ray in 2011).
The ending we do receive is gut wrenching and heart-breaking, so much so, that it reduced me to tears. Bujold’s performance in the film’s end scene is so impactful that you’re left reeling once the credits start rolling. She successfully manages to encapsulates the fragile mental condition of her character, and we feel her sense of pain and longing to be be loved unconditionally.
There are a lot of positive aspects to “Obsession” aside from the stunning performance by Bujold. Firstly, the film’s score is magnificent. After the film had been completed, Herrman declared it as the finest film in his musical career. He manages to capture the emotional state of both Courtland and Sandra without being too over-sentimental. Even though Cliff Robertson’s performance is very lacklustre in many scenes, there are moments where he manages to shine, especially in the film’s climax. And, when he does underperform, other aspects of the film such as the score; the editing, the cinematography and Bujold’s performance, manage to save the film from being an utter disaster.
In the 2015 documentary “De Palma” (by directors Jake Paltrow and Noah Baumbach), Brian De Palma stated that he felt the film’s major flaw was the casting of Robertson. He strongly felt that the actor couldn’t capture the anguish of the character and that Robertson was quite difficult to deal with on-set. Apparently, the actor insisted on a dark tanning makeup, inappropriate for his troubled character. It made lighting him so difficult that at one point cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond shoved him against a wood wall and shouted “You! You are the same colour as this wall!”
De Palma may be dismissive of Robertson’s acting ability but he has sung the praises of Bujold who he felt had the more difficult role, which she played admirably, giving the film the emotional resonance needed for the project. I can’t help but wonder if Robertson felt like he was being overshadowed by Bujold and as a result this impacted his performance. Sandra is by far a more interesting and complex character compared to Michael and I can’t help but wonder if the film would have been more impactful if we had seen more from her point-of-view.
The film was an unexpected financial success. Columbia held on to the movie for almost a year before deciding to release in late August of 1976. August is usually considered the “dog days” of movie attendance, so it was a bit of surprise for the studio, and it earned the distributor over $4 million in domestic (U.S. and Canada) rentals.
Upon its release, the critical reaction was very mixed. Some critics like Roger Ebert sung the film’s praises. He wrote in his review that “Obsession is an overwrought melodrama, and that’s what I like best about it…I don’t just like movies like these; I relish them. Sometimes overwrought excess can be its own reward. If Obsession had been even a little more subtle, had made even a little more sense on some boring logical plane, it wouldn’t have worked at all.” I’m inclined to agree with him, the film works because of its melodrama and its unbelievable plot. With certain films like “Obsession” there must be a suspension of disbelief.
Other critics were quick to compliment the stylish cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond, and Herrmann’s beautiful, highly romantic score. In fact his score for “Obsession” was one of the more acclaimed in his distinguished career, and earned him a posthumous Academy Award nomination (the composer died in December 1975, a few hours after completing the score of Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver”).
Surprisingly, one of the critics who should have loved “Obsession” turned out to be very dismissive of De Palma’s film. Pauline Kael had praised many of the director’s other films in the past, but she wrote in her review that the film was “no more than an exercise in style, with the camera whirling around nothingness…”. I’m not quite sure why she was so dismissive of “Obsession” but I can reassure you that it is not “an exercise in style” or a “Vertigo” copy-cat, it is very much a film that can stand on its own legs and has plenty of its own uniqueness and beauty. It is well-worth a watch. And, if you happen to get obsessed with it like I did, then I did try to warn you.
La-La Land Records and Universal Pictures proudly mark the 40th Anniversary of the legendary 1983 big-screen gangster drama SCARFACE, starring Al Pacino and directed by Brian De Palma, with a world premiere vinyl LP release of Academy Award-Winning composer Giorgio Moroder’s (MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, AMERICAN GIGOLO, CAT PEOPLE, FLASHDANCE) original motion picture score.
SCARFACE – 40th ANNIVERSARY ORIGINAL SCORE is a limited edition 2XLP 33 rpm pressing on 180 gram colored vinyl that will be available in two exciting variants – “Chainsaw” Red Splatter and “Yeyo” Pure White! This deluxe release is the first time Maestro Moroder’s expanded film score is available on LP – a pitch perfect way to commemorate four decades of this landmark film.
When legendary director Brian De Palma needed the perfect musicscape for his game-changing gangster opus, he called upon renowned composer and electronic and pop music pioneer Giorgio Moroder to deliver – and did Moroder ever deliver… with a groundbreaking and absolutely iconic and influential synth film score.
Produced by Neil S. Bulk and Dan Goldwasser, and mastered in high-resolution by Chris Malone, this expanded LP unleashes Moroder’s classic film score across two records. Each vinyl color variant is limited to 750 units, and the gatefold jacket also houses an eight page insert with liner notes by writer Tim Greiving. The sharp art direction is by Dan Goldwasser. Finally… the world – and Moroder’s music of SCARFACE – is yours!!!
Although several of his films have either competed for or won Academy Awards (including “The Untouchables,” which brought Sean Connery a Best Supporting Actor trophy in 1987), De Palma has never personally been nominated for an Oscar. He has, however, competed at the Razzies a number of times, including for a few films (“Dressed to Kill,” “Scarface,” and “Body Double”) that have since been named as some of his best (the same, sadly, can’t be said for either “The Bonfire of the Vanities” or “Mission to Mars”).
De Palma’s reputation has grown among cineastes who appreciate his visual flair, his flashes of humor, and his fascination with gore. He was recently the subject of the career-spanning documentary “De Palma” (2016), directed by Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow.
Tour our photo gallery of De Palma’s 20 greatest films, including a few gems for which he was undoubtedly snubbed at the Oscars.
This week, I am honored to welcome a dynamic duo of acclaimed bestselling crime writers to the podcast & two women who've both won the Edgar and numerous other awards. Additionally, good friends who've also collaborated on the graphic novel NORMANDY GOLD, it's the wonderful partnership of Megan Abbott & Alison Gaylin. Author of such must-reads as DARE ME, THE TURNOUT, & GIVE ME YOUR HAND, Megan Abbott's latest novel BEWARE THE WOMAN is a modern gothic nightmare that you won't be able to put down. Alison Gaylin is the author of such gripping works as IF I DIE TONIGHT, NEVER LOOK BACK, & THE COLLECTIVE, & her latest title is a brand new Sunny Randall novel, ROBERT B. PARKER'S BAD INFLUENCE.
Joining me to discuss the career of Brian De Palma, one of our most singular yet controversial filmmakers, in this breathlessly paced, contemplative & infectiously fun conversation, the two writers share their thoughts on the director's works, legacy, critics, popular sources of debate, & the films SISTERS, BLOW OUT, & BODY DOUBLE. As a fun bonus for listeners, similar to the way that I wove voice-over into an earlier fourth-season episode with Megan Abbott devoted to Paul Schrader, once again, I've recruited the vocal talents of a friend (today, in the form of past guest Peter Avellino) to read excerpts from past De Palma interviews I discovered & enjoyed during my research.