In De Palma of Your Hand

DATELINE:  Filmmaker Talks


DePalma with documentary producers

Brian De Palma went to college with Robert DeNiro and cast him as his principal actor in the early 1960s. In the narrative of his life, De Palma shows scenes with his the great actor. He also grew up as a director with names synonymous with great films: Coppola, Spielberg, Schrader, and Lucas. They were musketeers planning to take over Hollywood. And they did.

De Palma is worth more than watching his body of work.

De Palma was the most sensational of the bunch, making the greatest number of flops and memorable moments. He took chances and tried to follow as an acolyte of Hitchcock.

Yet, even in hindsight, Brian De Palma’s movies were overwrought, exaggerated, lacked subtlety that the Master of Suspense gave every film.

The derivative director of many pictures from Carrie to Obsession, from The Furies to the Untouchables, from Mission: Impossible to Dressed to Kill, from Scarface to Blow Out, he is remembered for excess. Brian De Palma will be the first to tell you his films were flawed, some through his own faults, others from circumstances.

He worked with all the great stars of his era: Michael Caine, John Travolta, John Cassavetes, Orson Welles, Tom Cruise, Kevin Costner, Sean Connery—and he relates honest and fascinating anecdotes about all of them.

He provides exegesis of his films—and works that influenced him, notably Vertigo.

In the final analysis, and likely his own opinion, he is the least of that bright generation of directors, his friends all. Yet, after failures, mistakes, and concessions to budgets, his oeuvre stands there without parallel.

You may not like his movies, but you will respect the director who made it a point to stay as true to his art as he could. This documentary spotlights a filmmaker’s lifetime achievement.