BRIAN DE PALMA BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
Brian De Palma is an American film director, writer, and producer, whose career has spanned over four decades. Beginning in the 1970's, he has created some of the movie industry's most prolific and controversial pictures. The director is most well known for his gory and disturbing thrillers, which are sometimes compared to the films of the great horror filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock.
De Palma was born into a Roman Catholic family on September 11, 1940 in Newark, New Jersey. His father was an orthopedic surgeon, and the filmmaker later attributed his fascination with gore to be the result of watching his father at work so many times. Growing up he went to various Quaker schools, where he became deeply interested in physics and science. He even won a top prize at a regional science fair during high school. De Palma also found interest in electronics, and worked on designing his own computers. For college, he attended Columbia University to major in physics. Once there – after watching classics like Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" (1958) and Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" (1941) – he became interested in movies. While still at Columbia, he made a few films himself: "Icarus" (1960), "660124: The Story of an IBM Card" (1961), and "Woton's Wake" (1962). De Palma subsequently enrolled in Sarah Lawrence College (one of the first men to do so) as a graduate student in their theater department, and was greatly influenced by various teachers such as Andy Warhol and Alfred Hitchcock himself.
In the beginning, the director's films were mainly black and white, like "Bridge That Gap" (1965). They would later become color though. His first theatrical release came only a few years later, with 1968’s crime comedy “Murder à la Mod”. He then quickly spotted a new actor by the name of Robert De Niro, and gave him his first credited acting job in De Palma's comedy "Greetings" (1968). They were eager to work together again, and both contributed to two additional features, "The Wedding Party" (1969) and "Hi, Mom!" (1970) (however, “The Wedding Party” was actually filmed before “Greetings”, but was released later).
After working with De Niro, the director made his first studio film, with Warner Brothers, “Get to Know Your Rabbit” (1972), a comedy about a corporate executive who quits his job to take up the position of a tap-dancing musician. Due to tension on set, De Palma returned to independent filmmaking with his subsequent thrillers, “Sisters” (1973), “Phantom of the Paradise” (1974), and “Obsession” (1976). He was soon offered the chance to direct an adaptation of a Stephen King novel titled “Carrie” (1976). In the film, a teased and withdrawn teenage girl learns she has telekinetic powers that are heightened when she becomes angry. It starred Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, and John Travolta, and quickly became De Palma’s first true box office hit. Thanks to the success of the latter, the director was granted more money to create his horror feature, “The Fury” (1978), and comedy flick “Home Movies” (1980).
The filmmaker’s subsequent picture, “Dressed to Kill” (1980), became one of his most controversial, but paid true homage to Hitchcock with its own shower scene. While graphic – with murder and rape – and disturbing enough to have earned De Palma the title of a misogynist by many female critics, the film proved to be lucrative at the theater. Next came another thriller with John Travolta, “Blow Out” (1981), but this time it turned out to be a disappointment. Quick to redeem himself, he directed the highly successful Howard Hawke gangster drama “Scarface” in 1983, starring Al Pacino as Cuban émigré Tony Montana. While similar to De Palma’s other films with its extensive violence, it actually became his first full realized drama. He soon came out with another Hitchcock-esque feature, “Body Double” (1984), which while criticized for its gore, especially by women groups, earned a small cult following. He recovered from this disappointment by releasing a more mainstream picture, “The Untouchables” (1987), a violent look into the partnership of Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner) and Chicago police officer (Sean Connery), who tried to take down infamous criminal Al Capone (Robert De Niro). The piece was hailed as a masterpiece by critics and audiences alike, earning four Academy Award nods. The director switched to another time in history next, with the Vietnam War based “Casualties of War” (1989). Unfortunately, it did not catch on at the box office. He found an ever greater failure following, though, as his take on a Tome Wolfe novel, “Bonfire of the Vanities” (1990), received great critical beatings and earned him two Razzie nominations.
De Palma returned to his favorite subject, terror, in “Raising Cain” (1992), and worked once again with Al Pacino in a crime drama, “Carlito’s Way” (1993). The latter was one of the filmmaker’s best pictures in years. He revisited huge studio production in 1996, with the Tom Cruise spy drama “Mission: Impossible”. The action-packed flick enticed viewers everywhere and became the third highest grossing picture that year, as well as De Palma’s most profitable to date. He next chose to write and direct a thriller titled “Snake Eyes” (1998), starring Nicholas Cage as a rogue detective stuck in the middle of a murder conspiracy. It ended up being a letdown, garnering few fans. Two years following, he moved away from earth and went to the solar system in the violent sci-fi thriller “Mission to Mars” (2000). De Palma made a comeback to his typical erotic thriller genre with “Femme Fatal” in 2002, which featured Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as an ex-con woman who is haunted by her past when visited by an intrusive photographer played by Antonio Banderas. Following was “The Black Dahlia” (2006), a murder mystery set in 1940s Los Angeles. Both failed to attract much success. He has only released one other film since, “Redacted” (2007), a montage of tales about soldiers fighting in the war.
Although the director/producer/writer has engineered some classic and memorable films, he has yet to be fully recognized for the true merit of his work. His controversial pictures seem to overshadow his more commercial and profitable ones, but De Palma nevertheless always persevered in putting out his vision. He never seemed to care that his works were not hailed greatly by all. During various interviews he admitted: “My films deal with a stylized, expressionistic world that has a kind of grotesque beauty about it… I’ve never been a conventional artist. So I’ve always been controversial. People hate me or love me.”
2006 The Black Dahlia
2002 Femme Fatale
2001 Bruce Springsteen: The Complete Video Anthology 1978-2000
2000 Mission to Mars
1998 Snake Eyes
1996 Mission: Impossible
1994 Rotwang muß weg!
1993 Carlito's Way
1992 Raising Cain
1990 The Bonfire of the Vanities
1989 Casualties of War
1989 Bruce Springsteen: Video Anthology 1978-1988
1987 The Untouchables
1986 Wise Guys
1984 Body Double
1983 The First Time
1981 Blow Out
1980 Dressed to Kill
1980 Home Movies
1978 The Fury
1974 Phantom of the Paradise
1972 Get to Know Your Rabbit
1970 Hi, Mom!
1969 The Wedding Party
1968 Murder à la Mod
1966 The Responsive Eye
1966 Show Me a Strong Town and I'll Show You a Strong Bank
1965 Bridge That Gap
1962 Woton's Wake
1961 660124: The Story of an IBM Card