De Palma’s delirious mash-up of Phantom of the Opera, Faust, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and 70s glam-rock is the musical/horror/comedy freak-out that Rocky Horror wanted to be. His rock opera stolen by Machiavellian record producer Swan and his face disfigured when it lands in a record press, songwriter Winslow Leach (De Palma favorite Finley) dons a silver mask and vows to spread terror through the duplicitous Swan’s rock palace The Paradise.
De Palma expertly employs his full bag of tracks, including marvelous camerawork and split screens, in “arguably [his] finest film.” (Time Out) Though it opened and closed with little fanfare (except for its bizarre success in Winnipeg), the film has gone on to become a midnight movie classic.
De Palma’s Carrie is also screening in Ragged Glory: Summer in the 70s.
William Finley gets the role of his career as Winslow Leach, the songwriter whose masterwork, a “rock cantata” retelling of the Faust legend, is stolen by Swan (Paul Williams), the unscrupulous owner of Death Records. Framed and ruined, Winslow gets his face sizzled off in a smoldering record press, then dons leather suit, cape, and metallic mask to haunt the Paradise, Swan’s elaborate rock venue, as the Phantom. De Palma understands the intensity of ’70s rock as the successor to opera’s shuddering arias, and the fervent charge of music electrifies the visuals.
Fernando F Croce, Slant
The film is a one-of-a-kind entertainment, with a kinetic, breakneck wit.
Pauline Kael, New Yorker
Aug 8 Only: Introduction from programmer Selina Crammond
Brian De Palma
Paul Williams, William Finley, Jessica Harper, Gerrit Graham
Grand Prize, Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival 1975
Wednesday August 10
Edward R. Pressman
Brian De Palma
More Films in This Series
Dog Day Afternoon
Based on a true story of a New York bank robbery which turned into a hostage siege (and a media spectacle), Sidney Lumet's gripping movie showcases a bravura performance from Al Pacino as the homosexual, married, unhappy, decent, confused bank robber.
The biggest hit from the 70s phase of Brian De Palma's career, Carrie takes Stephen King's horror novel about a troubled telekinetic teen and weaves it into a purely cinematic rhapsody of angst and (retali-)elation, what Pauline Kael termed "a terrifyingly lyrical thriller".
All the President's Men
This gripping account of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's investigation into the Watergate break-in is a masterclass of cinematic craft from director Alan J Pakula (Klute; The Parallax View) and DP Gordon Willis (The Godfather).
The Parallax View
The most lucid and ingenious, the most deeply, creepily satisfying of paranoia thrillers, Alan J. Pakula's film posits an assassination corporation. Reporter Joe Frady (Warren Beatty) is on to Them, or so he believes…
A passion project for producer-star Warren Beatty, this frothy boudoir comedy of Beverly Hills manners views its hairdresser hero's bed-hopping with a certain sadness. Goldie Hawn, Julie Christie, Lee Grant and Carrie Fisher come along for the ride.