Brian De Palma's Split-ScreenA Life in Film

Brian De Palma's Split-ScreenA Life in Film

Douglas Keesey

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9781628466973

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi

Abstract

Over the last five decades, the films of director Brian De Palma (b. 1940) have been among the biggest successes (The Untouchables and Mission: Impossible) and the most high-profile failures (The Bonfire of the Vanities) in Hollywood history. De Palma helped launch the careers of such prominent actors as Robert De Niro, John Travolta, and Sissy Spacek. Picketed by feminists protesting its depictions of violence against women, Dressed to Kill helped to create the erotic thriller genre. Scarface, with its over-the-top performance by Al Pacino, remains a cult favorite. In the twenty-first century, De Palma has continued to experiment, incorporating elements from videogames (Femme Fatale), tabloid journalism (The Black Dahlia), YouTube, and Skype (Redacted and Passion) into his latest works. What makes De Palma such a maverick even when he is making Hollywood genre films? Why do his movies often feature megalomaniacs and failed heroes? Is he merely a misogynist and an imitator of Alfred Hitchcock? To answer these questions, the book takes a biographical approach to De Palma's cinema, showing how De Palma reworks events from his own life into his films.