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Brian De Palma's Split-ScreenA Life in Film$
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Douglas Keesey

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781628466973

Published to University Press of Mississippi: September 2016

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781628466973.001.0001

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The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)

The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)

(p.205) Chapter 20 The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)
Brian De Palma's Split-Screen

Douglas Keesey

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), the most high-profile disaster in De Palma's career. The film recounts the fall of Wall Street bond broker Sherman McCoy (Tom Hanks). Pulling in millions, ensconced in a posh Park Avenue apartment, Sherman thinks he is “impervious, untouchable, insulated by wealth and power—a Master of the Universe.” But after one wrong turn into a Bronx ghetto results in his Mercedes accidentally backing over a black youth, Sherman finds himself the object of an onslaught by reporters, politicians, and the police. From here the chapter explores the connections between Sherman and De Palma himself, noting in particular the biographical strains echoed in the film and, more strikingly, both their statuses as men of great power, dealing with vast quantities of money and overseeing an army of workers below them.

Keywords:   The Bonfire of the Vanities, box-office successes, box-office failures, god complex, megalomania

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