After the success of Dressed to Kill, De Palma shoots another thriller: he goes political, makes one of his most personal movies, but doesn’t achieve the hoped-for success. Jack (John Travolta) is a sound recordist who, by chance, witnesses an accident one night. He saves one of the victims (the escort played by Nancy Allen) and unexpectedly finds himself involved in a political conspiracy. Images and sounds which, repeated over and over in the moviola, reveal the truth; film as a linchpin of the story, the elusiveness of reality, the cynicism of fiction. A theoretical masterpiece.
De Palma returns to erotic thrillers in this movie in which, with great irony, he has fun playing with the film industry, genres, soft porn and even video clips (the insert with the FGTH is unforgettable), raising the Hitchcockian themes of voyeurism and doubles to fever pitch. As his life goes downhill, the B movie actor Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) finds himself unintentionally involved in a bloody homicide and a tangled story that revolves around a famous porn actress, Holly Body, played by Melanie Griffith.
Carlito Brigante gets out of prison thanks to his wily lawyer and, as he stands on his neighborhood streets, he decides to change his life: a reborn love, a club to run, an existence to re-imagine like new. But the destiny of an outlaw like Carlito already seems to be written. De Palma returns to gangster movies and makes one of his masterpieces. An emphatic, blazing and brutal film, with an implacable rhythm and magnificent star turns by Al Pacino and a diabolic Sean Penn.
Carrie White lives alone with her domineering mother, who isolates the girl and forces her religious fanaticism on her. Shy and insecure, Carrie doesn’t react to the abuse of her mother or of her schoolmates. But this repression triggers powerful telekinetic powers in her, which are unleashed at the prom after she is the victim of a terrible prank organized by her classmates. Teen movie and horror, Stephen King and a young John Travolta and Sissy Spacek, high school and buckets of blood. Finally, a box office success which will become a great classic of the genre.
Vietnam, the second half of the 1960s: after constant ambushes, a group of American soldiers decide to get their revenge by kidnapping a Vietnamese girl and using her as a sex slave. Only one soldier opposes this plan and clashes with his companions and commanding officers. After many years, De Palma deals with Vietnam once again and, for the first time, does so using the instruments of war movies. The result is a brutal and desperate film, far from any rhetoric and politically unmistakable. Starring Sean Penn and Michael J. Fox.
When De Palma’s actor-friend William Finley invites him to a performance of Dionysus in ’69, an experimental version of The Bacchae by Euripides, staged at the Performing Garage by the New York theatrical company The Performance Group and directed by Richard Schechner, he falls in love with the show. He decides to film it and to get the most out of the ideology of the confrontation-clash between actors and audience, he uses the split screen for the first time, two movie cameras on the stage and two on the audience. The screen is already (literally) split in two.
Box office success arrives with a highly erotic thriller which, after Sisters, returns to the theme of doubles and to Hitchcock (above all, Psycho). A beautiful and dissatisfied woman (Angie Dickinson), an afternoon of clandestine sex, a savage murder, a young prostitute (Nancy Allen) who witnesses the crime, an enigmatic psychiatrist (Michael Caine), a gruff policeman (Dennis Franz), a blond, razor-wielding murderess. A perfect and terrifying movie, with textbook sequences (the tailing and wooing in the museum, the subway chase scene), a highpoint of contemporary fear.
During a movie presentation at the Cannes Film Festival, a female thief seduces a model and steals the outfit she is wearing, a dress made of gold and diamonds. She gets separated from her accomplices during their escape and decides to go solo, as she tries to vanish without a trace and make a new life for herself. After scams and different aliases, she runs up against an inquisitive photographer (Antonio Banderas). A movie made of mirrors – appearances and surfaces – which shatter the balance between reality and fiction. A new take on the canon of the femme fatale – Double Indemnity is showing on TV – which begins with a dizzying sequence to the notes of Ravel’s Bolero.