Called a "true visual storyteller" by critic Pauline Kael, film director Brian De Palma (1940-), was born on this day in New Jersey and grew up in Philadelphia. He made his first feature, The Wedding Party (1962-1964), starring hungry unknown actors Jill Clayburgh and Robert De Niro.
His fascination with the macabre was influenced by his father, an orthopedic surgeon, and the films of Alfred Hitchcock. "Hitchcock is like a grammar book, and it's all there to be learned," explained the media-shy director.
His chilling blood-soaked interpretation of Steven King's Carrie (1976) was his first box office smash. Dressed to Kill (1980), a psychological thriller, created a cinematic sensation, as did Al Pacino's Scarface (1983) and Sean Connery's The Untouchables (1987).
"There can be something very poetic about violence in film," De Palma suggested. "I think movies are about action--you know, bodies falling, knives sweeping through the air. That has a lot to do with what one can do in cinema so effectively."
De Palma's films are noted for their bold style, elaborate camera movements, and the startling apprehension that danger lurks nearby, and what is perceived is not necessarily what is.
Through the years, American critics have been harsh--Mission to Mars (2000) took a beating, but the French love him. The French, said De Palma, "don't quite understand how the American critics react the way they do. I've given up wondering why, and the fact that I can go on making movies is all that really matters."
More Film-Making Quotations
Pepper any cynicism with optimism.