My Favorite Brian De Palma Films

* * * * (Out of * * * *)

1.   The Fury (1978)

2.   Femme Fatale (2002)

3.   Blow Out (1981)

4.   Dressed to Kill (1980)

5.   Carrie (1976)

6.   Hi, Mom! (1970)

7.   Casualties of War (1989)

8.   Sisters (1972)

9.   Body Double (1984)

10. Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

11. Raising Cain (1992)

* * * 1/2 (Out of * * * *)

1.   Greetings (1968)

2.   Carlito’s Way (1993)

3.   Scarface (1983)

4.   The Untouchables (1987)

14 thoughts on “My Favorite Brian De Palma Films

  1. It’s been far too long since I watched Carlito’s Way and Scarface. It might be time for an Al Pacino double bill. There are so many De Palma films I haven’t seen, Blow Out topping the list!

  2. This is pretty much the order of the DePalma films starting with my best. I have not seen Passion, Redacted, and a few other early works.
    Blow Out
    Dressed to Kill
    Carrie
    Sisters
    Casualties of War
    Carlito’s Way
    The Untouchables
    Femme Fatale
    Scarface
    Body Double
    The Black Dahlia
    Hi Mom!
    Greetings
    Obsession
    Mission: Impossible
    The Fury
    Phantom of the Paradise
    Mission to Mars
    Snake Eyes
    Raining Cain
    Wise Guys
    Get to Know Your Rabbit
    Home Movies
    Murder ala Mod

  3. Your list is interesting too I might add 🙂 Fascinating thing about Blow Out is that in Pauline Kael’s review of the film she compared his twin achievements of Dressed to Kill and Blow Out to that of Robert Altman’s early to mid 70’s work and Francis Ford Coppola’s First two Godfather films. In fact, I believe the criterion collection of Blow Out features a booklet featuring Pauline Kael’s rave review. Anyway, thanks for dropping by 🙂

  4. Okay. 1. Blow Out (huge fan) 2. Dressed to Kill (huge fan) 3. Carrie (big fan) 4.Carlito’s Way 5. Body Double 6.Untouchables 7. Snake Eyes…Those are the one’s I really enjoy.
    As for The Fury…I thought the first hour of the movie was great, right up there with Blow Out (for me) but then I think it lost its steam. That’s just me. My oldest daughter is like you. She loves it.
    I love the De Palma style. It’s very identifiable. He is a gutsy filmmaker. If he goes down, it’ll be in flames.

  5. Interesting ranking there 🙂 Blow Out is often considered to be culmination of his mid 70’s to early 80’s work. While Dressed to Kill ranks alongside it as his twin achievements of the early 80’s. Carrie, Carlito’s Way and The Untouchables at numbers 3, 4 and 6 seems fitting and it is fascinating to see you rank Body Double at number 5 and Snake Eyes at number 7. Speaking of Snake Eyes, remember that 20 something minute (I believe it was close to that) steadicam sequence at the beginning where Nicolas Cage’s character is entering the arena to sit down? Amazing stuff 🙂 Glad to here that your eldest daughter agrees with me on The Fury 🙂 You are also so correct on De Palma’s style. He really is a master of visual filmmaking. Not only in terms of staging sequences, but also in his use of split screens which appear in some of the films you mention. Speaking of De Palma, director Noah Baumbach came out with a documentary two years ago entitled De Palma, which features him reflecting on his career to Baumbach, who is interviewing him. Anyway, thanks for dropping by 🙂

  6. Yes, that early sequence that you speak of is fascinating. I come from a theatrical background, I did take an Introduction to Film course, but that’s it, so I don’t really understand about the technicality of film–but I do know good technical artistry when I see it. I always thought it was a shame that De Palma didn’t compose a film that was worthy of that spectacular sequence. Speaking of Blow Out, what do you think of the film that inspired it–Blow Up? (I hope I’m not annoying you. I can “talk” incessantly about film.)

  7. I first learned about the technical aspects of films during my fourth and fifth (final year) of high school. Nevertheless, I think it is fascinating that you come from a theatrical background. I bet you have a lot of awesome stories to tell 🙂 Speaking of Snake Eyes, I have read that people loved that first half so much that they wish the rest could have been like that. I read somewhere that the climax was originally going to feature a hurricane hitting the arena and it was filmed, but I guess the studio wanted a more conventional climax though rumor has it that their are bootlegged VHS copies with that original scene, but that is all I know and it may only be a rumor. I do love Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up. I remember it was really huge for the counter culture crowd and it still works today even If The Conversation and Blow Out have since topped it.

    Also, you are not annoying me at all with your endless talk about film :)I love to talk about film endlessly as well 🙂 After all, my website is called “cinematic coffee” 🙂 Anyway, thanks for dropping by 🙂

  8. I more or less agree with your top 5. And, huh. The Bonfire of the Vanities at the last place. What a bit of a disaster of a film, right? It would have taken much more to do justice to such a great book.

  9. Compared to the book, The Bonfire of the Vanities is a disappointment. Standing on its own, it is strangely a very good movie. No doubt, the main problem of the film is the casting choices. The film works as long as you do not compare it to Tom Wolfe’s novel, but it is never going to outshine its flaws. The standout aspects of the film is the 15 minute or so steadicam sequence that opens the film and Vilmos Zsigmond’s cinematography. If you want to learn more about what decisions were made and why, read Julie Salomon’s book entitled “The Devil’s Candy: The Anatomy of a Hollywood Fiasco.” It goes into deep detail about what could happen when you are filming a big budget film of a really popular novel. Anyway, thanks for dropping by 🙂

  10. You are very right. The opening sequence of the film is notorious for being good (and gosh was it expensive to film, I have heard). I will check out that book, thanks for recommending.

  11. I re-watched The Bonfire of the Vanities again recently and it just does not hold up, but it is still not a bad film. Nevertheless, I removed it from my list.

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