On the 40th anniversary of 'Blow Out,' dive into the 7 best films of Brian de Palma

Chris Hewitt, Star Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

'Dressed to Kill' (1980)

Stylish and cruel, it stars Angie Dickinson and Michael Caine as a troubled woman and her therapist, both of whom are somehow connected to a killer. The tension is almost unbearable and Nancy Allen, who was once married to De Palma, and Keith Gordon, as Dickinson's son, complete a quartet of fine performances.

'Carlito's Way' (1993)

Some love Al Pacino's over-the-top work in De Palma's "Scarface" remake but I'll take this garish melodrama any day. Pacino plays a mobster, released from prison, who — say it with me — gets sucked back into a life of crime. Sean Penn gives his best performance as a shady lawyer in a movie the French magazine Cahiers du Cinema said was the best not just of 1993 but of the entire decade.

'Carrie' (1976)

Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie earned Oscar nods — De Palma has never been nominated — as the title character and her fanatical mother in this terrifying and surprisingly funny adaptation of Stephen King's novel. De Palma, who gave Robert De Niro his first movie leads, did the same here for Allen, Travolta and Amy Irving.

'The Untouchables' (1987)


De Palma dials down his perversity in a propulsive epic, which pits Prohibition agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) against Al Capone (De Niro) in Depression-era Chicago. Sean Connery won the supporting actor Oscar for his zesty work as Ness' mentor, and De Palma gives yet another fine actor, Patricia Clarkson, her first movie role as Ness' wife.

'The Black Dahlia' (2006)

Josh Hartnett, Hilary Swank and Scarlett Johansson channel old Hollywood glamour in a thriller about a cop investigating the famous unsolved murder of a would-be starlet whose severed body was found in a meadow. But it's Fiona Shaw who steals the show with her entertaining overacting as a wealthy crackpot.

'Body Double' (1984)

De Palma has said he made this comic take on "Rear Window" in frustration, to show those who complained he only cared about sex and violence what a movie would look like if that were true. Set in the worlds of shlocky horror and porn, the surprisingly elegant result features Melanie Griffith's most assured performance as a XXX star who defies our expectations. The movie is soon to be rereleased as a deluxe Blu-ray by the Criterion Channel.


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