by Jim Ridley
Where: Nashville Public Library, 615 Church St.
When: 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19
Though it was overshadowed by his runaway success the same year with Carrie, and left director Brian De Palma tagged with a Hitchcock-imitator brand that’s hounded him his entire career, this feverish 1976 variation on Vertigo is often liked by people who hate his other work (though that could possibly be said for most of De Palma’s movies). The late Cliff Robertson plays a New Orleans businessman who loses his wife and child in a kidnapping gone awry. Many years later in Italy, he meets his dead spouse’s dead ringer (Genevieve Bujold) — but has fate dealt him a second chance, or set him up for a cosmic joke?
Reportedly, composer Bernard Herrmann agreed to do the score only if De Palma dropped the third act of Paul Schrader’s already over-the-top script; it still probably needed a lead actor more capable of inflamed passions than Robertson — perhaps De Palma’s go-to nutjob John Lithgow, seen here in one of his first major roles. Even so, this builds to one of De Palma’s most delirious, operatic slow-motion dance-of-doom finales, which makes us wish he’d take another stab at this kind of hysterical romantic melodrama.
For the screening Nashville Public Library Popular Materials guru Bill Chamberlain has taped what we hear is a lively introduction and interview with De Palma’s former agent and producer George Litto, whose credits range from Dressed to Kill and Blow Out to Jonathan Kaplan’s Over the Edge and Robert Altman’s Thieves Like Us; be sure to check out the podcast. Free and open to the public, projected from DVD.