Revisiting “Carrie” on its 40th Anniversary

carrie

Despite many attempts at rebooting and remaking Stephen King’s first novel (including most recently in 2013), the 1976 version of “Carrie” remains the best version of the story. The story itself is a perennial tale that strikes a chord with anyone that has ever felt out of place, ridiculed or powerless. But it is director Brian De Palma’s version that has lasted for 40 years (celebrating its anniversary on November 3rd) and has woven itself so completely into the fabric of pop culture.

There has been one other film adaptation of King’s book, a TV movie, a sequel and a Broadway musical, and yet it’s De Palma’s vision that has stood the test of time and embedded itself into the public consciousness. Much of this is the great work of screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen, translating King’s epistolary novel into a vital examination of teenager outsiders, but it also is De Palma’s expert direction. The film is melodramatic at times, with heightened emotions echoing throughout its running time (even in the comic moments, it’s a pretty heightened view of reality). But that’s perfect for the tableau of teenage life, where everything is the most important; every social faux pas, every Prom, every moment is weighted against surging hormones and a rigid societal structure within the school. By using larger emotions, the dramatic score by Pino Donaggio, and the excellent framing of camera shots, De Palma puts the audience into the mindset of a teenager and allows them to empathize easily with the emotions.

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Gangster fan alert: “Scarface” Blu-ray hits the mean streets today

It’s true. You can say hello to Tony Montana’s little 1080p friends and their DVD buddies in stores nationwide as of right now and, naturally, the gangstery promotional wheels have been turning. We were lucky enough to be invited too a DVD release party at which fans of director Brian De Palma and writer Oliver Stone’s 1983 gangland spectacle got to view a pretty interesting Q&A featuring producer Martin Bregman and “Scarface” cast members Robert Loggia, F. Murray Abraham, Steven Bauer (who turns out to be something of an unembarrassed fanboy for the film which largely launched his career), and a distinctively, er, regal Al Pacino.

For a limited time, you can actually check out the complete Q&A from the event for yourself via Livestream.

A couple of interesting thoughts from the Q&A. A lot of props were given to hip hop artists for their part in turning “Scarface” from a movie with a mixed reputation — many of the initial reviews were far from positive — to a movie very many regard as a classic. (The event was followed by a performance by rapper Ludacris.)

A moment this film geek appreciated was when Mr. Pacino recounts how he says the genesis of his “Scarface” began when he saw Howard Hawks’ 1932 “Scarface,” starring Paul Muni as a gangster inspired by Al Capone, at the old Tiffany Theater on the Sunset Strip, at the time one of L.A.’s best revival houses. After the flip we have a short video from the event and maybe a clip or two from the both “Scarfaces.”

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