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The tension and suspense that runs through the movies of Brian De Palma have understandably had comparisons drawn with one of the masters of thriller cinema, Alfred Hitchcock, and it’s a tag that the American film icon has never been afraid of wearing with pride, though his filmography is unique in its own right.
Delivering gripping narratives in a gorgeous visual style distinctively his own, De Palma has established himself as one of the most influential filmmakers of the 20th century and has been a particular inspiration to several of his contemporaries and successors, most notably including Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino.
With iconic films like Carrie, Blow Out, Scarface and The Untouchables to his name, De Palma will likely go down as one of crime cinema’s greatest names, and he has also proven himself to be something of a cinephile in the process. In 1987, De Palma admitted that he was no stranger to a “guilty pleasure” movie or two and named his favourite.
He told Film Comment, “My guilty pleasures hark back to 42nd St when I was in college during the Sixties. What interests me in offbeat movies is their incredible directorial style. They deal with very intense psychological traumas, and the movie becomes a projection of the character’s psyche, as twisted and as dark as it can be.”
There are several interesting movies on the list, including Point Blank, The Naked Kiss and El Topo, but one stands out in the fact that it shines a light on De Palma’s love for the British gangster movie. “Sure, we have The Godfather and The Untouchables for gangsters, but don’t forget Get Carter, which I saw such a long time ago,” he noted.
Mike Hodges’ 1971 gritty crime thriller sees Michael Caine take to the screen is one of his most memorable performances. The streets of Newcastle are the setting for a truly gripping story of revenge in which Caine’s character investigates and interrogates those he suspects are responsible for his brother’s sudden death.
“I remember being completely captivated by its intense vision—Michael Caine trying to find out about his dead brother, another gangster,” De Palma explained of his admiration for the film. “It’s sort of the English gangster vision that permeated The Long Good Friday. There is something about English gangsters, their eccentricity—it’s a whole different world—that isn’t about business or even aristocracy. They’re about schoolyards.”
Check out the trailer for Get Carter below.