Phantom of the Paradise ★★★★

Over-the-top, campy, operatic, Seventies glam-rock re-do of the oft-adapted The Phantom of the Opera story just may be Brian De Palma's best movie. Did he receive bad news from his doctor and thought he only had 6 months to live? He certainly made this like someone who had one last chance to put everything he ever wanted to in a film. All the (yes) Hitchcock references, the “Touch of Evil” tribute with the bomb, the split-screen (natch), the Dr. Caligari-esque winding corridors of Death Records, the allusions to Nathaniel West's Day of the Locust, Dante's Divine Comedy, plus satires of the record industry and rock music in the early 70s and of show biz in general shot as a loopy, over-the-top fable of The Artist VS The Artist Industry makes this film a poor victim of criminal neglect. How could The Rocky Horror Picture Show be the one that gets the 40 year stamp of cult classic/midnight movie approval while this is seen as just one of De Palma's pre-Carrie movies?

Paul Williams is perfect as the Satanic villain Swann and and bless my dark soul he gets to compose the film's music to boot. Having only seen him in Smokey and the Bandit as Little Enos and remembering him as a 70s talk show raconteur- this performance was a revelation, a subtle portrayal of cynicism and corruption in a movie lacking subtlety. The man can act! He has a certain timbre to his voice that evokes evil and worldliness while still sounding melodic. He would have made a great Emperor in the Star Wars™ series. I adore <a href="">Jessica Harper absolutely. She's great at conveying knowingness and sweetness at once, not surprised this role nabbed her the part in the immortal <a href="">Suspiria. And <a href="">Gerrit Graham is one of those actors who when I seem him onscreen it just makes me happy. He's hilarious as the un-PC Alice Cooperesque rock star <a href="">“Beef”.

Great movie, still taking it all in. What took me so long to watch this?

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