Phantom of the Paradise ★★

I mainly went along to this last night to see Bret Easton Ellis talking about his new book, White, and introducing one of his favourite films. It was good to see the man in person but I can't say I share his enthusiasm for this early De Palma outing.

Winslow Leach, who sells his soul to the devil (Paul Williams's Swan) and lives to regret trusting the treacherous mogul for a second time, becomes the scourge of Swan's club The Paradise. De Palma's campy rock musical takes elements of Phantom of the Opera and Marlowe's Doctor Faustus and attempts to weave them into a new fable. I'm not a fan of musicals at the best of times and the music here really wasn't my cup of tea, none of the jokes landed and the script just wasn't very well put together - the whole thing seemed like a bit of a mess. Not really having much to hang on to story-wise, and in the absence of appealing characters or funny dialogue, I struggled to stay interested.

Cool to see a pre-Suspiria Jessica Harper in the lead role and to discover that she's got a decent singing voice (assuming that was her real voice)! The film must have been a big influence on Daft Punk too - not just in the costume design of The Phantom and that helmet but also the figure of Swan, who anticipates the diabolical alien-thieving record producer in Interstella 5555; the rock impresario as Faustian pact-maker. De Palma's trademark visual style begins to rear its head with the use of split screen and intense colour saturation both becoming familiar calling cards later in his career.

I don't really have a whole lot more to say about it. I know it has a sizable cult following, it just wasn't for me.

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