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Obsession (1976)

By Luisa F. Ribeiro | Posted

Back in the late '70s and early '80s writer/director Brian De Palma's name was synonymous with faux Hitchcock; what's largely forgotten is how close he came to matching the master with Obsession, a sort of warped-mirror image of Vertigo. De Palma's version of Hitchcock's repressed Scottie Ferguson is successful New Orleans businessman Michael Courtland (Cliff Robertson, like Vertigo's James Stewart, a fresh-faced actor generally known for playing upstanding characters), blindly in love with his beautiful wife (Geneviève Bujold) and thrilled with their young daughter. Courtland's world is shattered when his wife and child are kidnapped, then killed in a botched rescue attempt. He spends years mourning the tragic loss until, traveling in Italy with his business partner (John Lithgow, deliciously dripping Southern charm), he spots a young woman (Bujold again) who is the image of his long-dead wife. De Palma, who co-scripted with Paul Schrader, delights in echoing many of Vertigo's moments of obsessive intrigue while creating some startlingly original twists of his own. Featuring a shattering score by Hitch's own favorite composer, Bernard Herrmann, De Palma's mystery/thriller hits all the right notes en route to a stunning, memorably histrionic conclusion that must've made the old master purse his lips in approval.

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