Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 1976. Columbia Pictures Corporation, Yellowbird Productions. Story by Brian De Palma, Paul Schrader, Screenplay by Paul Schrader. Cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond. Produced by Harry N. Blum, George Litto. Music by Bernard Herrmann. Production Design by Jack Senter. Costume Design by Frank Balchus. Film Editing by Paul Hirsch. Academy Awards 1976.
Cliff Robertson loses wife Genevieve Bujold and their small daughter after they die with their kidnappers in a fiery blaze during a police chase. Years later and obsessed with grief, Robertson goes to Italy and meets a dead ringer for his spouse (also played by Bujold) with whom he becomes obsessed and brings back home. The parallels to Vertigo are obvious to the point that Hitchcock himself was very displeased with this film (and the fact that Bernard Herrmann contributes the score probably didn’t make him happy either), but as usual with De Palma, the love of another filmmaker’s technique is more a spirited imitation than lifeless copycatting. The flaws in this one have nothing to do with its pillaging earlier films, actually, but all to do with a rather saggy screenplay by Paul Schrader that loses its characters in bland action towards the last third before the final climax. It doesn’t help that Robertson is completely unreadable in the lead role, giving off no waves of the kind of perverted desire (the nature of which is actually quite shocking by the end of the movie) that would make the duller parts of the movie easy to sit through. The always bewitching Bujold acts circles around him in both parts, and is the best reason to watch it.