Murder A La Mod (1968)

BRIAN DE PALMA

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5

USA, 1968. Screenplay by Brian De Palma. Cinematography by Produced by Music by Film Editing by Brian De Palma.

Brian De Palma’s first commercially released feature film is this stylish if silly murder caper.  Two young women are meeting for a lunch date when they split up, one to go visit the bank and deal with her safe deposit box, the other to catch up with her fiance.  Karen still loves Christopher, a photographer who feels unsure about the wisdom of their getting together, but their parting doesn’t improve things when she is viciously murdered before she can leave his apartment.  This leaves Tracy to follow clues to figure out who killed her, and we see the same sequence, of Tracy following a suspect into a a cemetery, played multiple times from different points of view until we figure out what the truth of the matter is.  The film features traits that would become more prominent in later De Palma films, the voyeurism, the touches of Hitchcock (the women are his version of Marion and Lila Crane) and the stunning visual scheme; the storytelling is ratty here, though, too concerned with jokey gimmicks (like some very annoying voiceover).  Thankfully it would not be long before we’d see a vast improvement on this front (it’s only a few years until Sisters).

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