Posted in: by Robert C. Cumbow, Contributors, Essays, Film Reviews, Horror

The New Life Begins: Dantean Obsession in ‘Obsession’

[Originally published in Movietone News 53, January 1977]

Once you’ve experienced the multiple twists and revelations in the last reel of Brian De Palma’s Obsession, and you think about what’s gone before, the basic storyline appears not only terribly contrived but in several ways downright impossible. But the film nevertheless works by the sheer power of a marvelously inventive, multi-layered screenplay brought to life by the simultaneously literary and stylistic genius of one of the most important young American directors. A story as involved and rich as Paul Schrader’s scenario must be firmly grounded in explicable plot; but Vilmos Zsigmond’s richly suggestive cinematography and Paul Hirsch’s relentless-pace editing, under the careful and inspired direction of De Palma, mix memory and desire even more effectively than Schrader’s story. The ultimate achievement of Obsession is not a matching of style to content so much as a resolution of content into pure style.


At its most immediately obvious, the film’s title refers to New Orleans businessman Mike Courtland’s fixation on, first, the death of his young wife Elizabeth in a 1959 kidnap plot; second, his guilt for her death, in having delivered false money to the kidnappers; and, third, the stunning resemblance of a young Florentine art student, met 16 years later, to his dead wife. Court’s is the central experience of the film, the one which most drives its development.

Yet a second association with the idea of “obsession” arises when Court’s psychiatrist describes the student, Sandra Portinari, whom Court has brought back from Florence to his home, as having become “obsessed” with the idea of Elizabeth, to the point of hoping completely to replace the woman she so dramatically resembles. (This is the turning-back point for those who have not seen Obsession; reading on can irreparably harm one’s experience of the film.) When, toward the end of the movie, we learn that Sandra is really Amy, the daughter of Court and Elizabeth presumed killed with her mother 16 years earlier, we perceive yet another obsession motivating her: a methodic repetition of the events of 1959, with the hope of either restoring lost certainty of a father’s love or confirming forever his guilt and avenging herself on him for her mother’s death.

Only with the shock-on-shock exposition of the last couple reels do we recognize and name a third obsession: that of Court’s smiling, charming business partner Robert LaSalle who, we learn, engineered both the 1959 kidnap and the 1975 repetition in order to get legal hold on Court’s weighty share of their company’s land holdings. This last obsession, though it provides the mechanics of the plot, is the most contrived of all. To cite only two of several possible objections, it’s unlikely that LaSalle, after the disastrous failure of the 1959 plot, could wait patiently 16 years before trying again, and equally improbable he could effectively hide his feelings and desires from his partner all those years.

But it is precisely the improbability of this contrivance that most characterizes LaSalle for us as the master architect of a scheme that throws three lives into turmoil. Before he and Court leave New Orleans for the trip to Florence, LaSalle explains the motivation that frequently draws him to Italy by saying something like “Art is my only vice.” As we listen to him speaking from the middle distance to a closeup, foreground Court, we assume LaSalle’s interest in art to be that of a collector. But the stylistic emphasis De Palma places on the moment, together with subsequent events, will reveal to us quite another impulse in the smiling partner’s character. There is, further, more than a suggestion that De Palma, master builder of the film, is masking himself behind LaSalle, whose smooth calculation affects minds and bodies with a directness any avowed Hitchcockian would envy. The suggestion is amplified by the syllabic and assonant similarity of surnames between the director and his character—not the last play on names we will notice in Obsession.

Beyond the surface of pure story, each obsession emerges as a desire for the materialization of a fantasy-wish. From this viewpoint, La Salle’s is the most reasonable: personal gain. He imagines himself sole head and manager of the firm and its holdings. Court’s wish is twofold: the impossible resurrection of his dead wife and relief from his sense of guilt for her death (manifest in his cavalier contempt for money, which he knows cannot bring her back, even as once it could have, had he but been willing to part with it). Finally, there is Amy’s obsession, likewise a double one: replacing her mother in her father’s affections (retrospectively we shall notice more than a suggestion of Electra even in the early scene, in 1959, in which nine-year-old Amy dances with her father at the Courtlands’ tenth anniversary party, with Elizabeth joining in later), and testing those affections even while punishing her father and avenging her mother in a replay of the events of 1959. The obsessions of Court and Amy are nicely compatible; and LaSalle, who knows them both, has seen the possibility of working them to his advantage. Thus the three obsessions become part of one significant pattern of multiple deception.

In terms of plot credibility, there are crucial problems here. Although it is unlikely that LaSalle conceived the 1975 Elizabeth-resurrection as early as 1959, when Amy was sent into Italy (who could wait so long? and how could he be sure she would develop such a resemblance to her mother?), the conception of the plot at some later date makes less explicable his frequent trips to Florence (ostensibly to satisfy his “only vice” but actually, one presumes, to mold the young Amy’s mind to the vengeful vision of her father necessary to the architectonics of his grimmer purpose). Nor is it probable that a nine-year-old girl would harbor resentment of her father for his failure to pay the ransom that would have saved her and her mother. The peculiar emphasis De Palma gives to the kidnapper’s waving blank paper in the young Amy’s face and shouting “This is what your old man thinks you’re worth!” or LaSalle’s tearful words to her in the airport—”He doesn’t want you anymore”—would, in any realistic child psychology, lead the girl to think the rejection due to some failing on her part, not blame on her father’s. But these differences between real psychology and reel psychology only serve to emphasize the utter movieness of what De Palma does in Obsession and elsewhere.

He has no more concern for the sanctity of the McGuffin than does his idol, Hitchcock; and plot improbability only makes the viewer more susceptible to the constant, elusive interplay of credible reality with the materialization of fantasy, which lies at the center of the film. It is never clear at what point each obsessive character crosses the line from reality into fantasy, but all have done so by the film’s end. Is it otherwise likely, for example, that LaSalle, having patiently hidden his covetousness and deviousness from Court so long, and having told Amy not to confess the truth to Court for fear of the law, would yet sit down and blow the whole story to Court himself, for no clearer purpose than to gloat at the success of his devices?—and then leap from the sublime to the ridiculous by trying to murder Court outright? Such a character doesn’t move so swiftly and unaccountably from self-control into mania, especially not after the long-awaited success of the plot he has orchestrated. We know, however, that he could get away with it: in the one terrifying moment in which he opens his desk drawer, exposing to us the pistol inside, we see how easily he can make Court’s death look like the credible suicide of a grief-maddened obsessive.

LaSalle’s motivation always functions this way, on multiple levels. When he asks Court not to be so hasty about his intent to wed Sandra, he appears a well-meaning, concerned friend trying to protect his love-blinded buddy from a terrible mistake. Later we can assume a more basic concern: he knows, as Court does not, that Sandra is Court’s own daughter. But he also presumably knows the new plot must unfold before the wedding, at a time of Amy’s choosing, since Amy herself could hardly be expected to go through with the marriage. Yet he might not be so sure of this, in light of Amy’s own obsession with replacing her mother. (It’s interesting, in this regard, to note that Schrader’s original ending to the scenario had Court and Amy go through with the wedding.) Still, the most suspicious thing for LaSalle to do would be to say nothing at all; so, as if innocent of any ulterior motive, he tries to dissuade Court, and in so doing passes himself off to us and to Court as a right guy, even while alienating himself from the increasingly fantasy-obsessed Court’s affections.

We are cinematographically tipped to LaSalle’s involvement in the plot against Court quite early in the film, even before we are fully aware there is such a plot. There is that arresting, unexpected, nobody’s point-of-view shot of LaSalle in the taxi, leaving Court in front of the Florentine church, LaSalle’s ambiguous expression inappropriately in focus while, through the rear window, Court blurs into the background as the taxi pulls away. But earlier still, we are given a stunning and troublesome presentiment of the increasing distance between the two partners (though at the time we may think Court’s obsession, not La Salle’s, to be the root of the separation): At a café party a drunken LaSalle lets slip his discontentment with Court’s disregard for money and his wasteful use of valuable park land as a memorial plot to his wife and daughter. Next day, Court and LaSalle face each other across a café table, more than a Panavision frame’s width between them, as we recall the previous evening’s moment of truth. As they talk, Zsigmond’s camera pans from one face to the other, distinctly not timing the pans with the alternating lines of dialogue, and racking focus as the camera rakes the space between the two men, fixing on the street scene outside the café window, so that each time the panning camera comes to rest on one or the other’s face, it must be refocused. This most dramatic stylistic emphasis stresses not only that both men are somehow out-of-synch with the real world, but also that they are no longer themselves compatible. Their partnership, no longer the unity of purpose it appeared to be in the opening sequence, has become a separateness of viewpoint and command.

LaSalle, in his own obsession, has to replay the 1959 plot because it had failed. He is like Napoleon getting a second chance to unify Europe, or James Joyce turning Stephen Hero into A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. His opportunity to set up the second plot is provided when Amy, in 1959, is saved by a last-minute machination of the kidnappers, unseen by us until the flashback near the end of the film. LaSalle, like Amy and Court, wants Court to get a “second chance” to do things the way he was supposed to the first time: borrow the cash from LaSalle, make the payoff, and ransom his beloved while the kidnappers escape with the money and LaSalle retains as collateral Court’s share in the company.

The obsessions of all three characters are thus served by a single fantasy, which materializes with the 1975 replay. The only difference is that when Court redeems himself by paying real money, without consulting the police, LaSalle has the briefcases switched. Fake money is once again delivered, keeping Amy alienated from her father and so motivating her return to Italy, even as LaSalle had had to send her out of the country after the failure of the 1959 plot, to prevent exposure of his role in the kidnapping.

The totality of LaSalle’s involvement in—indeed, his authorship of—the two plots is hardly implicit in those two shots in the Florence sequence that suggest his centrality to the “obsession” that moves Court away from the real world. But LaSalle’s character is. And a verbal tip to his guilt also occurs early on. In the “Art is my only vice” scene Court’s initial reference to his partner’s Florentine junkets reveals a hidden link to us. LaSalle stands squarely in the middle between Mike Courtland and the city where he met his wife and is later to meet her exact double: Florence, the city of art, and of Dante.


Cliff Robertson as Mike Courtland

Much of the effectiveness in obscuring the line between reality and fantasy, between sanity and mad wish-fulfillment, consists in De Palma’s skillful use of his actors. Cliff Robertson achieves one of his finest characterizations as Mike Courtland, powerfully affecting in the way he gets away with some potentially sappy romantic lines (“I’m in land development—real estate,” he tells Sandra as he eyes her only half-believing she’s real; and when she’ replies: “Sounds important,” he responds “No—no, it isn’t”) and some dangerously melodramatic ones (“What happened to your wife? How did she die?” “I killed her”). The latter exchange is the first clearcut definition, for us, of Court’s guilt-obsession. We know in the same moment that Sandra’s confused reaction must be answered, for plot purposes, with a fuller and more extenuating explanation of the event and Court’s role in it, if he is to retain her trust and win her affection. (We later understand the confusion as tracing in part to Amy’s surprise and the beginning of love as she discovers in her father something she did not expect.)

Another hauntingly beautiful moment, commanded entirely by Robertson, becomes a key event in the film. We have seen Court look at a wallet photo of Elizabeth he carries with him, brooding over her resemblance to Sandra; and we have connected this imagistically with a café party scene in which a number of Italian executives, each accompanied by a pretty young date, are amused by Court’s naïve question “How did they all get such young wives?”—whereupon they all show pictures of their wives at home: fat, dumpy, homely women they obviously adore. Court has not experienced this separation of affection. His wife was the young and beautiful object of both his love and his physical desire. But the impossibility of his re-creating that with Sandra is stressed by the distance the executives keep between their young beauties and their wives, as well as by the emphasis placed on the age gap between the executives and their dates, between Court’s contemporaries and Sandra. All this is prologue. Sandra’s apparent bemused curiosity about Court’s fascination with her demands some satisfaction, and we desperately want him to show her the photograph of Elizabeth, saying something like “You’re not going to believe this but…” Yet when the moment arrives and Sandra asks Court, “Do you have a picture of her?” there is just the right amount of breathless hesitation before he replies, “No.” In that moment of dramatic and psychological perfection we recognize both the power of his Vertigolike obsession and the honorable sincerity of his wish to keep it secret from Sandra, to love her for herself as the “second chance” he longs for.

The photograph of Court’s true beloved (of whom Sandra subsequently sees a painting) bears an imagistic connection with the mural whose restoration occupies Sandra in the church where Court first encounters her. One of the celebrated altarpieces by Dante contemporary Bernardo Daddi—whose surname strikes an effective punning note in the film’s context—has partly peeled away to reveal another painting beneath. The church restoration council must decide whether to remove the Daddi permanently, on the chance the older painting is a more important discovery, or to retain the Madonna for its known and loved beauty, never to know what lies beneath.

Metaphorically, the Madonna is Sandra, explicitly associated with the painting through her work on its restoration. The painting underneath is ambivalent: in Court’s apprehension of the spontaneous symbolism, it represents Elizabeth; in Sandra’s, her own true identity as Amy. The implication that it’s sometimes better to be content with what one sees than to peel away appearances to seek the truth beneath is borne up by the council’s decision—concurred in by both Court and Sandra—to restore the Daddi and explore the hidden older painting no further. But the course upon which Sandra/Amy and Court have already embarked is not consistent with that philosophy. Having taken the step that must inevitably lead to the stripping away of surface appearance and the exposure of the deeper level on which reality and fantasy have equal truth value, Court announces his intention to wed Sandra and spirits her home with him to New Orleans. At the office he stresses the importance of the decision by telling LaSalle “My new life begins” and translating into halting Italian, without any apparent reference to or awareness of Dante: “La vita nuova.”

The Dante connection, here and throughout the film, is more than a passing conceit. It’s no mere authorial frivolity that Amy’s adoptive name is Portinari; that the kidnapping takes place when Amy is nine; that the film concerns itself with a trinity of characters; and above all, that Sandra recites Dante to Court. She tells him how Dante’s own obsessive love for Beatrice Portinari was expressed through pretended love for another woman, the so-called Lady of the Screen, who shielded Beatrice from the embarrassment of Dante’s direct and public love.

Schrader and De Palma have placed particular emphasis on this story of the Lady of the Screen, and not simply because of its fortuitous pun on the “silver screen” of their own artistic milieu. There is an obvious parallel between this story from history and the motif of the two paintings. Two ideas work equally well with respect to this image: Court pretends to love Sandra, who actually stands as a screen between him and the unattainable dead Elizabeth, masking the unspeakable reality of necrophilia; and Court truly loves Sandra, who stands as a screen for the equally unspeakable incestuous love between father and daughter, a passion which is nakedly apparent by the end of the film.

Dante, who was to Beatrice as chaste a lover as Court is with Sandra, lost his beloved when she died at age 24, and proceeded to idealize her every bit as obsessively as Elizabeth is idealized by Court. At the end of La Vita Nuova he wrote: “If it pleases Him through Whom all things live that my life may continue for a few years, I hope to write of her what has never been said of any woman.”

What he went on to write was the Divina Commedia, whose near-deification of Beatrice Portinari signaled an identification of woman with redemptive grace that both marked the culmination of the medieval courtly love tradition and pointed toward the romantic pedestalization of woman that survives today and that Goethe celebrated in the final lines of Faust: “The Eternal Feminine leads us upward.” In the Commedia Beatrice comes to stand for the Madonna just as the Lady of the Screen had stood for Beatrice in La Vita Nuova, and just as Sandra stands for Elizabeth (who is also a mother).

Into this complex pattern of parallel relations fits the additional screen that hides Sandra’s true identity, maintained by her and upheld by another “mother,” Signora Portinari, who lies dying in the hospital. The stress De Palma places on that lady’s death provides yet another stylistic clue to what is really afoot: Sandra, orphaned, is associated with Amy through the loss of a mother, even as she has been associated with Elizabeth through physical resemblance. (Of course at this point neither Court nor viewer knows that Amy is not dead, much less that Amy is Sandra.)

“The moment I form a picture in my mind of her marvelous beauty,” Dante writes in La Vita Nuova XV, “I am seized by a desire to see her. This desire is so strong that it kills and destroys everything in my memory that could rise up to oppose it.” Court—and we, identifying with him—must pursue the obsession, even while missing all the clues that point to its impossibility, and to the reality it truly stands for. That his obsessive desire for the lost beloved’s presence is ultimately the manifestation of a death wish was recognized by Dante when he wrote, in the concluding passages of La Vita Nuova: “Then may it please God Who is the Lord of Grace that my soul may rise to see the glory of its lady …” Court’s wish for a second chance to prove his love to his dead wife is not (to him) so clear a death wish; yet his equally semiconscious connection of himself with the Dante of La Vita Nuova confirms the importance—to him and to Obsessionof the timelessness, ambiguity, and redeeming power of love. If the 1959 disaster represents in each and to each of the three characters some kind of failing or sin, the 1975 reenactment offers each a chance for a kind of redemption.


Stylistically, the evidence is present early in the film for at least a suspicion that Sandra is Amy; for one thing, Elizabeth, despite her central importance in the story, never speaks during the 1959 sequences, while the daughter does so several times. But the implied greater literary importance of Amy can be carried through only if she can somehow reappear in the film. Sandra is visually linked with the death of Elizabeth in the scene in which she appears to Court dressed in the nightgown Elizabeth was wearing when she died. This scene is not simply a dream of Court’s (as the soft-focus, “tunnel-vision” cinematography employed in the sequence might more conventionally be taken to imply), nor yet a real occurrence (which the plot might seem to demand, since the idea of Sandra’s love for Court as a “second chance” needs to be placed literally in Court’s mind in order to bring LaSalle’s conspiracy off). It is rather the objectification of the atavistic affinity of two souls whose ideas and fantasies are mutual and compatible, even before they are confirmed by reality—much in the manner of Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (Court and Amy being, after all, even more closely and materially of the same flesh and blood than are the two Charlies of the Hitchcock film). Amy’s revenge-obsession and Court’s guilt-obsession merge at the inevitable point of mutual concern: the resurrection of Elizabeth, at once the object of Court’s guilt complex and the subject of Amy’s revenge fantasy.

It is not only the use of Elizabeth’s nightgown that suggests this scene not be taken as literal reality. Too many other things about it are equally anti-real. In retrospect, we know the wedding with which the scene begins could not have taken place: the cinematographic style previously noted implies subjectivity; Sandra wears, for the wedding, the same dress and jewelry Elizabeth had worn at the anniversary party the night of the kidnapping; and Sandra’s words to Court are too obvious and unlikely to be heard in any but an oneiric state. On the other hand, it seems equally unlikely that Court would be drifting along in a sleepy state, given his anxiety over Sandra’s safety earlier that day; and there is no evidence that any kind of drug has been used. It seems safest, then, to recognize the scene for what it does rather than what it says, since we have already crossed into the zone where perception is no longer a reliable index of reality.

Sandra/Amy’s appearance to Court as Elizabeth represents the mutual fulfillment of their two fantasies. He fully recognizes her as his “second chance,” and she becomes fully identified (for herself and for Court) with her mother. But another important factor one encounters in trying to assign a truth value to the events of this scene is the deliberately ambiguous “fudging” on the inevitable question of whether or not father and daughter actually consummated their incestuous love. There is an empty pillow next to Court’s head when he awakes—if that’s what he’s doing as the “dreamy” sequence ends—and he rushes into the other bedroom to find Sandra gone and the ransom note pinned to the bedpost. Later, after the second plot has done its work and LaSalle has taken the shattered Amy to the airport a second time, he says to her something like “At least you were able to keep him out of bed; be thankful for that much.” But this Schrader–De Palma lip service to prevailing moral standards is as evanescent as Hitchcock’s “clearing” of Cary Grant’s Johnnie Aysgarth at the end of Suspicion: how, after all, does he know?

Besides, at the point the line is uttered we are in the midst of another De Palma tour-de-force, the flashback sequence that simultaneously shows just what happened in 1959 and reveals that Sandra is Amy through the arresting device of having nine-year-old Amy in the flashback played by 25-year-old Amy/Sandra—an improvement on a similar flashback-hallucination idea that served double duty as exposition and development in the climax of Sisters.

LaSalle has brought Amy once again to the airport, after his switching of the briefcases has persuaded her that Court again delivered fake money, and that she must now leave him forever. But LaSalle’s exchange of the cases has spoiled only his own chance for redemption. Court, revisiting the point of the drop and discovering the switch, confronts LaSalle back in their office. LaSalle does a strange thing: he relates the entire plot to Court—but omitting the true identity of Sandra, whom he describes as a “little bitch” who was only in it for the money—and proceeds to give back the money, snapping the briefcase onto Court’s wrist. The question whether this gesture is some last-ditch effort at salvaging his own redemption, a confirmation of his interest in the “art” rather than the profit of his plot, or merely an indication that he, like Court and Sandra/Amy, has by now passed into a different kind of reality quickly becomes a moot issue; for almost immediately he makes an attempt on Court’s life.

There ensues a brief desk-and-scissors struggle reminiscent of Dial M for Murder, and Court kills LaSalle, in counterpoint to Amy’s simultaneous suicide attempt with a pair of manicure scissors in the lavatory of the Rome-bound jet. The coincidence of the scissors serves only further to emphasize the supernatural union of the two: like father, like daughter. The flight’s urgent return to New Orleans and Amy’s emergence from the passenger ramp are intercut with Court’s maddened (and utterly impossible in light of contemporary airport security) dash through the terminal, the case of real money swinging from one wrist, his other hand brandishing the pistol he took from LaSalle.

For a moment De Palma chillingly mixes love and hate with the suggestion that the dazed, angered Court might just really shoot Amy for her role in his humiliation—never, of course, realizing who she is. An airport guard, glimpsing the half-concealed gun, tries to stop Court, who brushes him aside with relative ease, though in the tussle the attaché case bursts open, showering the concourse with ransom money. De Palma and Zsigmond have carefully blurred the focus on Amy’s point-of-view so that she doesn’t see the gun, still less recognize that it’s pointed at her. So at this moment we must assume that Court suddenly and for the first time appears to Amy the precise image of the father she wants and spent most of her life thinking she did not have: a warrior, fearless and defiant, throwing away money and caution to prove his love for her. Our closer, grimmer vision of Court gives him more the fury of a wounded animal, as he runs toward what he must conceive as the last willful act of his life—probably draining the last of his psychic energy—to avenge himself on this heartless little bitch who exploited his deepest emotional susceptibilities, this little bitch who suddenly shouts “Daddy!”

As she throws herself into his arms, Court’s face floods with confusion: shock and surprise, discovery and realization, the joy of reunion, paternal pride, incestuous passion with no place left to hide. And the image of the scheming little bitch melts into the final, full image of Court’s resurrected Elizabeth: beautiful, helpless, hurt, dependent, loving, forgiving, but needing also his forgiveness.

All these commingle in De Palma’s startling concept for the final event of his film: A vertiginous tracking shot circles Court and Amy as they embrace, continuing and accelerating as Bernard Herrmann’s music swells, Amy clings, and Court gropes to readjust himself to a new reality. That final shot’s incessant turning—like the eternal revolving of the spheres, an understanding of which accompanies Dante’s beatific vision at the Commedia‘s climax—works as a stylistic correlative for both characters’ obsessions externalized, repeating the father-daughter-mother dance from the film’s opening sequence, but with daughter and mother now united in a single character. Both Hitchcock-parody and self-parody, the shot is a whirling impossibility that screams joy, madness, and “It’s only a movie!” all at the same time (how can we tell the dancer from the dance?), finally breaking down with the speed of its own centripetal force so that everything comes to a sudden groaning halt (not with a bang but a whimper), tossing the viewer rudely off the carousel to land rubbing his aching skull and wondering how much of this really happened? Was the movie really about three people? Or just two? Or just one? And if so, which one?

The film’s movement toward that emphatic finish is—like Dante’s Commedia—a movement from the hard earth of story to the airy freedom of pure aesthetic joy, a calculated process of plot becoming pure expressive style. The blurring of the distinction between content and style, like the crossing of the line from reality into fantasy, is something we expect in the film, of course. We doubt reality and content just as soon as Court gets his first shocking glimpse of the Italian art student who is a mirror of his dead wife. The breakdown doesn’t happen then, however. It occurs only later, when we no longer expect it, when we have come almost to accept the impossible as true, before we know what LaSalle the artist and Amy the art student have wrought together on Court. The genius of the film lies in the skill with which the line is obscured. We’re never quite sure when or where we crossed it; but, as with the “invisible join” in the 360-degree memorial park pan shot that begins in 1959 and ends in 1975 looking at the same man’s older face, we know we have.

And what of Court, the man who, intentionally or no, peeled away the painting? The leap from solid story into sheer style amplifies the shock of his sudden realization of the truth. “Love kills all my perceptions except those of sight,” wrote Dante: poor Court has been the last to know, all along. And the shock also measures the abruptness of his birth to a new life in a world that, for better or worse, can never be the same again.

The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Grace Cumbow and Richard T. Jameson.

Direction: Brian De Palma. Screenplay: Paul Schrader, after a story by De Palma and Schrader. Cinematography: Vilmos Zsigmond. Editing: Paul Hirsch. Music: Bernard Herrmann.
The players: Cliff Robertson, Geneviève Bujold, John Lithgow.

© 1977 Robert C. Cumbow

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