(1973, 93 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
CAST Margot Kidder, Jennifer Salt, Charles Durning, William Finley
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A young reporter (Jennifer Salt) witnesses a murder from afar, but cannot prove it. The truth is even more grim than she imagines… After channelling the new wave in his first independent films (Hi Mom and Greetings) De Palma turned to a different model, Alfred Hitchcock, for what proved to be his commercial breakthrough. Sisters has a grand guignol conceit about Siamese twins, but it’s not really a horror movie - rather it’s a witty mystery suspense thriller drawing directly from Rear Window (an eye witness to a murder tries to prove what she saw), Psycho (slasher bloodletting and multiple personality disorder) and Vertigo (obsession). He even persuaded Hitchcock’s favourite composer, Bernard Herrmann, to come out of retirement to score the film.
Ironically through this filter of pastiche De Palma was able to find his own voice as a filmmaker, inspired by Hitchcock’s cinematic vocabulary but developing his own inimitable visual lexicon, which even at this early stage includes extraordinarily adept use of split screen, lengthy travelling shots, and an operatic "Eye of God" storytelling sense - or if you prefer, a deeply twisted sense of humour. Made for cheap, the film was a box office and critical success, and reset the course for De Palma’s career.
"De Palma’s finest achievement prior to Blow Out and one of the great American films of the 1970s…." Robin Wood, Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan…and Beyond
"Arguably De Palma’s best, most entertaining film. It contains enough inspired wickedness and lunacy that it would have made even Hitchcock jealous. But for all its prankishness, the film remains a telling exploration of duality, identity, and obsession—themes that De Palma would recycle time and again, but rarely with such wit or intelligence." Derek Hill, Images Journal