Film Festivals
Movie Reviews
Advertise with Us
Contact Us
Link with Us
Brian De Palma

Brian De Palma


Director, Screenwriter, Producer
Date of Birth: September 11th, 1940
Place of Birth: Newark, New Jersey, USA
Sign: Virgo
Education: Columbia University, New York; Sarah Lawrence College, New York
Creative Artists Agency
9830 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90212, USA
Tel.: (310) 288-4545
Fax.: (310) 288-4800
Business Manager:
Julie Thomson
Tel: 213-956-4270
Personal quote: The camera lies all the time; lies 24 times/second.

Brian De Palma, a controversial motion picture icon known for such films as Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Raising Cain and most recently Mission to Mars, has often been hailed as the heir to Alfred Hitchcock’s reign as “master of the macabre.”  With a career now spanning 5 decades De Palma as a director, writer, editor, producer, actor and cinematographer has been involved in every movie form from low-budget satire to high budget, action packed block-busters.

Brian Russell De Palma was born on September 11, 1940 in Newark New Jersey. He is the youngest of three sons of Anthony Fredrick De Palma and Vivenne (Muti) De Palma. Although his heritage is Italian Roman Catholic on both sides of the family, De Palma was reared in the Protestant faith.

In the mod 1940’s his family moved to Philadelphia where his dad worked as an orthopedic surgeon. As a teenager Brian developed a fascination with his father’s work, and often watched his father operate on bones and amputate legs. During his summer vacations he worked part-time in the hospital laboratory, and often watched colleagues of his father operate on other body parts, including brain and eye surgeries. These very images may have been the stepping-stone that lead De Palma towards the gory, bloody images you see in many of his films. 

One of his biggest moments in high school was when he won top prize in the regional science fair, his project being “An Analog Computer to Solve Differential Equations.” He also entered the National Science fair where he won second prize for his critical study of hydrogen quantum mechanics through cybernetics.  After graduating from Friends’ Central School (a small Quaker school outside of Philadelphia), De Palma was accepted into Columbia University to study physics. There he realized what an impact drama had on him, and he soon joined the Columbia players, a student theatrical group.

The bases were Vietnam-era politics and the stars were Jill Clayburgh and Robert De Niro, both in their feature film debuts. 

De Palmas’ directorial career began when he picked up a second hand 16mm camera and started to film his fellow acting friends in numerous short movies. One of these movies, Wotan’s Wake (1962), won an award from the Rosenthal Foundation as the best film by an American under the age of twenty-five. It also earned him a graduate fellowship at Sarah Lawrence College, which he attended from 1962-1964 (after graduation from Columbia in 1962) and was voted the most popular film at the Midwest Film Festival in 1963.

In 1964 De Palma obtained his M.A. degree from Sarah Lawrence, then supported himself for a time by making documentaries and promotional films for businesses and cultural institutions and for other organizations such as the NAACP. Over the next 2 years, De Palma wrote his first feature film The Wedding Party. De Palma shot the film in New York City in 1966 and it cost a mere $43,000. 

The bases were Vietnam-era politics and the stars were Jill Clayburgh and Robert De Niro, both in their feature film debuts. Next De Palma directed several independent productions including such film as Murder a la mod, Greetings and Hi, Mom. Because the movie Greetings did relatively well at the box office, De Palmas next film Get to know your Rabbit was his first chance at being financed by a major movie studio. Unfortunately the film was a box office failure and the studio dropped De Palma.

De Palma admits to referring to Hitchcock films in his movies

Returning to independence as a filmmaker, De Palma raised $500,000 to cover the production costs for Sisters. Released in the spring of 1973, this film became De Palma’s first commercial success. This film began a run of daring movie making for De Palma and it was controversial. Several themes became apparent in this film, which today are considered trademarks of De Palma's movies. It is agreed by many that the art of split-screen imaging in this film mark some of De Palmas most impressive work, while numerous shocking events and structured elements occurring throughout the film are reminiscent of many Hitchcock films. De Palma admits to referring to Hitchcock films in his movies but is quick to add he is not trying to be compared to Hitchcock for he knows (at least at that point in his career) he is nowhere near that level yet.

De Palmas next film venture came only a year later (1974) with the production of Phantom of the Paradise. Inspired by Phantom of the Opera, it tells the tragic story of a composer of music turned rock palace haunter. Several passages mark the film as De Palma’s work including on stage carnage, split-screen imaging and voyeurism. De Palma first wrote Phantom in 1969 for Marty Ransohoff to produce. Due to production difficulties, De Palma bought the film back and resold it to Ed Pressman who ultimately produced the film after Sisters.

For a long time, lack of interest in the relationships between his characters was a big weakness De Palma felt he had as a director. Arguably his most underrated film, Obsession was released 2 years later in 1976 to try and correct this fault. The film did moderately well in the box office and helped to build De Palmas reputation as “the new master of suspense.” The famous composer Bernard Herrmann wrote the score (as he did other De Palma films as well as numerous Hitchcock films), and completed it just months before his death. One of the biggest problems with Obsession as a stand out De Palma film is the fact that Carrie was released the same year.

Page 1 Page 2
Page 2
top of page
Important disclaimer

Copyright © 1999-2011 by  All rights reserved. is a division of Media Pro Tech Inc.