Dressed to Kill – Top 5 Brian De Palma Movies

With the recent release of the feature length documentary about the career of New Hollywood director Brian De Palma we take a look at five great movies that you must check out.

5) Mission: Impossible (1996)

Based on the 1960s television series was the start of a franchise that’s still going strong after 20 years with the sixth movie currently in pre-production.

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Tom Cruise stars in this post cold war thriller as Ethan Hunt who after a botched mission in Prague must break into CIA headquarters to steal the NOC list to flush out the mole and the brain’s behind the murder of his IMF team.

The high tech aspect of movie are obviously dated but when you have a director helming genuine nail biting moments such as the break in at Langley masterfully it’s something that you’ll let slide.

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4) Scarface (1983)

A remake of the Howard Hawks directed 1932 movie updated from the rough streets of Chicago to sun kissed Miami Beach.

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The script written by Oliver Stone while he was dealing with his own addiction to the devil’s dandruff stars Al Pacino as cuban immigrant Tony Montana rise and fall as he chases the American dream in a bullet ridden climax.

scarface1The over the top performance that Pacino gives is ably supported by the likes of Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert Loggia, Harris Yulin and Steven Bauer.

This version of Scarface is a perfect encapsulation of the violent gaudiness of the 80s. The mix of De Palmas storytelling finesse filtered through John A. Alonzo’s masterful cinematography all to a Giorgio Moroder soundtrack make it still memorable to audiences. 

While it was a flop on its original release Scarface ranked 10th in the greatest gangster movies of all time by the American Film Institute. It’s a film that remains influential across other media platforms and soon will be remade itself by Training Day’s Antoine Fuqua.

3) The Untouchables (1987)

The first of his television to movie adaptation by Brian DePalma. The film stars Kevin Costner as Elliot Ness who alongside a team of handpicked men must bring down the illegal activities of Robert De Niro’s Al Capone in 1930s Chicago during Prohibition.

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David Mamet’s script with its quotable lines “You carry a badge, carry a gun” from Sean Connery in a memorable Oscar winning performance despite speaking in a horrible Irish brogue.

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The main leads supported by Andy Garcia,Charles Martin Smith and a wickedly creepy Billy Drago as Capone’s assassin Frank Nitti help make The Untouchables an insanely stylistic cop movie.

The shoot out at the train station which homages Eisenstein’s Odessa steps sequence from Battleship Potemkin it’s a movie moment created by a cineaste.

 2) Carlito’s Way (1993)

Adapted from the novel “After Hours” by Edwin Torres by Jurassic Park screenwriter David Koepp it was the second collaboration between the Scarface director and it’s lead despite his initial hesitance to return to the gangster genre.

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 Al Pacino stars as the reformed Carlito Brigante who after many years in prison returns to the streets of spanish Harlem in order to raise the $75,000 he needs to move to the Caribbean so can partner up in a car rental business.

While in the joint his lawyer Sean Penn’s coked out David Klienfeld has been creating many enemies they’re now after him and ultimately Carlito who’s been good despite the many temptations to fallback into his old life.

Carlitos Way is a much more emotionally satisfying De Palma movie and feels like he’s having fun creating carefully choreographed thriller moments with the final act in Grand Central Station at his career best.

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1) Blow Out (1981)

John Travolta as Philadelphian exploitation sound technician Jack Terry is recording better wind sound for a shitty horror film he’s currently in post production.

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When he witnesses a car come off the road into a creek which happens to be driven by a potential presidential candidate who had an escort as his passenger.

 This begins a series of events that involves cover up,conspiracy theories and murder.

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The film is directly based on Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 film Blow Up, replacing the medium of photography with the medium of audio recording and is thematically concerned with the mechanics of movie making.

All of DePalma’s directorial trademark techniques: split-screen, the split diopter lens and elaborate tracking shot are present.


When Blow Out was released in 1981 it was well received by critics who praised the leads acting and the stylistic Hitchcock direction by De Palma sadly it wasn’t a hit at the box office but now has developed a cult following with film fans.

De Palma is in cinemas now.