6.8/10
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66 user 85 critic

Obsession (1976)

A wealthy New Orleans businessman becomes obsessed with a young woman who resembles his wife.

Director:

Brian De Palma

Writers:

Brian De Palma (story by), Paul Schrader (story by) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Cliff Robertson ... Michael Courtland
Geneviève Bujold ... Elizabeth Courtland / Sandra Portinari
John Lithgow ... Robert Lasalle
Sylvia Kuumba Williams Sylvia Kuumba Williams ... Maid (as Sylvia 'Kuumba' Williams)
Wanda Blackman Wanda Blackman ... Amy Courtland
J. Patrick McNamara ... Third Kidnapper (as Patrick McNamara)
Stanley J. Reyes Stanley J. Reyes ... Insp. Brie
Nick Krieger Nick Krieger ... Farber
Stocker Fontelieu Stocker Fontelieu ... Dr. Ellman
Don Hood ... Ferguson
Andrea Esterhazy Andrea Esterhazy ... D'Annunzio
Thomas Carr Thomas Carr ... Paper Boy
Tom Felleghy Tom Felleghy ... Italian Businessman
Nella Simoncini Barbieri Nella Simoncini Barbieri ... Mrs. Portinari
John Creamer John Creamer ... Justice of the Peace
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Storyline

New Orleans businessman Michael Courtland's life is shattered when his wife and daughter are tragically killed in a botched kidnap rescue attempt. Many years later whilst visiting Italy he meets and falls in love with Sandra Portinari, who bears a striking resemblance to his wife. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Imagine the most terrifying dream you ever had . . . See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Italian

Release Date:

September 1976 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Deja Vu See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,400,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,000,000, 8 September 1976
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Alfred Hitchcock was reportedly furious when Brian De Palma decided to make Obsession (1976), because he thought it was a virtual remake of Vertigo (1958). Ironically, De Palma stopped making mystery/adventure films after Hitchcock's death in 1980, with the possible exception of Body Double (1984). See more »

Goofs

In Robertson's first trip on the paddle-wheel boat to deliver ransom money in 1959, as it takes off, a pan to the street reveals traffic nearby with contemporary (1970's) cars. See more »

Quotes

Michael Courtland: It wasn't there. The money wasn't there. It wasn't there.
Robert Lasalle: You got me out of bed, forced me to give you 500000 dollars. You were acting crazy! Of course the money wasn't there. I had to protect it from you. I have the real money. I was only looking after your own good. It's all yours now, and this will surely keep you from throwing it away.
Michael Courtland: I killed her. She came back a second time to let me prove I loved her. Now she's gone...
Robert Lasalle: You just can't seem to keep a woman, can you? You self righteous son...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The film has no end credits, other than the words "The End" in the final frame. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Remington Steele: Woman of Steele (1984) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Déjà vu and Déjà vu.
12 February 2014 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

Obsession is directed by Brian De Palma and written by Paul Schrader. It stars Cliff Robertson, Genevieve Bujold and John Lithgow. Music is by Bernard Herrmann and cinematography by Vismos Zsigmond.

You either love him or hate him, it seems. Brian De Palma that is. He's an amazing stylist who made some piercingly great thrillers in the tradition of Maestro Hitchcock, or he's a knock off artist using style to hide his inadequacies as a story teller? One thing for sure, for a good portion of the 70s and 80s his films would not be ignored, for better or worse depending on your own proclivities of course.

Obsession, as has been noted numerous times, is De Palma's homage to Hitchcock's masterpiece, Vertigo. It's not a straight out copy as some reviewers have somehow managed to convince themselves, but narrative drive is similar. Robertson in grief for a passed on wife (Bujold) and daughter meets a doppelganger (also Bujold) of his dead wife 16 years down the line and becomes obsessed with her. As the new woman reciprocates the attraction, the relationship becomes wrought and borderline unhealthy, reaching a crescendo when muddy waters are stirred and revelations force the can to open and worms to spill everywhere.

When remembering that for a long time Vertigo was out of circulation in the 70s, Obsession was sure as hell a good second option for anyone hankering for a superbly stylish thriller boiling over with psychological smarts. Even if you buy into the style over substance argument, what style there is here though. Roving camera work, up tilts, haze surrounds, canted frames, pan arounds, dream shimmers and personalised focus. Add in the splendid use of New Orleans and Tuscany locations and Herrmann's sensually dangerous score (lifted in part and re-worked from Vertigo) and it has style to burn. While the big reveals at pic's culmination are in turn intriguing and daring; even if the original ending planned would have really put the cat among the pigeons and made for a more potent piece ripe for heated discussion.

Lead cast are on fine form, Robertson plays it superbly as a wistful and damaged wastrel, guilt and obsession seeping from every pore. Bujold is just darling, a telling twin performance that actually doesn't demand to be noticed until late in the play. While Lithgow stomps around the edges of the frame like some shyster lawyer whose tie is on too tight. Ultimately Obsession is a film crafted in the mode of Hitchcock, but not in anyway disgracefully so. This is no illegitimate relation to Vertigo, it's more like a reliable brother-in-law. Pulpy, Trashy but also Classy. Great. 8/10


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