Brian De Palma has never been shy about giving his full, honest opinion. Especially to fellow filmmakers.
The director of classics like “Scarface,” “Carrie,” and “The Untouchables” recently told Business Insider that after seeing “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” before it premiered in 1977, he turned to his good friend Steven Spielberg, who directed the movie, and said, “I don’t know, this doesn’t really work for me.”
Laughing about it now, he said, “And this was considered a crowning success of his career.”
But Spielberg wasn’t the only person in the talented inner circle that De Palma ran in during the 1970s (they were known as the Movie Brats) who was on the receiving end of his harsh opinions.
In an encounter that has become a Hollywood legend, De Palma didn’t think much of the original “Star Wars,” either.
George Lucas’ Movie Brats mates were the first people to see “Star Wars,” including Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, John Landis, and De Palma.
After watching an early cut of the movie — which included little to no effects and didn’t yet have the John Williams score — the Brats got together to tell Lucas what they thought. Spielberg told Lucas it was going to be a hit, but De Palma thought differently.
“The crawl at the beginning looks like it was written on a driveway,” De Palma told Lucas, according to the book “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.” “It goes on forever. It’s gibberish.”
Looking back now at his alleged insults, De Palma has a different recollection. Kind of.
“That is not correct,” De Palma told Business Insider. “I am sarcastic. I am considered the class clown, but a sarcastic clown. So I would make fun of certain things. Because everyone would take this stuff too seriously.”
He did, however, admit he didn’t like the opening crawl.
“The crawl didn’t make any sense at all,” De Palma said. “And I kept kidding him about the Force. I was like, ‘What is the Force?’ But you have to understand, we used to look at each other’s movies in order to be helpful. We might say some things that weren’t nice.”
De Palma admits the harsh criticism didn’t always go down well for some. Though he said, as far as he knows, Lucas never took offence to his remarks about the movie.
But one story has it that Lucas’ wife at the time, Marcia, confronted De Palma.
“I don’t remember this, but there was an account where Marcia told me, ‘You’ve hurt George’s feelings and you should be gentle with him.’ I don’t remember that. I really don’t know what they’re talking about,” De Palma said. “I was basically myself. The thing the guys could always count on with me is I would say what I thought. I wasn’t holding back.”
Success washes away all sour grapes in Hollywood, and if Lucas was ever mad at De Palma, that sure ended quickly, as the original “Star Wars” went on to make over $775 million worldwide in its theatrical run and gave birth to one of the most lucrative movie franchises of all time.
“De Palma,” a documentary on the filmmaker, opens in theatres on Friday.
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