Obsession (1976)

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CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS

Imagine the most terrifying dream you ever had . . .

Directed by .

Written by Brian De Palma and Paul Schrader.

AKA

Spain: Fascinación

Elizabeth Courtland (Geneviève Bujold) and daughter Amy (Wanda Blackman) are kidnapped from their home by gunmen and a ransom note demanding $500,000 for their return is left. Elizabeth’s husband and real estate developer Michael Courtland (Cliff Robertson) is advised by Inspector Brie (Stanley J. Reyes) to use false money (paper) in the drop along with a radio transmitter to track the kidnappers. He agrees and the police surround the house where the kidnappers are holding Elizabeth and Amy. The kidnappers make a break for it with mother and daughter and a car chase follows. The car containing the kidnappers and Elizabeth and Amy crashes and explodes.

Years later Courtland still blames himself for their deaths and visits the monument he had constructed in their memory, a replica of the church; the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte in Florence, Italy; where he and Elizabeth met.

On a trip to Florence with his business partner Robert Lasalle (John Lithgow), Courtland revisits the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte and sees Sandra Portinari (Geneviève Bujold) who is the image of his dead wife. He begins to follow her through the streets of Florence. Lasalle accompanies him to the church and is astounded by the resemblance between the two women. Courtland finally approaches Sandra and the two become romantically involved and decide to get married.

When Sandra is kidnapped and another ransom note left, Courtland sees it as his second chance…

With lavish music by Bernard Herrmann and solid performances from the cast this is a real pleasure to watch. It’s a sedate and engrossing film that will hold you till the credits roll; it’s basically class, class, class. I was genuinely surprised by the twist in the tale too. It’s not horror but it’s Brian De Palma and as such more than deserving of its place here among thrillers, gialli of all kinds as well as horror. Beautifully shot and unfolding like a strange dream, Obsession is one Brian De Palma film you don’t want to miss.

Also stars Thomas Carr as Paper Boy, Andrea Esterhazy as D’Annunzio, Nella Simoncini Barbieri as Mrs. Portinari, Loraine Despres as Jane, Sylvia Kuumba Williams as Judy and Stocker Fontelieu as Dr. Ellman.

Other films by Brian De Palma:

Blood Sisters (1973)

Dressed to Kill (1980)

Body Double (1984)

Raising Cain (1992)

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