Forgotten Friday Flick – “Sisters”

Forgotten Friday FlickKeeping the love of past picture pleasure alive and well it’s the continuation of all De Palma all the time – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick!  Today we’re heading back to an early De Palma stab (pun intended!) at the psychological game that also includes some sensational storytelling style that would go on to become signature.  Voyeurism, murder, mystery and the dark connection between conjoined twins – its Sisters!

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Advertising salesman Phillip Woode is in the men’s locker room one day when he spots a very attractive blind lady wrongly entering the same area.  She begins to undress and Phillip is faced with a very moral choice – say something or continue to ogle the disrobing lovely lady.  Turns out his curious conundrum was actually part of a TV show prank and the woman in question a French Canadian actress and model named Danielle Breton they hired.  After receiving a dinner for two as a parting prize, Phillip decides to take the timid Danielle and the two hit it off.  Though they are interrupted by Danielle’s creepy ex-husband Emil and after having him thrown out, the two escape back to her place for privacy.  But it’s short lived as Emil is waiting outside the building, so Phillip devises a plan to leave, lose the jealous gent and head back into the safe arms of the lovely Danielle – or so he thinks.

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That’s about as far as I’m going into the terrific and twisted tale of Sisters – any more would be a sin.  The wonderment of most De Palma films involves story shocks and the surprises of Sisters are no different.  Though what is an early style surprise is the clever and utterly engaging way with which the famed director decides to present his flick and it’s a unique bit of visual savvy that even Hitchcock would give a thumbs up to.  Splitting his screen right down the middle during key moments, De Palma takes the films’ most intense sequences and shows the eager audience the happenings from two different perspectives.  The result is one original way to ratchet up the tension and it works within Sisters to maximum effect.  (And would go on to become infinitely copied again and again!)

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And even though De Palma’s homage to Hitchcock is clear as day here in both story (Rear Window and Psycho play heavy roles!) and sound (he borrows the master of suspense’s right hand music man Bernard Herrmann!), the salacious Sisters has more than enough originality to firmly stand on its own.  From the creepy subject matter (the black and white video doc on conjoined twins is disturbing stuff!) to the lovable leads (Lisle Wilson and Margot Kidder – who is particularly amazing – have nice chemistry!) and even the quirky character casting (love the tenacity of Jennifer Salt’s noisy neighbor, William Finley’s wide-eyed weirdo ex-husband and Charles Durning’s sleazy private dic!), Sisters shows De Palma’s sincere admiration for the genre but without being a mere film forgery.

When I originally saw Sisters at a young age (and it stayed with me in nightmares for years after!), I had already experienced all that Hitchcock had to offer and even at that time I never felt that as a filmmaker De Palma had merely ripped off his cinematic champion.  Far from a carbon copy, Sisters doesn’t steal a tradition of storytelling, it merely and memorably carries it on.

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I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

2 Responses to “Forgotten Friday Flick – “Sisters””

  1. Brandon Peters

    You know what’s funny, in today’s nostalgic cinematic and television climate, what De Palma was doing in the 70s would be looked upon less as a knock off and probably with much more praise.

    I dig Sisters plenty. Do you have any of the UK Blu-rays of De Palma’s stuff that Arrow put out? I’ve got this one, Obsession, The Fury and Dressed To Kill. All inexpensive and all top notch.

  2. Jason Coleman

    I wish! Agree on the praise part!