Home Movies (1980)
Framed as a lecture by professor Kirk Douglas on student Dennis, “an extra in his own life.” Some of the framing in this is nice if one seeks that De Palma magic, but the action is silly-ass, with sped-up-film goofiness and pauses for laughter after clunker jokes. It’s some consolation that it’s all meant to be a film-in-a-film with a self-consciously big music score.
Kirk must’ve done this as a favor after The Fury. Our main boy who films everything (including his cheating dad) is Keith Gordon, his girl is Nancy Allen, a year before they both appeared in the great Dressed to Kill. I dig the energy of Keith’s cult leader brother Gerrit Graham, just off playing the title role in C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud. As a cheapie exercise in film production assigned to De Palma’s real college students, it came out mostly fine, except maybe the blackface bit.
The Wedding Party (1969)
Another collaboration with Sarah Lawrence college, this time with De Palma the student, shot before Greetings but released after Robert De Niro’s star rose. More undercranking and dubbed voiceover, opening as madcap silent comedy – so this is where he learned it – and references to cross-dressing in both films prefigure Dressed to Kill.
Charlie is a nervous groom, arriving with two groomsmen (RDN +1) at a wedding site with the bride’s too-large family. Bride Jill Clayburgh is ironically best known for a film called An Unmarried Woman. They each get advice from their people, Charlie waffles on the marriage and/or cheating with piano girl Celeste. The dialogue is better than the other movie, and editing is very fun, with jump cuts galore. It gets a little long – hard to sustain wacky comedy for 90 minutes.