Greetings (1968, Brian De Palma)

Features the upbeat pop title song. Obviously that’s why Snake Eyes had a title song – wasn’t some weird emulation of the James Bond franchise, it’s how De Palma has always made movies. I don’t remember any songs from Redacted, but I’m looking forward to Cyndi Lauper’s hit number “Casualties of War.”

A mildly Godardian 60’s-spirited anti-establishment comedy, full of proto-De Palma moments (split-screen, voyeurism, explicit reference to Antonioni’s Blow-Up, the book below). Not much attempt at continuity, more of a series of sketches about three guys.

Paul (Jonathan Warden, who never acted again) stays awake for three days to become enough of a nervous wreck to fail his army draft exams, then goes on a bunch of blind dates (introduced by title cards).

Lloyd (80’s horror staple Gerrit Graham) spends the whole movie obsessing over the Kennedy assassination.

Jon (Robert De Niro, later of Brazil) is a voyeur, always peeping at people through windows and cameras. He fails to get out of the draft, and in the final scene he’s with a news camera crew trying to get a Vietnamese village woman to strip as if there isn’t a war going on around him.

Does not seem like the kind of movie that would’ve inspired a sequel, but it did just that.


De Palma’s most significant features from this decade are Greetings and Hi, Mom!. Both films star Robert De Niro and espouse a Leftist revolutionary viewpoint common to their era. … Greetings is about three New Yorkers dealing with draft. The film is often considered the first to deal explicitly with the draft. The film is noteworthy for its use of various experimental techniques to convey its narrative in ultimately unconventional ways. Footage will be sped up, rapid cutting will distance the audience from the narrative, and it is difficult to discern with whom the audience must ultimately align.


J. Fox:

The characters’ dialogue is loose and improvisatory, but the overall effect is that of a play that’s been “opened out.” De Palma keeps restlessly inserting jump-cuts and changing scenery to provide interest, but it’s a very talky movie, and his camera is frequently stationary.


K. Uhlich:

No surprise then that De Niro’s Taxi Driver character has his roots in Jon Rubin, the protagonist of Greetings and Hi, Mom!. Initially a supporting player in the former (running around carefree as he and his two friends dodge the Vietnam draft) he comes front-and-center in the latter as the voyeuristic purveyor of “peep art”, the failure of which drives him to commit a terrorist act. Greetings plants the seeds of Rubin’s discontent in its best scene, a bravura real-time take in which the budding voyeur, as an off-camera voice, instructs a girl to take off her clothes. Funny and horrifying in equal measure, the fact that neither De Palma nor De Niro flinch from the sight before them speaks to the sequence’s great satirical punch. You laugh, but it sticks in your throat. You’re forced to consider two or more simultaneous responses, which is exactly what the best satire should do. And then the director and the actor take you further in a climactic scene with Rubin now in Vietnam instructing a Vietcong girl to strip for a news camera, thus conflating collective and personal voyeurism into the same sordid ball of wax.

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