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Un-American Psycho

Brian De Palma and the Political Invisible

Brian De Palma is perhaps best known as the director behind the gangster classic Scarface. Yet as ingrained as Scarface is in American popular culture, it is but one of a sizeable number of controversial films—many of which are consistently misread or ignored—directed by De Palma over his more than four-decade career.

            In Un-American Psycho, Chris Dumas places De Palma’s body of work in dialogue with the works of other provocative filmmakers, including Alfred Hitchcock, Jean-Luc Godard, and Francis Ford Coppola with the aim of providing a broader understanding of the narrative, stylistic, and political gestures that characterize De Palma’s filmmaking. De Palma’s films engage with a wide range of issues surrounding American political and social culture, and this volume offers a rethinking of the received wisdom on his work.

240 pages | 40 halftones | 7 x 9 | © 2012

Film Studies

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“Well analyzed.”

New York Times

“Un-American Psycho is organized in large part around salvaging the reputation of Brian De Palma, a filmmaker whose name is commonly—and usually negatively—mentioned in the same breath as Hitchcock’s. . . . Debut author Chris Dumas is giving De Palma his due. And in so doing, he’s arming the next generation of De Palma defenders with some seriously heavy artillery.”

John Semley | A.V. Club

“The considerable significance of this book lies not in the critique of that beleaguered discipline it so energetically advances, but rather in what it shows by example— namely that scholarly work on cinema can still dare, as it did in the 1970s, to read philosophy, politics, and history together, to make systematic claims, to overreach, to hyperbolize, to use irony, to venture beyond empiricism, to unapologetically engage psychoanalysis, to not merely apply a method but to radically question the foundations of several.”

Film Quarterly

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: The Case of the Missing Disciplinary Object

Chapter 1: Shower Scene

Hitchcock and the Murder of Marion Crane
How to Blame De Palma
How to Operate the Hitchcock Machine
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Žižek (But Were Afraid to Ask De Palma)

Chapter 2: Get to Know Your Failure
Death(s) of the Left: An Historical Cartoon
Godard: The Holy Man
Made in U.S.A
Cinema of Failed Revolt

Chapter 3: The Personal and The Political
Bad Objects
The Liberal Gaze
The Political Invisible

Conclusion: Norman Bates and His Doubles

Reference List and Bibliography
Index of Film Titles and Selected Proper Names

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