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Trivia / Obsession

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The film:

  • Actor-Inspired Element: Cliff Robertson reportedly pushed for John Lithgow's casting, after two displayed good chemistry when Lithgow read for the role of Bob.
  • California Doubling:
    • It features extensive location filming in New Orleans and Florence, but a few key scenes were filmed in Southern California. The upstairs bedroom scenes at the Courtland mansion were shot at a house in Pasadena, since the owners of the New Orleans mansion used for the other shots were skittish about the crew being in the house. The car chase on the bridge was done in Long Beach, and the airport scenes were shot at LAX.
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    • De Palma wasn't allowed to film inside the San Miniato al Monte church in Florence, because the Catholic Church in Italy banned all filming inside churches after an incident where a porno film was shot in a church after the crew lied to the clergy about their plans. Eventually De Palma found a small town that welcomed him to shoot the interior scenes inside their church.
  • Creator Backlash: Brian De Palma took out the Distant Finale in Paul Schrader's screenplay, which led Schrader to disown the film.
  • Creator's Favorite Episode: Bernard Herrmann's second-to-last film, and he thought it was his best score.
  • Dawson Casting/Underage Casting: In the present day scenes, Sandra is 25, while Geneviève Bujold was 33. Michael and Lasalle are supposed to be in their 40s. Cliff Robertson was 52, but on the other end of the spectrum, John Lithgow was just 30.
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  • Dueling Works: In a "Hitchcock Homage vs Actual Hitchcock" duel with Family Plot, which was released a few months before Obsession, and a "De Palma vs De Palma" duel with Carrie, released a couple months later.
  • Executive Meddling: Columbia Pictures felt that audiences wouldn't be happy with the Fridge Horror after they learned that Sandra was really Michael's daughter, and held up release for almost a year so that the subtext could be softened in the editing room, including turning the wedding scene into a Dream Sequence.
  • He Also Did: It was Bernard Herrmann's idea to have the opening credits sequence be a montage of photo slides of Michael and Elizabeth and shots of the Florence church.
  • Hostility on the Set: De Palma and Cliff Robertson reportedly didn't get along, and De Palma later accused Robertson of sabotaging the film (via a lackluster performance) because Bujold was very obviously out-acting him.
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  • I Knew It!: Reviewers at the time noted that the plot twist is pretty easy to figure out.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent:
    • Unlike Lithgow, Cliff Robertson doesn't attempt a Southern accent.
    • Geneviève Bujold uses her natural French Canadian voice for Sandra, but it's passable as an Italian accent, especially when she trills her Rs. To avert any What the Hell Is That Accent? issues, she doesn't speak in her scenes as Elizabeth.
  • Posthumous Credit: Released about nine months after Bernard Herrmann's death.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Before working on the screenplay here, Paul Schrader had written a rave review of De Palma's earlier film Sisters when he still made a living as a film critic.
  • Separated-at-Birth Casting: Wanda Blackman (in her only film) looks very much like a younger Geneviève Bujold.
  • Sleeper Hit: Columbia released it with little fanfare, but good reviews and good word-of-mouth helped it earn back its meager $1 million budget several times over.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Much of Paul Schrader's original story outline got dropped for the final shooting script. Most prominent was a Distant Finale ending: rather than be reunited at the airport in 1975, Michael gets institutionalized following the killing of Lasalle, while Sandra is harbored by nuns at the church in Florence following her suicide attempt on the plane. When he's released in 1985, he flies to Florence with an actual Briefcase Full of Money, and finds Sandra in the church, then it ends basically the same way the final film does. Another idea was to have the actor playing Michael's psychiatrist also play a kidnapper and a romantic suitor of Sandra's in Italy.
    • De Palma wanted Bernard Herrmann to do the score from the get-go, but producer George Litto wanted John Williams. To convince Litto, De Palma had editor Paul Hirsch make a demo reel with music from Vertigo playing behind a key scene. Williams got the consolation prize of scoring Alfred Hitchcock's final film.
  • Working Title: Déjà Vu
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