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THE EXORCIST (1973-R)

Movie actress Chris MacNeil (Burstyn) suspects an evil spirit has possessed Regan, her young daughter (Blair). After drugs, brain scans, and therapy fail to reveal the cause of Regan's frightening condition, Chris calls in two priests (Sydow and Miller) in a desperate bid to exorcise the demon. Author William Peter Blatty won an Academy Award for the big-screen adaptation of his own novel; the film also won a well-deserved Oscar for Best Sound. A sensation in 1972, the year of its release, the film packs a terrific punch even today, thanks to excellent acting, story, and direction by William Friedkin.

The cast includes: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair, Jason Miller, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn, and Jack MacGowran.

THE EXORCIST was nominated for the Best Picture award.

Director William Friedkin's "The Exorcist" is a shocking, well-made horror film. Friedkin received a nomination for best directing.

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Promotional Lines: "Something beyond comprehension is happening to a little girl on this street,
in this house. A man has been called for as a last resort to try and save her. That man is The Exorcist"

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This scary, riveting screenplay, by William Blatty tells the ordeal an actress, Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) and her young daughter, Regan, which begins when young Regan (Linda Blair) develops weird symptoms. Chris MacNeil comes to believe her daughter is possessed by a powerful demon. When all else fails, Chris seeks the help of a Priest, Father Damien Karr (Jason Miller), who is experienced in the ritual of exorcism, and knows well this demon as an old foe.

William Peter Blatty, who adapted his popular novel, won an Oscar for his screenplay. Blatty's novel was supposedly based on a real life incident involving a young boy.

The marvelous direction was by William Friedkin, who has had a long and lustrous career, in acting, writing and directing films such as THE FRENCH CONNECTION, THE GUARDIAN, SORCERER, RAMPAGE, RULES OF ENGAGEMENT and THE HUNTED.

Linda Blair, in her screen debut, gives a thoroughly convincing performance. Although some of her more violent scenes were actually done by an adult actress, and her "devil voice" was done by Mercedes McCambridge, young Blair does a masterful job as the afflicted girl.

Academy Award winner, Ellen Burstyn, gives a heartbreaking performance as the mother of a possessed child. We really feel her growing frustration and consternation as the conventional medical establishment offers her little help with her daughter.

Supposedly, Friedkin pulled some cinema tricks in order to make the film more shocking. Some film experts claim that frames of skulls and other items were cut into the film, at the subliminal level, to disturb the viewer. Whether this is true or not is certainly open to debate.

During the film's theatrical run, some audience members got sick, fainted, and had other adverse reactions to the film. Whether these were real reactions, or clever studio promotions, is hard to determine.

My favorite scene involves Miller and a possessed Blair. When she speaks to him with the voice of his dead mother, it's a nightmarish, truly disturbing scene.

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If you enjoyed THE EXORCIST you may like THE FRENCH CONNECTION, RAMPAGE, TO LIVE AND DIE IN LA, and/or ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANY MORE.

 

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