Combustible Celluloid
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With: Robert De Niro, Jennifer Salt, Gerrit Graham, Ruth Alda, Allen Garfield, Charles Durning (credited as Charles Durnham)
Written by: Brian De Palma, from a story by Brian De Palma and Charles Hirsch
Directed by: Brian De Palma
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 87
Date: 04/27/1970

Hi, Mom! (1970)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Peepshow, Creepshow

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Before he strode confidently into Hitchcock territory, filmmaker Brian De Palma began his career in the late 1960s and early 1970s with a series of anti-authority satires. Hi, Mom! (1970) wasn't quite as controversial as its X-rated predecessor, Greetings (1968), but it still has a bite, even today. Robert DeNiro stars as Jon Rubin, a Vietnam vet looking to find his place in America. He gets the idea of making porno films with a voyeuristic quality, filming the residents of a neighboring apartment building from his window.

To get quicker results, he even seduces one woman and tries to perform for the camera, set on a timer. He also auditions for a role in a play entitled "Be Black Baby," in which the white spectators are humiliated by black performers.

The film goes off on many tangents, using black-and-white footage to capture seemingly spontaneous reactions of passersby, but it never loses its obsession with voyeurism and the power of the camera. In many ways, this rambunctious mess gets closer to De Palma's dark heart than many of his later, more artistically successful works.

Charles Durning appears in an early role as a slum landlord. MGM/UA's DVD release comes with a clean transfer, much nicer than the muddy videos we're used to seeing these early 70s films on. The only extra is the theatrical trailer.

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