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The Exorcist (1973)

Country of Origin: USA
Year of Production: 1972 - 1973
Running Times: 122m (USA)/131m (USA - The Version You Haven't Seen Yet)
Length:
Format: 35mm/70mm (1979 re-release)
Colour Format: Metrocolor
Ratio: 1.37:1 (negative ratio)/1.85:1 (theatrical ratio)
Sound: stereo


DIRECTION

Director: William Friedkin


CREW

PRODUCTION
Production Companies: Warner Brothers / Hoya Productions
Executive Producer: Noel Marshall
Producer: William Peter Blatty
Associate Producer: David Salven
Production Manager (Iraq Sequence): William Kaplan

SCRIPT
Script/Novel: William Peter Blatty

DIRECTION
1st Assistant Director: Terrence A. Donnelly
2nd Assistant Director: Alan Green

PHOTOGRAPHY
Director of Photography: Owen Roizman
Iraq Sequence Photography: Billy Williams
Camera Operator: Enrique Bravo (uncredited)
Assistant Camera: Tom Priestley (uncredited)
2nd Assistant Camera: Gary Muller (uncredited)
Key Grip: Eddie Quinn
Gaffer: Dick Quinlan
Stills: Josh Weiner
Colour Consultant: Robert M. McMillan
Photographic Equipment: Panavision
Camera Equipment: Panavision Cameras and Lenses

EDITING AND POST-PRODUCTION
Supervising Editor: Jordan Leondopolous
Editors: Evan Lottman, Norman Gay
Iraq Sequence Editor: Bud Smith
Assistant Editors: Michal Goldman, Craig McKay, Jonathan Pontell
Iraq Sequence Asst Editor: Ross Levy

MUSIC
Music: Krzysztof Penderecki, Hans Werner Henze, George Crumb, Anton Webern, Mike Oldfield, David Borden
Additional Music: Kack Nitzsche
Music Editor: Gene Marks

SOUND
Sound: Chris Newman
Iraq Sequence Sound: Jean-Louis Ducarme
Sound Consultant: Hal Landaker
Dubbing Mixer: Buzz Knudson
Special Sound Effects: Ron Nagle, Doc Siegel, Gonzalo Gavira, Bob Fine
Sound Effects Editors: Fred Brown, Ross Taylor

COSTUMES AND MAKE-UP
Make Up: Dick Smith
Hair: Bill Farley
Costume Designer: Joe Fretwell
Ladies Wardrobe: Florence Foy
Mens Wardrobe: Bill Beattie
Furs: Revillion
Jewellery Designer for Cartier: Aldo Cipullo

SPECIAL MAKE-UP EFFECTS
Special Make Up Effects: Dick Smith

SPECIAL EFFECTS
Special Effects: Marcel Vercoutere
Optical Effects Supervisor: Linwood G. Dunn (uncredited)
Optical Effects: Marv Ystrom

DESIGN AND SET CONSTRUCTION
Production Designer: Bill Malley
Assistant Art Director: Charles Bailey
Set Decorator: Jerry Wunderlich
Master Scenic Artist: Eddie Garzero
Prop Master: Joe Caracciolo
Title Designer: Dan Perri

OTHER CREW
Script Supervisor: Nick Sgarro
Production Office Co-Ordinator: Anne Mooney
Admin Assistant: Albert Shapiro
Technical Advisors: Reverend John Nicola S.J., Reverend Thomas Bermingham S.J., Reverend William O'Malley S.J., Norman E. Chase MD, Herbert E. Walker MD, Arthur I. Snyder MD

LOCATIONS
Locations: Iraq; New York City, USA; Flagstaff, Arizona, USA; Georgetown, Washington, District of Columbia, USA

CASTING
Casting: Nessa Hyams, Juliet Taylor, Louis DiGiaimo


CAST
Ellen Burstyn (Chris MacNeil)
Max Von Sydow (Father Lancaster Merrin)
Lee J. Cobb (Lt William Kinderman)
Kitty Wynn (Sharon Spencer)
Jack MacGowran (Burke Denning)
Jason Miller (Father Damien Karras)
Linda Blair (Reagan MacNeil)
Reverend William O'Malley (Father Dyer)
Barton Heyman (Dr Klein)
Pete Masterson (clinic director)
Rudolf Schundler (Karl)
Gina Petrushka (Willie)
Robert Symonds (Dr Tanney)
Arthur Storch (psychiatrist)
Reverend Thomas Bermingham (president of university)
Vasiliki Maliaros (Karras' mother)
Titos Vandis (Karras' uncle)
Wallace Rooney (Bishop Michael)
Ron Faber (assistant director)
Donna Mitchell (Mary Jo Perrin)
Roy Cooper (jesuit deacon)
Robert Gerringer (senator at party)
Mercedes McCambridge (voice of Pazuzu)


UNCREDITED CAST

Yvonne Jones (Bellevue nurse)
Vincent Russell (subway vagrant)
Eileen Dietz Elber (double for Regan)
William Peter Blatty (film producer)
Mary Boylan
Richard Callinan
Mason Curry (voice)
John Mahon
Reverend John Nicola


PLOT SUMMARY

The behaviour of a 12-year-old girl, the daughter of an actress, becomes unpredictable, disturbing and violent. Her mother turns to medical science for help, but they are unable to do anything. In desperation, she turns to a priest facing a crisis of faith, believing now that her child has become possessed. He in turn calls in an older, more experienced priest and together they prepare to drive out the evil force inhabiting the girl's body.


CAPSULE REVIEW

Hugely successful if rather over-rated blockbuster that spawned dozens of cheap imitations and trailed controversy wherever it went. Brilliantly made by Friedkin, it's not as scary as its reputation suggests, though there are some very powerful moments. It's influence and importance are undeniable however and it remains one of the key films in the genre. (Full Review)


AVAILABILITY

France
Theatrical Distributor: Warner Brothers

Japan
Theatrical Distributor: Warner Brothers

UK
Theatrical Distributor: Warner Brothers
Video Distributor: Warner Brothers

USA
Theatrical Distributor: Warner Brothers


CENSORSHIP HISTORY

Australia
Rating: R

Finland
Rating: K-18

France
Rating: -16

Germany
Rating: 18; 16 (re-rating)

Hong Kong
Rating: IIB

Ireland
Rating: 18

Netherlands
Rating: 18

Norway
Rating: 18; 15 (2000)

Sweden
Rating: 15

UK
Rating: 18
Unofficially banned for many years, The Exorcist was finally given a belated video release in the UK in 1999, despite having been seen regularly in cinemas around the country for many years.

The Festival of Light attempted to blame The Exorcist for the apparent suicide of a 16 year old boy who had seen the film the week before he took his own life. Then head of the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) Stephen Murphy stood his ground and refused to revoke the film's certificate.

Sadly, subsequent head James Ferman was not so courageous. When the Video Recordings Act came into effect in 1984, The Exorcist effectively vanished from legal view, bar a few hardy souls around the country who kept the film alive at lucrative late night cinema screenings. Warners did all the right things, delaying the release of the film until well after the publicity surrounding the VRA had died down, but to no avail. When the company finally re-submitted The Exorcist for review in 1988, Ferman cited then recent reports of child abuse and refused the film a certificate. When the 1989 'satanic abuse' scare erupted, it drove yet another nail into The Exorcist's video coffin.

Following Ferman's departure in the late 90s, the new regime at the BBFC were more forgiving and The Exorcist was finally allowed a theatrical release in 1998 and a belated video re-issue the following year. Unsurprisingly, British society endured unscathed...

USA
Rating: R
The District Attorney in Mississippi was accompanied by a phalanx of police officers and a Justice of the Peace to a screening of the film at the Saenger Theater in Hattiesburg. So outraged were these pillars of the local community that almost immediately search and arrest warrants were issued and the cinema manager and projectionist were arrested on a charge of "exhibiting an obscene, indecent and immoral motion picture." Those charges were dropped, but a similar action taken against the theatre's corporate manager was heard and a conviction was made.


AWARDS

1974
Academy Awards, USA
Best Screenplay - winner


TIMELINE

1972
August

14: Production begins

1973
July

Day Unknown: Production ends

September
30: USA - press screening at Academy Award Theatre, Los Angeles

December
21: USA - Academy screenings at the Academy Award Theatre, Los Angeles
26: USA - theatrical release

1974
March

11: UK - registration screening, Rank Preview Theatre, London
30: UK - theatrical release

July
29: Sweden - theatrical release

September
5: Netherlands - theatrical release
20: West Germany - theatrical release

October
4: Finland - theatrical release

1980
February

12: USA - television broadcast (on NBC)

1993
December

28: UK - shown at the National Film Theatre, London (as part of the Banned and Scanned season)

1998
June

19: UK - theatrical re-release (in Scotland)

October
30: Ireland - theatrical re-release
30: UK - theatrical re-release

1999
April
26: UK - video release

December
4: UK - television broadcast (on Sky Movies)

2000
March

17: USA - theatrical test re-release

September
22: USA - theatrical re-release (Director's Cut)

October
7: Japan - theatrical re-release (Director's Cut)

November
2: Hong Kong - theatrical re-release (Director's Cut)
3: Iceland - theatrical re-release (Director's Cut)
17: UK - theatrical re-release (Director's Cut)

December
1: Italy - theatrical re-release (Director's Cut)
1: Mexico - theatrical re-release (Director's Cut)
7: Argentina - theatrical re-release (Director's Cut)

2001
January

24: France - theatrical re-release (Director's Cut)
25: Australia - theatrical re-release (Director's Cut)

March
15: Germany - theatrical re-release (Director's Cut)
17: UK - television broadcast (on Channel 4)

2003
November

1: UK - television broadcast (on Channel 4)


POSTER TAGS

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.

The scariest movie of all time has returned. In the version you've never seen before.


ALTERNATIVE TITLES

Esorcista, L' - Italian title
Exorcist: The Version You Haven't Seen Yet - 2000 re-issue title
Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen - 2000 promotional title
Exorzist, Der- German title


LINKS

SEQUELS
Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
The Exorcist III (1990)

PREQUEL
Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)

SEE ALSO
Abby (1974)
The Amityville Horror (1979)
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
Beetlejuice (1988)
Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (1991)
Bless the Child (2000)
Curse of the Queerwolf (1988)
Daffy Duck's Quackbusters (1988)
El día de la bestia (1995)
Doctor Dolittle (1998)
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
The Duxorcist (1987)
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988)
La endemoniada (1975)
L'esorciccio (1975)
The Evil Dead (1982)
Evil Dead II (1987)
French and Saunders (1987)
Ghostbusters (1984)
The Godsend (1980)
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Heartstoppers: Horror at the Movies (1992)
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987)
History's Mysteries: Exorcising the Devil (2001)
I Don't Want to Be Born (1975)
Innerspace (1987)
Little Nicky (2000)
Look Who's Talking (1989)
Martin (1978)
Modern Problems (1981)
The Nutty Professor (1996)
Oh, God! (1977)
The Omen (1976)
Onibaba (1964)
Poltergeist III (1988)
Possessed (2000)
Repossessed (1990)
Ruby (1977)
Scary Movie (2000)
Scary Movie 2 (2001)
Scream (1996)
Seytan (1974)
Spawn (1997)
Spectre (1977)
Stay Tuned (1992)
Stir of Echoes (1999)
Strangeland (1998)
Suspiria (1977)
Teenage Exorcist (1991)
There's Nothing Out There (1991)
Toy Story (1995)
Trainspotting (1996)
Volcano (1997)
Wacko (1981)
Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)
Zapped! (1982)

FOOTAGE INCLUDED IN
100 Years at the Movies (1994)
The 'burbs (1989)
Fear in the Dark (1991)
The Fear of God: The Making of the Exorcist (1998)
Hollywood Halloween (1997)
The Horror Hall of Fame (1990)
In the Grip of Evil (1997)
Terror in the Aisles (1984)


REFERENCES

PERIODICALS

American Cinematographer vol.55 no.2 (February 1974) pp.154-157 (USA)
illustrated interview with Owen Roizman (Filming The Exorcist)

American Cinematographer vol.79 no.8 (August 1998) pp.88-98 (USA)
illustrated credits, article (Demonic convergence by David E. Williams)

Avant-Scène di Cinéma no.499 (February 2001) p.whole issue (FRance)
illustrated credits, script, interview (with William Friedkin)

Cinefantastique vol.3 no.2 (Spring 1974) pp.24-25, 40-41
review

CinemaTV Today no.10068 (2 February 1974) p.4 (UK)
note

CinemaTV Today no.10075 (23 March 1974) p.14 (UK)
review

Empire no.138 (December 2000) p.67 (UK)
illustrated review

Film Review Special no.33 (Preview 2000-2001) p.82 (UK)
illustrated DVD review

Filmwaves no.18 (Spring 2002) pp.48-50 (UK)
illustrated article (Satan's voice in The Exorcist: Sound design with an edge by Gustave Costantini)

Hollywood Reporter vol.229 no.46 (28 January 1974) pp.1, 4 (USA)
note

Journal of Popular Film vol.3 no.2 (Spring 1974) pp.183-187 (USA)
article

Screen International no.1169 (31 July 1998) p.9 (UK)
illustrated article (Regan-omics by Allan Hunter)

Screen International no.1301 (23 March 2001) p.23 (UK)
note (Exorcist possesses French box office by Françoise Meaux Saint Marc)

Sight and Sound vol.8 no.7 (July 1998) pp.6-11; 8 (UK)
illustrated interview with the cast and crew (Lucifer rising by Mark Kermode); illustrated article (The Fear of God in teh making by Nick Freand Jones)

Sight and Sound vol.8 no.10 (October 1998) p.5 (UK)
article (Rushes: On the gross)

Sight and Sound vol.12 no.1 (January 2002) p.59 (UK)
DVD review

Total Film no.20 (September 1998) p.68 (UK)
illustrated article (Shoots to kill by Andy Lowe)


KEYWORDS

possession, exorcisms, religion, priests, film makers, vomiting, demons, the occult, ouija boards, archeology, attics, medicine, doctors, hospitals, psychiatrists, brain scans, crucifixes, holy water, levitation, suicide


Last Updated: 1 January, 2009

 


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