After watching Raising Cain a while back, I was eager to see some more Brian De Palma, especially his earlier stuff. Although it is not as well-known as Carrie or Blow Out, this Dressed to Kill is one of De Palma’s best from the period.
De Palma had a reputation of being showing his Hitchcock influence too strongly in his early career, and he was still coming out of that period when he made Dressed to Kill. There is, for example, a scene of a psychiatrist explaining how a transvestite with a personality disorder committed a murder that is lifted almost directly Psycho. But De Palma was also coming into his own, and he had already established his reputation for long shots marked by continuous, tricky camera movements, split screens, split focus and a bag of other tricks. There are handful of sequences that build an incredible amount of tension without a line of dialogue. Of course it doesn’t hurt that he got a masterful performance from Michael Caine.