"The Exorcist" Is Released

The Exorcist is a 1973 U.S. horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted from the 1971 novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty, dealing with the demonic possession of a young girl, and her mother’s desperate attempts to win back her daughter through an exorcism conducted by two priests. The film features Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, Kitty Winn, Lee J. Cobb, Jason Miller, Mercedes McCambridge, and Eileen Dietz. Both the film and novel took inspiration from a documented exorcism in 1949, performed on a fourteen-year-old boy. The film is one of a cycle of 'demonic child' movies produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Rosemary's Baby and The Omen.

The film became one of the most profitable horror films of all time, grossing $402,500,000 worldwide. The film earned ten Academy Award nominations—winning two, one for Best Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay, and losing Best Picture to The Sting. Along with the novel on which it was based, Blatty's script has been published several times over the years. The Exorcist was commercially released in the United States by Warner Bros. on December 26, 1973, and rereleased on March 17, 2000, with a restored version released on September 22, 2000.

Novelist William Peter Blatty based his best-seller on the last known Catholic-sanctioned exorcism in the United States. Blatty transformed the little boy in the 1949 incident into a little girl named Regan, played by 14-year-old Linda Blair. Suddenly prone to fits and bizarre behavior, Regan proves quite a handful for her actress-mother, Chris MacNeil (played by Ellen Burstyn, although Blatty reportedly based the character on his next-door neighbor Shirley MacLaine). When Regan gets completely out of hand, Chris calls in young priest Father Karras (Jason Miller), who becomes convinced that the girl is possessed by the Devil and that they must call in an exorcist: namely, Father Merrin (Max von Sydow). His foe proves to be no run-of-the-mill demon, and both the priest and the girl suffer numerous horrors during their struggles. The Exorcist received a theatrical rerelease in 2000, in a special edition that added 11 minutes of footage trimmed from the film's original release and digitally enhanced Chris Newman's Oscar-winning sound work. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide