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Friedkin’s Myths and The Exorcist soundtrack that could have been

Dustin wrote:
I’ve heard there is a soundtrack on LP or CD of the first Exorcist movie that includes dialogue tracks from the movie. The dialogue is between each music track. Do you know if this soundtrack exits? I’ve only seen soundtracks that have music excerpts. Thanks for your help!

The majority of movie soundtracks you hear these days tend to feature popular lines from the film between the tunes. Indeed, there was going to be an Exorcist soundtrack release of this nature; however the project fell through at the last minute and dialogue excerpts had to be removed.

When The Exorcist film was first released in December 1973, director William Friedkin helped fuel the intrigue surrounding it by spinning lies about the production during interviews. Saying Linda Blair was levitated using magnets live on set, for example, would therefore have an audience who had read his comments simply assume Linda Blair was actually levitating in front of them instead of looking for the piano wires (which are actually visible if you look closely at the original version).

While fabricated stories such as this definitely helped keep the intense interest in The Exorcist alive, it did eventually cause many problems for the cast and crew who were involved in the production. Most notably, Linda Blair, who had to endure untrue reports from the media of trauma and having severe depression as a result of filming The Exorcist. These reports were fueled by the fact that Friedkin had undeniably declared Linda Blair performed all of the acts you see on screen in an effort to further instill the realism of his film to its audience. Friedkin wanted to pedal these myths so much that he even decided to exclude the credit of Eileen Dietz (Linda Blair’s double) from the film. Of course, she sued.

Unfortunately, Friedkin’s stories would also be the undoing of an Exorcist soundtrack featuring dialogue from the film. Also suing for her lack of credit was Mercedes McCambridge.

Having been approached by Friedkin to provide the voice of the demon in The Exorcist (famously achieved by being strapped to a chair and drinking raw eggs while chain smoking) Mercedes was not impressed to find she was not credited at the conclusion of the film. She promptly announced to the world that the majority of the voice of the demon was in fact her husky voice alone, not blended with Linda’s voice in any way (this claim is correct). Friedkin had to buckle and add her credit. The legal proceedings temporarily prevented the demon voice being used anywhere except the film itself, thus making a soundtrack release featuring voice snippets impossible.

Only the first handful of prints of The Exorcist didn’t feature a credit to Mercedes.


About Jason Stringer

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