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Arguably the scariest motion picture ever made, William Friedkin's THE EXORCIST was unleashed on an unsuspecting American public in 1973. The film quickly became a nationwide sensation, leading to religious boycotts, fainting, and a huge box office return. Oscar nominee Linda Blair beat out hundreds of other child actors to land the role of Regan MacNeil, a 12-year-old who is possessed by the devil. After exhausting all other practical options, Regan's mother, Chris (Ellen Burstyn), acknowledges the supernatural nature of her daughter's condition and recruits Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller) to stage an exorcism. Aided by the mysterious Jesuit exorcist Father Merrin (Max von Sydow), Father Damien must confront not only the supernatural phenomena in front of him, but also his own inadequate faith and displaced guilt over his mother's recent death. Friedkin brings William Peter Blatty's Oscar-winning script to shocking life by establishing a realistic, everyday tone before allowing the terror to creep in. The performances of Burstyn and Miller further help to ground the supernatural events. Like THE GODFATHER before it and JAWS shortly after, the breakout success of THE EXORCIST helped to transform Hollywood into the blockbuster behemoth of American culture.