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While on the run from the police, Steve Railsback hides in a group of moviemakers where he pretends to be a stunt man. Both aided and endangered by the director (Peter O'Toole) he avoids both the police and sudden death as a stuntman. The mixture of real danger and fantasy of the movie is an interesting twist for the viewer as the two blend in individual scenes. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
The film is considered a cult movie and is listed in Danny Peary's "Cult Movies 3" book as such. See more »
In the closing scene Eli's helicopter takes off as he is talking to Cameron. However, cuts back to close-ups of Eli during the conversation reveal stationary trees behind the helicopters starboard side. See more »
[after Eli urges him to read how to get out of a sunken car, and avoid Burt's fate of presumed drowning]
Did Burt read this book?
Offhand, I'd say no.
See more »
After the credits end, the movie-within-a-movie director (played by Peter O'Toole) yells, "Sam, rewrite the opening reel! Crush the little bastard in the first act!" And then he laughs during the fade-out. See more »
When I first saw THE STUNT MAN, I was very enthusiastic about the film and raved about it to anyone who might be interested. I've watched it twice with some friends since, but they weren't very enthusiastic about it, so I can imagine that for many people it won't pay off. It's an ingeniously constructed film that takes some patience and attention to watch. Made by the erratic Richard Rush, this was his pet project for nine years. Although the direction is fine, it's mostly a virtuoso piece of scripting (credited to Rush and Lawrence B. Marcus, based on Paul Brodeur's novel) that makes this such a special film.
A short plot outline: Fugitive Cameron (Railsback) stumbles onto a movie set where megalomaniac director Eli Cross (O'Toole) promises to hide from the police if he replaces his ace stunt man, who got killed earlier on the set in a freak accident while filming a scene. Is Eli trying to capture Cameron's death on film while he is performing a stunt? Reality and imagination soon blur when Cameron grows increasingly paranoid because Eli Cross doesn't let anything or anybody get in the way of shooting his masterpiece the way he wants. He doesn't seem to care about human life, as long as his movie is shot in the way he wants it.
Railsback is an odd choice for the main role but apparently the makers wanted a "low-key" actor for the main part. Barbara Hershey gives a great performance but without Peter O'Toole's tour-de-force performance, I doubt if the film would have worked as well as it did, especially with such a challenging and multi-layered script. He delivers his lines with such vigor that you cannot look away, a grand performance by perhaps my favorite actor off all time. Such a pity that his (later) career mainly consisted of mediocre films at best and some disastrous ones, sadly... I cannot imagine this kind of film being made in Hollywood today and even back then it might be called a small miracle it got made in the first place, let alone released (in fact, it sat on the shelf for two years before release). Perhaps it's all a little too ambitious at times but with a cast like this and such a dazzling script, it's definitely worth the effort.
The DVD-release by Anchor Bay comes with an extra disc loaded with extra's. Lots of interviews, including one with O'Toole and a very peculiar - almost two-hour (!) - documentary about the making of the film, presented by Rush himself, almost worth seeing in itself.
Camera Obscura - 8/10
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