The Stunt Man (1980)

R  |   |  Action, Comedy, Drama  |  25 February 1981 (France)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 6,657 users  
Reviews: 82 user | 67 critic

A fugitive stumbles on a movie set just when they need a new stunt man, takes the job as a way to hide out, and falls for the leading lady.



(screenplay), (adaptation), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sam (as Allen Goorwitz)
Raymond Bailey
Philip Bruns ...
Charles Bail ...
Gabe / Eli's cameraman
Jim Hess ...
Henry / Eli's camera assistant
John Pearce ...
Garage Guard (as John B. Pearce)
Michael Railsback ...
George Wallace ...
Father (as George D. Wallace)
Dee Carroll ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


You're never more vulnerable than when you know too much. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

25 February 1981 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Le diable en boîte  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$3,500,000 (estimated)


SEK 1,815,060 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film was a dream project for director Richard Rush. The film has frequently being publicized as taking nine years to get to the screen. However, Rush has said on the website for The Sinister Saga of Making 'The Stunt Man' (2000), that the picture took ten years to make from inception to release, seven years to finance it and then three years to release it. The script was first written in 1970 when the rights were first sold. The film was shot in 1978 with post-production conducted in 1979. The picture had trouble getting distributed until 20th Century Fox picked it up and released it in 1980. See more »


At dinner, after Eli's line "This film... is not about fighting wars, Sam," Sam's right arm jumps; first it is putting some food in his mouth and then it's resting on the table. See more »


Cameron: [after demonstrating a leap for Chuck] My specialty's the broad jump.
Chuck Barton: [angrily] And Burt's specialty was drowning!
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »


Referenced in Dead End (1985) See more »


Bits & Pieces
Music by Dominic Frontiere
Lyrics by Norman Gimbel
Sung by Dusty Springfield
See more »

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User Reviews

The art and artifice of filmmaking
22 October 2000 | by See all my reviews

Revered as one of the greatest "cult" films of all time I recently saw it and most of my expectations were met. Steven Railsback plays a character named Cameron. A former Vietnam veteran and fugitive on the lam. At the begining of the film we see him being pursued by the police after he is spotted in a restaurant. Cameron while being chased accidentally stumbles onto a movie set where a World War I epic is being shot. After almost being killed by a stunt man on a bridge by a car Cameron picks up an object and throws it at the windshield of the vehicle causing it to swerve off the bridge and fall into a nearby river. A helicopter suddenly descends in front of Cameron. Inside it are the filmcrew documenting the bridge scene with it's director Eli Cross ( Peter O'Toole) starring at Cameron and what has happened. Cameron flees from the scene as the helicopter soars away. Eventually Eli Cross meets up with Cameron and convinces him to replace the stunt man or Cross will turn him into the police. Cameron has little choice. Thus begins the main characters harrowing journey.

The Stunt Man is a complex and multilayered film. It requires multiple viewings in order to catch all of the subtleties and nuances. As the film progresses we see Cameron placed into various stunt scenes, each one more dangerous than the last. Is Eli Cross trying to kill him? The film is a fascinating battle of psychological mind games. Cameron's perception of reality becomes skewed with the fantasy world of filmmaking as he becomes less able to distinguish until the final frame. We the viewer are also constantly confused as the film makes many unpredictable twists and turns with it's convoluted plot. Peter O'Toole is perfect as the flamboyant, megalomanical filmmaker. No one else could to the role justice and bring that much class to the part. Barbara Hershey is also good as the lead actress of Eli Cross' film who becomes romantically involved with Cameron. I have many favorite scenes from the movie. Especially the crash course in stunt work Cameron is given by the lead stunt man played by Chuck Bail, a real life former stunt man. Director Rush has seamlessly balanced pathos with humor to create a unique film of epic proportions. It is a film that the viewer must discipline oneself in order to watch.....but what a payoff.

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