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Brian De Palma
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This stylish Brian DePalma thriller plays off the theme of the unsuspecting witness who discovers a crime and is thereby put in grave danger, but with a novel twist. Jack is a sound recordist who works on grade-B horror movies. Late one evening, he is recording sounds for use in his movies when he hears something unexpected through his sound equipment and records it. Curiosity gets the better of him when the media become involved, and he begins to unravel the pieces of a nefarious conspiracy. As he struggles to survive against his shadowy enemies and expose the truth, he doesn't know whom he can trust. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Brian DePalma was at the height of his film career when he undertook the direction of "Blow Out". Some comments to this forum have compared it to other distinguished films like Francis Ford Coppola's "The Conversation" and Michaelangelo Antonioni's "Blow Up", a comparison that seems to make sense, in a way, but Mr. DePalma, who wrote his own screen play, is an intelligent man who didn't need to copy anything from those masters of the cinema.
In fact, "Blow Out" has kept its impact as a thriller mystery with its political overtones as it mixes crime with the lives of influential people that might give viewers a point of reference between the movie and actual historical facts.
We are given an introduction to Jack's line of work as we watch scenes of the porno film that he is working on as a sound technician. The only thing that is needed is a real scream which the many actresses, either on the film itself, or being auditioned, can't produce. Whatever comes out of those women's throats are wimpy sounds, not a horror yell for help.
Jack, who is out one night recording sounds for future ventures, captures the shot that causes the "blow out" and makes a car plunge into a creek. Jack abandons everything and jumps to rescue whoever he can save. He is only successful in bringing Sally out of the water. This is the beginning of Jack's involvement into the mystery behind the actual fact.
Mr. DePalma's thriller is visually stylish. He photographed the movie in Philadelphia. The film has the excellent Vilmos Zsigmond behind the camera. The atmospheric music by Pino Donoggio serves the movie well.
John Travolta's career was in decline when he made this movie. He gives a terrific performance as the sound effect man who stumbles in a conspiracy to eliminate the witnesses to the accident. Nancy Allen is not as effective as Sally, the young prostitute at the center of the story. Being married to the director might have helped her land the part, which with some other actress might have paid off better. John Lighgow is perfectly creepy as Burke, the evil man. Dennis Franz has the pivotal part of Karp, the man who was able to photograph the whole incident.
"Blow Out" is a must see for all Brian DePalma's admirers.
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