This stylish Brian De Palma 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 Terry is a master 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 does not know whom he can trust. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
I was blown away by Brian DePalma's "Blow Out" (1981), the Real American Classic from the 80th. Yes, of course, De Palma pays homage to both, "Blow Up" and "Conversation" but "Blow Out" is a vintage DePalma at his best, in his glory and brilliance. The story is great, packed with twists and turns and also lets us peek once again as in Body Double" at the B-movies making process. John Travolta is Jack Terri, a sound technician who rescues a girl (Nancy Allen) from a car that crashes into a river after a blow out. The man who drove the car did not survive and he happened to be the next presidential candidate. Jack soon realizes that it was not just a blow out but a murder, and he's got an evidence to prove it, the tape that he made on the bridge while recording the background noises for the movie. As good as the story is, it does not forget its characters, and they are memorable and multi-dimensional. The actors are terrific. It was the time when John Travolta was both cute without being smug and compelling. Nancy Allen as Sally, was sweet and heartbreaking, Dennis Franz's character, Manny Karp, the petty blackmailer who got more than he bargained for was fun to watch, and John Lithgow made such a chilling villain that Anthony Hopkins could've learned something from him. I did not even start on Vilmos Zsigmond's camera work. Only one word comes to mind - mesmerizing. The final chase sequence on the streets of Philadelphia during the celebration of the ringing of the Liberty Bell is as well staged and shut and as exiting as the similar climatic chase on Mount Rushmore in Hitchcock's "North By Northwest". The movie is perfectly balanced by the last scene and the hilarious opening scene mirroring each other but this time the scream is different. It IS a good scream that came from the streets of Philadelphia.
22 of 28 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?