The Sinister Saga of Making 'The Stunt Man' (Video 2000) Poster

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Insightful but overlong "Making of" docu
EnvyYouProductions9 July 2001
Whatever happened to director Richard Rush? Honestly said: he sank into the nexus of Hollywood's forgotten talents. Those who actually know his film THE STUNTMAN starring Peter O'Toole and liked it, will be interested in THE SINISTER SAGA..., a 20-years-after Making-of... that gives a refreshingly unique insight into Hollywood politics, rather than explaining for the umpteenth time how a stunt evolves. Rush himself narrates the film, meeting colleagues and cast from his film (O'Toole, B. Hershey etc.). The voice of the film is poignant but bitter. Rush has only made one more film (COLOR OF NIGHT) since battling windmills with THE STUNTMAN.

Although THE SINISTER SAGA... is highly informative and fairly entertaining, its feature length asks for a lot of patience. The film is crudely edited, obviously on semi-pro equipment. The director's comments vary from sarcastic to self-celebration, repeatedly reciting past critiques, clearly wondering WHY his talent never got the wide recognition Rush claims to deserve. Still, THE SINISTER SAGA... is a substantial eye witness comment on Hollywood that goes under the surface, thus worth a look.
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offbeat look at an offbeat classic
mkendra2914 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This feature-length making-of documentary is worth watching for those who are big fans of this movie. Richard Rush hosts this with obvious passion, as this was certainly the apex of his professional life. It covers things you'll see in other "making-of's" such as how people got cast, how they got locations, financing, etc. (I won't spoil anything here.) What distinguishes this is the fact that Rush takes into studio politics, courting of critics and their reviews, and basically shows how hard it is to get offbeat material like this onto the big screen. Basically, some out-of-town screenings saved it from oblivion; it could very well still be sitting on a shelf today were it not for a lucky break in a Seattle-area theater.

While the piece is hurt by an overall air of silliness, I think it works because the director pretty much touches all the bases in terms of how the movie and all its elements came together. Sadly, the successful release of this movie seems to, in retrospect, have been something of a Pyrrhic victory for Rush, who has since only had two credits (the screenplay for the formulaic "Air America" and direction of the unwatchable "Color of Night"). One wonders if maybe his quest to make "The Stunt Man" made him enemies or gave him a bad rap. Nevertheless, Rush - who made his name in '60's exploitation - was able to produce this masterpiece, and it is a good, if flawed, companion piece to the movie.
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tedg18 October 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Must be the drugs. I have no doubt that Richard Rush had a hard time getting his film through all the hoops. It is neither fish nor fowl: not sufficiently intelligent to be an art success, too clumsy to engage conventionally. And I have no doubt that his most clever decision was to target mainstream movie reviewers rather than serious critics.

It allowed them to ever-so-slightly stretch their minds while noting the film's exuberance.

Now, much later, a real intelligent filmmaker in such a product as this, would add another integrated layer. And the raw material is there: Rush's bitterness at not getting a decades-long parade. He could have done what, say, Fellini did in his superb `Notebook,' honestly exploring that confusing space between creativity and delivery.

Instead, he treats us like bartenders, rendering a torrent of complaints. And it is not even that interesting a story. This diminishes the original film. It convinces that no one involved was as intelligent as the ideas they were working with.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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An amazingly thorough and informative retrospective documentary about the remarkable cult favorite "The Stuntman"
Woodyanders25 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This lengthy and inexhaustible retrospective documentary about "The Stunt Man" sure ain't your run-of-the-mill affair. Written, directed and narrated with dazzling cinematic aplomb and delightful sardonic humor by original feature director/producer Richard Rush, this baby furiously bulldozes through the back-stabbing behind-the-scenes politics and pandemonium of film-making with a sharp eye and fierce wit that's truly something to behold. Alternately bitter and whimsical, smug and funny, self-satisfied and self-effacing, Rush covers all the essential bases from the genesis of the project to casting to marketing and distribution. Rush discusses how the film deals with such weighty themes as paranoia and illusion versus reality while noting how said themes apply just as much to real life as they do to the picture. Besides Rush, we also have intelligent and enjoyable interviews with the ever-charming Peter O'Toole, the radiant Barbara Hershey, amiable Steve Railsback, and the supremely easygoing and engaging Charles Bail. Among the topics addressed herein are how the whole movie is told from Railsback's point of view, a key deleted scene showing Railsback catching Hershey in bed with another man, the trouble of securing financing for the film, how the picture was an eclectic mixture of different genres and hence difficult to easily sell to a wide mainstream audience, finding the right locations, the groundbreaking use of rack focus, casting the principal roles, the tricky art of advance preview screenings, how at the end of the 70's the shift concerning cinema changed from greed to ego, and Dominic Frontiere's exceptional score. At nearly two hours this documentary proves to be occasionally rather excessive and indulgent, but overall sizes up as every bit as offbeat, original and wildly innovative as the gloriously oddball one-of-a-kind cinematic masterpiece that it's about. Essential viewing for fans of "The Stunt Man."
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