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Friday, November 20, 2015

The Stunt Man (1980)

An ex-soldier (Steve Railsback) on the run from the police finds himself on the set of a movie taking place during WWI. The film's director (Peter O'Toole at his best) hides him from the police by giving him the job of a stunt man. Adapted from the novel by Paul Brodeur, Richard Rush's woozy black comedy keeps us off kilter right off the bat. In a bravura opening sequence, we're never quite sure what's going on or where we are and when we meet our "hero", he's every bit as unsure as the audience is. Once he becomes part of the movie's crew, we never know what to believe. What we see turns out to be false, what we hear turns out to be a lie to the point that we can no longer believe the "hero" any longer either. Some of it we can chalk up to the unreality or the phoniness inherent in film making but there's a thread of paranoia running through the film too. I don't mean to make it sound so heavy handed. After all, it's a rather exhilarating if dizzy cinematic exercise that keeps afloat and never touching ground. The driving underscore by Dominic Frontiere is an important element to the film, moving it forward. With Barbara Hershey, Allen Garfield, Sharon Farrell, Alex Rocco and Adam Roarke. 

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