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Blow Out
Blow Out
Actors: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz, Peter Boyden
Director: Brian De Palma
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
R     2001     1hr 47min

John Travolta (Pulp Fiction, Face/Off) stars in this riveting mystery/thriller filledwith powerful performances, intense action and an "engrossing web of suspense and intrigue" (Blockbuster Entertainment Guide). Written an...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz, Peter Boyden
Director: Brian De Palma
Creators: Vilmos Zsigmond, Brian De Palma, Paul Hirsch, Fred C. Caruso, George Litto, Bill Mesce Jr.
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 08/28/2001
Original Release Date: 07/24/1981
Theatrical Release Date: 07/24/1981
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 1hr 47min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

One of DePalma's best
Craig Clarke | New England | 02/06/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Brian De Palma rips off Michaelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up and Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation and comes up with a decent thriller about a film sound engineer (John Travolta) who records an automobile accident and becomes involved in a coverup when it turns out the driver was about to be elected President of the United States. Jack Terry (Travolta) is on a city bridge recording ambient sounds for his latest schlock film's soundtrack when he hears a blow out and sees a car go off the road and into the lake. He dives in to find a woman, Sally (Nancy Allen), still alive in the car. He rescues her and takes her to the emergency room, where he finds out that the candidate was driving the car--and Sally isn't his wife. The police proceed to get Jack to "forget" what he saw. Later, going over his tapes, Jack becomes convinced he heard a sound *before* the blow out--a gunshot. If there was a gun, then this was no accident. After Carrie and Dressed to Kill, Blow Out continues Brian DePalma's reign as king of the Hitchcockian thriller/rip-off. Although style often triumphs over substance, often the style comments on the substance. His trademark split-screen (which specifically influenced Run Lola Run's Tom Tykwer) is used effectively to present two simultaneous sets of action that would otherwise be unknown. DePalma has also used this method of technical storytelling in Phantom of the Paradise and Sisters. The acting is solid, as well, with Nancy Allen (then Mrs. DePalma) as the prototypical love interest (or is she?) and an early John Lithgow playing Burke, a homicidal maniac hired to take out Sally (as he takes out seemingly every woman who resembles her). DePalma would use Lithgow to greater effect in Raising Cain, and here he shows the promise of that later film. SPOILER BEGINSI must comment on the ending and say that it is one of the most heartbreaking I have seen, and yet works entirely in the context of the film. It really could not have ended any other way, and I laud DePalma for avoiding the typical Hollywood happy ending. SPOILER ENDS
(and so does this review)"
One of DePalma's best films
Wing J. Flanagan | Orlando, Florida United States | 10/11/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Brian DePalma has been (sometimes correctly) accused of manufacturing little more than brilliant pastiche (which is another way of damning him with faint praise). I confess to be as guilty as anyone of this practice, finding films like Dressed to Kill slick, fun, but ultimately less works of art than of skillful post-modern artifice.Blow Out is a haunting exception. Yes, it has clear antecedents in Antonioni's Blowup and Coppola's paranoid classic, The Conversation. But it is unfair to judge Blow Out by its similarities to these films. One need only pay minimal attention to realize DePalma has his own goals in mind. No mere retread of the standard paranoid political thriller, Blow Out is a bravura exercise in nuanced, multi-layered story telling.Low budget movie soundman Jack Terry (John Travolta) is in the right place at the wrong time - while out recording some nature sounds for a B slasher flick (in which DePalma seems to poke fun at some of his own earlier work), he catches the sounds of an auto accident. In an incident reminiscent of Chappaquiddick, a car driven by a presidential candidate suffers a tire blowout and careens off a nearby bridge. The candidate dies, but Terry manages to rescue his "lady friend", a party girl named Sally (Nancy Allen). Key to the story is his recording, which seems to contain a double-bang - perhaps the blowout preceded by a gunshot? Naturally the story leads Terry into a web of intrigue featuring slimy political operatives, corrupt cops, and nefarious CIA henchmen.Blow Out's visual style has drawn criticism from some quarters as being too flashy. Ridiculous! The camera movements are precise and deliberate; designed to communicate story points with great efficiency. The visual technique draws no more attention to itself than anything directed by Scorsese. Raging Bull (released about the same time) is far more "flashy" and nobody complains about it.The DVD itself lacks any special features, but the film transfer is vivid and detailed, with good color fidelity (essential, since the art-direction is a major "star"). It is also double-sided, with a pan-scan presentation on one side, and enhanced widescreen on the other. Don't even bother with the pan-scan; DePalma and cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond's compositions are edge-to-edge, making full use of the Panavision frame.Blow Out is not perfect. Some of the dialogue is contrived and sophomoric. Assassin Burke's (John Lithgow) golf pants in one scene make him look silly when he should seem sinister. But, on balance, John Travolta's solid performance and Brian DePalma's skilled direction more than make up for such lapses. With Blow Out DePalma reaches deeper than usual - with a disquieting sub-plot about guilt, unrequited love, and the futility of seeking redemption. Its conclusion is the punch line to a bitter, existential joke. Read closely, it's a scathing commentary on the Hollywood film industry itself, and the vampiric way it often feeds on very real, sometimes very sad, lives."
R. Penola | NYC, NY United States | 06/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Brian DePalma is one helluva showman, and when he nails the material with as much nerve, bite and sensual flourish as he does with this paranoid thriller, the results are breathtaking. Nancy Allen is heartbreaking and unusually character-driven as the prostitute; John Lithgow is all menace and glowering evil as the madman. But John Travolta is a jolt to your senses as the emotional sound engineer: his character goes through a wild series of transformations, brought on by a paranoia that is more than justified, and the Kennedy-like murder that begins the movie in such a stylish way. Along with Carrie, this is one of DePalma's bleakest films, and somehow that seems completely right; although it does not share that film's horrific, nightmare-inducing final shock, it has its own nasty trick up its sleeve. Prepare to remember Blow Out."
Very well done neo-noir
Christopher Moyer | Philadelphia, PA | 03/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Brian DePalma's Blow Out is a taut thriller that would make Hitchcock proud. The Master of Suspense loved to put his characters in situations where they had to sit by helplessly while events occur beyond their control - the best example of this is Rear Window - and DePalma uses that technique to great effect in the finale of Blow Out.

John Travolta plays Jack, a Philadelphia movie sound man who witnesses a car accident one night while he is out recording audio on a bridge. He manages to rescue Sally (Nancy Allen) from the wreckage, but another man - who we later find out is the front-running Presidential candidate McRyan - is left for dead.

After reviewing his recording of the accident, Jack determines that this was no accident. He believes that somebody deliberately shot out the tire, but who, and why? When video of the accident surfaces, shot by a man named Karp (Dennis Franz), Jack begins to suspect that both Sally and Karp know more than they're letting on.

We also see glimpses of a vigilante psychopath, played by John Lithgow, but who is he, and what are his motives? Jack is determined to find out the truth and unravel the conspiracy, but despite many clues that this wasn't an accident, nobody else seems to want to investigate any further. Jack is also scared that now that the assassins have achieved their goal, anyone who might discover that this was no accident must be eliminated, including himself and Sally, to whom he has developed an attachment.

Blow Out is an excellent film that entertains on many levels - plus it takes place in my fair city of Philadelphia. It doesn't dumb anything down for the audience, and the characters manage to act like any of us could see ourselves acting if placed in the same situations. Thumbs up."