The "lost" sleeper hit of 1980 has since become one of the most revered cult movies of all time, largely due to its bawdy, irreverent story about the art and artifice of filmmaking and an outrageously clever performance by... more » Peter O'Toole. As megalomaniacal film director Eli Cross, O'Toole plays a larger-than-life figure whose ability to manipulate reality is like a power-trip narcotic. The focus of his latest mind game is a fugitive (Steve Railsback) recruited to replace a stuntman killed during a recent on-set accident. In return for protective sanctuary, the fugitive takes a crash course in stunt work but soon discovers that he's the paranoid player in a game he can't control, with the dictatorial director making up the rules. Or is he? The Stunt Man is a game of its own, played through the fantasy of filmmaking, and half the fun of watching the movie comes from sharing the stuntman's paranoid confusion. Barbara Hershey has a smart, sexy supporting role as a lead actress who won't submit to her director's seemingly devious behavior; but it's clearly O'Toole who steals the show. Director Richard Rush adds to the movie's maverick appeal--in a career plagued by struggles against the mainstream studio system, Rush hasn't made a better movie before or since. The Stunt Man clearly represents the potential of his neglected talent. --Jeff Shannon« less
This is a hidden jewel with a very unique plotline!
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If God could do the things we do ...
(5 out of 5 stars)
"... he'd be a happy man!
I just finished watching the DVD of "The Stunt Man." It's still a smart, amazing, funny, scary, exhilirating experience. This is what great movie making (and great acting) is all about. Richard Rush's direction, the acting from Peter O'Toole and the rest, the terrific screenplay, the great music ... it's just ... perfect. As fresh now as the day it rolled out of the camera.
It's a shame Rush hasn't been able to make more films, but with this classic to his credit he can rest assured that his place in cinema history is complete. Thanks, Mr. Rush!
And Peter O'Toole ... nothing will top his work in "Lawrence of Arabia," but this comes darned close. Eli Cross is the classic "film director as god." O'Toole makes him more than just a petty movie-set tyrant. Cross is sly, witty, mysterious and all-knowing. He's frightening but fascinating. You wouldn't want to introduce him to your mother but you would want to take him out to dinner just to listen to him spin his stories. When he descends from above in his camera crane you'll begin to think he's god incarnate ... just as the stunt man does.
And the plot? That's what made "The Stunt Man" such a hard sell to the movie studios and what makes it a classic. What is reality and what isn't? Are we in control of our lives or aren't we? How do we know what's really going on and what it all means? Is Eli trying to kill the stunt man or just trying to finish his movie on time?
Anchor Bay's DVD transfer is superb. The "Limited Edition" includes Rush's documentary on the making the film. Don't miss it!
If you've never seen this film, get it FAST and enjoy! If you haven't seen it in a while, rediscover why it's so great.
The Stunt Man is one of the great overlooked films!!!
K. Harris | 09/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Rush's The Stunt Man was one of the best films of the 1980's, but sadly most people seem to have never heard of it. That's a shame, because this is a wonderful and unique film. Not wanting to give too much of the film's suprises away, the film concerns an escaped convict on the run (Steve Railsback) who, while running from the police, accidentally comes upon a movie being shot on location by a quite eccentric director played by the brilliant Peter O'Toole (it's his finest hour in my opinion). That's all I'll say, because the delight of this film comes from how it unfolds. It's like a Chinese puzzle box with layer after layer being revealed. The film really plays around with your mind. The film is sort of a philosophical riff on the age old reality vs. illusion game and its very entertaining too. Now how many movies can you say that about? It also happens to be a terrific look at filmmaking. Like I said, this movie just refuses to be pinned down to just one genre. I'm so pleased its finally coming to DVD, and the always reliable Anchor Bay looks to be doing a sensational job with the limited edition set. I cannot recommend this film high enough, its one of the great cult films."
Excellent acting, plot make for an engrossing film.
S. Naimpally | Dallas, TX USA | 10/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Peter O'Toole, Barbara Hershey and Steve Railsback are superb in this movie. Railsback is a Vietnam vet who accidently kills a copy and stumble upon a WW I movie being shot by O'Toole, who plays the director. After his stunt man is killed, O'Toole blackmails Railsback into becoming his stunt man, and Railsback thinks O'Toole is trying to kill him.
Barbara Hershey as Railsback love interest looks gorgeous. O'Toole is amazing. Not your usual, predictable Hollywood plot. A very special movie worth owning for repeat viewing."
A Film Nobody Wanted Endures As A Brilliant Cult Classic And
K. Harris | Las Vegas, NV | 02/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are just some movies in your life that really speak to you--that connect to you on some emotional or intellectual level in a very special way. "The Stunt Man" from director Richard Rush is such a film for me. Released in 1980, this ode to movie making is a challenging, intelligent, incisive and fun film that very few people saw upon its initial release. After a 10 year preproduction struggle by Rush, a tumultuous shoot, and no support from a studio that didn't care about the film--it was essentially dumped with no fanfare. Even star Peter O'Toole has commented, "The Stunt Man wasn't released, it escaped." But with amazing clarity and foresight, the film was surprisingly awarded with three major Academy Award nomination--Best Actor for Peter O'Toole, Best Director for Rush, and Best Screenplay for Rush and Lawrence Marcus. In the years that have followed, the film has attained a cult status and a legion of faithful fans (myself among them). In fact, I have seen this film probably 15 times and it was the first (really!) VHS tape I ever bought--now that's dating me!
To relate the plot of "The Stunt Man" in a concise way is to deny the subtleties and intricacies that really distinguish this as a bold and unusual work of art. But here's a brief synopsis. The film begins as a convict, played by Steve Railsback (Charles Manson in "Helter Skelter"), makes a break from the cops who are transporting him. Fleeing into the neighboring seaside village, he stumbles onto a film set where a tragedy that will likely be investigated has just struck. To avoid police intervention, the film's director (Peter O'Toole) embraces Railsback and identifies him as the company's stunt man who was just involved in an accident. It seems an ideal setup, as Railsback needs a new identity and the film production needs to account for the missing stunt man. As the film progresses, Railsback learns about movie making, becomes infatuated with the leading lady (Barbara Hershey), and starts to suspect that O'Toole has sinister ulterior motives.
The beauty of "The Stunt Man," which may be one of the most delightfully "inside" films about the industry ever made, is that it works on so many different levels. You could aptly describe the film as a drama, a comedy, a thriller, and action picture, a romance, a satire of filmmaking, and a study of truth versus illusion--what is reality? Seriously, it is successful in every one of these fields. Add breathtaking action sequences, a wickedly funny and literate script, and bravura performances--and this mini-masterpiece truly stands the test of time. Hershey and Railsback are terrific, but O'Toole steals the show as the megalomaniacal director! Anyone who loves movies, and the art of filmmaking, should find much merit in "The Stunt Man." But make no mistake, as much as I will defend this as a great film--you, in no way, have to be a film snob to enjoy it. This film is deliriously entertaining and a wild ride!
The Limited Edition of the DVD also contains the feature length documentary--"The Sinister Saga of Making The Stunt Man." This is a fascinating look at the trials and tribulations of getting "The Stunt Man" to the screen by a writer/director with no intention of compromising his vision. I recommend this edition while it's still available, the journey of this film is a tremendous and impressive story! And Rush is easy to admire and like.
This film carries my highest recommendation to movie lovers of all ages. While maybe not one of the 5 "best" pictures ever made, it is easily one of my 5 most enduring "favorites." Check it out. KGHarris, 02/07.
"I *am* the movies!"
Tom S. | New York City | 08/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
Barbara Hershey delivers that line (above) very early in THE STUNT MAN, and she is saying a great deal. She is the old lady who magically transforms into a beautiful young woman, the fantasy, the dream girl at the end of the rainbow. She is the reason we go to the movies.
This is a work of art about the creation of a work of art. The work in this case happens to be a movie, and--as with all great works of art--there is one obsessed, cruel, megalomaniacal genius at the helm. Eli Cross (Peter O'Toole) is the most vivid depiction of a Hollywood director ever captured on film. He is a true patriarch, playing father/lover/drill sergeant to his cast and crew, and they all love/hate/fear him for it. Anyone who's ever been near an actual film set can tell you how accurate the character is.
But what makes this film just about the last word on the subject is Richard Rush's brilliant blurring of fantasy and reality. That, after all, is the main occupation of those who toil in the "Dream Factory" of show biz. Note the many references to ALICE IN WONDERLAND. Steve Railsback (who is terrific) is Alice, and Eli and his mad crew are what he finds on the other side of the looking glass. He is running from bleak reality, straight into the arms of an instant family: father (O'Toole), uncle (the screenwriter played by Allen Goorwitz), brother (fellow stuntman Chuck Bail), and love interest (Hershey). And they all may be planning to kill him on camera, just to make their movie even better. Now, that's Wonderland--and that's Hollywood!
Few films before or since this 1980 gem have given us such a true, terrifying, hilarious view of the process of manufacturing dreams. Truffaut's DAY FOR NIGHT is the only one I can think of that comes close. How tall is King Kong? As tall as we want him to be. If you love the movies, you'll love THE STUNT MAN.