New on Blu: THE STUNT MAN

Brian Kelley

by: Brian Kelley
June 7th, 2011

Steve Railsback is Cameron, a man on the run from the law. During a desperate foot chase, he accidentally causes a car to careen off a bridge into the water below. The man in the car is a stunt man working for eccentric director Eli Cross (Peter O'Toole). In return for keeping his secret safe, Cameron replaces the dead man on Cross' new World War I action epic. However, it soon becomes apparent to Cameron that Cross may have evil intentions for him (namely killing him as part of a stunt gone wrong), or maybe he's crazy, or it could have something to do with the film's leading lady (Barbara Hershey) or...

THE STUNT MAN, a film by Richard Rush (FREEBIE AND THE BEAN), is an odd specimen. It's a cult film that has a rather elusive cult- everyone's heard of it, seemingly few have actually taken the time to watch it. Out of those that have seen it, many seem to enjoy talking about seeing it more than they did watching it. It's certainly a movie that ages well, though, and one that rewards repeat viewings. It's a film that loves to play with realities in a fluid manner- within one scene and not always across several. Its ingenious use of the movie-with-a-movie model allows THE STUNT MAN to frequently subvert expectations which immediately places the audience effectively in Cameron's confused shoes. Cross as a God figure moves his actors and his stunt man around with sinister glee and O'Toole (who was nominated that year for Best Actor) is stunning in the role. If I'm vague about THE STUNT MAN it's because, even after 31 years, there are so many that haven't seen this film, a true classic of mind-bending cinema, and those people deserve to enjoy it with as little prior information as possible.

Severin Films brings THE STUNT MAN home on Blu-ray and it is the film's definitive home video release. Picture, with all of its expected and welcomed film grain, and audio quality are the best this film has seen. As one begins to sift through the copious special features one starts to realize THE STUNT MAN is as interesting of a production story as it is a movie. First up is a commentary track featuring Richard Rush and actors Peter O'Toole, Steve Railsback, Barbara Hershey, Alex Rocco, Sharon Farrell, and Chuck Bail. It's edited together from separate recordings but flows naturally and provides a wealth of information.

'The Sinister Saga: The Making of THE STUNT MAN" is a nearly two hour documentary covering every aspect of the life of THE STUNT MAN, from Rush's struggles to get it made to the drama surrounding its release. It's an exciting film on its own. "The Maverick Career of Richard Rush" is a great discussion with the director covering his early career as well as his more well-known films. "Peter O'Toole Recounts THE STUNT MAN" has the actor reminiscing on the film and its place in his career. "Devil's Squadron: An Interview with Steve Railsback and Alex Rocco" reunites the actors for a spirited chat about the film. "Barbara Hershey on Nina Franklin" has the actress providing insight into her mysterious character. "THE STUNT MAN at the New Beverly" is a recording of a Q&A with Rush, Railsback, and Hershey after a screening at LA's premier repertory theater. The special features are capped off with two short deleted scenes and some trailers.

Outside of a theatrical screening, there's been no better time to see what all the fuss is about in regards to THE STUNT MAN. If you've already seen it, a revisit is in order. Coming for the first time in high definition and lovingly showered in quality special features by those ol' so-and-sos over at Severin, the exploration THE STUNT MAN contained on this disc will most likely give one a new appreciation for a truly classic cult film.

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