Brian De Palma's 1981 thriller is something of a homage to Michelangelo Antonioni's masterful Blowup
, though there are hints of Francis Ford Coppola's paranoia-inducing Conversation
sprinkled throughout. John Travolta plays a sound-effects man who witnesses what appears to be a tragic car accident killing a presidential candidate. The audio tape he happened to be recording at that moment (adding to his collection of natural sounds), however, suggests but doesn't prove that a murderous conspiracy is afoot. Trying to tease a shred of evidence from murky doubt, Travolta's character turns to a hooker (Nancy Allen) for help and stumbles into a web of evil spun by a right-wing kook (John Lithgow). De Palma's fetishistic fascination with obscured truth in a universe ruled by chance makes Blow Out
one of his most operatic films. It's also perhaps one of his most revealing about the inherent decadence of creating verisimilitude for art. Sometimes knocked for its outrageous camera technique, Blow Out
contains several exciting sequences that underscore De Palma's amped-up admiration for many of Hitchcock's best moves. --Tom Keogh
In the enthralling Blow Out, brilliantly crafted by Brian De Palma (Sisters, Carrie, Scarface), John Travolta (Saturday Night Fever, Pulp Fiction) gives one of his greatest performances, as Jack, a movie sound-effects man who believes he has accidentally recorded a political assassination. He enlists the help of Sally (played by Carrie’s Nancy Allen), a possible eyewitness to the crime who may be in danger herself, to uncover the truth. With its jolting stylistic flourishes, intricate plot, profoundly felt characterizations, and gritty evocation of early-1980s Philadelphia, Blow Out is an American paranoia thriller unlike any other, as well as a devilish reflection on the act of moviemaking.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • New, restored digital transfer, supervised by director Brian De Palma • New hour-long interview with De Palma, conducted by filmmaker Noah Baumbach • New interview with star Nancy Allen • Cameraman Garrett Brown on the Steadicam shots featured in the film within the film • Select on-set photos from photographer Louis Goldman • Original theatrical trailer • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Sragow and Pauline Kael’s original New Yorker review