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 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
Richard Rush leads a joyous ensemble of cast members recollecting the making of the prized and maligned production on the DVD's commentary track. Two deleted scenes are included along with production photos. Production and ad art is also shown from initial sketches to the final poster. In addition, Rush shares his struggles in detailed notes on the DVD-ROM script. The print and sound have never been better than on this DVD, which has been digitally remastered with THX certification. The double-disc set also contains a full-length documentary.
The Sinister Saga of Making The Stunt Man
Peter O'Toole puts it succinctly, "The Stunt Man wasn't released, it escaped." Director Richard Rush returns 20 years later to his highly praised film The Stunt Man (1980) in this two-hour documentary chronicling the decade-long struggle from creation to distribution. Rush calls Sinister Saga a home movie, and it essentially is, with Rush talking to the camera; there is no footage from the film's actual shoot. If you can get by the lack of gloss, you're left with an extremely personal view of the filmmaking, and a behind-the-scenes look that is refreshingly void of studio hype. Included are interviews 20 years later with cast members who fondly remember the film's shoot. It's interesting to note that if The Stunt Man had been made 20 years later, it would never have struggled. The film would simply have been regulated to cable or released on video. --Doug Thomas