June, 1980: The Stunt Man

The Stunt Man is a strange movie.


It was nominated for three Oscars, had a mediocre showing at the box office, only grossing around 7 million dollars, and is often regarded as one of Peter O’Toole’s best performances, yet not many people have heard of it. The film is relatively unassuming, is filmed and performed quite modestly, and has a very unique and complicated script; these are just a few of the reasons why The Stunt Man is such a divisive piece of cinema.

The plot centers around a Vietnam war veteran that is living on the lam and also happens to be on the run from the law. He stumbles onto the set of a movie after a brief altercation with some cops and inadvertently causes the death of the film’s only stunt man. From there, the manipulative, mastermind director uses this as blackmail and forces the fugitive to take the deceased stunt man’s role. After multiple death-defying scenes, the new stunt man becomes convinced that the director is attempting to kill him and plans to escape from the maniacal director with the film’s leading woman. In the end, it turns out that the director was in control the entire time.

The Stunt Man is not without its issues. First and foremost, it has a highly intricate script that will take multiple viewings to full comprehend and, even then, some will say that the themes are trite and boring. There are some truly wonderful performances from Peter O’Toole and Barbara Hershey and then a few so-so ones, including the film’s tortured protagonist played by Steve Railsback. The score is light and bubbly, but may be too grandiose for some.

Like we said in the podcast, you’ll either love it or hate it, but we do think that’s worth at least one watch.

Matt's rating: 3.5/5
Gabe's rating: 1.5/5
Rewind Cinema composite: 5/10



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