The Stunt Man

EPISODE 754: 05.24.23


The Stunt Man is a 1980 American action comedy film directed by Richard Rush, starring Peter O'Toole, Steve Railsback, and Barbara Hershey. The film was adapted by Lawrence B. Marcus and Rush from the 1970 novel of the same name by Paul Brodeur. It tells the story of a young fugitive who hides as a stunt double on the set of a World War I movie whose charismatic director will do seemingly anything for the sake of his art. The line between illusion and reality is blurred. Scenes from the inner movie cut seamlessly to "real life" and vice versa. There are examples of "movie magic", where a scene of wartime carnage is revealed as just stunt men and props, and where a shot of a crying woman becomes, with scenery, props and sound track, a portrait of a grieving widow at a Nazi rally. The protagonist begins to doubt everything he sees and hears, and at the end is faced with real danger when a stunt seems to go wrong. It was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Peter O'Toole), Best Director (Richard Rush), and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. However, due to its limited release, it never earned much attention from audiences at large. As O'Toole remarked in a DVD audio commentary, "The film wasn't released. It escaped." The film has developed a cult following. It was released on June 27, 1980.


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