The Stunt Man (1980)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy, Showbiz Drama, Comedy Thriller  |   Run Time - 129 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Vibrating with energy, the incessantly entertaining The Stunt Man is puzzle-master's delight. The clever script and ambiguous direction toy with the audience, almost in the same way that Peter O'Toole's directorial maestro (who anticipates The Truman Show's Christof by nearly two decades) plays with Steve Railsback's baffled fugitive. Not exactly subtle in its confrontation of the captivating nature of movie machinations versus the questionable quality of real life, The Stunt Man is nonetheless a wonder of sound, light and magic. Movie-making as a metaphor for life is a bit of a stretch (though many may identify with the paranoid and confounded Cameron), but O'Toole as a capricious and slightly malevolent God is a constant delight. Railsback's trademark intensity serves his Vietnam veteran character's confusion well, while Barbara Hershey is brimming with sensuality as the love interest. A crackerjack combination of action, comedy and romance, it is interesting that Twentieth-Century Fox Studios, sensing that the film wouldn't be able to find an audience, held the film back from release for two years before slipping it out with little fanfare. While not a great box office success, it certainly was a critical one, and it has quietly built a cult status among movie fans.