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Stunt Man, The – Severin Films (BluRay) 
Written by: on June 4th, 2011

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1980
Director: Richard Rush
Writers: Lawrence B. Marcus, Richard Rush
Cast: Peter O’Toole, Steve Railsback, Barbara Hershey, Allen Garfield, Alex Rocco, Sharon Farrell

BluRay released: June 7th, 2011
Approximate running time: 131 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Stereo English
Subtitles: N/A
BluRay Release: Severin Films
Region Coding: Region 0
Retail Price: $29.98

Synopsis: A fugitive finds refuge as a stunt man on a movie set.

The Stunt Man was co-written and directed by Richard Rush, a maverick filmmaker who’s other notable films include Getting Straight, Freebie and the Bean and Color of Night (one of this reviewer’s favorite guilty pleasure movies). The cinematographer on The Stunt Man was Mario Tosi, who’s other notable film’s include Brian De Palma’s Carrie and the T.V. movie ‘Sybil’. The score for The Stunt Man was composed by Dominic Frontiere, who is most known for composing the them for the T.V. series ‘The Outer Limits’. The Stunt Man would mark the second of  Dominic Frontiere’s three collaborations with Richard Rush, with the other two being, Freebie and the Bean and Color of Night.

Most filmmaker spend the bulk of their careers as work fire hire director’s, who are just trying to get the one chance to direct their dream projects. And while many of them finally get their chance to direct said dream project. Their visions often have to be altered ever so slightly to fit into a more commercially viable commodity. Then there are those filmmakers, who are willing to do whatever it takes to get their vision on screen, without any compromises. Richard Rush falls into this latter category. He would spend nine years trying to get his dream project, The Stunt Man off the ground. Along the way he would direct the hugely success cop buddy film Freebie and the Bean and turn down several other projects, all in hope of finally getting his chance to direct The Stunt Man.

Trying to pigeon hole this film in any one genre would be futile. Content wise this film is a well balanced mix  action, comedy and drama. And while the action set pieces tend to draw the most attention,  due to the way in which they lend themselves to the misdirection that plays an integral part in the story at hand. The actual heart and soul are the characters which populate this film and their more intimate moments. The aforementioned comedy aspect of the plot, on the other hand is this film weakest link. With most of the comedy falling to reach the heights the rest of the film does.
Though there have been countless other films that have used ‘the film with in a film’ as a premise. None has so effortlessly blurred the line of what is real and what is an illusion, like The Stunt Man. Also there is a chaotic vibe to the general story at hand, that only further enhances the obstacles that had to be overcome to get this film in the first place. And it should not come as a surprise that when it comes to the film’s visuals that Richard Rush employees every trick in the book.

Another area in which this film excels are the performances from its three leads, Steve Railsback (Helter Skelter) in the role of Cameron a fugitive on the run, Barbara Hershey (Boxcar Bertha) as a Hollywood starlet and Peter O’Toole (Lawrence of Arabia) as a megalomaniac director named Eli Cross, who is willing to get his film completed at any cost. The most memorable of these three performances being Peter O’Toole, who is utterly convincing as a tyrant director. Also these scenes in which his character Eli Cross and Cameron interact are easily the most compelling, since the is an underlying vibe that Eli might be trying to kill Cameron. Not to be overlooked is Steve Railsback performance which offers up a good counterbalance to Peter O’Toole’s more operatic performance.

There are a lot things going on in this film and trying to digest them in one go is not easy task. With that being said the pros more than outweigh the cons and this is really a film that requires multiple viewings to really sink in.

The BluRay:

The Stunt Man comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. This transfer does a great job with this film source materials. Print damage is minimal, there are no problems with compression and black levels look consistently strong throughout. Also even though the image generally looks crisp, there are handful of moments in which the image tends to look soft and this is more likely source instead of transfer related. It should also be noted that there is noticeable edge enhancement that varies in degree throughout.

This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English and a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in English. While not one of the more dynamic DTS-HD 5.1 mix’s out there, it does a reasonable good job with the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack. Dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. The Dolby Digital Stereo also fares well as there are no problems with background noise or distortion.

Extras for this release include a Spanish trailer (1 minute 57 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a teaser (48 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and a trailer for the film (2 minute 5 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), 2 deleted scenes ‘Sand Pile’ (2 minutes 39 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and ‘Police Station’ (3 minutes 15 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), one on one interviews with actors Peter O’ Toole (18 minutes 46 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), Steve Railsback & Alex Rocco (18 minutes 59 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and actress Barbra Hershey (14 minutes 23 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a career retrospective interview with director Richard Rush (34 minutes 18 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a Q & A featurette with Richard Rush, Steve Railsback and Barbra Hershey film at the New Beverly (17 minutes 18 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a audio commentary with Richard Rush, Peter O’ Toole, Steve Railsback, Barbra Hershey, Alex Rocco, Sharon Farrell & Chuck Ball and a the feature length documentary titled ‘The Sinister Saga: The Making of The Stunt Man’ (114 minutes 21 seconds – 4:3 full frame). The bulk of the extra content from Anchor Bay’s release of The Stunt Man has been carried over for this release, which also comes with nearly two hours of newly created extras. All of these newly created interview segments for this release are all exceptional and they make a perfect companion to the lengthy documentary ‘The Sinister Saga: The Making of The Stunt Man’ and the audio commentary (which were both carried over from that aforementioned previous home video release from Anchor Bay). It is hard to image that any future release ever topping this one when it comes to the wealth of extra content included with this release. The extras are exhaustive as they cover area of this production and in great detail and offer up personal insight from each of the participants that are interviewed for this release. The most surprising extra is the career retrospective with the always candid Richard Rush, who discusses all the films that he directed and a few that never come to fruition. Also included with this release are trailers for Inglorious Bastards, Shopping and Santa Sangre. Overall The Stunt Man gets a first rate release from Severin Films.

Note: Severin Films are also releasing The Stunt Man on DVD.

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