BLOW OUT (1981)

Brian De Palma’s homage to Michelangelo Antonioni’s classic art movie Blow-Up (1966) blends suspense and political paranoia when a Philadelphia soundman inadvertently records a murder. Former police technician Jack Terri (John Travolta) makes his living doing sound for slasher flicks. While recording new outdoor effects one night, Jack witnesses a couple’s car careen off a bridge into a river, but he can save only the female occupant, Sally (Nancy Allen) which puts him in danger. During the editing process, two reels of footage from the Liberty Parade sequence were stolen and were never to be seen again. This meant that the scenes had to be reshot at a cost of $750,000. Cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond was no longer available, so he was replaced by László Kovács. The idea of a man discovering a crime by listening to a recording is a reinterpretation of Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Blow-Up, but using sound instead of photographs. John Travolta suffered from insomnia during the shoot. His lack of sleep helped him create a very moody performance and is why his character seems so downtrodden throughout the movie. In the French version, John Travolta’s voice was dubbed by Gérard Depardieu. Al Pacino was director Brian De Palma’s first choice for the role of Jack Terry. When he proved unavailable John Travolta was signed, prompting a suggestion from at least one studio executive to cast Olivia Newton-John, Travolta’s Grease co-star, in the role of Sally (which De Palma refused). Quentin Tarantino stated in an interview that this film is his favorite Brian De Palma movie. In fact, Tarantino cast John Travolta in Pulp Fiction because he liked his performance in this movie so much. The underwater components of the car crash on the bridge set piece were shot in a huge tank in California. Nancy Allen suffers from claustrophobia and hence had a hard time with being trapped in the car in the underwater scenes. Brian De Palma got the idea for the story while doing the sound mix on his previous movie, _Dressed To Kill (1980).

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