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The Stunt Man

Screening on Film
Directed by Richard Rush.
With Peter O’Toole, Steve Railsback, Barbara Hershey.
US, 1980, 35mm, color, 131 min.
Print source: HFA

This suspenseful tale of a manipulative director at work is also a darkly comic look at the daemonic power that cinema grants to filmmakers. In The Stunt Man, actors and crew alike find themselves in thrall to, and enthralled by, a director who may be God—or Lucifer—given his ability to create a world in which he seems to have power over life and death. (“Lucifer,” after all, means “bringer of light.”) Willing to risk anything for his art, he sets up a faked car crash that may turn fatal. This little-seen American independent film was championed by Pauline Kael and has since acquired a cult of admirers. It also features one of Peter O’Toole’s greatest performances as the director.

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