7.4/10
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206 user 128 critic

Blow Out (1981)

Trailer
1:17 | Trailer
A movie sound recordist accidentally records the evidence that proves that a car accident was actually murder and consequently finds himself in danger.

Writer:

Brian De Palma
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Popularity
4,053 ( 1,340)
2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Travolta ... Jack
Nancy Allen ... Sally
John Lithgow ... Burke
Dennis Franz ... Manny Karp
Peter Boyden Peter Boyden ... Sam
Curt May Curt May ... Donahue
John Aquino John Aquino ... Detective Mackey
John McMartin ... Lawrence Henry
Deborah Everton ... Hooker
J. Patrick McNamara ... Detective at Hospital
Missy Cleveland Missy Cleveland ... Coed Lover (as Amanda Cleveland)
Roger Wilson ... Coed Lover
Lori-Nan Engler Lori-Nan Engler ... Sue
Cindy Manion Cindy Manion ... Dancing Coed
Missy Crutchfield Missy Crutchfield ... Dancing Coed (as Missy O'Shea)
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Storyline

This stylish Brian De Palma thriller plays off the theme of the unsuspecting witness who discovers a crime and is thereby put in grave danger, but with a novel twist. Jack Terry is a master audio technician who makes his living by recording unique sounds for grade-B horror movies. Late one evening, he is recording sounds for use in his movies when he hears something unexpected through his sound equipment and records it. Curiosity gets the better of him when the media become involved, and he begins to unravel the pieces of a nefarious conspiracy. As he struggles to survive against his shadowy enemies and expose the truth, he does not know whom he can trust. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Blow Out took them to the edge of terror . . . his questions took them way beyond [Video Australia] See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of three partnerships between John Lithgow and Brian De Palma, with the other films being Obsession (1976) and Raising Cain (1992). See more »

Goofs

Film crew visible during overhead shot after Jack crashes through police barricade. See more »

Quotes

Jack Terry: [to Sally] So you got your choice. You can be crazy or dead.
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Connections

Referenced in Vintage Video: Dressed to Kill (1980) (2020) See more »

User Reviews

An enjoyable mix of `Blow-Up' and `The Conversation'
16 March 2002 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Jack is a sound editor for small films. When he is out one evening recording background noises, he inadvertently records a car crash which kills a politician running for the US Presidency, although Jack saves a girl in the car. When pressured to say that the politician was alone, Jack finds that his recording may prove that it was murder and not an accident. However someone is cutting off the loose ends around the crime.

A clever rework of Blow-Up that is given a thriller twist and visual style by De Palma. The story is quite straight forward and doesn't contain too many twists and turns. However it does have a good premise at it's core and it builds to a suitably low-key ending.

De Palma works well with the material – at some points it's a little obtrusive, but he certainly can frame a shot. From his use of foreground and background focusing to the scene where Travolta realises what he has on tape – he has style to spare. He handles the ending well but perhaps feels he wants to be like Coppola a bit too much.

Pre-career dip Travolta gives his best performance before Pulp Fiction – he plays the everyman really well and is totally convincing. Allen is a little too squeaky and irritating, but get past this and she's OK. Franz is on-form as a sleazy opportunist, while Lithgow is chilling as a ruthless, clinical killer.

Overall it occasionally feels like there is more style than substance but everyone holds their end up and the result is a solid, enjoyable thriller that maybe pays a bit too much homage to other work.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 July 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Personal Effects See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$18,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$12,000,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$12,000,000
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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