Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Stunt Man

A Vietnam veteran (Steve Railsback), on the run from law enforcement, encounters an old Packard on a bridge during the pursuit, and inadvertently causes the death of its stunt man driver. Now, the renegade director (Peter O'Toole) of the picture being shot offers the fugitive a deal: replace the deceased stunt man in return for an ample salary and protection from the law. Now the transient finds himself in the arms of a beautiful leading lady (Barbara Hershey), and at the mercy of the increasingly erratic filmmaker. From Paul Brodeur's book, Richard Rush's The Stunt Man is a confused and poorly constructed story with a dynamic performance from O'Toole at its center. Railsback and Hershey are off in their respective roles and Rush, through the guise of O'Toole's director, seems to think he is making a greater movie than he has (both in the final product and the movie within a movie). The relationships are poorly explored (Railsback and O'Toole, O'Toole and Hershey, Hershey and O'Toole) and Rush offers glossy, slick and often nonsensical direction. Again though, O'Toole is a force of nature and his Lead Actor Academy Award nomination, for what is essentially a supporting role, is a testament to his considerable abilities.