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Blow Out Details


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). Jack begins to suspect something when he learns that her dead companion was a Presidential hopeful. Re-playing his tape over and over, Jack thinks that he hears a gun shot before the crash-causing tire blow-out. When sleazy photographer Manny Karp (Dennis Franz) comes forward with photos of the accident, Jack discovers the real reason that the naïve Sally was in the car -- and also a way to prove his auditory suspicions through motion pictures. Even with all his surveillance talent, however, Jack cannot see (or hear) how dangerous the big picture really is until it's too late. Taking a break from horror films, De Palma turned his interests in technology and voyeurism toward more politically loaded subject matter at the dawn of the Reagan era; the film's red, white and blue mise-en-scène, "Liberty Day" celebration climax, and conspiracy surrounding political "dirty tricks" suggest that American politics are still rotten, seven years after Watergate. Although Blow Out earned some favorable notice, particularly for Travolta's first "adult" performance, De Palma's downbeat film did not go over well with 1981 summer audiences. Rather than blockbuster escapism, Blow Out instead harks back to 1970s political thrillers like Dennis Franz (1974), using cinematic fireworks to tell an unsettling story about one man's struggle against unstoppable corruption. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

  • Release date:July 24, 1981


John Travolta
as Jack
Nancy Allen
as Sally
John Lithgow
as Burke
Dennis Franz
as Manny Karp
Peter Boyden
as Sam
Curt May
as Frank Donohue
Ernest McClure
as Jim
Tony Devon
as Sailor's Friend
John Hoffmeister
as George McRyan
Lori-Nan Engler
as Sue
Maurice Copeland
as Jack Manners
Bud Seese
as Corrupt Captain
Archie Lang
as Mixer
Tom McCarthy
as Policeman
J. Patrick McNamara
as Nelson
John McMartin
as Lawrence Henry
Claire Carter
as Joan
David Roberts
as Anchorman
Robin Sherwood
as Screamer
Amanda Cleveland
as Coed Lover
Dick McGarvin
as TV Newscaster
Cindy Manion
as Dancing Coed
Brian Corrigan
as Cop at Karp's Office
James Jeter
as Film Lab Man
Deborah Everton
as Hooker


Brian De Palma
George Litto
Brian De Palma
Vilmos Zsigmond
Pino Donaggio
Composer (Music Score)
Paul Hirsch
Paul Sylbert
Production Designer
Jeannine Oppewall
Set Designer
Vicki Sanchez
Costume Designer
Ann Roth
Costume Designer
Joe Napolitano
First Assistant Director
Jim Tannenbaum
Sound Mixer