Jack Terry is a master sound recordist who works on 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.
- Jack Terry: John Travolta
- Sally Badina: Nancy Allen
- Burke: John Lithgow
- Manny Karp: Dennis Franz
- Sam: Peter Boyden
- Donahue: Curt May
- Det. Mackey: John Aquino
- Lawrence Henry: John McMartin
- Hooker: Deborah Everton
- Detective at Hospital: J. Patrick McNamara
- Coed Lover: Missy Cleveland
- Coed Lover: Roger Wilson
- Sue: Lori-Nan Engler
- Girl Lover: Barbara Sigel
- Boy Lover: David De Felice
- Train Passenger: Roberto Lombardi
- Dancing Coed: Missy Crutchfield
- Dancing Coed: Cindy Manion
- Ecstatic Coed: Marcy Bigelman
- Studious Coed: Ann Kelly
- Campus Guard: Dean Bennett
- Maniac: John Coppolino Jr.
- Mixer: Archie Lang
- Anchorman: Dave Roberts
- Anchorwoman: Claire Carter
- Jack Manners: Maurice Copeland
- Governor McRyan: John Hoffmeister
- Policeman at Hospital: Thomas J. McCarthy
- Policeman at Hospital: Reginald M. Wallace
- Hospital Administrator: Robert L. Penrose
- Doctor: Larry Woody
- TV Newscaster: Dick McGarvin
- Newsdealer: Michael Borghese
- Receptionist: Rossana Fichera
- Film Lab Man: James Jeter
- Freddie Corso: Luddy Tramontana
- Cop in Car: Sid Doherty
- Mobster: Milt Fields
- Corrupt Captain: Bud Seese
- First Murder Victim: Maureen Sullivan
- Cop at Karp’s Office: Brian Corrigan
- Screamer: Elaine Filoon
- Betty: Robin Sherwood
- Sailor: Tim Choate
- Sailor’s Friend: B.J. Cyrus
- Sailor’s Friend: Dave DeAngelis
- Sailor’s Friend: Thomas Finn
- Sailor’s Friend: Tony Devon
- Ambulance Attendant: Henry Cohen
- Ambulance Attendant: Bernie Rachelle
- Security Guard: William Tarman
- Hawker: Michael Tearson
- Writer: Brian De Palma
- Casting: Lynn Stalmaster
- Executive Producer: Fred C. Caruso
- Director of Photography: Vilmos Zsigmond
- Original Music Composer: Pino Donaggio
- Editor: Paul Hirsch
- Sound Supervisor: Dick Vorisek
- Supervising Sound Editor: Dan Sable
- Production Design: Paul Sylbert
- Producer: George Litto
- Additional Writing: Bill Mesce Jr.
- Set Decoration: Bruce Weintraub
- Makeup Artist: Joe Cranzano
- Costume Design: Vicki Sánchez
- Makeup Artist: Leo Lotito Jr.
- Sound Re-Recording Mixer: Tom Fleischman
- Hairstylist: Lyndell Quiyou
- Hairstylist: Vivian McAteer
- Sound Mixer: James M. Tanenbaum
- Special Effects Supervisor: Calvin J. Acord
- Sound Editor: Michael Moyse
- Boom Operator: Brian L. McCarty
- Special Effects: David Domeyer
- Assistant Sound Editor: Randall Coleman
- Dialogue Editor: Lowell Mate
- Boom Operator: Rimas Tumasonis
- Cableman: Carl Pagano
- John Chard: Superior entry on De Palma’s CV.
Brian De Palma has always gotten a bad rap for his penchant for essaying his heroes and favourite thrillers, what often gets forgotten is just how great he could be in crafting said thrillers.
Blow Out has John Travolta as a sound engineer for low budget horror movies, who while out recording sounds one night witnesses a car crash and dives into the river to rescue the call girl trapped in the back seat (Nancy Allen). Upon listening back to the footage of the crash, he hears two noises which point to a gun shot being fired at the car. So with the dead man in the car turning out to be a big political mover, he quickly finds himself spun into a web of intrigue, peril, paranoia and conspiracies. Can he and the girl stay alive long enough to solve the case?
Blow Out finds De Palma at the top of his game, blending the twisty plot dynamics with virtuoso technical smarts. A number of scenes are striking, both visually and in execution and the garnering of acting performances. Pino Donaggio provides an unforgettable music score to marry up to the layers of sub-plots folding together, and cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond sharpens the primary colours (pic is awash with lurid pinks and purples – true neo-noir style) to give the story a Giallo like sheen that runs concurrent with the emotional states of the major players.
A sprawling and bustling Philadelphia plays host to a conspiracy sandwich, with a corking side order of the film making process. Sometimes bleak and complex (how great it is to find a true noir finale), but never over stuffed, Blow Out is both thrilling and smart, while Travolta has never been better and John Lithgow is tailor made as the unstoppable crack-pot unleashed into our two protagonists’ world. 9/10
- Wuchak: _**Colorful De Palma crime mystery with Travolta and Lithgow**_
A sound effects man in Philadelphia (John Travolta) obtains evidence that a fatal accident involving the governor wasn’t really an accident, which thrusts him into danger with shady characters. John Lithgow, Dennis Franz and Nancy Allen are all somehow involved in the nefarious conspiracy.
Written & directed by Brian De Palma, “Blow Out” (1981) is a crime drama/thriller whose colors, artistic style, cast and Philadelphia locations make it worthwhile. It’s similar to Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation” (1974) but more dynamic. Allen plays a ditzy character, yet is alluring and enjoyable, while Travolta is in his prime. Meanwhile Lithgow makes for a great shady character.
I loved the colorful, well-staged sequence under the Henry Avenue Bridge, but started to lose interest in the second half for some reason. The storytelling became increasingly contrived. Nevertheless, respectable critics rave about this flick.
The film runs around 1 hour, 48 minutes, and was shot in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; with additional stuff done in New York City and Burbank, California.