The American Cinematheque presents...THE STUNT MAN 20th Anniversary Screening!!
Review of the new making of doc!






A Night At The Egyptian

Friday, February 18 – 7:00 PMstuntmanparachute(1).gif (34492 bytes)

Special 20th Anniversary Screening + World Premiere!!

Director Richard Rush, Steve Railsback & Barbara Hershey in-person with THE STUNT MAN (1980, 129 min.) First, a 20th Anniversary Screening of director Richard Rush’s critically acclaimed 1980 film THE STUNT MAN starring Steve Railsback as an escaped convict who stumbles onto a film set and accidentally causes the death of their ace stunt man. Peter O’Toole stars as the enigmatic, god-like director who offers to hide him from the police if he will help him finish the film as the stunt man. This outrageous black comedy blurs the line between reality and make-believe and viewers are reminded to watch closely because there is a lot of dizzying sleight-of-hand, not to mention, sly wit and first-rate action.

Critics adored the film and when Francois Truffaut was asked to name his favorite director at the 1980 San Francisco Film Festival, he replied, "I don’t know his name, but I just saw his picture last night. Its called THE STUNT MAN." "Dazzlingly scripted (by Lawrence B. Marcus and Richard Rush from Paul Brodeur's novel) and directed; amusing score by Dominic Frontiere." – Leonard Maltin. "One of the best films ever made about the world of film itself…" – Rex Reed. THE STUNT MAN garnered Academy Award nominations for Best Actor, Best Director and Best Screenplay; six Golden Globes, The DGA Award; The WGA Award and it was named Best Picture by The National Board of Review and The Montreal World Film Festival. For more information see

When it hit theaters 20 years ago, THE STUNT MAN dazzled audiences with its black humor and dizzying sleight-of-hand, in the story of an escaped convict (Steve Railsback) who winds up working for enigmatic, god-like filmmaker Peter O’Toole. Now, director Richard Rush continues the story with THE SINISTER SAGA OF MAKING THE STUNT MAN (1999, 113 min.)Told with the same wit and quicksilver style in which he made THE STUNT MAN, this chronicle of the making of THE STUNT MAN features interviews with O’Toole, Railsback and Barbara Hershey, plus never-before-seen footage from the film.

"The doc itself is masterful – the CITIZEN KANE of backstage dramas," wrote Jeffrey Wells in his "Hollywood Confidential column on Richard Rush, Steve Railsback and Barbara Hershey will appear in-person to talk about THE STUNT MAN and to present the new documentary THE SINISTER SAGA OF MAKING THE STUNT MAN following both screenings.


BY WILLIAM ARNOLDstuntmanart.gif (16272 bytes)--P-I MOVIE CRITIC

In the early days of the DVD revolution, the quality of the "supplementary

material" -- the making-of documentaries and all that other added footage

that fills the side tracks of a video disc to give perspective on the main

title -- was, let's face it, not much.

But as the technology has advanced and the economic incentive has

increased, that situation has been changing fast -- and this weekend a

landmark in this new industry will be reached with the unveiling of a

95-minute documentary produced to augment 20th Century-Fox's upcoming DVD

release of its 1980 classic, "The Stunt Man."

Three years in the making -- by the director of "The Stunt Man," Richard

Rush, himself -- the film has been hailed by critic Jeffrey Wells as "the

'Citizen Kane' of backstage dramas... a total immersion into the head and

heart of a passionate filmmaker... by far the most ambitious and

entertaining... making-of documentary" to ever appear on laser disc or DVD.

"The Sinister Saga of Making "The Stunt Man'" has since been invited to

play several prestigious film festivals (including the USA Festival in May),

and this Friday night it will have an old-fashioned gala premiere at the new

American Cinematheque (the Egyptian Theater) in Hollywood -- both unheard-of

honors for a DVD-generated "side track."

Part of what makes the documentary special, of course, is the fact that

the reputation of "The Stunt Man" -- based on Paul Brodeur's novel about a

young man-on-the-run (Steve Railsback) given sanctuary by the manipulative

director of a movie company on location (Peter O'Toole) -- has grown so

steadily in the two decades since it was released.

And Rush's 10-year battle to get his vision on the screen has come to be

widely regarded as one of the greatest filmmaking chronicles of all time -- a

Russian novel of warring egos, backstage intrigues and clandestine studio

deceptions that, in its own bizarre way, marvelously mirrors the main theme

of the film: the power of paranoia to determine Man's Fate.

That bizarre story didn't end with the filming, either. After Rush found

independent financing and completed production in 1978, "The Stunt Man" sat

on a shelf for well over a year. Even though all of Rush's previous efforts

("Getting Straight," "Freebie and the Bean") were hits, and star O'Toole was

considered highly bankable, no major distributor would touch it.

Everyone who saw it thought it was some sort of masterpiece -- Francois

Truffaut promptly proclaimed it his "favorite American film" -- but its

unique mix of comedy, drama, action and playful existentialism confounded and

frightened distributors. It didn't fit into any particular mold, and this

shattering originality simply found no takers.

The movie was ultimately "saved" by Seattle movie-goers. After a

successful sneak preview in Bellevue (the movie's first), it was invited to

close the 1979 Seattle Film Festival, which in turn led to a

"test-engagement" at the Guild 45th that was such a phenomenon the film

eventually played at the theater for over a year and grossed a record million


Based on its Seattle success, 20th Century-Fox picked up "The Stunt Man,"

and it became the big critical hit of 1980. It also won the National Board of

Review best picture prize, the grand prize at the Montreal Film Festival, and

three major Oscar nominations: O'Toole for best actor, Rush for both best

adapted screenplay and best director.

This inspired DVD-film tells this Cinderella story well, but what makes

it truly exceptional is the fact that it is perhaps the only "making of"

documentary of a major Hollywood film that was actually made by the

subject-film's creator, so that it's less a puffy advertisement than a rather

bold experiment in autobiography.

Rush not only wrote and directed the film-about-his-film, he also

narrates and "stars" in it, acting as the on-camera guide, introducing the

interviews with various cast and crew members, discussing the film's

harrowing artistic problems and executive battles, and otherwise taking us

through every step of the film's convoluted creative process from his point

of view.

In lesser hands, an exercise like this could have turned into an ego

trip, but Rush is so generous to his collaborators and so quick to admit his

own mistakes that it comes off as just the opposite. (He's also honest enough

to wistfully acknowledge that -- despite its awards, its critical praise and

early box-office success -- "The Stunt Man" did not go on to become the

world-wide smash it should have been.)

The result is an amazingly astute, highly entertaining (like "The Stunt

Man," the film is often hilarious and filled with ingratiating little visual

tricks) and shrewdly instructive look into the creation of a famous motion

picture -- a legacy for film students and film buffs that makes the DVD

release of "The Stunt Man" one of the new decade's first true cinematic