I’ve been watching a lot of Brian De Palma lately particularly his work in the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s. Blow Out (1981) was De Palma’s 14th film. De Palma had previously directed Dressed To Kill an homage to Alfred Hitchcock and with Blow Out he changed things up and tried a riff on Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Blow-Up.
John Travolta stars as a movie sound man. He’s working on a cheesy horror movie and needs to record some new sound. He goes out to a park to record some wind and witnesses a car crash. The car was driving down the road when it suddenly veers into a river. He rescues a woman from the car (Nancy Allen) but isn’t able to save the man. It turns out that the man was a senator and probably the next president. His people want Travolta to forget about Allen, who is a prostitute, which would embarrass the senator’s family if it was discovered that he had a prostitute in his car. When the press hit the hospital the cops convince Travolta to smuggle Allen out the back.
When Travolta listens the recordings that he made he discovers that there was a gunshot before the car went into the drink. Dennis Franz suddenly appears to the press claiming that he filmed the accident and has sold the footage to the press. Travolta is naturally confused on how he went from being the sole witness to there being footage of the accident. He starts investigating and discovers a conspiracy.
The film moves briskly to its shocking ending, one that you might not expect. The film reminds me of the work of Norwegian comic creator Jason, particularly his Why Are You Doing This? De Palma uses several cliches throughout the film but messes with the standard results creating something of quintessential thriller. The only drawback to the movie is Nancy Allen’s performance (Allen was married to De Palma at the time). She’s doing the squeaky voiced air-head prostitute and it can get on your nerves after a while. But that said out of Dressed To Kill, Blow Out and Body Double, Blow Out is the best of the lot.