Fellow Film Club Members & Movie Buffs:
2014 has been properly launched with the fine turnout for the screening of MARY POPPINS last week. Kudos to the Producers for coming up with a DVD to screen with, for that film is a premium to procure.
This Friday, January 10, 2014, the Tacoma Film Club is proud to present the cult favorite movie, Richard Rush’s THE STUNT MAN (1980). It was based on the successful novel from 1970 written by Paul Brodeur. The film rights were bought by Columbia Pictures while the book was still in galleys, but they took a close look at it & decided it was “unfilmable”, because it defied categorization; it seemed to be a comedy/murder mystery/thriller/romantic/drama/social satire/action adventure–just created too far out of the box for the Suits to grasp. Director Richard Rush bought the rights for a song, but it took him seven years to get it financed & filmed, and then three years to get it released.
Richard Rush, kind of a maverick Roger Corman clone out of the 60’s working for American International producing Drive-In fare, only directed 13 films between 1960-1994. Jack Nicholson was in his first three films, giving us movies like HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS (1967), THUNDER ALLEY (1967), PSYCH-OUT (1968), GETTING STRAIGHT (1970), FREEBIE & THE BEAN (1974), & COLOR OF NIGHT (1994). Most of his films were panned by the critics, and he walked away from directing in 1995. He did work as a writer on AIR AMERICA (1990).
Francois Trauffaut was slated to direct THE STUNT MAN in 1971 for Columbia; when that deal fell through, he used parts of the Brodeur novel in his own film DAY FOR NIGHT (1973). Arthur Penn admitted to borrowing some plot elements for his film NIGHT MOVES (1975). Trauffaut, in 1981, called Richard Rush, his “favorite American Director.” THE STUNT MAN was filmed in 1978, and sat on the shelf for over a year. In 1980, Fox decided to give it a “limited release”, and it turned out to be a very limited release. Seattle was one of the few cities that had it. So even though the film was nominated for three Oscars, it won none because very few Academy members had seen it. It did win three Golden Globes however.
Peter O’Toole said, “This movie was never released, it just escaped.”
Trivia: During the seven years of development, the cast choices fluctuated. Rush cast Steve Railsback on the recommendation of Elia Kazan, and after he saw Railsback as Charles Mansen in HELTER SKELTER. Rush had considered Jeff Bridges and Martin Sheen for Cameron. Eli Cross, the director character had religious symbolism. Camaron, the fugitive, was confused with “Camera-on”. O’Toole based his character on director David Lean, and he dressed him like Richard Rush. Both George C. Scott and Sean Connery were considered for the role of Eli Cross; the studio combinations at different times would have been O’Toole & Bridges, Sean Connery & Railsback, and George C. Scott & Sheen. If it had been filmed in the early 70’s, Jack Nicholson probably would have played Cameron. DEVIL’S SQUADRON is the movie name on the film crew T-shirts. Rush had two heart attacks during the production. In 2001, Rush spoke to a film school class of 200 students, and when he discussed THE STUNT MAN, only two of them had actually seen it.
THE STUNT MAN (1980)
Directed, produced & written by Richard Rush @ 131 minutes (originally 150 min.)
The film starred Peter O’Toole, Steve Railsback, Barbara Hershey, Allen Garfield, Alex Rocco, Sharon Farrell, Adam Roarke, & Chuck Bail.
Synopsis: A fugitive Viet Nam veteran, who may have accidently caused the death of a stunt man, ironically is hired to take the man’s place. Hiding out on the movie set, while performing many dangerous stunts, he fell in love with the leading lady, and found his true self during the experience
Tagline: You’re never more vulnerable than when you know too much.
The musical score was written by Dominic Frontiere, who scored 38 film projects; most of them for television series shows, from 1955. His scores for feature films included THE GUMBALL RALLY (1976), KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS (1977), & COLOR OF NIGHT (1994).
The cinematography was done by Mario Tosi, who lensed 34 films from 1963-1982, movies that included THE GLORY STOMPERS (1967), BUSTER & BILLIE (1974), HEARTS OF THE WEST (1975), CARRIE (1976), MACARTHUR (1977), & WHOSE LIFE IS IT ANYWAY? (1981).
Rotten Tomatoes rated the film at 97% Critic’s approval, & 76% Audience approval.
LA TIMES wrote: “This film is as innovative today as CITIZEN KANE was for its time.”
Roger Ebert, only giving it 2.5 stars, wrote: “There is a great deal in this film that I admired, but too often I felt cheated.”
Pauline Kael wrote: “One of the year’s best films, this is a virtuoso piece of kinetic moviemaking–O’Toole’s performance is peerless.”
Sean Alexander of MSN.COM wrote: “the film twists and turns from scene to scene on some whirlwind mind game.”
Bill Gibron of POP MATTERS wrote: “Middle fingers aimed directly at the Establishment–both Hollywood & Pre-Reagan America, is a masterful and brazen bird-flip.”
Ramsey Taylor wrote: “Cited as one of the best films of the 80’s, oddly it still remains one of the decade’s most mysteriously obscure movie as well.”
So be sure to mark your calendars for this Friday, January 10, 2013, and join us to watch Richard Rush’s cult film THE STUNT MAN (1980). It will screen at our home base of the Center for Spiritual Living, located at 206 North J Street, on the corner of J and Division, across the street from Group Health hospital. Doors will open at 6:15 p.m. and many of us can be joined downstairs in the kitchen area for fellowship & goodies. It is permitted for folks to bring snacks & beverages, including wine, to share with others. THE STUNT MAN is 131 minutes in length, and it will be over before 10 p.m. Be sure to clean up after your selves in the kitchen before coming upstairs to the sanctuary to view the movie. Please remember there is no food or drinks allowed in the sanctuary. There will be a Donation Box upstairs, and these collected funds assist the Club in paying rent for the space, & to go toward the annual License we renew allowing us to screen movies for the Club members & guests. See you at the movies!