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Blow Out (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

4.3 out of 5 stars 130 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

In the enthralling Blow Out, brilliantly crafted by Brian De Palma (Sisters, Carrie, Scarface), John Travolta (Saturday Night Fever, Pulp Fiction) gives one of his greatest performances, as Jack, a movie sound-effects man who believes he has accidentally recorded a political assassination. He enlists the help of Sally (played by Carrie’s Nancy Allen), a possible eyewitness to the crime who may be in danger herself, to uncover the truth. With its jolting stylistic flourishes, intricate plot, profoundly felt characterizations, and gritty evocation of early-1980s Philadelphia, Blow Out is an American paranoia thriller unlike any other, as well as a devilish reflection on the act of moviemaking.

Special Features

New, restored digital transfer, supervised by director Brian De Palma, with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition

New hour-long interview with De Palma, conducted by filmmaker Noah Baumbach

New interview with star Nancy Allen

Cameraman Garrett Brown on the Steadicam shots featured in the film within the film

Select on-set photos from photographer Louis Goldman

Original theatrical trailer

PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Sragow and Pauline Kael’s original New Yorker review


Product Details

  • Actors: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz, Peter Boyden
  • Directors: Brian de Palma
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: April 26, 2011
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004JPJHL0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,636 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Fans of this film can finally get rid of the bare bones edition that was released years ago. In addition to the extras on the DVD, the accompanying booklet features Pauline Kael's original review and a reproduction of the magazine in the film that published the photographs of McRyan's car crash.

"Noah Baumbach Interviews Brian De Palma" features the New York filmmaker talking to De Palma for almost an hour. He talks about the genesis of Blow Out. He also touches upon using the Steadicam for the first time, the film's score, various key scenes, and recounts some fantastic filming anecdotes in this excellent conversation between two filmmakers.

"Nancy Allen Interview" features the veteran actress talking about meeting Travolta for the first time on Carrie (Special Edition) and her impressions of him. She recalls her initial reaction to the script for Blow Out and how she approached her character. Interestingly, Allen wasn't going to do the film but Travolta wanted her to do it.

"Garrett Brown Interview" features the inventor of the Steadicam system recalling how he shot the cheesy horror film at the beginning of Blow Out. He also talks about and demonstrates how one works. Brown comes across as an engaging and candid guy.

"Louis Goldman Photographs" is a collection of stills taken on the set and for publicity purposes.

In a real treat for De Palma fans, his 1967 experimental film Murder a la Mod is included in its entirety. Like Blow Out, the film is a thriller that takes place in the filmmaker world. It is fascinating to see the director's emerging style still in its infancy and how the film is very much of its time.

Finally, there is a theatrical trailer.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Brian DePalma has been (sometimes correctly) accused of manufacturing little more than brilliant pastiche (which is another way of damning him with faint praise). I confess to be as guilty as anyone of this practice, finding films like Dressed to Kill slick, fun, but ultimately less works of art than of skillful post-modern artifice.
Blow Out is a haunting exception. Yes, it has clear antecedents in Antonioni's Blowup and Coppola's paranoid classic, The Conversation. But it is unfair to judge Blow Out by its similarities to these films. One need only pay minimal attention to realize DePalma has his own goals in mind. No mere retread of the standard paranoid political thriller, Blow Out is a bravura exercise in nuanced, multi-layered story telling.
Low budget movie soundman Jack Terry (John Travolta) is in the right place at the wrong time - while out recording some nature sounds for a B slasher flick (in which DePalma seems to poke fun at some of his own earlier work), he catches the sounds of an auto accident. In an incident reminiscent of Chappaquiddick, a car driven by a presidential candidate suffers a tire blowout and careens off a nearby bridge. The candidate dies, but Terry manages to rescue his "lady friend", a party girl named Sally (Nancy Allen). Key to the story is his recording, which seems to contain a double-bang - perhaps the blowout preceded by a gunshot? Naturally the story leads Terry into a web of intrigue featuring slimy political operatives, corrupt cops, and nefarious CIA henchmen.
Blow Out's visual style has drawn criticism from some quarters as being too flashy. Ridiculous! The camera movements are precise and deliberate; designed to communicate story points with great efficiency.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Brian DePalma--you either love him or hate him it seems with one group always attacking him for "borrowing" from other directors and still others praising him for vividly echoing others work while creating something memorable of his own. I come here not to "blow out" DePalma but to praise him. "Blow Out" was one of the first films to use the Steadicam extensively for long tracking shots and DePalma used the device wisely throughout the film.

With "Blow Out" DePalma managed to elicit one of John Travolta's finest performances of his career reaching beneath the surface performance that Travolta often presents to get a sense of genuine emotion. A skewed paranoid thriller that uses the classic film "Blow Up" as its touch point, "Blow Out" focuses on a sound engineer named Jack (Travolta) who believes he recorded evidence of murder. Jack is determined to find out the truth but puts himself and Sally (Nancy Allen)a woman passenger in the car who survived and directly in the path of an assassin (John Lithgow).

The Criterion Blu-ray personally supervised by director DePalma is a huge improvement over the previous regular DVD edition. Fine detail is a huge improvement while clarity and contrast look much improved throughout. The film also went an extensive restoration and clean up which is most notable in the lack of scratches that were evident in the previous DVD presentation. This is a film that will never look perfect (some of the shots are extremely grainy but that's due to the film stock and the lighting choices for the film--it's a typical early 80's film but it looks the best it has ever looked here).

Audio sounds quite strong but keep in mind that this is presented in its original 2.0 NOT in a remixed or repurposed 5.1 mix. We get optional English subtitles.
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