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PETER O'TOOLE DIRECTING STEVE RAILSBACK AS 'THE STUNT MAN'

Iconic devilish imagery of Peter O'Toole from THE STUNT MAN Year: 1980 Rating: ****

It's no surprise director Richard Rush took a decade to make THE STUNT MAN since it adheres to his early creatively-maneuvered camerawork — visually making every scene matter and every moment count... 

Only in this case, instead of 90-minute drive-in flicks, it's an epic labor-of-love Hollywood satire starring Peter O'Toole as a flamboyant, borderline psychotic director who desperately hires a Vietnam-vet criminal as his titular STUNT MAN...

Peter O'Toole in THE STUNT MAN

Herein second-billed Steve Railsback is the true lead, which is good and bad since, during the more dramatic, expository sequences mostly involving vulnerable ingenue (as a vulnerable actress) Barbara Hershey, he still bares campy residual from playing Charles Manson in HELTER SKELTER... 

And is far more naturally-suited to intense physical action, either by his character Cameron, initially chased by cops in a fast-paced prologue — or taking on the spontaneous fall guy gig...

Steve Railsback in THE STUNT MAN with Charles Bail

And while the film-within-a-film's directed by O'Toole as Eli Cross (as if David Lean attempted a bizarre World War I potboiler), it's coordinated by bonafide stuntman Charles Bail, teaching the ropes in the most fun and involving sequence... from a fake fall to dangerously leaping from rooftops... only to return sporadically to give advice... 

At which point Railsback's Cameron is already knee deep in on-set problems, ignited by the illegal ruse of becoming the actual stuntman — who died after falling off a bridge while Cameron was being chased across it...

Peter O'Toole in THE STUNT MAN with fictional lead actor Adam Roarke

Which is the plot moving both THE STUNT MAN film and its central character forward — yet it's overwhelmed by either the annoying and intrusively comedic 1930's-flapper-era score, or bogged-down by pretentiously bickering melodrama between cast and crew (including a miscast Allen Garfield as a whining/put-upon scriptwriter)... 

All needing more activity, as in perpetual on-screen movement that underrated auteur Richard Rush — from 1960's counterculture flicks involving either brooding teachers or vicious bikers — was a genuine master of. 

Steve Railsback in THE STUNT MAN with Peter O'Toole & Adam Roarke as actor being stunted for
Barbara Hershey in THE STUNT MAN
Steve Railsback in THE STUNT MAN
Steve Railsback in THE STUNT MAN with Charles Bail
Steve Railsback in THE STUNT MAN with Charles Bail
Steve Railsback in THE STUNT MAN with makeup lady Sharon Farrell
Steve Railsback in THE STUNT MAN
Steve Railsback in THE STUNT MAN
Allen Garfield miscast as the scriptwriter in THE STUNT MAN with Peter O'Toole
Steve Railsback in THE STUNT MAN with Barbara Hershey
Peter O'Toole in THE STUNT MAN
Steve Railsback in THE STUNT MAN
Peter O'Toole in THE STUNT MAN
Peter O'Toole in THE STUNT MAN
Peter O'Toole in THE STUNT MAN
Peter O'Toole in THE STUNT MAN
Peter O'Toole in THE STUNT MAN with Allen Garfield
Steve Railsback in THE STUNT MAN
Peter O'Toole in THE STUNT MAN with Barbara Hershey
Antagonistic investigator Alex Rocco in THE STUNT MAN
Steve Railsback in THE STUNT MAN
Peter O'Toole in THE STUNT MAN with Steve Railsback & Charles Bail
Steve Railsback in THE STUNT MAN with Charles Bail
Steve Railsback in THE STUNT MAN
Peter O'Toole in THE STUNT MAN
A Stunt Man as The Stunt Man in THE STUNT MAN
Actress's family Dee Carroll, Charles D. Wallace & sister Leslie Winograde in THE STUNT MAN
Actress's family Dee Carroll, Charles D. Wallace & sister Leslie Winograde in THE STUNT MAN
Peter O'Toole with Steve Railsback in THE STUNT MAN
Peter O'Toole with Steve Railsback in THE STUNT MAN
Charles Bail with Steve Railsback in THE STUNT MAN

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