By Chris Nashawaty
Updated April 19, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Everett Collection
  • Movie

Brian De Palma has always gotten a bad rap. Critics love to go on and on about how the director?s stylish thrillers like Carrie, Dressed to Kill, and Body Double are shameless Hitchcock rip-offs. That he?s a forger copying masters. If that?s the case, then so is every other filmmaker who?s turned viewers? armrest-gripping knuckles white over the past 40 years. When De Palma unveiled the deliciously twisty and twisted Blow Out (1981, R, 1 hr., 48 mins.), the knives came out again. This time, he was accused of xeroxing Michelangelo Antonioni?s 1966 art-house hit Blow-Up. Fair enough. But De Palma also transformed that pretentious earlier film into a fresh, fizzy cocktail of paranoid cover-ups and conspiracies. He also finessed one of John Travolta?s finest – and most overlooked – performances, as a schlocky-movie sound-F/X man who accidentally records the pop and screech of a car tire during the fatal crash of a presidential candidate. When Blow Out was released, John Travolta was still riding high off Saturday Night Fever and Grease. But De Palma captured something deeper than the star?s dimpled-chin good looks: fear and fragility. Honestly, Travolta?s performance is reason enough to recommend the film. With Criterion?s gorgeous new DVD and Blu-ray editions, however, the movie is just the main course. The dessert cart of extras includes a new interview between De Palma and director Noah Baumbach, another with costar Nancy Allen, and a dissection of the movie?s revolutionary Steadicam shots. Welcome to film-geek nirvana. A

Blow Out

  • Movie
  • Brian De Palma