Blow Out

July 24th, 1981


Blow Out

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A movie sound recordist accidentally records the evidence that proves that a car accident was actually murder and consequently finds himself in danger.

Release Year: 1981

Rating: 7.2/10 (13,546 voted)

Director: Brian De Palma

Stars: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow

This stylish Brian DePalma thriller plays off the theme of the unsuspecting witness who discovers a crime and is thereby put in grave danger, but with a novel twist. Jack is a sound recordist who works on grade-B horror movies. Late one evening, he is recording sounds for use in his movies when he hears something unexpected through his sound equipment and records it. Curiosity gets the better of him when the media become involved, and he begins to unravel the pieces of a nefarious conspiracy. As he struggles to survive against his shadowy enemies and expose the truth, he doesn't know whom he can trust.

John Travolta - Jack Terry
Nancy Allen - Sally
John Lithgow - Burke
Dennis Franz - Manny Karp
Peter Boyden - Sam
Curt May - Donahue
John Aquino - Detective Mackey
John McMartin - Lawrence Henry
Deborah Everton - Hooker
J. Patrick McNamara - Detective at Hospital
Missy Cleveland - Coed Lover (as Amanda Cleveland)
Roger Wilson - Coed Lover
Lori-Nan Engler - Sue
Cindy Manion - Dancing Coed
Missy O'Shea - Dancing Coed

Taglines: The Blow Out took them to the edge of terror . . . his questions took them way beyond [Video Australia]


Official Website: MGM |

Release Date: 24 July 1981

Filming Locations: 30th Street Station - 3001 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $18,000,000 (estimated)

Gross: $13,747,234 (USA) (28 August 1981)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

In the French version, John Travolta's voice was dubbed by Gérard Depardieu.

Factual errors: Jack is able to recreate the footage of the car crashing by cutting out selected frames in the newspaper and turning them into a film reel. These photos would not be enough, as film reels require 24 frames a second to appear as a seamless moving image.

Jack Terry: [to Sally] So you got your choice. You can be crazy or dead.

User Review

An enjoyable mix of `Blow-Up' and `The Conversation'


Jack is a sound editor for small films. When he is out one evening recording background noises, he inadvertently records a car crash which kills a politician running for the US Presidency, although Jack saves a girl in the car. When pressured to say that the politician was alone, Jack finds that his recording may prove that it was murder and not an accident. However someone is cutting off the loose ends around the crime.

A clever rework of Blow-Up that is given a thriller twist and visual style by De Palma. The story is quite straight forward and doesn't contain too many twists and turns. However it does have a good premise at it's core and it builds to a suitably low-key ending.

De Palma works well with the material – at some points it's a little obtrusive, but he certainly can frame a shot. From his use of foreground and background focusing to the scene where Travolta realises what he has on tape – he has style to spare. He handles the ending well but perhaps feels he wants to be like Coppola a bit too much.

Pre-career dip Travolta gives his best performance before Pulp Fiction – he plays the everyman really well and is totally convincing. Allen is a little too squeaky and irritating, but get past this and she's OK. Franz is on-form as a sleazy opportunist, while Lithgow is chilling as a ruthless, clinical killer.

Overall it occasionally feels like there is more style than substance but everyone holds their end up and the result is a solid, enjoyable thriller that maybe pays a bit too much homage to other work.


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