Jack Terry (John Travolta) is a sound man working on a low budget slasher film. The producer of the film, Sam (Peter Boyden), is not happy with the way one of the actors screams at a pivotal moment. Finding fault with the sound in general he orders Jack to find new sounds for the film.
While out at night recording various sounds he hears the sound of a tire blowing out and a car crashing through a barrier into the water. Jack jumps into the water and rescues a woman from the car before she drowns. He then takes her to the hospital. At the hospital Jack finds out that the driver of the car was Governor George McRyan who drowned during the accident. The girl was an escort named Sally (Nancy Allen). One of the Governor’s aides, Lawrence Henry (John McMartin), convinces Jack to sneak Sally out of the hospital and not talk about the accident to preserve the Governor’s name and protect his family.
When Jack reviews the sounds he recorded from that night he hears the sound of a gunshot before the tire blows. The next day Jack sees a layout in a magazine of stills taken by a photographer, Manny Karp (Dennis Franz) who, according to him, just happened to be in the area when the accident happened. Jack cuts the pictures out and syncs them up with his recordings creating a short film. In the film Jack sees a muzzle flash.
Jack finds out that the photographer was looking to photograph the governor in a compromising situation and using Sally as bait. A local reporter, Donahue (Curt May) convinces Jack that he can help expose what is going on.
Jack finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy. Not knowing who to trust he must rely on Sally to help him. But this puts both of their lives in danger and there is someone out there who will stop at nothing to stop the story from getting out, even to the point of inventing a serial killer persona to cover his tracks.
“Blow Out” was released in 1981 and was directed by Brian De Palma. It is an American crime drama mystery. Some consider the film neo-noir. Although the film didn’t do well at the box office, the fact that Quentin Tarantino named it his favorite De Palma film garnered it a cult following.
Director De Palma and actor Nancy Allen were married during the making of the film. Nancy did four films with her director husband. The others were, “Carrie” 1976, “Home Movies” 1979 and “Dressed To Kill” 1980.
It is a modernized version of Michelangelo Antonioni’s film “Blow Up” 1966 only less stylized and using sound instead of photographs as the main plot device. The film benefits greatly by the talents of quite a few actors. John Lithgow as the hit man and Dennis Franz as the low life photographer are spot on. Travolta and Allen as the main stars are also good in their roles. There is also some great cinematography and directing. The last fifteen or sixteen minutes of the film are intense and quite suspenseful.