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Criterion Collection: Blow Out [Blu-ray] [1981] [US Import]

John Travolta , John Lithgow , Brian De Palma    Blu-ray
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: John Travolta, John Lithgow, Peter Boyden, Dennis Franz
  • Directors: Brian De Palma
  • Format: DTS Surround Sound, Special Edition, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: R (Restricted) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: 26 April 2011
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004JPJHL0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 80,312 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great edition of a Masterpiece 25 May 2011
Brian De Palma's Masterpiece gets the Criterion treatment. So what do you get for your hard earned? Firstly: the transfer is superb, superior to the previous MGM release. The bonus disc features some excellent interviews, including one with Mr. De Palma himself conducted by filmmaker Noah Baumbauch. I was quite surprised that it didn't touch on De Palma's early involvement in the "Prince Of The City" project before it was taken on by Sidney Lumet, as it served as inspiration for a key flashback sequence in "Blow Out". However, this is a minor point as it's a very informative interview overall. The second disc also features De Palma's '67 feature "Murder a la Mod" in its entirety.

"Blow Out" is an incredible picture featuring John Travolta's finest ever performance plus some wonderful support from the likes of Nancy Allen, John Lithgow and Dennis Franz. It also features one of the most heartbreaking endings in cinema history. Hats off to Mr. De Palma and Criterion for this highly recommended release.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
As you've probably gathered most of the reviews for "Blow Out" are for the 'DVD' version.
And there are several issues on BLU RAY. But UK and European buyers should note the following...

Unfortunately the ultra-desirable USA Criterion issue is REGION-A LOCKED.
So it WILL NOT PLAY on most UK BLU RAY players unless they're chipped to play 'all' regions (which the vast majority aren't).
Don’t confuse BLU RAY players that have multi-region capability on the 'DVD' front – that won’t help.

Luckily there are other lesser issues of this 1981 classic on REGION B – so they will play on UK machines.

Check you’re purchasing the right issue before you buy...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  104 reviews
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Criterion Edition Delves Deeper into Blow Out 23 April 2011
By Cubist - Published on
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.
47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of DePalma's best films 11 Oct 2001
By Wing J. Flanagan - Published on
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. The visual technique draws no more attention to itself than anything directed by Scorsese. Raging Bull (released about the same time) is far more "flashy" and nobody complains about it.
The DVD itself lacks any special features, but the film transfer is vivid and detailed, with good color fidelity (essential, since the art-direction is a major "star"). It is also double-sided, with a pan-scan presentation on one side, and enhanced widescreen on the other. Don't even bother with the pan-scan; DePalma and cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond's compositions are edge-to-edge, making full use of the Panavision frame.
Blow Out is not perfect. Some of the dialogue is contrived and sophomoric. Assassin Burke's (John Lithgow) golf pants in one scene make him look silly when he should seem sinister. But, on balance, John Travolta's solid performance and Brian DePalma's skilled direction more than make up for such lapses. With Blow Out DePalma reaches deeper than usual - with a disquieting sub-plot about guilt, unrequited love, and the futility of seeking redemption. Its conclusion is the punch line to a bitter, existential joke. Read closely, it's a scathing commentary on the Hollywood film industry itself, and the vampiric way it often feeds on very real, sometimes very sad, lives.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of De Palma's finest films receives deluxe treatment from Criterion 20 April 2011
By Wayne Klein - Published on
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. Dialogue and the marvelous music score by Pino Donaggio sound exceptionally crisp and clear.

Criterion rolls out some nice extras for this edition as well. We get DePalma's 1967 feature film "Murder a la Mode" which provided part of the inspiration for "Blow Out". Viewers should keep in mind that DePalma's film is experimental in technique at times and some of the visual choices, motifs, etc. that show up in "Blow Out" were first put on display in DePalma's earlier film.

We get an interview with Garrett Brown who created the Steadicam (and a demonstration for those who don't know how or what it is used for).

We also get an interview with DePalma conducted by director Noah Baumbach which is enlightening allowing DePalma to discuss the thought process behind shooting the film the way he did.

Nancy Allen appears in a new interview as well discussing her first impressions of Travolta (with whom she had worked on "Carrie"), her preparation for the role, etc.

Finally we get the original theatrical trailer (my how times have changed when it comes to theatrical trailers, (theatrical trailers should play like a mysterious seduction NOT quickie in the backseat of a car which is how most are presented today), production stills and, of course, a booklet with an essay by critic Michael Sragow as well as Pauline Kael's original interview with DePalma from the New Yorker.

DePalma often borrowed from other directors--so did Hitchcock, Welles, Ford, Spielberg and Scorsese. Like all of these directors DePalma sometimes managed to make what he borrowed into something uniquely his own while other times you could see the inspiration peaking out from under the covers almost like a child playing peek-a-boo. Regardless of whether DePalma was always successful at disguising his influences or hiding them, at his best, DePalma made intelligent, interesting and sometimes thought provoking thrillers.

Highly recommended.
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of DePalma's best 6 Feb 2003
By Craig Clarke - Published on
Brian De Palma rips off Michaelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up and Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation and comes up with a decent thriller about a film sound engineer (John Travolta) who records an automobile accident and becomes involved in a coverup when it turns out the driver was about to be elected President of the United States.
Jack Terry (Travolta) is on a city bridge recording ambient sounds for his latest schlock film's soundtrack when he hears a blow out and sees a car go off the road and into the lake. He dives in to find a woman, Sally (Nancy Allen), still alive in the car. He rescues her and takes her to the emergency room, where he finds out that the candidate was driving the car--and Sally isn't his wife. The police proceed to get Jack to "forget" what he saw.
Later, going over his tapes, Jack becomes convinced he heard a sound *before* the blow out--a gunshot. If there was a gun, then this was no accident.
After Carrie and Dressed to Kill, Blow Out continues Brian DePalma's reign as king of the Hitchcockian thriller/rip-off. Although style often triumphs over substance, often the style comments on the substance. His trademark split-screen (which specifically influenced Run Lola Run's Tom Tykwer) is used effectively to present two simultaneous sets of action that would otherwise be unknown. DePalma has also used this method of technical storytelling in Phantom of the Paradise and Sisters.
The acting is solid, as well, with Nancy Allen (then Mrs. DePalma) as the prototypical love interest (or is she?) and an early John Lithgow playing Burke, a homicidal maniac hired to take out Sally (as he takes out seemingly every woman who resembles her). DePalma would use Lithgow to greater effect in Raising Cain, and here he shows the promise of that later film.
I must comment on the ending and say that it is one of the most heartbreaking I have seen, and yet works entirely in the context of the film. It really could not have ended any other way, and I laud DePalma for avoiding the typical Hollywood happy ending.
(and so does this review)
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TWISTY, DISTURBING, GREAT 21 Jun 2000
By R. Penola - Published on
Brian DePalma is one helluva showman, and when he nails the material with as much nerve, bite and sensual flourish as he does with this paranoid thriller, the results are breathtaking. Nancy Allen is heartbreaking and unusually character-driven as the prostitute; John Lithgow is all menace and glowering evil as the madman. But John Travolta is a jolt to your senses as the emotional sound engineer: his character goes through a wild series of transformations, brought on by a paranoia that is more than justified, and the Kennedy-like murder that begins the movie in such a stylish way. Along with Carrie, this is one of DePalma's bleakest films, and somehow that seems completely right; although it does not share that film's horrific, nightmare-inducing final shock, it has its own nasty trick up its sleeve. Prepare to remember Blow Out.
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