Blow Out (1981)



Critic Consensus: With a story inspired by Antonioni's Blow Up and a style informed by the high-gloss suspense of Hitchcock, DePalma's Blow Out is raw, politically informed, and littered with film references.

Movie Info

Brian De Palma's homage to Michelangelo Antonioni's classic art movie Blow-Up (1966) blends suspense and political paranoia when a Philadelphia soundman inadvertently records a murder. Former police technician Jack Terri (John Travolta) makes his living doing sound for slasher flicks. While recording new outdoor effects one night, Jack witnesses a couple's car careen off a bridge into a river, but he can save only the female occupant, Sally (Nancy Allen). Jack begins to suspect something when he … More

Rating: R
Genre: Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By: Brian DePalma
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 28, 2001
Filmways Pictures - Official Site



as Sally

as Frank

as Anchorman

as Anchorman

as Anchorwoman

as Lawrence Henry

as Detective

as Coed Lover

as Lawrence Henry

as Coed Lover

as Campus Guard

as Dancing Coed

as TV Newscaster

as Film Lab Man

as Corrupt Captain

as First Murder Victim

as Cop at Karp's Office

as Sailor

as Sailor's Friend

as Policeman
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Blow Out

All Critics (41) | Top Critics (8)

Perfectly contrasts movies that reveal the truth against those which avoid it - a blood-drenched yet stake-free slasher vs. the far more insidious horrors of all-American living.

Full Review… | April 30, 2011
Top Critic

This 1981 release is one of Brian De Palma's more interesting and better-made thrillers, though it's even more abjectly derivative than his Hitchcock imitations.

Full Review… | March 27, 2009
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

With attractive leads and a stylish flair for suspense, De Palma misses sustaining involvement by his distracting allusions to prior films.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

It's a great movie.

Full Review… | May 28, 2008
New Yorker
Top Critic

Where Antonioni's images made you think, De Palma's merely make you blink, and the baroque plot confuses as often as it frightens.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

A movie which continues [De Palma] practice of making cross-references to other movies, other directors, and actual historical events, and which nevertheless is his best and most original work.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Blow Out


DePalma's most well executed tribute to the master of suspense (Alfred Hitchcock), this film features outstanding set pieces, standout performances from Lithgow, Travolta and Franz and maybe the best use of sound design to build tension.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer


A potent thriller from DePalma that borrows from other aspects of cinema to create a visceral experience. Well shot, well acted, and original, 'Blow Out' can find comfort in many film buff's libraries.

Kase Vollebregt
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer


Jack Terry: So you got your choice. You can be crazy or dead. 

"Murder has a sound all of its own!"

Classic Brian De Palma and classic John Travolta. Blow Out is up there with some of De Palma's best works, and is only held back by an annoying performance from Nancy Allen. The movie isn't quite as good as Dressed to Kill of Scarface, but just a notch below with movies like Carrie and Carlito's Way. 

Jack Terry is out collecting sound for a new horror movie that he is working on. He's a sound man and the director isn't happy with the same old wind sound, so he's out to get a new wind sound. When he's out, he witnesses a car accident that ends up in a river. He jumps in and saves a girl, but another passenger dies. That passenger ends up being a governor and suspected running candidate for the presidency. Everyone is saying it's an accident, but Jack thinks it's more because he swears he heard a gunshot before the blow out. And he has it on tape.

Blow Out is an extremely cool and entertaining piece of filmmaking from De Palma. It also feels like more restrained work from him. It isn't a movie that is obsessed with sex and violence(although there are elements of both). He lets the suspense and tension build to a windup. You still won't have trouble noticing all the elements that make De Palma so easy to spot. If only he didn't like Nancy Allen so much. 

There's a lot to like about the movie, but I especially loved the usage of the scream scenes from the movie that is getting made within Blow Out. There's a lot of foreshadowing with the movie being made and works extremely well. Also, John Travolta is really, really good here. It's up there with his best stuff like Pulp Fiction. There's never a moment in his performance where he seemed fake or like all this wasn't really happening to him. He makes for an incredible hero and really keeps the tension building right along with De Palma's direction. 

Blow Out is another must see film from De Palma. The guy made his share of bad movies for sure, but when he is on his game, he's fucking amazing. I know he is normally a director that you either love or hate, but with this one, I can see even his biggest haters enjoying it. It's just like Lynch's Blue Velvet with me. I despise Lynch, but I really like Blue Velvet. So even if you don't like De Palma, still give this one a look. It may surprise you.

Melvin White

Super Reviewer

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