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The Stunt Man (1980)

A fugitive stumbles on a movie set just when they need a new stunt man, takes the job as a way to hide out and falls for the leading lady.


Richard Rush


Lawrence B. Marcus (screenplay), Richard Rush (adaptation) | 1 more credit »

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Documentary about the making of this 1980 action/drama about a fugitive hiding out as a movie stuntman.

Director: Richard Rush
Stars: Richard Rush, Peter O'Toole, Steve Railsback


Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter O'Toole ... Eli Cross
Steve Railsback ... Cameron
Barbara Hershey ... Nina Franklin
Allen Garfield ... Sam (as Allen Goorwitz)
Alex Rocco ... Jake
Sharon Farrell ... Denise
Adam Roarke ... Raymond Bailey
Philip Bruns ... Ace
Charles Bail Charles Bail ... Chuck Barton
John Garwood ... Gabe / Eli's cameraman
Jim Hess Jim Hess ... Henry / Eli's camera assistant
John Pearce John Pearce ... Garage Guard (as John B. Pearce)
Michael Railsback Michael Railsback ... Burt
George Wallace ... Father (as George D. Wallace)
Dee Carroll Dee Carroll ... Mother


While on the run from the police, Steve Railsback hides in a group of moviemakers where he pretends to be a stunt man. Both aided and endangered by the director (Peter O'Toole) he avoids both the police and sudden death as a stuntman. The mixture of real danger and fantasy of the movie is an interesting twist for the viewer as the two blend in individual scenes. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


"If God could do the things that we can do, he'd be a happy man . . ." See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

27 June 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Le diable en boîte See more »


Box Office


$3,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The movie's main "Stunt Man" character (played by Steve Railsback) is described by his director character Eli Cross (Peter O'Toole) in the film as being "A stuntman. Who is an actor. Who is a character in a movie. Who is an enemy soldier". Similarly, on the Australian home video sleeve notes, the persona's many layers is further detailed by stating that 'The Stunt Man' character is a "fugitive [who] becomes a stunt man who doubles for an actor . . . who plays an American flyer posing as a German soldier . . . who is a fugitive". See more »


At the company dinner, Peter O'Toole puts his fork into some food but when he puts the fork in his mouth there is no food on it but acts as if there was. See more »


Sam: Was she supposed to be a virgin?
Cameron: [softly, after a reflective pause] Yeah.
Sam: I had a virgin once. I had to fly to Guatemala for her. She was blind in one eye and had a stuffed alligator that said "Welcome to Miami Beach."
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the credits end, the movie-within-a-movie director (played by Peter O'Toole) yells, "Sam, rewrite the opening reel! Crush the little bastard in the first act!" And then he laughs during the fade-out. See more »


Featured in Maltin on Movies: Horrible Bosses (2011) See more »


Bits & Pieces
Music by Dominic Frontiere
Lyrics by Norman Gimbel
Sung by Dusty Springfield
See more »

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User Reviews

26 April 2011 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

I will right off admit that this film is not my type of thing. I watched it because I'm a huge fan of Peter O'Toole's. I found it difficult to follow and disjointed despite some really fascinating scenes and some very good acting.

Steve Railsback plays a Vietnam vet named Cameron who escapes the police after he is caught for attempted murder. He crosses a bridge and dodges away from an old car that is out of control. The car disappears. Later on, he encounters a film about World War I being shot on the beach. The director is Eli Cross (O'Toole) who offers Cameron a job as a stunt man. It turns out that the stunt man was in the old car and drove the car off of the bridge as part of a scene being filmed, and drowned. The police are sniffing around, so O'Toole introduces Cameron as Burt, the missing stunt man, and the rest of the cast and crew play along.

Cameron learns a lot about stunts (as do we) and he falls for the film's leading lady (Barbara Hershey) who at one time was involved with Eli. Cameron over time becomes increasingly paranoid and believes that the manipulative, kind of crazy Eli wants to kill him.

O'Toole, Railsback, and Hershey are all excellent -- we first see Hershey in an old lady mask and clothing. Throughout the film, she is beautiful, silly, and flighty as Nina Franklin, and intense and committed as the character Nina plays. O'Toole is madcap, and doesn't seem to care what happens to anyone as long as he gets the shot he wants, and one can see how Cameron would be unclear about his motives.

The print I saw didn't look particularly good - I wonder about the budget for this film. I think a good deal of the budget went to O'Toole and some of those amazing stunts, as the film has a lot of TV actors in it -- all good, but TV actors nevertheless: Alex Rocco, Sharon Farrell, Allen Garfield.

This film is a little hard to follow, but it's a good one about the value of perception and how it can change from person to person. Also, the ending is very satisfying.

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