Reality blurred in films that work but don't 'fit' 2k. "Tfc, By Michael Maza Republic Staff It would be possible but very foolish to walk out of Richard Rush's The Stunt Man muttering, nose at full wrinkle, that "it's OK, but it surely isn't Day for Night" Foolish because, genius that he may be, there are certain things even Francois Truffaut can't do. One: He can't make a popular American movie. Richard Rush can, as The Stunt Man shows. But he almost didn't. Although producerdirector Rush is a Hollywood insider he did B movies for years as well as Getting Straight and Freebie and the Bean he had to push and shove nine long years to get this picture made and distributed. What took so long? According to Rush, it didn't fit the pigeonholes. The marketing marketing people couldn't find a hook for their sales pitches. The problem is too common The Great Santini, a better-than-average better-than-average better-than-average better-than-average better-than-average picture which opened here last week, shared it. Like Truffaut's Day for Night, The Stunt Man is a tale about making movies in which reality is never quite what it seems. That doesn't sound like a popular theme, true. So trust me wrapped in comedy, romance, valor and action, it's Smokey II with soul, Rough Cut with passion, The Blues Brothers without shades. The Stunt Man is a fellow named Cameron, a scraggly bearded Vietnam veteran played by Steve Railsback. When we first meet him, he's running from the cops and giving us post-Vietnam post-Vietnam post-Vietnam heebie-jeebies heebie-jeebies heebie-jeebies with the same wild eyes Railsback used so devastatingly as Charles Manson in Helter Skelter. In furious flight, Cameron stumbles across a Hollywood film crew shooting a World War I picture. , From the moment he blends in among the spectators, he enters the movies' world Ml " THE STUNT MAN A 20th Century-Fox Century-Fox Century-Fox release produced and directed by Richard Rush from a screenplay screenplay by Lawrence B. Marcus based on Rush's adaptation of the novel by Paul Brodeur. Cinematography by Mario Tosi. Cast: Peter O'Toole, Steve Railsback, Barbara Hershey. Rated R. WISE BLOOD A New Line release directed by John Huston from a screenplay by Benedict Fitzgerald based on Flannery O'Connor's novel, cinematography by Gerald Fisher. Cast: Brad Dourif, Ned Beatty, Daniel Shor, Harry Dean Stanton, Amy Wright. Rated PG. At the Camelview, Scottsdale. of illusion. In a few short minutes he and we are jolted several times as what we take for reality turns out to be mere appearance. These fine twists are too good to give away. It's sufficient to say they lead to Cameron being offered a job as stunt man on the picture. Cleanshaven and dyed blond to match the looks of the picture's puffy star, Cameron gets a course in stunt work that gives the movie a high action quotient. He also falls in love with the picture's female lead, Nina Franklin, a lovely, bubbly, actressy young woman played by Barbara Hershey (Last Summer). And he begins to see the movie's director, Eli Cross, as a godlike figure. Eli's crew obviously worships him; he is a consummate manipulator of people; he is the source from which all creative energy flows. He also flies, deua ex machina, on a crane-swung crane-swung crane-swung platform. Cross is played by Peter O'Toole as a genius of flamboyant tendencies "Come here to me," he commands, when everyone around him would be satisfied with "C'meer." While our fears about Cameron's grip on reality build to gale force we don't know what he's running from he begins ' iniiinBIt"""''!'!'! SSni!SSrlSi IBlilliillilSIMIIIIli Steve Railsback undertakes one daring stunt after another in The Stunt Man. to fear Cross. As he is coaxed into ever more dangerous stunts, Cameron begins to think Cross is setting him up for one in which death won't be defied. The Stunt Man says a lot about paranoia, yet it's always entertaining. The movie within the movie is sometimes too coyly so; how Eli Cross expected to put across his anti-war anti-war anti-war views amid all that slapstick is mystifying. But The Stunt Man is also quite satisfying. While it gives away a few secrets of the craft, it keeps many more and uses some of those secrets to send us home wondering: "How did they make that movie about how they make movies?" e John Huston's Wise Blood is another picture that wasn't easy to get out. Beautifully acted and made and released in time for last year's Academy Awards its stumbling block is subject matter. The late Georgia writer Flannery O'Connor, whose fiction reflected her deeply religious, illness-plagued illness-plagued illness-plagued life,, produced the dark tale about a young man's passionate search for salvation. As Hazel Motes, Brad Dourif makes use of his own verging-on-insanity verging-on-insanity verging-on-insanity verging-on-insanity verging-on-insanity look. Just . out of the Army and beset by nightmares stemming from his hyperevangelized childhood, Motes at first tries to deny his obsession by substitution he starts a "Church of Truth Without Christ" His theology: "What's blind don't see, what's lame don't walk, what's dead stays that way." He runs afoul of two preachers, con artist Harry Dean Stanton and money-oriented money-oriented money-oriented Ned Beatty. He scorns companionship companionship offered by Stanton's husband-hunting husband-hunting husband-hunting daughter, Amy Wright, and a lonely hick with an evolutionary fixation, Daniel Shor. Eventually, he comes totally unglued in escalating acts of masochism. All this compulsiveness is spellbinding. It also is rather other-worldly, other-worldly, other-worldly, because not one character ever shows a flash of positive emotion. No love, no laughter (we laugh, but always at, never with). Technically brilliant as it may be, Wise Blood amounts to a sermon on man's essential baseness.