MoreAboutiThis Xepr!s Film - Continued From Page 1 Straight") earned $60 million apiece, the studios said his project was too daring, too off-beat, off-beat, off-beat, to be commercial. He had heard the same thing when he tried for two years to make "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's ; Nest." In 1977, Rush won financing from Indian-, Indian-, Indian-, apolis filmmaker Melvin Simon. The movie was completed in 1978 but was shelved. Even Simon had his doubts "The Stunt Man" was not included in the 10-picture, 10-picture, 10-picture, distribution deal he made with 20th Century-Fox Century-Fox Century-Fox last year. Rush had two massive heart attacks in three days over the exclusion. Rush screened his movie in Seattle in August 1979 to phenonemnal response, but the studios wanted more reactions. The film got equally impressive results in Phoenix and Columbus, Ohio, and Rush took the film back to Seattle in July to prove the first sneak results were not a fluke. The picture broke the box-office box-office box-office record. The studios responded: "Seattle is a nonmarket." Simon spent $200,000 to open "The Stunt Man" in one Los Angeles theater in August. It won unanimous raves and quickly moved into nine more theaters, becoming the No. 1 box-office box-office box-office draw in L.A, That weekend the film became the first American movie to win "best picture" at the Montreal Film Festival, and 20th Century-Fox Century-Fox Century-Fox wrote a distribution deal. From the opening frames, "The Stunt Man" lurches with an originality that captivates captivates and excites. It begins, with a fast-paced fast-paced fast-paced chain of minor events that introduces Cameron (Steve Railsback, who played Charlie Manson in the TV movie "Helter Skelter") fleeing the police for some unnamed unnamed crime. , . On a bridge, Cameron is almost run down by a man in a Duesenberg, but the car goes off the bridge and disappears in the river. A man in a helicopter stares at the fugitive as he runs off. He ends up at the beach, watching a World War I action film being directed by the man in the helicopter. Eli Cross (played by Peter O'Toole, offering his best work since he played King Henry II in "Becket"). . The director offers Cameron police protection protection for the three days he needs to complete his film, if Cameron will irnperso- irnperso- O'Toole Railsback Miss Hershey nate the dead stunt man who was in the Duesenberg. The entire story Is told from the viewpoint of the confused and paranoid Cameron, who is never quite sure if the director is for him or against him. Questions, Questions The script by Lawrence B. Marcus (who wrote the screenplay for "Petulia") never lets the audience know more than Cameron. Is the stunt man's paranoia well founded? Will the director kill him off when he duplicates the Duesenberg going off the bridge? Is the leading lady (played by Barbara Hershey) really in love with him or is that part of the act? The expanding limits of truth and reality create a maze that sweeps the audience along, augmented by Rush's extra crisp editing and Dominic Frontiere's rushing musical score. O'Toole plays an egomaniacal, domineering domineering and manipulative director who dresses in foppish clothes and drops in on the scene on his aerial crane or his helicopter. His lines are often absurd "A piece of gum will you have?" but he delivers them flawlessly. Rush's pacing in the scenes creates the illusion that "The Stunt Man" is action-packed action-packed action-packed with stunts, when, in fact, only 11 of the 129 minutes are stunts. During a visit to Indianapolis this week, Railsback said he ' did 95 percent of his own stunt work in the film. Gaps In Logic Despite the multiple levels that "The Stunt Man" operates on. Rush keeps it light and entertaining, which contributes to the minor flaws that keep "The Stunt Man" from being THE film of the last decade. There are gaps of logic that have to be ignored to keep pace with the whirlwind plot and the rash of clues Rush throws at the audience. The outcome of the beach battle shocks the crowd watching the movie being made, even though they must have seen the bodies being buried. And why were there no frogmen at the first Duesenberg dunking but there are rescuers there the second time around? Despite its small imperfections, "The Stunt Man" is funny, fast and audacious. If you see one film a year, this is the one.