Category Archives: 1918

Best Stunts of The Year List 1913-1919


The future versions of this list will be a decade list of the top stunts of every year as listed in the book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts.  Since this is the first list, it will start with the first year listed in the book 1913 and move to the end of that decade of film.

1913:  The Bangville Policebangville police

This is really the first real Keystone Kops short film, and for back then has some impressive stunts, like a series of explosions that follow a car as it weaves down a dirt road.  There are a few pratfalls as well.  Film is so new at this point that companies were still wondering if they could make money in this medium.  A few breakout hits made people realize that film could be a great new business proposition and little mini-studios started popping up in southern California in a place called Hollywoodland.  The rest is history.

1914:  The Perils of PaulineThe_Perils_of_Pauline_(1914_serial)

Women seemed to be ruling the action films in this period and one of the hottest stars/stunt performers of the time was Pearl White. This was one of her biggest serials, and the one that would remain a classic for a new type of cliffhanger series with a chapter being presented to theatre-goers weekly.

1915:  Les VampiresLes Vampires Stunt

Musidora would be considered the first Femme Fatale and a damn good stunt performer in her own right. This was one of the first crime serials and she was a stand-out as one of the bad guys.  Most of her stunts are done while wearing a skin-tight nylon body suit. Her bruises must have been massive.

1916:  IntoleranceIntolerance Babylon

DW Griffith’s Intolerance is as grand spectacle as anything to ever have been put on film and is widely considered to be the first cinematic epic.  The actors themselves do all the stunts and they are massive, with hundreds if not thousands of people on screen at the same time doing incredible battles.  It’s impressive.

1917:  Oh, Doctor!  arbuckle-keaton-st-john-1917

Sometimes the simplest stunts are the best, and nothing showcases this better than a stunt about 10 minutes into the film where Buster Keaton gets smacked by Fatty Arbuckle and he backflips over a table and lands in a chair with his feet propped up, reading a book as if he’d been there all along.  Simply brilliant.

1918:  Cupid’s Round Uptom mix and tony

Westerns really started to grow in popularity and Tom Mix was king of the cowboy serials.  This was his first full-length feature film and showcases a stunt that he would repeat several times throughout his career is different versions.  He jumps from his horse Tony through the window of a moving train.

1919:  The Great Air RobberyGreat_Air_Robbery_lobby_card

Ormer Locklear was the creator of “wing walking” and this film was produced to showcase his new thrill-seeking techniques.  They called him The Sky Dare-Devil.

For more information about these stunt performers and these movies, including a lot of great trivia, please look for their chapters in the new movie stunt book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 8.23.28 PM

Tom Mix and Cupids Round Up

This one is notable because after several years as a successful actor in some popular serials, Tom made his feature film debut in this movie. Tom Mix went on to make more than 160 cowboy films throughout the 1920s. These action oriented scripts featured a lot of fighting, riding and stunts by Mix. Heroes and villains were sharply defined and a clean-cut cowboy always “saved the day.” Millions of American children grew up watching his films on Saturday afternoons.  Mix did his own stunts and was frequently injured.
Edward LeSaint directed Cupid’s Round Up for Fox Film Corporation, and it was the start of a decade dominated by Tom Mix at the Box Office.  The movie western was starting to gain favor with audiences and Tom Mix was leading the pack. The plot of Cupid’s Round Up was a typical Mix melange of romance, comedy and fast action, with emphasis on the latter. The film’s highlight was a scene in which Mix, hoping to escape a pursuing posse, jumps towards a moving train and crashes neatly through one of the passenger windows. It was a superb “gag,” and one which the star would repeat, with variations, throughout his career. The trade magazine Variety paid the ultimate compliment to Cupid’s Round Up, characterizing the picture as “typically American.”tom mix and tony
His intelligent and handsome horse Tony also became a celebrity. An interesting story is that, Purchased from a Los Angeles street vendor as a colt in 1914 for $14 by horse trainer, Pat Chrisman, Mix would later buy the future “Wonder Horse” from  him in 1917 for $600.  Tony’s first movie as Mix’s leading steed was Cupid’s Round Up.  Ultimately the horse became one of the most reknowned and well-traveled ever, visiting every state as well as many other countries. Mix taught his co-star about twenty tricks and stunts, and parts would often require the steed to dash off for help when his master was in danger, untie Tom’s hands or fight any man or beast that threatened his human companion.  However, like his owner, Tony was quite temperamental.  According to George Marshall, who directed several Mix pictures, Chrisman would work with Tony on some tricks and he would perform them beautifully during rehearsal, but when it came time to shoot, the great horse wouldn’t have any part of it.  Come back the next day and he would do the scene without so much as a run-through.  He just didn’t feel like working that day.  Tom was known to sometimes hire a band to play popular, upbeat tunes on the set and claimed it was “for Tony’s enjoyment.”


Things to look up (go to IMDB):

Tom Mix
Edward LaSaint
Cupid’s Round Up
George Marshall
Pat Chrisman

Glossary of stunt terms as defined by Wikipedia:

1. Trick Riding – Trick riding refers to the act of performing stunts while riding a horse, such as the rider standing upright on a galloping horse. Other stunts might include hanging upside down off of the side of the horse while attached to a strap or jumping on and off a galloping horse.