Category Archives: 1953

Best Movie Stunts of the Year List 1950-1959

 

Here is the list for the Best Movie Stunts for the Decade 1950-1959 as listed in the book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!

1950:  The Flame and the Arrow

the flame and the arrow

Burt Lancaster met Nick Cravat when they worked in the circus as acrobats, early in their careers.  This movie highlights some great acrobatics from the two of them, along with some great fighting sequences.

1951:  The Thing From Another Worldthing full body burn

I loved this movie and the remake that followed with Kurt Russell, but this one has a very cool fire burn done Tom Steele that just has to be seen to be believed.

1952:  Ivanhoeivanhoe03

Paddy Ryan was in a group of some of the finest stuntmen to ever come out of England.  In this film he does a real gasping fall from a castle, which was held as the highest fall from a castle for many years.

1953:  Code Twocode two

Motorcycles were really starting to come into their own.  This movie was one of the first one to introduce motorcycle stunts and chase scenes, with many movies following after.

1954:  The Seven SamuraiSeven_Samurai_Fight

This film was probably the most mentioned movie to ever influence a slew of filmmakers, before Star Wars.  It’s an incredible film with a great story, great characters and especially great action.  Most of the actors were hired because they could really fight.  Let’s imagine this as the very first Expendables, where some real action masters were at work here.

1955:  To Hell and Backto hell and back tank

The real life story, played by the real person himself, Audie Murphy, the highest decorated soldier of World War II.  Quite a war film!

1956:  Trapezetrapeze1956

So I mentioned Burt Lancaster was in the circus, right?  Well, here is the movie where he really shows his chops!  You just thought he was a great actor, but he was a really accomplished acrobat, that could have had an amazing career as a stuntman!

1957:  The Curse of Frankensteincurseoffrankenstein1

Hammer Films, out of Great Britain were making some of the most interesting genre films ever made with some of the finest actors like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing and with fantastic stuntmen like Jock Easton.  Some really great stuff!

1958:  The VikingsVikings oars

So I fell in love with Vikings movies when I saw this one (another great one is the 13th Warrior!).  With that in mind, Kirk Douglas blows my mind when I see him, “running the oars” with such ease as he does in this film!

1959:  Ben HurBen Joe Canutt Jump

A stunt that goes wrong is not an “accident” when no one gets hurt…I just consider it an improvised stunt.  In this one the results were so cool they added it to the film.

Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 8.23.28 PM

Actors and Stuntmen for Code Two

 

This film is the first of many motorcycle movies to come and has it’s fair share of motorcycle stunts.  Interestingly enough, it came out a few months before the next one, which was a huge hit, The Wild One, with Marlon Brando.  Code Two gets on the list because it’s first and the stunts were better.code two

I’ve listed the Actors, most notably the star, Ralph Meeker and his onscreen mentor Keenan Wynn, as they do a lot of the riding and stunts themselves and because I can’t see where the stuntmen are listed for this film anywhere.  I know they’re there, hidden, as a few of them are listed as policeman in the credits, like Carey Loftkin.

Anyway, this film was mostly forgotten over time, except with motorcycle enthusiasts, where it became an underground cult classic.  Much of the screen time is spent in motorcycle cop training and we get to sit back and watch all these vintage motorcycles being put through their paces, through hills, fields, racing through brush, up steep inclines, over ditches, spilling off their bikes and so much more, all on Police-issue Harley-Davidsons.  The actors and stuntmen handle the many action scenes well.code two crash

Code Two was directed by Fred M. Wilcox for MGM.

Things to look up (click on item to go to IMDB):

Glossary of stunt terms as defined by Wikipedia – Motorcycle stunt riding:  sometimes referred to as simply stuntriding, is a motorcycle sport characterized by stunts involving acrobatic maneuvering of the motorcycle and sometimes the rider. Common maneuvers in stunt riding include wheelies, stoppies, and burnouts. Sport bikes have become a common vehicle for stunts.

Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 8.23.28 PM

John Wayne and Trouble Along The Way

 

I have a soft spot for John Wayne because I was named after a John Wayne movie (Donovan’s Reef) and he really reminds me of my grandfather that I am also named after (my middle name is his, Arch). It’s interesting to add that my other grandfather, Earnest, reminded me of Henry Fonda, because of his resemblance to his character in the movie, Mr. Roberts. Anyway, that’s for another post.Sherry Jackson John Wayne

I especially liked it when John Wayne did his non-war movies, and comedies on top of that.  An especially under-rated gem is the movie, “Trouble Along The Way” (1953) with Sherry Jackson, Charles Coburn and Donna Reed.  He plays a University football Coach that tries to retain custody of his daughter after his divorce. It doesn’t sound like a comedy, but it has some very witty lines at times.

Donna Reed is very good in it too, five years before she takes on her own show in the Donna Reed Show, which, my brother and I would watch in reruns after school when we were in high school.  We were very fond of them and we also liked her a lot in “It’s a Wonderful Life”.Charles Coburn John Wayne

As an added benefit, there is a great supporting role for the character actor Charles Coburn, which I really enjoyed in the movies, “The Lady Eve”, “The More the Merrier” and “Heaven Can Wait”. He was a favorite of my mothers, as well.

If you get a chance to see this little gem on Turner Classic Movies, do so, it’s very engaging and the plot keeps you interested.  It also doesn’t tie things up in nice little bow in the end and keeps things a little open ended, which I can appreciate by not making things so perfect.  My favorite scenes are the courtroom scenes and I laughed out loud today when Donna Reed was asked on the stand if she was in love with John Wayne and he shouts out, “Remind her that she is under oath!”.

Donna Reed John Wayne Sherry Jackson
TROUBLE ALONG THE WAY, from left: John Wayne, Donna Reed, Sherry Jackson, 1953

Under context, I understand that the film was made around the time of John Wayne’s second divorce with wife Chata, and the plot follows along with her real-life accusations that he was violent with her.  Just as in the movie, the ex-wife turns out to be throwing accusations just to hurt him and they turn out to be untrue.  Watching the film, I wonder if any of this was just a coincidence or if the studio decided to protect it’s star and create a vehicle to prop up his image as an honest, strong and upright coach and father.  Regardless, the film as seen today is delightful and full of great moments.  Well worth the time spent watching it for the whole family.

Chuck Connors John Wayne Sherry Jackson
TROUBLE ALONG THE WAY, second, third and fourth from left: Sherry Jackson, John Wayne, Chuck Connors, 1953

Sherry Jackson, the little girl in this film, turned into a fine actress and was later seen in “Star Trek”, “Twilight Zone”, “Make Room For Daddy”, “Rockford Files”, “Perry Mason” as well as a slew of others.  She was even recently at our very own Phoenix Comicon signing autographs!  She has a fantastic website at:  www.sherryjackson.net

Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!

Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 8.23.28 PM