Category Archives: 1956

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.

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Burt Lancaster for Trapeze

 

Trapeze is highlighted by its truly breathtaking stunt sequences.  Burt Lancaster performed all of the trapeze stunts himself, having worked in a circus before entering films. He insisted on doing the climactic triple flip, but technical adviser Eddie Ward initially was hesitant on Lancaster performing the stunt, so Ward doubled for Lancaster during the first weeks of shooting, but Lancaster told director Carol Reed that he knew how to do the stunt from the get-go so it is Lancaster you see in the final cut of the film.trapezemovieposter

I found it interesting that the love triangle is the emotional core in this movie as I read somewhere that Burt was a big fan of the silent film The Unknown (1927), probably partially because the movie also took place in a circus, and Burt himself spent a lot of time early in his life in a circus. He once said that no scene in any movie affected him as emotionally as the one in this movie in which Lon Chaney learns that Joan Crawford does not love him. He was able to re-play this scene in a way himself as he loses the girl in Trapeze to Tony Curtis.

Trapeze was directed by Carol Reed for Hill-Hecht-Lancaster Productions.  Carol Reed made some of the finest movies, including The Third Man, Night Train to Munich, Oliver!, The Agony and the Ecstasy and Odd Man Out, which won the very first BAFTA for Best Film.trapeze1956

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

History of film companies as defined by Wikipedia: Hecht Hill Lancaster was a production company formed by Burt Lancaster in association with his agent Harold Hecht and James Hill. In 1948 Lancaster and Hecht formed Norma Productions, which later became Hecht Lancaster. James Hill joined in the mid-1950s. The company produced some of the most notable American films of the 1950s.

In 1956 they renewed their deal with United Artists. In late 1957 they announced they would make ten films worth $14 million in 1958.

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