Tag Archives: Movie Stunts

Best Movie Stunts of the Year List 2000-2009

 

Here is the list for the Best Movie Stunts for the Decade 2000-2009 as listed in the book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!

2000 – Mission: Impossible IImission motocycle

The motorcycle stunts in this John Woo Directed film performed by Tom Cruise and the rest of the stuntmen are worth the ticket of admission. Great bike stunts here.

2001 – Black Hawk Downblack-hawk-down-57593_3

Military precision is on full scale display in this fine film directed by Ridley Scott.  The actors went through a serious boot camp to get them ready and to make this as realistic as possible. Very well done.

2002 – Jackass The Moviejackass golf carts

The first time a successful movie was released with UNTRAINED stuntmen performing all the stunts.  Some of them are quite dangerous and most of them just downright silly and stupid.  But all of them entertaining.

2003 – Ong Bakong-bak-2003-13-g

Stuntman-turned-Actor Tony Jaa sparkles in this fantastic martial arts film.  In the past most martial arts films uses wires and then cgi to cover the wires later, but not in this one.  Jaa seems to have elastic legs with the kicks, jumps and splits he performs at lightning speed.

2004 – District B13District B13 Lobby Card

The French turn in a fantastic film full of Parkour stunts performed by one of the creators himself, David Belle and another great stuntman and top stunt choreographers in his own right, Cyrill Raffaelli.  If you are a fan of Taken with Liam Neeson, then you’ll love this film as Pierre Morel directed this one first.

2005 – Batman Beginsbatman

Now another Director who likes to film the action scenes himself enters the list, Christopher Nolan with this film and the sequel 3 years later.  He wanted to direct a bond film and got this franchise instead and really took it to heart.  He’s a big fan of doing practical effects and the audience gets the benefit of it all the way.  Thank you, Mr. Nolan.

2006 – Casino Royalecasino jump

Speaking of Bond, Daniel Craig‘s first entry as bond has some great Parkour in it as well.  I liked it so much I used a still as the cover for the 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts book.  It also boasts a World Record by flipping a car a record seven times!

2007 – DeathproofZoe Bell in Deathproof

I love to be able to announce another bad-ass stunt woman on the scene and Zoe Bell is not one who disappoints.  She spends the better half of Quentin Tarantino‘s movie strapped to the hood of two racing cars, with Stuntman Mike in the other car trying very hard to kill her at every chance.  Stuntman Mike played by Kurt Russell.

2008 – The Dark Knightdark_knight_7Here’s Christopher Nolan‘s sequel to Batman Begins and in so many ways it tops the original.  He manages to flip an eighteen wheeler end to end for this one by driver Jim Wilky and an amazing stunt crew.

2009 – Fast & Furiousfast-and-furious-1

The previous versions of this series were more racing films and this one transforms the series into a more stunt spectacular series from here on out.  All of the original cast is back and film is chocked full of great stunts.  Justin Lin would be the Director I would give credit to making this franchise more Universal.  And we are all the better for it.

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Actors and Stunt Performers for The Poseidon Adventure

 

In the 70’s there was a new type of film genre to emerge, called the Disaster film or Survival film.  The Poseidon Adventure was not the first, that being Airport, but it was, for many, the best.  Irwin Allen gave audiences exactly what they were looking for with this fantastic thriller.  poseidon-adventure-screenshot

The actors performed all their stunts except for the very dangerous stunts and still there was more than 125 stunt performers on this film. The scene in which the character of “Terry” falls from a table and crashes into the ballroom skylight has since become an iconic cinematic shock moment. Actor Ernie Orsatti was asked by the filmmakers to perform the fall himself, and despite his reluctance, he went on to become a renowned stunt man.Poseidon-Adventure

One of the things that makes this film so indelible to many people who watch it is that the characters all take action in overwhelming odds to save themselves.  In Airport, the passengers don’t do anything and in the Towering Inferno, all the people just wait for the firefighters to save them.  Well, come to think of it, the few who did wander off to save themselves all ended up dying.  But anyway, I think it really caught on with audiences because we see these characters really struggling to survive.  I also think that’s why Titanic became the biggest blockbuster of all time, as this scenario is played out.

The Poseidon Adventure is directed by Ronald Neame and Irwin Allen for 20th Century Fox and stars Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Stella Stevens, Jack Albertson, Pamela Sue Martin, Roddy McDowell, Shelley Winters and Red Buttons.pos

Things to look up (go to IMDB ):

  • Irwin Allen
  • The Poseidon Adventure
  • Ronald Neame
  • Ernie Orsatti

Glossary of film terms as defined by the Wikipedia:  The survival film is a film genre in which one or more characters make an effort at physical survival. It often overlaps with other film genres. It is a sub-genre of the adventure film, along with swashbuckler films, war films, and safari films. Survival films are darker than most other adventure films which usually star a single hero. The films tend to be “located primarily in a contemporary context” so film audiences are familiar with the setting, meaning the characters’ activities are less romanticized.poseidon-adventure-poster

Thomas Sobchack compared the survival film to romance: “They both emphasize the heroic triumph over obstacles which threaten social order and the reaffirmation of predominant social values such as fair play and respect for merit and cooperation.” The author said survival films “identify and isolate a microcosm of society”, such as the surviving group from the plane crash in The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) or those on the overturned ocean liner in The Poseidon Adventure (1972). Sobchack explained, “Most of the time in a survival film is spent depicting the process whereby the group, cut off from the securities and certainties of the ordinary support networks of civilized life, forms itself into a functioning, effective unit.” The group often varies in types of characters, sometimes to the point of caricature. While women have historically been stereotyped in such films, they “often play a decisive role in the success or failure of the group”.

Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!
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Best of the Year List 1940-1949

 

Here is the list for the Best Movie Stunts for the Decade 1940-1949 as listed in the book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!

1940:  The Mark of Zorro

Not only the second time for Zorro, but the second time for this exact title.  Different year, different actors…great stunts.  The fencing duel between Tyrone Powers and Basil Rathbone, choreographed by Fred Caverns is just about one of the finest ever put to celluloid. Mark of Zorro, The (1940)

1941: The Adventures of Captain Marvel

Dave Hardin Sharpe provided the fighting and the flying in this nifty action serial.  It’s also one of my all time favorite superheros…the original Captain Marvel!

Captain MArvel Lobby Card

1942:  Spy Smasher

It’s the era of the Movie Serial, and no-one did it better than this one!  It’s all out action and adventure with cliff-hangers galore! Carey Loftkin, Kane Richmond and Dave Hardin Sharpe combined to make Spy Smasher a fantastic hit!spyserial

1943:  The Masked Marvel

Another great action serial.  Tom Steele did so many stunts in this, he can even be found to be a bad guy chasing himself, as The Masked Marvel.marvel in danger

1944:  Ghost Guns

At this time there were some impressive cowgirls in the movies. Evelyn Finley was one of the toughest.  This was a B movie, but she’s worth the watch.Poster for the movie ghost guns with Evelyn Finley

1945:  Back To Bataan

We all know what a tough guy John Wayne was, especially in his later years.  It’s fun to see him hit the list for the first time with this entry, a great little war film.Back To Bataan

1946:  Detour To Danger

This one is just like a film I would have made in college; get a whole bunch of buddies together with a 16mm camera and go film some crazy fight scenes.  Harvey Parry and Richard Talmadge get all their stuntman cronies for this one and it’s a lot of fun.  Not great acting, but great fun.detour richard talmadge

1947:  The Perils of Pauline

Second time on the list, but the funny thing is, this one is a fictionalized account of the making of the first film. Polly Burson provides the stunts in this one and she would go on to some nifty westerns as she was a home-spun cowgirl in her own right.perils pauline

1948:  The Three Musketeers

Dave Hardin Sharpe makes the list for the 3rd time in one decade (is that a record?) along with Gene Kelly for their work in this film.  And WOW, what a supporting cast!Three Musketeers, The (1948)

1949:  Twelve O’Clock High

This has got to be the largest plane ever crashed by a real person on film and walked away from it.  Paul Mantz seemed to do it completely without flinching and as if it was as easy as parking a car.Twelve_O'Clock_High_crash_landing

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Actors and Stunt Performers in Lethal Weapon

 

Richard Donner and Joel Silver wanted the action in this film to be so realistic that in pre-production they hired stunt coordinator, Bobby Bass, to design all the action and 3 martial arts advisors, Cedric Adams, Dennis Newsome, and Rorion Gracie to oversee the fights and the training of the actors and stunt performers.lethal-weapon-gibson-glover-1

I’d like to add at this time that the film was also dedicated to legendary stuntman, Dar Robinson, although he did not die during any of the stunts in this film, he was killed executing a motorcycle stunt for the movie, Million Dollar Mystery. He trained actress, Jackie Swanson for the airbag jump at the beginning of the film. She jumped 35 feet backwards into an airbag. The stunt was done using an airbag covered with a life-size painting of the driveway and cars, which, like a foreground miniature, visually blends into the real scene. Thus, the editor was able to hold the shot until just as she makes contact with the airbag, for greater realism.

There was a second airbag jump, when Martin Riggs handcuffs himself to a guy on a building who is threatening to jump. The two stuntmen jumped together but once in the air the handcuffs disconnect so you can tell they weren’t really handcuffed together. A little movie goof as when Riggs and the man get off the airbag they are clearly handcuffed together again. Not only is the action in this film fantastic, but the action sequences seem to get better as the series moves along. The entire series was directed by Richard Donner for Silver Pictures.lethalweaponbdcap1_original

 

Things to look up (go to IMDB ):

  • Bobby Bass
  • Dar Robinson
  • Richard Donner
  • Joel Silver
  • Jackie Swanson
  • Lethal Weapon
  • Cedric Adams
  • Dennis Newsome
  • Rorion Grace

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Gene Kelly and Dave Hardin Sharpe, The Three Musketeers

 

The part of D’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers (1948) is incredibly physically demanding and athletic.  It’s hard not to include the actor and stunt double for the role as they both come together to make a perfect whole.  If you look closely, there is hardly any room in the film for a stunt double, as Kelly rarely has his back to the camera. He admits in several interviews that although he did most of his own stunts, there was just one aspect of the character he wouldn’t do, he wouldn’t ride a horse.  So the nod for 1948 goes to Gene Kelly and his stunt double Dave Sharpe for this film.three kelly

In a Reflections interview in 1991, Kelly said, “In Three Musketeers I did practically every one of my stunts, but I never rode the horses. I’m a bad rider. The horses threw a lot of the riders. I was chicken to get on a horse, so I used a double.” In the Hollywood Album, he wrote, “Every time I think about The Three Musketeers I want to groan…ouch! I feel sore and stiff at just the thought of it. Never become a film actor if you are allergic to work. D’Artagnan was quite a guy, but I wish he had taken things more calmly. I had to go into training for that picture just like a prize fighter before a fight. …We studied two hours a day with Jean Heremans, the national fencing champion of Belgium, to learn how to fence. What a genius he was. When he had finished with us we, who were greenhorns, were able to fight with one hand tied behind. It was hard work.”

Dave Hardin Sharpe probably holds the honor of being in more films (albeit, often uncredited as a stuntman) than any other person in Hollywood history. Sharpe’s film/TV resume, if complete, would likely total more than 5000 entries. Ranks with Yakima Canutt as Hollywood’s premier stuntman. Sharpe told film historian Mark Hall, “When Shana Alexander interviewed me for Life magazine in 1952, she gave up after 4,000. At one time or another, I’ve worked for every studio in Hollywood, for almost every director with most of the actors and actresses.”three Musks

The Three Musketeers is directed by George Sydney for Loew’s.

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

History of film companies as defined by Wikipedia: Loew’s – Loews Theatres, aka Loews Incorporated (originally Loew’s), founded in 1904 by Marcus Loew and Brantford Schwartz, was the oldest theater chain operating in North America until it merged with AMC Theatres on January 26, 2006. From 1924 until 1959, it was also the parent company of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios. The Loews name is still used by AMC in many markets. Its slogan was “Thank you for coming to Loews, sit back and relax, enjoy the show!!!”, which was used in the chain’s theater policy ads from the 1980s through the 1990s, when Sony rebranded the chain.


The company was originally called “Loew’s”, after the founder, Marcus Loew. In 1969, when the Tisch brothers acquired the company, it became known as “Loews”.

To provide quality films for his theaters, Loew founded Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM) in 1924, by merging the earlier firms Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures and Louis B. Mayer Productions. Loew’s Incorporated served as distribution arm and parent company for the studio until the two were forced to separate by the 1948 U.S. Supreme Court ruling “United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc.”. The two companies officially split in 1959.

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Jackie Chan and Police Story

 

This is for several stunts, including an opening sequence featuring a car chase through a shanty town, Chan stopping a double-decker bus with his service revolver and a climactic fight scene in a shopping mall. This final scene earned the film the nickname “Glass Story” by the crew, due to the huge number of panes of sugar glass that were broken. During a stunt in this last scene, in which Chan slides down a pole from several stories up, the lights covering the pole had heated it considerably, resulting in Chan suffering second-degree burns, particularly to his hands, as well as a back injury and dislocation of his pelvis upon landing. Chan holds the Guinness World Record for “Most Stunts By A Living Actor”, which emphasises “no insurance company will underwrite Chan’s productions, in which he performs all his own stunts”.police-story21

I discussed this in the previous win of Jackie Chan’s Stunt team, 1983 Best Movie Stunt, about the way that Jackie Chan works on a film. Edward Tang, the screenwriter for this film and many others, confirmed by saying that he did not write this film the way normal Hollywood screenwriters work. Bey Logan pointed out that in America, the screenwriter has an idea and goes to discuss it with producers and directors prior to production. In this case, Jackie Chan gave Tang a list of things he wanted in the film – a shopping mall, comedy, the village, a bus, etc. – and Tang essentially wrote the rest of the story around these elements. In other words, a Hong Kong screenwriter takes the director’s ideas and works them into the film.police story final

I saw an interview with Chan, where he discussed the stunt of sliding down the pole covered with lights. As with the clock tower stunt from Project A (1983), Chan described his fear at the thought of performing the stunt. However, during the filming of Police Story (1985), there was the added pressure of strict time constraints, as the shopping mall had to be cleaned up and ready for business the following morning. One of Chan’s stuntman gave him a hug and a Buddhist prayer paper, which he put in his trousers before finally performing the stunt. Police Story was directed by Jackie Chan for Golden Harvest.pol06

Things to look up (go to IMDB ):

  • Jackie Chan
  • Golden Harvest
  • Police Story

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Terence Hill and Bud Spencer in They Call Me Trinity (Lo Chiamavano Trinita)

 

Sometimes an award is given because it is the first of a long line of films, either direct sequels or imitators.  Like Die Hard, as an example.  When Die Hard came around all of a sudden there were a ton of films just like it, including the rest of the Die Hard sequel’s trying to put the elements together that made the first one so popular.  It becomes a phenomenon and it almost becomes a sub-genre of it’s own.  They Call Me Trinity (1970) is one of these films.  The first of many Trinity films to come and the first of a slew of Spaghetti Western Comedies that would follow.they bud and terence

Terence Hill and Bud Spencer are magic together.  This was the fifth time on screen together and this one film is arguably their best.  It made them world-wide stars.  They would go on to do 18 films together and is one of the most successful screen partnerships of all time.  The fight scenes are hilarious and brilliant.  Brings Jackie Chan to mind and even though he does it better and amps them up to the extreme, Hill and Spencer were first.  The silent choreography is also reminiscent of Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd.

What’s also interesting about They Call Me Trinity is that Terence Hill was not the producers first choice.  After the success of Django in 1966, producers wanted Franco Nero for the role, but when he became unavailable, they hired Hill because he looks a lot like Nero.  They hit paydirt because Hill ended up being a genius as a comedian.  It’s also interesting because Hill did a followup to Django in 1968 called Django Prepare a Coffin and he played Django, again because he looked like Nero.  After Trinity was released and a big hit, Django Prepare a Coffin was re-released and cut to resemble a Trinity movie and the name of his character was even changed in French to Trinita.they terence hill

They Call Me Trinity is directed by Enzo Barboni as E. B. Clucher for West Film.

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

  • Terence Hill
  • Bud Spencer
  • They Call Me Trinity
  • Enzo Barboni
  • West Film

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

Jamie Lee Curtis and True Lies

 

Jamie Lee Curtis, True Lies:  I jump right in and talk about this movie as if you’ve seen it already, because if you haven’t…why the hell not? It’s so great!  It really is an amazing film with some amazing action scenes and incredible stunts!Jamie Lee Curtis True Lies

When Arnold Schwarzenegger rescues wife Jamie Lee Curtis from an airborne chopper, he grasps her by her arm just as the chopper heads out over the water. The woman you see dangling below the chopper skid is no body double, but Curtis doing her very own stunt work. At her insistence, director James Cameron agreed to let her perform this scary spectacle. True Lies Storyboard

True Lies StoryboardsAccording to Jamie Lee Curtis, on the TV special promoting “True Lies”, it was Cameron’s idea for her to do the helicopter work; she said, “Oh, yeah. And just where are you going to be while I’m dangling way up there in the air, Jim?” And, according to her, he said, “Hanging out the door filming you with a hand-held camera.” So she decided that if he was willing to do that to get the shot, she could stand to do it, too. Curtis did the helicopter stunt on her birthday.Jamie Lee Curtis in a scene from true liesIt’s interesting to note that at one point Helen remarks that she “married Rambo.” James Cameron co-wrote the screenplay to Rambo: First Blood Part II, the second film of the Rambo series. There’s also a connection here to two Marvel franchises, as when James Cameron made this film he was seriously considering directing the first Spider-Man movie, even going so far as to write a lengthy “scriptment”, which Cameron called it – a mix between a film treatment and a script. If you’re really lucky you can still find this “scriptment” floating around on the Internet.

The second link, is that the appearance and traits of Spencer Trilby (Charlton Heston) is based on Nick Fury, a Marvel Comics character. Like Fury, Trilby has an eye-patch and the same mannerisms as well as heading a peacekeeping organization.  Just remember that this Fury was based on the comic character before Samuel L. Jackson was cast in the Marvel movies.


Things to look up (click on item to go to IMDB page or Website):
Jamie Lee Curtis
True Lies
James Cameron
20th Century Fox

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

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