Tag Archives: ormer Locklear

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

Ormer Locklear and the Great Air Robbery


One of the early great pilots, Ormer Locklear is credited as having invented wing walking, when he went out on the wing of his plane to fix one of his engine’s during a flight.  Legend has it that he first climbed out onto the lower wings during his pilot training in the Army Air Service during World War I. Undaunted, Ormer just climbed out of the cockpit onto the wings in flight whenever there was a mechanical issue and fixed the problem.Great Air Robbery 1By all accounts he does some truly astounding wing walking in this movie, even though no copy of this film seemed to have survived. Sadly, he was killed the very next year at age 28, during the making of “The Skywayman” when his plane crashed to the ground during a night stunt sequence.  The Great Air Robbery was directed by Jacques Jaccard for Universal.  I’d like to add that at this time, stunt flying really seemed to take off in motion pictures and the camera operators were just as daring as the pilots. The footage they had to get was so grueling and spectacular, I wish I could give awards to each and every one of them as stunt performers themselves. It was a very exciting time in aviation history.

Ormer Locklear started out as a daredevil of tricks moving in and out of vehicles when he became fascinated with flying.  After World War I where he was in the US Army Air Service, he started his own barnstorming show with a few fellow flyers and this lead to California, where he performed aerial maneuvers for the movies. On November 8, 1918, Locklear wowed the crowd at Barron Field, Texas, with his daredevil wing-walking stunts. Wing walking was seen as an extreme form of barnstorming, and wing walkers would constantly take up the challenge of outdoing one another. They themselves admitted (or rather proclaimed proudly) that the point of their trade was to make money on the audience’s prospect of possibly watching someone die.  Ormer Locklear also led the charge with the first plane-to-plane transfer, and many followed.great air robbery

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

Glossary of stunt terms as defined by Wikipedia:

  1.  Daredevil – A person who does dangerous things especially in order to get attention.  An example of this would be Evil Knieval, who never did any stunts for movies but in front of a live audience or taped as a spectacle itself.
  1.  Barnstorming – Barnstorming was a popular form of entertainment in the USAin the 1920s, in which stunt pilots would perform tricks with airplanes, either individually or in groups called a flying circus. Barnstorming was the first major form of civil aviation in the history of flight.
  1.  Wing Walking – Seen in airshowsand barnstormingduring the 1920s, wing walking is the act of moving on the wings of an airplane during flight.