Tag Archives: Primo Carnera

Best Stunts of the Year List 1930-1939


The best movie stunts for the decade listed for 1930-1939 as talked about in the book 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts:

1930:  Canyon Hawks

Yakima Canutt shows off his guts in this one with a buckboard ride with horses straight down the side of a hill.  Crazy, but I bet it was a whole lot scarier in person.Canyon Hawks stunt

1931:  The Phantom

The prison break at the beginning of this movie is just fantastic and ends with a really great train to plane transfer.  The frustrating aspect is that back then they didn’t record who the stunt man was or who the stunt pilot was.  Many stunts in the movies were uncredited during this time of studio filmmaking.The Phantom Stunt

1932:  Air Mail

John Ford directed two films on this list during this decade, this film and Stagecoach.  He was a supporter of good stunts and usually filmed them himself.  Paul Mantz does some nifty flying in this picture, specifically he flies a Stearman plane through an airplane hanger.air-mail

1933:  The Fighter and the Lady

Before they fought for the actual title fight for the Heavyweight belt, they fought in this feature film.  Max Baer and Primo Carnera mix it up on screen here, and Max later said he beat Primo in the real fight by studying his moves for the movie.The Prizefighter and the Lady Stunt

1934:  Murder in the Clouds

This decade is ripe with plane stunts and this film has them in droves.  This one has some fancy aerial tricks and the stunt photographers should get just as much credit for these fantastic shots as the stunt pilots themselves.Murder in the Clouds Stunts

1935:  The Crusades

Cecil B. DeMille is famous for his grand epics, and this film started that process for him.  It has stuntmen and actors fighting in full armor for a huge war on several fronts.demille crusade

1936:  Modern Times

Charlie Chaplin was a very talented skater, and shows off his chops in this movie in a nifty little bit of tension added to the fact that he was doing it right next to a missing railing.  The danger was not real, but the skating sure is.  He’s also got a few nifty bits with a great big machine and a little one attached to the front of his chest.  Fun Stuff.modern

1937:  Wells Fargo

Ray Bunten and Richard Farnsworth, along with a slew of other uncredited stuntmen did a lot of work on this film.  It has a lot of cowboys falling off horses, wagons, rocks and just about anything that moves.  The scene at the end where the Wells Fargo wagon fights Indians have at least two dozens stunts in a ten minute period.Wells Fargo stunts

1938:  The Adventures of Robin Hood

Howard Hill was a world class Archer.  It’s him doing all the fancy bow and arrow stuff in this movie.  A nod also goes out to all the stuntmen that lined up to be shot in the chest by Howard!robinhowardhill2

1939:  Stagecoach

This one is a classic in the stunt world.  Yakima Canutt has a great stunt that he was perfecting in several movies at this time.  This one actually shows the first half of the stunt and was perfected in Zorro’s Fighting Legion the same year.  The nod goes to Stagecoach because it was first but really should be co-presented with the later picture.Yakima Stagecoach


To learn more about these films, please read about them and the great trivia behind the scenes in our book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 8.23.28 PM

Max Baer, Primo Carnera and The Prizefighter and the Lady


In the early days of film, fight scenes were “staged” but real. They didn’t learn to fake their punches for the camera until the early 30’s and even then used that type of filming trick sparingly. In this case, where real Boxers were used for the Prizefighter and the Lady, there was no doubt that these matches were going to be real but choreographed. The film climaxes with a heavily hyped fight between Max Baer and Primo Carnera. Primo was the real-life World Heavyweight Champion and Max (the star of the film) was in real-life, his main contender for the title. The shooting of this scene was a major event on the set. People came from far and wide to watch the thrilling fight being filmed. Former Heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey was an added treat playing the referee.The Prizefighter and the Lady Stunt

The fight scenes were so real, that Max knocked out 2 teeth during one of the “staged” fights in this film. Interestingly, Max Baer beat Primo Carnera in real-life the very next year for the World Heavyweight title, knocking him down a record 11 times in what was written about later as a major beating.  Myrna Loy also admitted in an interview later that Max studied Primo’s boxing techniques intently during the film and claimed that he used this “scouting” knowledge to beat him for the title. It’s also interesting to note that Max did not wear a robe with his name on it for the real title fight, he wore the robe he used in this film with his character Steve Morgan’s name on the back.  People said he did this to try and get in Primo’s head.  The Prizefighter and the Lady was Max Baer’s first acting role and he’s fantastic.  He goes on to act in over 20 more movies and TV shows over the years.prizefighter-lady The Prizefighter and the Lady was directed by W.S. Van Dyke for MGM.

Things to look up (go to IMDB ):

Glossary of stunt terms as defined by the book, “FIGHT CHOREOGRAPHY” by John Kreng:

Exchange – A series of techniques thrown between combatants without an extended break or pause. A fight scene is usually made up of several exchanges between opponents.

Fight Scene – A fight scene is much like dialogue in the script—it needs to progress at a steady pace. Much like in real life, dialogue can get very tedious and cover the same issue over and over, not really leading anywhere specific. A fight can easily be the same way if you are not aware of the different types of repetition. Also, each successive fight in an action film should be more difficult and exciting than most of the ones that came before, otherwise the overall progression of the film’s intensity will likewise be flat and repetitive.

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

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