Tag Archives: Richard Talmadge

Best Movie Stunts of the Year List 1960-1969

 

Here is the list for the Best Movie Stunts for the Decade 1960-1969 as listed in the book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!

1960 – Spartacusspartacus_fight

I would argue that this is the best Gladiator movie ever made.  The stunt team on this film was the who’s who in the stunt world at that time including, Yakima, Tap and Joe Canutt, Harvey Parry, Tom Steele, Richard Farnsworth, Buddy Van Horn, Dale Van Sickel, Polly Bursen, Carey Loftkin, Loren James, Cliff Lyons and on and on.

1961 – The Guns of Navaroneguns-of-navarone-original

Alistair MacLane seemed to create a genre all his own that started with this picture and had the feel of a heist film but with a mixture of spies and betrayal mixed in.  Some great stunts appear in this film.

1962 – Lawrence of ArabiaLawrence Of Arabia-21

This film is fantastic, but was a very perilous film shoot.  War films, especially with horses are extremely hard.  But boy does it look great.

1963 – The Great Escapegreat bud eikins

Arguably the best motorcycle stunt ever made, but I would venture to say it’s not the best ever made, just the most famous.  It is a pretty nifty stunt for a VERY heavy bike.

1964 – Circus WorldCircus World Lobby Card

This movie has two stunts that blow the mind.  The first is the real sinking of a large carrier ship sinking, live, and then the second is a huge circus tent fire.  Both staged by Richard Talmadge and front and center is a man with only one lung, John Wayne!

1965 – The Sons of Katie Eldersons-of-katie-elder

John Wayne earns the nod for Best Movie Stunts two years running due to his stunts in this movie.  Remember, he’s got only one lung!

1966 – Grand PrixGrandPrix_garnerglare

James Garner found out that he’s a pretty good driver and gets to show his chops here.  He would go on to race professionally after this in several races and drove the pace car several times as well.

1967 – War and Peacewarandpeace

Russia busts out of the gate with this long masterpiece.  It’s epic in every way and beautifully done.  It took them years to make this movie and was finally released in 1967.

1968 – Bullittbullitt (1)

This film is known for an 11 minute long car chase that appears out of the end of the movie and is very tense and breathtaking.  You can never talk about movie stunts without seeing this chase mentioned.

1969 – Battle of BritainBattle_of_Britain

War movies are incredibly difficult and massive undertakings.  Put that in the air and it doubles all the troubles.  This really is the best of these films.

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

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

For more info, find the book 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 8.23.28 PM

Best Stunts of the Year List 1920-1929

 

Here is the list for the Best Movie Stunts for the Decade 1920-1929 as listed in the book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!

1920:  The Mark of Zorro

First time on the list for Zorro (not the last), and for Douglas Fairbanks.  The Mark of Zorro represents the first in a line of Adventure films and Douglas Fairbanks was technically the first swashbuckler, an adventure actor that does a lot of the stunts himself.  He was an incredible athlete, by all accounts, and this film showcases that ability very nicely.zorro 2

1921:  Never Weaken

Harvey Parry admitted on his death bed that he doubled Harold Lloyd on some of the stunts in this movie.  This comedy movie would make way for all the dangerous slapstick comedies to come by Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton.never tumblr_njqmx6K3Gr1rdfgw4o1_500

1922:  Robin Hood

Great example of Douglas Fairbanks at the top of his game, but in this case he’s helped out by his stunt double, Charles Lewis in several stunts.  This is also the first time Robin Hood makes the list (also, not the last) and it’s interesting to me that several movies hit the list multiple times.  You’d expect that with movie series like James Bond, being highly stunt driven, but still seems like a surprise when it’s just different versions of the same movie, like Robin Hood and Zorro.robin-hood

1923:  Safety Last!

The second half of this film, where he is climbing up each floor of a building is sheer brilliance.  It’s nerve-wracking!  The final few moments hanging from the clock is as iconic a film moment as you get.  It’s a single-solitary slice of film that represents everything that being a stunt performer is all about.  This would be the poster boy for the stunt movement.  In fact, this should be the award they give out at the Academy Awards for Stunts, a Golden Statue of Harold Lloyd hanging from a clock tower.safety last

1924:  Sherlock, Jr.

This is the period where Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton keep out-doing each other every film.  But, I will add, that this particular film is just about my favorite stunt film of all time.  It would definitely be in the top ten for best stunts of all time, it’s that great.  Buster Keaton not only blows your mind with the stunts in this film, but it’s also an incredible film cinematically and some of the techniques he develops with this film are revolutionary.sherlock buster

1925:  The Prince of Pep

This was where Richard Talmadge was trying to be an actor, but he soon found out that his talents lay with Stunt work.  He goes on to be a fantastic Stunt Man and Stunt Coordinator in the years to come. In this one, he has a nifty gag where he jumps from the rooftop of one building through the window of the next building.  He makes it look easy.pep2

1926:  The Devil Horse

Yakima Canutt is generally thought of as the grand-daddy of all stuntmen…not that he actually gave birth to all of them, just that he was a big reason why stunt work has legitimized as much as it is right now. He developed techniques for safety and paved the way for most of the stunt men to work behind the camera as an action director or second unit director and as a stunt coordinator.  In this film he shows his early chops as a rodeo star as he rides the devil horse, Rex.yakima captured

1927:  Wings

This film won the first Academy Award for Best Picture, but thanks to Dick Grace, has some great flying stunts in it as well.  No-one crashed a plane on cue better than he did.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

1928:  Steamboat Bill, Jr.

Another great film from Buster Keaton.  This one is another one of those iconic images that help to propel the whole stunt world forward, an amazing stunt, where Buster just stands in one spot as the whole front of the building falls around him.  Could have easily killed him if he was just a little bit off his mark.  Great stunt.Steamboat bill Jr

1929:  Tarzan the Tiger

Every wonder where Tarzan got his signature yell and signature swing from tree to tree from?  Yep, from this movie.  They used it in every Tarzan movie after that.  Frank Merrill was very athletic and did all his stunts in a skimpy loin-cloth.tarzan07

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

Harvey Parry and Richard Talmadge in Detour To Danger

 

Filmed on 16mm film and a very low budget, stuntmen Harvey Parry (See 1921 Best Movie Stunt) and Richard Talmadge (See 1925 Best Movie Stunt) shot a film largely forgotten over time, about two young men who set out on a fishing trip. They run into a gang of criminals who bully two young women.

 detour richard talmadge
Richard Talmadge

It’s largely forgotten because of its terrible qualities, bad film quality, lousy script, hammy actors, and low budget.  But those of us who remember it, remember the last 12 minutes of the film which is all non-stop FIGHTING.  This is the real reason to watch this film, as it reminds you quickly of the type of film all young filmmakers make when they get together with all their friends and make a film; for the fun of it.

 detour parry
Harvey Parry

Being stuntmen themselves, I’m sure that Parry and Talmadge wanted to get other stuntmen together and make this movie and it’s sure that they never made any movies without them.  They had a way of taking a milk-toast script and giving it a little bang.  Talmadge would direct 6 films over time and acted or did the stunts in over 100.  Parry only directed 2 titles (this being his last) and did the stunts or acted in over 200.  He was still doing stunts in his eighties!

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

Glossary of film terms as defined by the Wikipedia – 16MM – 16 mm film is a popular, economical gauge of film. 16 mm is the width of the film. Other common film gauges include 8 mm and 35 mm. It is generally used for non-theatrical (for instance, industrial or educational) film making or for low budget motion pictures.
16 mm film was introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1923 as an inexpensive amateur alternative to the conventional 35 mm film format. During the 1920s the format was often referred to as sub-standard film by the professional industry. Initially directed toward the amateur market, Kodak hired Willard Beech Cook from his 28 mm Pathescope of America company to create the new 16 mm Kodascope Library. In addition to making home movies, one could buy or rent films from the library, one of the key selling aspects of the format. As it was intended for amateur use, 16 mm film was one of the first formats to use acetate safety film as a film base, and Kodak never manufactured nitrate film for the format due to the high flammability of the nitrate base. 35 mm nitrate was discontinued in 1952.

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

Richard Talmadge and Prince of Pep

 

Richard Talmadge was not the best actor, let’s get this out at the start. But he was a fantastic stuntman and went on to a great career as a second unit director and stunt coordinator after the advent of the talkies, because he had a thick German accent. He first came to the USA as Ricardo Metezzetia, boy member of the famed acrobats, the Mazetti Troupe, that had been engaged by Barnum & Bailey Circus. Prince of Pep (1925) gives Talmadge a chance to show off some of his athletic prowess as he scales the sides of city apartment buildings, jumps from fire escape to fire escape. In one stunt, he leaps from a rooftop across an alleyway to a window of the next building, making it almost too easy.pep2

As I do my research, I’ve found that most of the work of the stunt performers, stunt coordinators and second unit directors, go completely unnoticed in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. The studios during these decades really tried to keep these movie secrets to themselves and so these incredibly important people have passed through time with barely even a word of written recognition or acknowledgment. This is the case with Richard Talmadge, as I had a difficult time finding anything about this man, and his work before the talkies. He was a giant among stunt performers and second unit directors/stunt coordinators, but hardly anyone has ever heard of him. To see what I mean, just go to his page at IMDB and you will see his work is massive, and yet it’s all listed as (UNCREDITED).

Just to see his mind boggling work, I suggest you see the winner for best stunt (Spoiler) for 1964 (Circus World with John Wayne). That “ship turns over in the harbor” scene is his and it makes your eyes pop out that they did this with no CGI. pepPrince of Pep is a stunt-driven silent melodrama, directed by Jack Nelson for Truart Film Company.

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

Richard Talmadge

Prince of Pep

Jack Nelson

Truart Film Company

Glossary of film terms as defined by Wikipedia:

  1.  Stunt Coordinator – A stunt coordinator, usually an experienced stunt performer, is hired by a TV, filmor theatredirector or production company to arrange the casting (stunt players and stunt doubles) and performance of stunts for a film, television programme or a live audience.

Where the film requires a stunt, and involves the use of stunt performers, the Stunt Coordinator will arrange the casting and performance of the stunt, working closely with the Director.

In many cases, the stunt coordinator budgets, designs and choreographs the stunt sequence to suit the script and the director’s vision.

  1.  Second Unit Director –In film, the second unitis a discrete team tasked with filming shots or sequences separate from the main, or ‘first’ unit.

The functions of the second unit vary, but typically the first unit always films the key face-to-face drama between the principal actors. Two frequent ways a second unit is used are:

  • Action sequences. Action sequences are often filmed in discrete locations, using stunt personnel rather than the principal cast, and requiring significantly different filming arrangements than for ordinary scenes. Therefore they are an obvious opportunity for second unit shooting.
  • ‘Pick-ups’. After the main unit has finished on a set or location, there may be shots that require some or all of this setting as background, but doesn’t require the principal actors – such as close-ups, inserts, cutaways and establishing shots.

Because second units often film scenes with stunts and special effects in action movies, the job of stunt coordinator is often combined with that of second unit director. Many second unit directors were stunt coordinators first, including Vic Armstrong, who has directed second unit on The Amazing Spider-Man, Mission: Impossible III and War of the Worlds; Simon Crane, who did Men in Black 3, Frankenstein and X-Men: The Last Stand; and Terry J. Leonard, responsible for second unit on Cowboys & Aliens, The Expendables and Die Hard: With a Vengeance.

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

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John Wayne’s Movie, Circus World, Has The Most Amazing Live Stunts!

 

Actors & Stunt Team, Circus World:  Most people have seen the moment in the movie Titanic, where the boat slowly slides into the water, and the people on the ship sliding and grappling to find handholds to try and stay on the sinking ship.  It’s not a surprise to find out most of that was done with CGI and Special Effects.  Quite a stunt to find out that someone did it 33 years before, with no special effects, live and in Cinerama.  Granted the ship is somewhat smaller, not the behemoth that Titanic was, but it’s still no small feat.  Watch the scene for yourself and you’ll know what I mean.Circus World Ship

The shocking thing about this incredible staged stunt is the fact that it’s not the only one in the film.  They have another equally impressive stunt when the circus tent catches fire. Both of these stunts are elaborate, elegantly staged and dangerous as hell. Richard Talmadge, our nod for Best Movie Stunts for 1925 is for the stunt coordinator and second unit director on Circus World and he definitely had his hands full.

The credit doesn’t all go to the stunt coordinator and the stunt performers in this movie as the actors are also  front and center as you can see in the clip.  John Wayne is clear as day, leading the charge in both of the dangerous scenes and this is all the more incredible if you know that he’s also at the peak of fighting lung cancer when he did this movie.  He has a lung removed just a year after this film was released.Circus World John Wayne

Circus World was directed by Henry Hathaway for Samuel Bronston Productions.

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

John Wayne

Circus World

Henry Hathaway

Richard Talmadge

Samuel Bronston Productions

History of film companies as defined by Wikipedia: Samuel Bronston Productions was an independent American film production company, founded by Samuel Bronston in 1943.

The company produced several epic films, the most notable of which are, John Paul Jones (1959), King of Kings (1961), El Cid (1961), 55 Days at Peking (1963) and The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964).

The films were made in Spain in the company’s newly-created studios in Las Rozas, near Madrid.  Due to financial difficulties, the company ceased its business activities in 1964.

Film Terms as described by Wikipedia: Cinerama is the trademarked name for a widescreen process which works by simultaneously projecting images from three synchronized 35 mm projectors onto a huge, deeply-curved screen, subtending 146° of arc. It is also the trademarked name for the corporation which was formed to market it. It was the first of a number of novel processes introduced during the 1950s, when the movie industry was reacting to competition from television. Cinerama was presented to the public as a theatrical event, with reserved seating and printed programs, and audience members often dressed in best attire for the evening.

The Cinerama projection screen, rather than being a continuous surface like most screens, is made of hundreds of individual vertical strips of standard perforated screen material, each about 7/8 inch (~22 mm) wide, with each strip angled to face the audience, so as to prevent light scattered from one end of the deeply-curved screen from reflecting across the screen and washing out the image on the opposite end. The display is accompanied by a high-quality, seven-track discrete directional surround sound system.

The original system involved shooting with three synchronized cameras sharing a single shutter. This was later abandoned in favor of a system using a single camera and 70mm prints. This latter system lost the 146° field of view of the original three-strip system and the resolution was markedly lower. Three-strip Cinerama did not use anamorphic lenses, although two of the systems used to produce the 70mm prints (Ultra Panavision 70 and Super Technirama 70) did employ anamorphics. Later, 35mm anamorphic reduction prints were produced for exhibition in theatres with anamorphic Cinemascope-compatible projection lenses.

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

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