Best Stunt Work – 1969

My Nominations: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. The Wild Bunch. The Battle Of Britain. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Marlowe. The Italian Job. Downhill Racer.

BCATSK is of course known for for the cliff jump scene – impressive at the time but it has of course been surpassed many times in the decades since. There are plenty of other great stunts and action in the movie, from the gripping train introduction to the various shoot outs, fights, and even Paul Newman’s whimsical bike antics. Similarly, The Wild Bunch is filled with shoot outs, more train action, and horse falls aplenty. Battle Of Britain has all the explosions and action you would expect from a war film – a Guy Hamilton war film no less, but where it raises the game is with the exceptional aerial set pieces – some of the best you’ll ever see in terms of scale, pace, and realism. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service I have always felt to be one of the more action-lite Bond movies, but it has its fair share of stunt too – the Piz Gloria ski slope scenes are memorable. Speaking of ski stunts, Downhill Racer also has excellent snow action, though the focus is much more on realism than Bond’s fun and games. Marlowe’s nomination goes almost single-handedly to Bruce lee, whose demolition of James Garner’s office is both humourous and a sign of things to come for the Chinese star – though there is also standard gun action towards the end of the film. Finally, The Italian Job has car chases galore which have become iconic, at least in Britain.

My Winner: Battle of Britain

Battle_of_Britain_large.jpg

Let us know in the comments which film of 1969 you think deserves the Best Stunt Work award!

 

Best Stunt Work – 1968

My Nominations: Bullitt. The Love Bug. Once Upon A Time In The West. Planet Of The Apes. Where Eagles Dare

There is an obvious choice for winner here with Bullitt – famous for one of the greatest car chases in history. It has all the ingredients – classic cars, great drivers, solid direction throughout iconic streets, and realism. It’s that final part which means it doesn’t get my vote – it’s a deserving winner, but with stunt work sometimes I want something a little more over the top. The Love Bug does deliver over the top thrills, Once Upon A Time In The West features another selection of shoot-outs and fights, while Planet Of The Apes has many exciting scenes. My win goes to Where Eagles Dare, something of a forgotten war movie which is strange given its unquestionable star power. It has a lot of set pieces, from treacherous car chases to fights on top of cable cars, as well as parachute stunts, fights, and gunplay. Yakima Cannutt directed most of the action scenes while a host of the best stunt performers in the business helped to create the thrills.

where-eagles-dare-8

My Winner: Where Eagles Dare.

Which film of 1968 do you think deserves the Best Stunt Work award? Let us know in the comments!

Best Stunt Work – 1967

My Nominations: The Dirty Dozen. You Only Live Twice. Dragon Gate Inn. Bonnie And Clyde.

I only have four nominations for this category this year, a year in which character drama was more popular than action and comedy movies. The Dirty Dozen has war games aplenty, with the recruits going through various scrapes in their training before the final attack and escape. While there isn’t anything groundbreaking, the action comes thick and fast, thanks to an extensive stunt team including Ken Buckle – a Bond veteran, Gerry Crampton (Raiders Of The Lost Ark), and Rick Lester, a man who was once in line to take over from Sean Connery as Bond. Speaking of Bond, You Only Live Twice was the series most action heavy movie to that point, with ninja’s scaling down volcanoes, helicopter battles in the sky, and all manner of fist fights – performers including Peter Fanene Maivia (WWE legend and grandfather of The Rock), Tex Fuller (Brazil), and K.H Wallis (pilot of Little Nellie). Ying-Chieh Han (The Big Boss himself) provides the thrills in Dragon Gate Inn while Mary Statler (Paint Your Wagon), Bob Harris (Commando),  and Lucky Mosely (Walker, Texas Ranger) among others provide the carnage in Bonnie And Clyde. 

My Winner: You Only Live Twice

1484501017.jpg

Which film of 1967 do you think has the best Stunts. Which stunts or stunt performers would you like to recognise? Let us know in the comments!

Best Stunt Work – 1966

My Nominations: Grand Prix. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. Is Paris Burning? The Sword Of Doom. The Wild Angels.

A selection of films from around the globe this year, with a Western, War movie, a Samurai epic, and two films focusing on man and machine making my list. Grand Prix takes my win for making car racing look much more exciting than it actually is, with Max Balchowsky, Tom Bamford, Carey Loftin, and Ronnie Rondell Jr performing the majority of the driving.

My Winner: Grand Prix

GrandPrix036-e1407694455101

Which film of 1966 do you think had the best Stunt Work? Let us know in the comments!

Best Stunt Work: 1965

My Nominations: Thunderball. The Great Race. Von Ryan’s Express. For A Few Dollars More. The Battle Of The Bulge. Dr Zhivago.

Bond’s 1965 outing is full of the usual exceptional fight and chase scenes, but it is most notable for its underwater work. Naturally, taking the action below the waves has inherent dangers and gave a unique twist to action thrillers of the time, but many of the scenes drag on and lack pace, so although they were remarkable at the time, and still an impressive achievement, they feel a little dated now. Von Ryan’s Express has fights on top of trains, large and small-scale gun battles. The Agony And The Ecstasy has horse battles. The Battle Of The Bulge features a fair amount of epic war scenes and tank combat. Dr Zhivago has a bit of everything, from battle scenes across icy wastelands on horseback, to epic gun battles while For A Few Dollars More has gritty gunplay and tense build-ups before the release of action. The Great Race is like a live action Wacky Races, mixing exciting, nitro-fuelled car action with absurd, extensive pie fighting. There is a massive list of stunt performers, mostly who went criminally uncredited in the film – basically everyone involved in stunts in the 60s was involved in this one.

My Winner: The Great Race

Which film of 1965 do you think has the Best Stunt Work? Let us know in the comments!

Best Stunt Work: 1964

My Nominations: 633 Squadron. Goldfinger. A Fistful Of Dollars. Zulu.

With each passing year, Hollywood writers, directors, and stunt performers grew more ambitious and adventurous with their stunt ideas. 633 Squadron became a perennial British Christmas hit and the aerial battle scenes remain some of the most impressive ever filmed. The film lacked a huger star though and was not a big commercial hit. John Crewdson and Joe Powell are the uncredited geniuses here. Both men again had illustrious careers but are barely remembered. Zulu raised the bar for sheer scale of ground battle scenes, and while there are no obvious single outstanding stunts, the onslaught of fighting and action on screen at any given time must have been hell for the stunt crew and director to manage. Joe Powell again gets in on the act with John Sullivan providing stunt direction.  A Fistfull Of Dollars features plenty of stylized gun play with Benito Stefanelli acting as co-ordinator and stuntman, becoming the go to guy for Spaghetti Westerns. Goldfinger features many of Bond’s most famous setpieces – the laser table, the aerial scenes, the DB5 ejector seat and crash, and of course Bond’s fight with Oddjob. Bob Simmons and his large crew are to thank for some wonderful moments.

My Winner: 633 Squadron.

Which movie from 1964 do you feel has the best stunt work? Let us know in the comments!

Best Stuntwork – Intro

*Note* Here is a post which I wrote years ago and was going to use as an introduction to my picks for the Best Stuntwork Oscar, starting with 1960. For some reason I neglected to post it, so here it is – it’s pretty bad.**

Since pretty much the dawn of cinema, there have been stunts and stunt professionals- men and women willing to put their bodies and lives on the line so that the gaping masses can stare up at the screen and say ‘Holy Shit, that was awesome!’, or in the case of Keanu Reeves ‘Wow’, or in the case of idiots ‘Pff, I could do that’. Chances are that if you have been to the cinema this year (or ever) you will have seen a big budget effects extravaganza littered with huge action set pieces and minor stunts you may even have missed. Even if you’re some hipster who only watches Polish short films from the 30s, wears ridiculous sweaters, and brushes their teeth with feces, you probably know that those in the stunt business have a damn hard, cool, and underappreciated job.

Unlike, say, sound editing (or in some extreme cases cinematography, writing, anything) stunt work is something which is immediate and which everyone can witness if not appreciate. For example, when you watched all those kids being blown into the sky in The Hunger Games, or those faceless baddies been kicked in the balls and thrown down stairs in every 80s action movie ever, you understood that a stunt had taken place for your entertainment. You may not have appreciated the amount of time, work, and planning which went into a particular task, be it falling off a horse in Braveheart or racing/crashing a car in the Bond series. Even after decades of lobbying, it seems that those in charge of The Academy Awards do not understand or appreciate this work, which is frankly ludicrous.

Having grown up in the 80s and 90s, I have fed upon a diet of Spielberg and Lucas, worshipped at the altar of Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Van Damme, and occasionally suckled at the teat of Bay. I love action, I need action, and I expect to see at least 30 characters getting seriously hurt in every film, each in more over the top ways. However, whichever age of Hollywood you were raised on, influenced through, and subsequently broken by, stunts have always been there. Whether it was Harold Lloyd dangling precariously from a clock in the 1920s, Buster Keaton narrowly avoiding being crushed by a house, John Ford’s Western epics of the 30s and 40s, Butch and Sundance leaping off a cliff in the 60s, or Jackie Chan dangling precariously from a clock in Project A, the fact is that some of the most iconic moments in the history of cinema have been thought up and executed by some of the craziest shits this side of Charlie Sheen’s toilet.

So, until the time that these guys are recognized officially by people more important than me, I will strive to do my part to remember and regale the people who have provided me with some of the greatest vicarious thrills of my life (watching someone else receive a mouth-gift via glory hole counts as a vicarious thrill, right?) until I find something more meaningful to do with my time.