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!
My Nominations: Guns Of Navarone. Yojimbo. El Cid. The Comancheros. Mothra. One-Eyed Jacks.
For my nominations this year we have two early action classics, one old school epic, one slice of Japanese madness, and a forgotten film waiting to be resurrected. The Guns Of Navarone is one of the most popular man’s-man’s films, featuring an essentially all muscle cast throwing punches, running, hiding, shooting, and crashing their way across Nazi Greece. The action is on such a large scale that there are too many Stunt performers to mention, but thanks to the work of heroes like Bob Anderson (Star Wars Trilogy, LOTR Trilogy), Peter Grant (Led Zeppelin), Jimmy Lodge (Goldfinger, Live And Let Die), Joe Powell (Zulu, You Only Live Twice), and Bob Simmons (Dr. No, Goldinger), Navarone remains thrilling over 50 years later.
Yojimbo’s sword play was masterminded by Hiroshi Kanesu, Ryu Kuze (known for many Kurosawa collaberations), and Yoshio Sugino (Seven Samurai) while Mothra’s stunts were largely the product of Ishiro Honda and the effects crew. El Cid is one of the greatest epics from the early 60s and sees inspired work (especially involving horsies) from Buff Brady (The Green Hornet, Escape From New York), the Canutt Brothers (The Omega Man, The Wild Bunch, Ben Hur), and Jack Williams (The Magnificent Seven, Wild Wild West) amongst others. The Comancheros has more horse action with many of the same performers from El Cid and also featuring Jim Burk (Conan The Barbarian, Young Guns) and Chuck Hayward ( Blues Brothers, Spartacus). The forgotten One-eyed Jacks has strong work from the likes of Henry Wills (Bonanza, Magnificent Seven) and Paul Baxley (Dukes Of Hazard, Star Trek).