Hollywood's Pioneering Daredevils!

Film Action Before CGI

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Pub Date 28 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 18 Nov 2022

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Description

For silent film pioneers like Buster Keaton, everything that appeared on the screen in the film actually had to happen. The Directors and stunt co-ordinators who followed had to think out of the box to surpass the previous thrills. It was not until the 1970s that computers stepped in to fill in the blanks. The risks were real, the skills required in surviving such feats were breath-taking and the impact of this on the quality of the films was reflected in the audiences which loved them. We are still talking about these pioneering action sequences many years after they were made. These performers were the pioneers, the original daredevils who set the bar so high and those who follow in their footsteps must at least equal or surpass these moments in film.

Hollywood's Pioneering Daredevils highlights the best, most ground-breaking and most memorable cinematic action of the golden age of Hollywood and how it has changed, from the birth of cinema to the very latest blockbusters. It introduces the innovators of these action sequences and their directors. These were the experts who mastered the art, sometimes paying the ultimate price to thrill us, and the stars who made daring-do their trademark signature in their films. What would a swashbuckler film be without Errol Flynn, a car or motorbike chase without Steve McQueen or a western without John Wayne?

Written by someone who recognises and appreciates the skills involved, having done some of it himself, Hollywood's Pioneering Daredevils will enable readers to appreciate the creativity, innovation and the skills of the film daredevils of all ages, before computer generated imagery took over.

For silent film pioneers like Buster Keaton, everything that appeared on the screen in the film actually had to happen. The Directors and stunt co-ordinators who followed had to think out of the box...


A Note From the Publisher

Andy Wilkinson has spent more than 35 years in the entertainment business. Now a film production consultant, he has played many roles including World Champion Artistic Title winning Sword Master and fencer, Fight Director, credited Film and Theatre Director, Screen Writer, Radio Executive and Actor. He is the author of his own film memoir, “Take One, Action!”

Andy Wilkinson has spent more than 35 years in the entertainment business. Now a film production consultant, he has played many roles including World Champion Artistic Title winning Sword Master and...


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EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781803133171
PRICE £14.99 (GBP)
PAGES 120

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Featured Reviews

Hollywood’s Pioneering Daredevils!: Film Action Before CGI
By Andy Wilkinson

By Carol Cooper

I’ve been waiting a long time for a book this detailed about the history of stunt men and women in Hollywood. Wilkinson does a great job introducing the many legal, practical, and technical factors that arose to influence the hiring and training of both stunt people and film extras in successful action films.

Many film buffs decry the overuse of CGI in contemporary films as diminishing attention to character development and storytelling by both directors and screenwriters. It sometimes seems that actors and screenwriters work harder on their craft when they can’t hide behind spectacular digital special effects. But with this book in hand we now have enough facts about the tactical evolution of “cinematic realism” when depicting big battles, chase scenes, or bank jobs to perhaps compare analog and digital stunts more fairly.

I particularly enjoyed Wilkinson’s detailed overview of classic stunt work featuring horses, trains, airplanes, and automobiles. Going as far back as the silent film era, the author reminds us how human bravery and ingenuity consistently managed to capture impressive, emotionally compelling and realistic action scenes on film without computer intervention.

Although Wilkinson traces the first significant use of CGI to 1973 and the science fictional feature Westworld; the industry didn’t wholly capitulate to computerized effects until the surprising success of Star Wars in 1977. With its emphasis on directors and stunt coordinators whose finished work was both innovative and trendsetting, Hollywood’s Pioneering Daredevils becomes a must-have guide to what movie audiences should value most in any cinematic experience.

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Hollywood's Pioneering Daredevils by Andy Wilkinson is an extensive look back at the early stunt performers in film, from the silents until CGI. Though not exhaustive, it offers explanations on the performance of many of the early stunts.

While the pure history aspect makes for a fun read, I found some of the explanations to be even more enjoyable. With fewer safety precautions, the early stunts, often performed by the stars themselves, were indeed as dangerous as they looked.

Though I haven't had the chance yet, I plan to watch some of the scenes while rereading the sections that talk about them. Between YouTube and various streaming options, I hope to find many of them.

This book is ideal for the casual film fan who wants to know a little more about how stunts developed from the silent era on through the dominance of CGI. This is also a good read for film scholars who might have use of some of this information but not have any sources. This is that source for you. This book is exactly what it claims to be, both in the blurbs and in the introduction. It is one very well-versed person's overview of, and an homage to, the early stunt performers and the stunts themselves.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.

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An interesting book which should satisfy anyone who enjoys reading about stunts and the golden age of Hollywood.

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