So once again we have survived.

Hooper

tn_hooperThis year’s ActionFest featured a tribute to the legendary stuntman Buddy Joe Hooker, and as part of the celebration they showed this light-hearted dramedy about Burt Reynolds as a stuntman who starts to see he might be getting too old for this shit. Hooker did some of the stunts for both the Hooper character and his younger rival/partner “Ski” Shidski (Jan Michael Vincent).

In time Hooker would become legendary for stunts in movies including FIRST BLOOD, SCARFACE, ROAD HOUSE… He’s been a constant through multiple eras of action. In the ’70s he was stunt coordinating for Burt Reynolds and Wonder Woman, in the ’90s he did Seagal (HARD TO KILL), Dolph (PENTATHLON), Lambert (THE HUNTED). He had a major hand in the best car chases of the ’80s (TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A.) and the 2000s (he drove as Stuntman Mike in DEATH PROOF). Shit, I think he even did Brad Pitt getting hit by that car in MEET JOE BLACK.

But in 1978 when HOOPER was made Hooker was more of a solid professional than a legendary veteran, having been in the game for about a decade. He’d done stunts in OMEGA MAN, WHITE LIGHTNING, THREE THE HARD WAY, WHITE LINE FEVER, he even rode a motorcycle in GAME OF DEATH. But he was still early in his career, so if anybody’s based on him in this movie it’s not Hooper, it’s Ski, the young hotshot who idolizes Hooper but his youth and modern ways obviously make Hooper nervous and competitive. (If you’ve seen CRAZY HEART, Ski is Colin Farrell and Hooper is Jeff Bridges. He wants to hate this young buck who’s threatening his dominance, but it’s hard because the kid is too damn nice.)

I gotta assume Hooper’s kind of autobiographical for director Hal Needham, who was a major stuntman on western TV shows in the ’60s, doubled for Reynolds in the ’70s and then became a big time director when Reynolds agreed to star in his screenplay SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT. It’s kind of cool to see a movie about a topic like this and know that it’s actually very personal for the director.

mp_hooperHOOPER begins with a stuntman version of the ol’ Rambo style suit-up sequence: we see Hooper, neck down only, body covered in scars, taping himself up, pulling on protective padding, putting on his clothes, his leather jacket, his motorcycle helmet. Then he goes out on set and crashes a motorcycle into a car.

It’s hard out here for a stuntman. His body’s all beat up and worn out, so he takes shots and pain pills, which his girl (Academy Award winner Sally Field) is not happy about. The assistant director makes him do crazy shit (like hold an actual dog in a building fall) and then he has to take the blame for it. The director (Robert Klein) is an asshole. Everybody’s always telling him how awesome this young guy Ski is, and the guy actually is awesome, so it makes Hooper jealous and he starts getting reckless trying to outdo him right at the time in his life when he should start to mellow out. And then if he wises up and tries to back out of a suicidal stunt he promised to do then he and his friends will get fired. Also his house is a fuckin mess.

On the other hand it’s fun to be a stuntman. They go out drinking every night, they laugh all the time, they get in huge brawls with some dudes in town for a S.W.A.T. convention (who become their fight brothers because they’re impressed by their moves), and Adam West (who Hooper is doubling in the James Bond ripoff THE SPY WHO LAUGHED AT DANGER) at least is nice to them.

There are a few references to the real life stunt world. You see “BUDDY JOE HOOKER” written on some masking tape attached to a drawer in the background of a shot, and later he’s mentioned as one of the handful of people besides Hooper who could do a certain crazy car stunt. Ski is said to be a member of Stunts Unlimited (a company that Needham co-founded) and their logo is seen many times.

This is a stuntsploitation movie – it shows you the world of the stuntmen and uses it as an excuse to string together a series of great stunts. They don’t even have to come up with a plot that would tie together all these stunts, you just have to assume that The Spy Who Laughed At Danger has a logical reason to jump off a building holding a dog, rappel down a building and shoot a bunch of guys, and jump a rocket car across a broken bridge.

But unlike most stuntsploitation movies there’s no high concept to it. They’re not stuntmen doing black ops like DEATH CHEATERS, or a fugitive hiding out on a movie set like THE STUNTMAN, they’re just stuntmen doing stunts. So it’s a simple and modest story that works as a love letter to the stunt business, or a plea for love from the stunt business. At the time it was just saying “hey, let’s give some credit to these stunt guys, they’re working hard behind the scenes,” but now it has an extra bit of “remember, before computers, when people actually did this shit? Wasn’t that better? Also check out these mustaches, that’s what they looked like when they weren’t ironic.”

If you can enjoy your usual Burt Reynolds lovable-fuck-up type of character (and I can) this is another one for you. Vincent doesn’t have a huge amount of screen time, but he’s much more likable than he was in a similar role within the hitman world in THE MECHANIC.

HOOPER is nothin big, but it has a charm to it. These guys are tough, they have fun, they’re loyal to each other, and they like to jump off of skyscrapers. And now it has an extra bonus charm because it’s paying tribute to what now seems like kind of a lost art in the digital age. Of course it’s not really – there are still plenty of stuntmen, it’s just that they’re more hidden than ever. Alot of the big money shots are either gonna be done with the computers or they’re gonna computer the lead actor’s face over the stuntman’s. And then people are gonna assume that since you can do anything with computers these days that means nobody really flipped that car or got thrown face first through that plate glass window or whatever. But they’re still working, even in the computerized movies. AVATAR has about 65 stunt people listed on the credits.

One problem these meta-infra-inside-x-ray Hollywood movies can have is that they talk up their fictional movies-within-movies and make them sound great, then when we see a piece of them it doesn’t live up to the hype. HOOPER really seems to be painting itself into that type of a corner when they start planning the big dangerous stunt to end all big dangerous stunts: a two man rocket car jump across a cavern.

It’s a stunt that Ski over-confidently suggests, and Hooper’s ego forces him to volunteer for it. Later he thinks better of it, his girl is gonna leave him for it, his best friend is gonna lose his job over it, and begs him not to do it. It’s gonna turn THE SPY WHO LAUGHED AT DANGER into an instant classic if they pull it off, or it’s gonna kill the movie if they bite it. Meanwhile it causes a problem for HOOPER because we’re pretty sure when they show the stunt it’s not gonna be as death-defying as they say it is. Of course it turns out to be cool but clearly not the reckless endangerment the story has promised.

But they have a brilliant way to make that not matter. Inspired by the promise of the rocket car stunt the asshole director rewrites the entire climax of his movie to include the most ridiculous stunts he can imagine. Now Hooper (doubling Adam West) is in a car being chased when suddenly an earthquake happens. He keeps driving as buildings blow up and collapse all around him, then a bridge goes out and he uses the rocket jets to jump across.

Hooper supposedly does all of this in one take, one long tracking shot, which of course the movie itself doesn’t duplicate. But it doesn’t matter because they really deliver on all the crazy mayhem. Needham was able to purchase and destroy an abandoned military hospital in Alabama, so it’s an incredible parade of fiery destruction and car stunts. My favorite is a shot of a huge smokestack collapsing and just as it’s almost to the ground Hooper’s car zooms through right underneath it, barely avoiding getting crushed.

It’s also worth noting that when Hooper drops 232 feet without a parachute to break the world record the real stuntman (A.J. Bakunas) really was dropping 232 feet without a parachute to break the world record. And it probly wasn’t a coincidence, in my opinion.

this one’s not bad

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Thursday, April 14th, 2011 at 2:28 am and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Drama, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

47 Responses to “Hooper”

  1. I remember seeing this years ago on ITV. The one scene that sticks out in my mind is Hooper driving backwards really fast down a road whilst talking to someone in another car who is driving normally. I do love Burt (Boogie Nights is my fave movie hence the handle), saw him on Burn Notice recently and I honestly wondered if he even knew he was there.

  2. Burt was, at least pre Stick (1985), one of the Fabulous Four in my video renting days. You simply could not go wrong with a movie starring Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Michael Caine or Bud Spencer.

  3. So Adam West is playing himself? Was that the first time he did that? These days he is doing not much else, even though it’s often a wacky, delusional caricature of him, (kinda like 99,5% of the celebrity guest stars in CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, EXTRAS or ENTOURAGE).
    Apart from that, I’ve never heard of that movie. Every other Reynolds/Needham movie is constantly playing on TV here, but this one? I hope it’s on home video.

  4. Hooper, The World’s Greatest Stuntman! Right on! : )

    Vern, thank you for this. I can’t really add much to this review; it just about says it all and sums up what’s good about this fun, unfairly neglected little film. (although Tarantino has done his part to try and get the word out too.)

    Absolutely right about Hooper preserving memories of the pre-digital age of filmmaking. Futhermore, changing times aside, it’s simply one a very few movies about simply the work of making movies, and the people who do it as a job. Who get up in the morning, go to set, labor all day (and all night, sometimes), and never get famous for it, don’t get paid a whole hell of a lot, and at most get their names on the end credits. The ones who drive the trucks, set up the lights, build the sets, call action, bring the actors to set, make lunch, take the high falls and crash the cars, and load the cameras.

    A lot of films about making movies focus on the actors, or on the wheeling and dealing at the studios (THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, THE AVIATOR, THE LAST TYCOON) or on the creative struggle of an artist (STATE AND MAIN ). Or they use a studio or a set as a backdrop for a murder mystery or a love story or something (THE STUNT MAN). I guess films about the every day work of making movies fall into what you’d call the SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN model, with that, of course, being the greatest of them all, followed by DAY FOR NIGHT, HOOPER…and not a lot of others.

    But, as one of those crew members who’s put in the long hours on set, thanks again for this terrific review, and hope it turns more folks on to this film.

  5. CC; As a kid I loved the scene with the stripper jumping out of the cake or box. I guess that happens every other day on a real film set?

  6. I was 18 when “Hooper” came out and I had been reading magazines like Cinefantastique and Film Comment and watching any TV shows I could about how they made movies. Therefore I was pretty dismissive of the ending of the film which was clearly not done in one long take. I was watching a lot of movies that had much less plausible situations in them that didn’t make me blink an eye, but for some reason I guess I felt offended that the film makers thought the movie goer (me) didn’t know how a movie was made and could just do any old thing they wanted and we’d buy it. So I didn’t like the film at the time and haven’t seen it since. I preferred the Burt in films like “White Lightning” and “Gator” then stuff like “Smokey”, but maybe I’ll see if Netflix has this and give it another chance. Of course I still kind of hate how they fudge how movies are made on TV shows and movies, so I don’t know…

    Oh and I remember being a bit miffed that the fight in the bar was the same old Hollywood lameness in a movie about how cool Hollywood stuntman were. I had already seen action that was much more dramatic and cool then this barfight that seemed straight out of a 60s or even 50s western. Or at least that’s how I felt at the time. I am of course much more mellow 30 some years later.

  7. pegsman, get a life.

    “Hey, Sweden!”

    “They’re Norwegian, MacReady.”

  8. Going off on a tangent here, but every time I think of Burt I think of The Longest Yard, my fave Burt flick. Whenever I think of The Longest Yard I think of Slap Shot, because they’re two of my favorite flicks and they make a great double feature.
    My point is: Vern have you ever reviewed Slap Shot? I can’t find it in your archives and I’d love to read your take on it.

  9. Teddy Jack Eddy

    April 14th, 2011 at 8:56 am

    This movie suffers from the same, lame Hal Needhamisms as MEGAFORCE. You kind of wish Needham was smarter about the script because there is actually a pretty good movie in there. Of course, Richard Rush’s THE STUNT MAN mostly delivered on HOOPER’s promise.

  10. Teddy Jack Eddy

    April 14th, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Btw, Burt always gets a free pass with me because of SHARKY’S MACHINE. Good one.

  11. CC, thank you for making this probably the only site where HOOPER and DAY FOR NIGHT could possibly be mentioned in the same post. A testament to the length and breadth of the film appreciation on this site. Made my morning and also made me want to see these in a double feature. How fantastic would that be.

    Along with SMOKEY & THE BANDIT, HOOPER was a favorite of mine growing up. It played on TV all the time. Anyone else remember the television show, THE FALL GUY with Lee Majors? It debuted right around the same period. A period when films and television shows were all about the blue collar worker; Truckers, beat cops, stuntmen, construction workers, etc. As a kid it went a long way toward making my dad and the guys he worked with into heroes.

  12. When it comes to Burt, you have to break it down into Mustache and No Mustache categories. The difference is night and day.

    No Mustache Burt is a bad motherfucker. He’s an imposing individual with big shoulders and fearsome black eyebrows that he uses to indicate his disapproval of things. He takes no shit, maybe spent some time in jail, and probably used to play football until he hurt his knee.

    Mustache Burt is just a laid-back rascal. He likes to laugh, stick it to the man, drive real fast, and romance ladies who are much smarter than him. He’s still a big dude but he seems slimmer and less imposing with that big hunk of hair drawing all that attention away from his fearsome eyebrows down to his easygoing smile. HOOPER, obviously, is a Mustache Movie.

    No Mustache Burt is a serious actor. Mustache Burt is a comedian. No Mustache Burt is a badass. Mustache Burt is a clown. No Mustache Burt gets by on manly swagger. Mustache Burt lets the stache do all the work.

    The distinction can be seen most easily in WHITE LIGHTNING and its sequel, GATOR. In WL, No Mustache Burt is the baddest motherfuckin’ moonshiner in the South. He breaks out of jail and the screws apologize to him when they catch him. He’s no-nonsense and on a mission of revenge. In GATOR, he’s evolved into Mustache Burt in between movies. He’s now the kind of guy who gets into comical boat races with Jack Walden and has Jerry Reed sing him a theme song with the word “gonads” in it.

    But perhaps the most telling iteration of the Mustache Burt/No Mustache Burt dichotomy is THE LONGEST YARD, in which it is used as a vital plot point. The beginning of the movie is your typical Mustache Burt fare. He’s having a good ol’ time, getting into a car chase with the cops and causing some comical mayhem. But then he gets caught and sent to prison, where the first thing they do is shave off the stache. Now it’s a No Mustache Burt movie, in which he faces conflict with a stoic, badass presence, not the smartass smirk Mustache Burt would employ.

    Occasionally, Mustache Burt would try to do No Mustache Burt roles, but they didn’t work as well. The mustache is inherently comical, sapping some of the badass from movies like MALONE or STICK (although they’re still decent). The mustache says “Just foolin’, fellas, no hard feelings, right?” The lack of mustache says “Guys, settle down, I’m serious.”

    In closing, I know a guy who claims to be Burt’s nephew. He says he has the hair from one of Burt’s old mustaches saved in a ziplock bag. Until I see it with my own two eyes, however, I remain unconvinced. I like to think I’d recognize an authentic Reynolds stache if I saw one.

  13. Teddy Jack Eddy – I always thought WHITE LIGHTNING was a masterpiece in the Southern Moonshiner genre and one of Reynold’s best performances. I actually petitioned Criterion to represent the genre with the royal C treatment.

  14. Ahhh, The Fall Guy… he’s the unknown stuntman that made Eastwood look so fine. Whenever The Fall Guy came on TV when I was a kid, I’d always try and spot what films the stunts in the opening titles were from. There was one definitely from Silver Streak. Can’t remember any others. If I saw it again now, I hope I’d recognise a few more.

  15. I agree, WHITE LIGHTING is one of the greatest hicksploitation films of all time.

    I actually like HOOPER far more then THE STUNT MAN, but I’m biased. Although, everything else aside, there’s a lot of things about THE STUNT MAN that just bug me–the cheesy music, the totally implausible, badly paced story, the lead actor (he was okay as Charles Manson, annoying in everything else I’ve ever seen him in) (well, he was decent in COCKFIGHTER too) the completely unrealistic portrayal of the process of filmmaking….Objectively, it’s not a bad movie, just one I’ve never been able to personally enjoy very much.

    I would even go so far as to argue that HOOPER edges out SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT as Hal Needham’s best movie. BANDIT is, after all, at it’s best (which isn’t much) still basically a drive-in comedy, whereas HOOPER is at least kind’ve about real people with real problems. It really is sorta the redneck, American, mainstream DAY FOR NIGHT, even more so then LIVING IN OBLIVION (it’s not a self-concious homage to DAY the way OBLIVION is.) And frankly, if Truffaut, who truly loved all cinema, were still alive, I don’t think he’d really mind the comparison.

  16. Jareth Cutestory

    April 14th, 2011 at 10:29 am

    CC: I don’t know if I’m reading your classification system properly. Are you saying that
    BARTON FINK falls into the SINGING IN THE RAIN model?

    I think I just hurt my brain.

  17. I don’t know, CC. I’m all about SMOKEY. While HOOPER was a fun romp about cool guys doing a difficult job, SMOKEY was about something more. The Bandit represented freedom to be a rebel and have fun and stick it to The Man and wipe out a dozen cop cars and smile the whole time. As a kid, that was crack to me. It was a fantasy that a lot of people shared at that time. Bandit was the fun loving flip side to nihilistic heroes like Kowalski in VANISHING POINT (which I also dig, don’t get me wrong).

  18. Dan – you’ll still hate the bar brawl! It definitely is in the style of a corny old cowboy movie, everybody throwing the same punches and sending each other flying into the furniture, Sally Field sitting the middle of it all finishing her dinner. The scene is enjoyable for the silly idea that these guys are thrown out the window into the garbage pile and become instant friends. But it’s definitely more focused on being silly than being a good fight scene.

    Majestyk – great mustache breakdown. I was thinking about the mustache while watching this because it suddenly occurred to me that two of the toughest sonofabitches in the early UFC – Dan “The Beast” Severn and Don “The Predator” Frye – might’ve modeled their facial hair after Burt Reynolds. I don’t think you’d have a problem with them though, they are definitely not goofin around Smokey and the Bandit style.

  19. Vern – I don’t want to give the impression that I am anti-Mustache
    Burt, or anti-mustache at all. (Click on my name and check my profile pic if you don’t believe me.) I love those goofy movies Burt made when he was the biggest star in the world and audiences would pay just to watch him hanging out with his friends. But I can’t help but think that badass cinema was robbed after he was seduced by the easy glamor of the mustache. He tried to get his swagger back in the eighties but he just couldn’t give up the stache. It had become a trademark and a crutch. Kind of a waste, but I think we can see from all the love his work gets around here from multiple generations of people who enjoy seeing cars flip over 27 times that it wasn’t in vain.

  20. I remember seeing some of this a few years ago. It was a scene were Hooper is reminiscing about his past work, and watching a showreel, and one of the clips is from the river stunt in DELIVERANCE. So Burt Reynolds is playing a character who’s apparently stunt doubled for Burt Reynolds?

    As for THE FALL GUY. They’ve been repeating that for the past month or so(fittingly for this review, alongside Adam West’s Batman). They sure did longer opening titles back then:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aw-GP1D6cdo
    Which was followed by another minute long montage where Majors narrates and explains what his character’s all about.

  21. They had time for that kind of shit when 18 minutes out of every hour wasn’t taken up by commercials.

  22. Barton Fink: No, it isn’t in the Rain / Hooper / Day For Night subgenre because the wrestling movie never goes into production. It’s more like The Player or The Last Tycoon (Making Deals With The Big Guys) and State And Main and Ed Wood (Artist Struggles To Get His or Her Vision Through The System). For Barton Fink to be in Rain mode Fink would have had to have been struggling with reshoots, production rewrites, on-set intrigues, ect.

    Darryll: I never really liked Vanishing Point much either. Smokey and The Bandit is to Hooper what Vanishing Point is to Two Lane Blacktop.

  23. Is it okay if I consider TWO-LANE BLACKTOP to be unwatchable garbage?

    ACT I

    SCENE 1

    EXT. DAY

    THAT GUY and THAT OTHER GUY drive.

    SCENE 2

    EXT. DAY

    THAT GUY: Mumble?

    THAT OTHER GUY: Mumble.

    WARREN OATES: Confident, charismatic mumble indicative of the death of the American Dream.

    ACT II

    SCENE 1

    EXT. DAY

    We point the camera out the windshield as we drive to the next mumbling location.

    ACT III

    The End

    I concede that I may be missing something.

  24. Still, even if you don’t like it you have to admit that TWO-LANE BLACKTOP was extremely ground-breaking in its use of mumbling. Would we have Jeff Bridges tour-de-force mumbling in TRUE GRIT today if TWO-LANE BLACKTOP never existed? I don’t know and luckily I don’t have to find out.

  25. Stu, That Fall Guy song mentioned being on fire with Sally Fields. Does anyone know which movie she was on fire in ’cause I would pay good money to see Sally Fields on fire. Anyone?

  26. I’ll forgive Burt just about anything for making “The Longest Yard”, “White Lightning” and “Sharky’s Machine” which I saw in the theater when it came out and many times on cable and VHS (although I realize now it’s probably been over ten years since I’ve seen it last. Is it on DVD?) But I never liked most of his comedies and he made a lot of lazy action films in his day.
    And thanks Majestyk for reminding me that “Gator” was only a half assed sequel to WL. I love early Jerry Reed (check out the early semi-rockabilly stuff on the Bear Family CD from Germany), but he doesn’t really add much to alot of the movies he’s in.
    By the time the “Fall Guy” was on TV I thought of it as something only my Gramp or little kids would like. Kind of like the “A-Team”. But then again, I was used to seeing R rated films by that time and I don’t think there was any action show on TV I was happy with.

  27. I’ll give you that, Jake. TWO-LANE BLACKTOP is the NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS, HERE’S THE SEX PISTOLS of mumbling.

  28. Dan – See, I would argue that Jerry Reed is one of the stronger elements of GATOR, a film I like even though it is really all over the place in terms of tone. (It’s like every kind of Burt movie rolled into one, which is not surprising since he directed it.) He has an oily charm as a bully pedophile good ol’ boy gangster. All of his dialogue seems off the cuff. I particularly like the way he delivers the line “Well, I’ve been nice to him long enough.”

    And c’mon, the part where he drives his rig over the motorcycles after getting his ass beat is the best part of SMOKEY 1.

  29. Majestyk: No, it is not okay.

    Vern, review Two Lane Blacktop (and Pat Garret And Billy The Kid, and cross-reference with Malone) and set these guys straight.

  30. I absolutely love this one and still own it on Betamax. Such a shame Burt never developed into a grand patriarch of action the way Clint did. He went on a great run there in the 70’s. Coupla good ones later on too.

    Vern, and/or anyone ever watch Sharkey’s Machine? Always dug that one.

  31. Mr Majestyk; What about The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing? He has a mustache AND he’s pretty mean in that one? And in Sharky’s Machine he goes from bearded Burt to mustache Burt, but he’s mean as hell all the way. By the way, I’m on your side in the Two-Lane Blacktop discussion.

  32. ya know, Burt Reynold’s hometown is not too far from where I live, they have a museum dedicated to him there and everything, I find it really cool to think that a guy from Georgia was once the biggest movie star in the world

    anyway unfortunately Hooper is not on Netflix, was it ever released on dvd at all?

    p.s., I love The Stunt Man

  33. Hooper was released on DVD, but it’s pretty hard to find.

  34. There’s a Burt Box out (I ordered it from Amazon last year), containing Sharky’s Machine, Hooper and Stroker Ace.

  35. A friend of mine read what I wrote and called me to task for not mentioning “Deliverance” and “Boogie Nights”. But I don’t consider either of those films Burt movies. Just for the record.

  36. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    April 15th, 2011 at 6:26 am

    Mr Majestyk> Your analysis on the ‘tash technique of Burt Reynolds is one of the most indepth and accurate surveys on the great man I have ever read. You scored extra points for taking notice of his eyebrows. Top score old boy.

    Also your very own ‘tash is very impressive. You have a striking resemblance to Julian Barratt from The Mighty Boosh. Also impressive.

  37. Ace – I’m not gonna lie, that pic was photoshopped a little to fill out the stache to more voluptuous levels. I don’t rock that look anymore, but I do miss it. I’ve had it a couple times but I always lose confidence in it after a few weeks.

    pegsman – I’m not claiming that my theory is comprehensive. After all, W.W. AND THE DIXIE DANCE-KINGS stars No Mustache Burt even though it is in every way a Mustache Burt movie. But I think my theory is still a good rule of thumb.

  38. But where do we place bearded Burt? He’s usually the romantic or serious one…

  39. I feel that if it wasn’t for the talents of A.J. Bakunas there would be no ‘Hooper’ movie. After all he did the majority of all the stunts. I know, I was there.

  40. Tell us more! Did he mainly double for Hooper, or other characters too?

    We appreciate your insights.

  41. The worlds greatest stunt man “buddy joe hooker” : from james “baja dude” claytor

  42. Hi Vern, I wanted to thank you for the article which we have never seen til now. Buddy Joe and I have been married for 22 years and, at ACTIONFEST in 2011, we had a great time reminiscing about his career when he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement award. The reel they made for him can still be found at:http://www.rowsdowr.com/2011/04/17/buddy-joe-hooker-tribute-vehicular-carnage-supercut/
    In HOOPER, he did all of Jan-Michael’s stunts in the film and the one-take sequence at the end of the movie where he drives the red TransAm through the explosions and under the smoke stack will always be one of his favorite experiences in a career that spans 60 years (he was a child actor in LEAVE IT TO BEAVER as Buddy Hart). He continues to direct, stunt coordinate and perform stunts for film and television. I showed him your article and he remains grateful to movie goers like yourself who enjoy and appreciate the men and women who bring action to the screen. Thanks for the smile and keep up the good badass work.

  43. I love this sight. I truly do.

  44. Thanks Gayle, it’s great to hear from you. Glad you enjoyed the review. That scene with the smoke stack is amazing!

  45. Oh man, we lost another legend. RIP to Hal Needham, who jumped a late model Chrysler sedan over the Pearl Gates today. I know he’s best known for his Burt Reynolds movies, but to me he’ll always be the director of RAD, the bitchinest BMX bike movie ever made. When I was nine, there was nothing cooler. If there’s a heaven, let’s hope it has lots of sidewalk cafes and roadside fruit carts.

  46. My online DVD rental sent me this movie today, but I couldn’t remeber to ever put it on my queue. While watching it, I realized: “Hey, I’m sure Vern reviewed it at some point and that’s how it ended up there” and I was right. Good movie. And it’s always fun to see a movie that shows all kinds of stunts, for no other reason than “This is a movie about stuntpeople”.

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