Silent movies were films produced as early as 1891 until the first movie with dialogues was released in 1927. The name maybe misleading for those who are not aware of this genre of film production but the content is anything but voiceless.
The masterworks of this era did not feature a pin-drop silence for the entire length of the film; there were orchestras, music and even narrations to support the plot. They included dramas, epics, romances and even comedies. Silent movie comedies were based on slapstick humor coupled with daring stunts.
Slipping on a banana peel was just not enough because the audience wanted something more courageous like a man hanging from a tower. Here are a couple of names who accomplished such feats and emerged as stars of classic silent comedy.
Buster Keaton From Steam Bill, Jr. (1928)
Some of the jaw-dropping stunts that the actor Keaton pulls off in this movie were so real that even the camera crew could not follow it without averting their gaze.
From being blown around in a cyclone, to surviving a 4000 lb. building crashing on him, the actor did a commendable job at daring to accomplish these challenges.
As outrageously risky as it may seem, the scene doesn’t fail to send the audience into fits of laughter. The man remains unharmed after a house front collapses on him just because a window frame barely saves him from having his head busted.
Even 8 years after the stunt, the actor was still amazed at his own ability. He was quoted saying that it did require a bit of madness to enjoy the thrill of it!
Dick Grace from Wings (1927)
As a veteran army pilot from World War I, stuntman Dick Grace was the ideal candidate for successfully pulling off aerial stunts.
The Oscar-winning movie Wings featured several stunts by the self-acclaimed “crack-up engineer” who crashed aircrafts into lakes and fields, and dangled himself from the cockpit with a rope. The secret to his stunts was not just courage but also meticulous planning, skill and engineering hacks.
Grace utilized his intelligence to saw specific parts of the aircraft in order to minimize the blow from the crash. Apart from this he also observed safety rules like wearing a shock absorber jacket which protected his spine.
Even though he broke his neck while shooting, this did not stop the stuntman from forming his own stunt organization called The Squadron Of Death.
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