Today, it is done with digital magic. Glue a few ping-pong balls on a Lycra suit, have the actors stand in front of a green screen, turn on a fan to get the hair moving, roll the camera. Yeah, we’ll let post-production take care of the background. Sometimes, even the actor is optional.
Back in the 1970s, baby, it was all real. It took stuntmen and women to bring ka-boom to the screen.
Add this to your list of movies filmed in the county, a list that began in 1923. “Stunts” was a 1977 independent movie that was filmed in downtown San Luis Obispo.
The storyline: An unlucky movie production is plagued with accidents. An expert stuntman is called in to finish the picture after his brother dies in an accident — or was it an accident? He and a journalist investigate as his stunt pals come to spectacular ends.
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The movie garnered lukewarm reviews.
The stars included Robert Forster as the stuntman, Glen Wilson and Fiona Lewis as journalists and B.J. Parswell. Work your way down the list of characters and you run across Redneck, Groupie 1 and Bimbo 2. Doing stunts in platform shoes qualifies as high risk in my book.
The philosophy of the movie seems to be summed up in a photo of a spectator’s T-shirt, which read: “The hell with dialog. Wreck something.”
The director Mark L. Lester went on to direct bigger movies, including “Commando,” with Arnold Schwarzenegger, in 1985. In addition to directing 30 movies, he has produced 37 movies and television shows.
Here is the article from Feb. 2, 1977:
Car ‘stunt’ revs up fans
San Luis Obispo had waited all morning to see it.
At 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, stunt driver Joie Chitwood drove a rumbling blue Dodge up a ramp and onto its two left wheels for a tire-squealing, gravity-defying ride down the block from Santa Rosa Street to Osos Street.
Then Chitwood deliberately rolled the Dodge over with a splintering of glass, as hundreds of spectators whistled and cheered.
It was all part of a movie called “Stunt,” made by an independent production company called — what else? — “The Stunt.”
If distribution patterns mesh, the same spectators may be able to go to the Fremont Theater — scant yards from where Chitwood did his thing — in a few months and see it again on film.
Email David Middlecamp at email@example.com