June 22, 2011

Book Review: The True Adventures of the World's Greatest Stuntman

Vic Armstrong is a stunt legend, and these are his stories. That should be the tagline for this no nonsense compendium of his accounts detailing his adventures over forty plus years in the movie business. The True Adventures of the World's Greatest Stuntman runs through Armstrong's extensive (and ongoing) career as a stuntman, stunt coordinator, and assistant director.

You know him even though you may not realize it. He's in the Guinness Book of Records as the World's Most Prolific Stuntman. His work can be seen in films such as Indiana Jones, Superman, Dune, many James Bond movies, and over fifty more. He sort of lucked into the movie business. He wanted to be a steeplechase jockey, ended up doing some stunt work with horses, and started getting small jobs. Those small jobs became bigger, and they led to stunt coordination and even directing. He remembers many of these jobs in astonishing detail.

The book reads like a series of film shorts. Jobs are broken up into separate chapters for the most part, and the direct style left me constantly thinking, “I'll just read one more chapter.” This autobiography invites you to come in and settle down. I felt like I was sitting around a blazing bonfire hearing these stories directly from Armstrong. His enthusiasm, work ethic, and humbleness leap off the pages. It's apparent that he appreciates every ounce of hard work others pour into movies, and he's matched it. He's far from jaded. He seems still filled with wonder that he gets to do what he does everyday. His words are punctuated with photos from the sets and notes from directors and actors.

Like voice actors doing impressions, if a stunt performer does the job right, no one notices. Actually, that can go for several roles in the movie industry. Many puzzle pieces have to be shoved together off camera to achieve what we see in the finished product. Reading Armstrong's account of movie experiences will definitely make me take greater notice of the hard work of stunt performers. If you ever think about what happens behind the scenes, you'll enjoy reading Armstrong's riveting adventures.

crossposted at Geek Girls Network


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