Rest In Peace, Hal Needham

Yesterday, Hollywood Reporter posted that legendary stunt man and stuntfilm-director Hal Needham has died from cancer, aged 82.

Quite possibly the most famous all-round stunt man ever in the history of Hollywood, Hal Needham had a decades long career as a stunt double (and later stunt-coordinator) in the 50s, 60 and 70s. In 1976 he decided to have some fun and direct his friend Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit, based on an idea they had both developed. It was a huge financial success and the stunt-based comedy made car stunts almost a genre in itself.

Not one to shy away from a successful formula, Hal Needham made a number of similar films like Hooper and The Cannonball Run, and a bunch of sequels.
Known and revered within the industry for his technological know-how, he was responsible for many innovations still used today, from special cameras to using rockets to get cars to go faster to an (un)safe speed.

Last November he received an honorary Oscar for his lifetime achievements. Hal Needham will be missed, another Hollywood legend from my youth gone.
Around the Internet:
  • grammar nazi

    peace*

  • Ard Vijn

    D'OH!

    Blimey, how did I miss that?! Quick change!

  • mightyjoeyoung

    "Known and revered within the industry for his technological know-how, he was responsible for many innovations still used today, from special cameras to using rockets to get cars to go faster to an (un)safe speed."

    Hal Needham........he knew how to entertain an audience.

    I don´t know how many times I seen Smokey and the Bandit (1977), and I still find myself whispering:"Come on Bandit.....you can make it"

    The weird part is that I know the ending of it......

    And then we have.......his masterpiece, Megaforce(1982).....ok, granted, it´s not a milestone in cinema history but still......so many cool things about it.

    Barry Bostwicks hair and makeup, that tight shiny outfit that makes certain parts of his anatomy look MEGA (probably scared/scarred a few young girls) and the great tagline: Deeds Not Words.

    Yes, Mr Needham made that film work.

    Now there are some films I haven´t seen yet by Mr Needham, like Hooper (1978), The Villain (1979), etc but when I heard about his passing I stumbled across one film that shows a much darker, more complex side of Needham, far from the happy go lucky style of ....say, The Cannonball Run (1981), Stroker Ace (1983).

    Namely Death Car on the Freeway(1979), a TV-film but a really well made, taut thriller fully comparable to Spielbergs old classic Duel (1971).

    It is story about a serialkiller who kills young women by pushing them off the road using a black van. But who is he? A young female reporter goes on the hunt not knowing she is being hunted......

    This not just an actionthriller made on very lowbudget, it also a story about misogyny, sexism. Of course it´s not just the men who are causing trouble here, you have an older female newsanchor worried about her job, who feels threatened by the young journalist.

    At times the film just flirts shameslessly with feminist movement but works for the most part. And with a nice cameo with Mr Needham himself.

    Now, someone, somewhere( Come on Shout factory, Synpase etc......one of you genre labels should release this one) should release it on DVD, Blu Ray, VOD.

    It shows a different side of Mr Needham, a great side.

    I don´t know if Mr Needham ever cruised the streets listening to weird soundtrack to this film but I like to think he did.

    http://youtu.be/tZWSQ0J__fQ

    RIP, Mr Needham, thanks for all the good times, man.

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