Legendary Hollywood stuntman Hal Needham, the man with the passion for crashin’, the Michael Caine of the shoulder sprain, the Eric Schmidt of falling onto shit, has died at the age of 82. Well, not to sound callous, but what did you expect? An 82-year old shouldn’t be performing stunts in the first damn place. Just let today’s young idiots do it, they’re practically invincible anyway. What with their Monster energy drinks and their parkour and their pumpable sneakers those kids are just about superheroes now, pass the torch already.
Needham helped design a number of devices aimed at making stunts both safer and more spectacular, including a pressure-plate gizmo that could hurl an actor into the air as a car seemed to hit him or an explosion went off nearby. In 1986, he and collaborator William L. Frederick received the academy’s Scientific and Engineering Award for developing the Shotmaker Elite camera car and crane, an invention used for more efficient shooting of action sequences.
Despite contributing his own technological innovations to filmmaking, Needham remained a staunch opponent of the rise of CG special effects up until his death. It’s arguably a little hypocritical, and I have to imagine that he would’ve changed his tune had he been following the Transformers franchise. I mean, in some scenes you can kinda tell Megan Fox isn’t a real person, but how the other actors pretend they’re not just talking to a dude in a green suit is pretty impressive. It’s Andy Serkis’ best work, if you ask me.
Needham would go on to direct such films as Smokey and the Bandit, The Cannonball Run, and Stroker Ace, the only film that shares its name with its own porn parody.
Source: The LA Times