Over the years I have often wondered why there weren’t more documentaries about the stuntmen and stuntwomen that performed such death defying feats in hundreds of the movies that ive seen over the years. Yes now and again we get a small featurette on a DVD or a bluray taking us behind the scenes of a certain set piece, but I wanted a full length documentary that took me far more indepth into the industry of these artists and yes today I have finished watching what I wished for. Hollywood Bulldogs:The Rise and Falls of the Great British Stuntman, a feature length documentary that sits exclusively on the Britbox streaming platform which you can find here
Narrated by Ray Winstone, Hollywood Bulldogs: The Rise and Falls of the Great British Stuntman is the latest film by writer/director Jon Spira who has previously given film fans like me the wonderful Star Wars centric documentary Elstree which took us being the scenes of some of the names from that franchise that we might not have been so familiar with, we got to hear some of the stories from the filming of Star Wars that we may not have heard before (and more often that not, they were stories that we hadn’t heard before) It was a wonderful spotlight directed at wonderful people and definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already seen it.
Jon has taken a similar structure that he used very effectively on Elstree 1976 and has applied it to the world of the British Stuntman and once again it works to perfection here. With a fantastic list of legendary stunt performers such as Vic Armstrong (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Ray Austin (Space 1999), Greg Powell (Superman III), Rocky Taylor (A Clockwork Orange), Paul Weston (Aliens), Doug Robinson (Live and Let Die) Richard Hammatt (Sat Wars) and many more, we are taken on not just a historical tour of the British stunt industry but also get to hear about some of our favourite films being put together, and have the lid lifted on the stunt side of things, but also get to hear what life is like being a stuntman, from the people who did and did the job. We hear about what its like to prepare for a stunt, what its like to actually do the stunt, and also in many cases what life is like after the cameras are off and the career changes path for those involved. It is amazing to hear the glorious side of the business but also we do get to hear the less than glorious tales of the industry and whilst we of course love to think of everything going wonderful and perfect. I also think it was and is hugely important to talk about when things go wrong and why.
I so envy filmmaker Jon Spira, he is making the types of documentaries that I want to make (and so it does make me question, if i want to do it, why am I not doing it?, but thats a question for me to ponder on) As a viewer it is so wonderful to be able to sit down and hear and watch these legends sharing their stories and memories and if there is one down side to this documentary, its that its not 150 hours long. Because I would sit down and watch every moment of it (not in one sitting of course)
If you love movies, and you appreciate the hard work that goes into them. I cant urge you enough to check out Hollywood Bulldogs:The Rise and Falls of the Great British Stuntman. Britbox do have a free 7 day trial which you can sign up for, and whether you carry on after that 7 days or not, well that’s your decision, but your first port of call should definitely be Hollywood Bulldogs: The Rise and Falls of the Great British Stuntman.
You can follow filmmaker Jon Spira here on Twitter. https://twitter.com/videojon