Roger Ebert's latest essay is about Buster Keaton. We don't often see his silent movies today -- the most recent one I stumbled across was The General, on TV a few years ago. Keaton's films are tremendously funny, and supremely daring physically. Ebert writes:
[N]o silent star did more dangerous stunts than Buster Keaton. Instead of using doubles, he himself doubled for some of his actors, doing their stunts as well as his own. [...]
Keaton is famous for a shot in "Steamboat Bill, Jr.," where he stands in front of a house during a cyclone, and a wall falls on top of him; he is saved because he happens to be exactly where the window is. There was scant clearance on either side, and you can see his shoulders tighten a little just as the wall lands. He refused to rehearse the stunt because, he explained, he trusted his set-up, so why waste a wall?
Now I suddenly want the box set.