‘Hooper’

Film: Hooper (1978)
Rated: PG
Directed by: Hal Needham
Written by: Walt Green and Walter Herdon
Starring: Burt Reynolds as Sonny Hooper
              Sally Field as Gwen Doyle
              James Best as Cully
              Jan-Michael Vincent as ‘Ski’ Chinski
              Brian Keith as Jocko Doyle
Tagline: “Ain’t nobody can fly a car like Hooper!”

By George Kaplan Roger Thornhill

Pre-screening memories: If the ’70s had a Johnny Knoxville, his name was Evel Knievel. His death-defying acts inspired millions of young kneee-scrapers to shatter bones they had not even learned about yet in science class. Of course, his stunts were much more of a spectacle than the rag-tag Jackass gang — flaming hoops, rocket-powered cars, etc. But it spawned a cottage industry of carelessness as we took to our BMX bikes, attempting to duplicate such feats of derring-do.

He also helped shine a temporary light on the unsung hero of the film and television industry — the stuntman. Hal Needham, a former stuntman himself, seized on this opportunity as a director, and played to the good ol’ boy masses that like to see things get blowed up read good.

Filling his films with gears and beers, his films were like porn to this 9 year old. I wanted to be Sonny Hooper. Forget the fact that it was still another severn years until I was to get my driver’s license, I could still emulate all the stunts with my Mongoose BMX bike and a few piles of strategically placed dirt.

To me, Sonny Hooper was the real deal. Even if all of his stunts were actually done by someone else.

Was George Kaplan Roger Thornhill still doing wheelies on his repeat viewing of Hooper? Check out the podcast here, or listen below.

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‘Silent Rage’

Silent Rage (1982)

Rated: R
Director: Michael Miller
Screenplay: Joseph Fraley
Starring: Chuck Norris as Sheriff Dan Stevens
                Steven Furst as Deputy Charlie
                Ron Silver as Dr. Tom Halman
                Toni Kalem as Allison Halem

Tagline: “Science created him, Now Chuck Norris must destroy him.”

By: Rupert Pupkin (as told to Rob Rector)

Pre-screening memories: Before Braddock, before Braddock, before hawking gym equipment, before countless disfiguring facelifts, even before shilling for Mike Huckabee, Chuck Norris was in a Silent Rage!

Hot off of seeing Good Guys Wear Black, a young Rupert Pupkin swore he was born to be a karate man. His aspirations may have superceded his ability, but that failed to stop his desire from trying.

Take, for example, one particular day in grade school when young Rupert decided to test his abilities. He honed in on a pair of metal double doors that would be the inanimate recipient of his as-yet-untested high kick. In all his years, he knew these doors to be open and would swing wide under the pressure of his forceful foot.

As his running start grew to an airborne leap, Rupert extended his legs to blow open these metal barriers and thus demonstrate to the school his agility and perhaps one day follow in the deadly footsteps of his cinematic hero. Sadly, the doors were locked shut, thus ending Rupert’s short-lived dream to be a six-time karate champion like his then idol.

This did not stop him from spending time in the darkened theater with his matinee idol, though. And within months, he was back in the box office, relishing in another roundhouse romp in Silent Rage. But Rage was quite a different beast, he soon realized, and what he thought was to be a 90-minute class in ass kicking actually struck fear in his young heart, perhaps solidifying in his mind that the martial arts was not on the path of his future.

What struck fear into the heart of this young lad, and how has it affected him today?

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