Lucerne Valley, California, 1939. Filming of The diligence. Dubbing a redskin, Yakima Canutt jumps from a horse to a carriage at 80 kilometers per hour. When he is “shot” he drops under the stage to give realism to the scene.
Director John Ford, Fearing for the stuntman’s life, he lowers his head and leans against the camera. When he looks again and cCheck that Canutt is still alive, He mutters, “I think I need a drink.”
The greatest specialist of all time He came into the world as Enos Edward Canutt (Snake River Hills, Washington, 1895) and grew up on his father’s ranch, where he learned to hunt, shoot, set traps and ride horses. At the age of 16, he left school to devote himself to his vocation: the rodeos. As a horseman he achieved worldwide fame and was renamed “Yakima” thanks to a misprint published by a newspaper in the caption of the photo.
the western star Tom Mix introduced him to Hollywood and in 1924 he left the world of rodeo to be an actor full time. In one of the shoots broke his nose and had to make the first of a long series of visits to the plastic surgeon.
Starting in 1928, the advent of talkies left him out of the game as an interpreter, since, according to the producers, his voice sounded “like that of a hummingbird”. Neither short nor lazy, was recycled in specialist, contributing revolutionary techniques to perfect the dangerous scenes.
He had a long and fruitful collaboration with John Wayne: among other things, taught him to fall off his horse and fight like a real cowboy, in addition to dubbing it in movies like horsemen of fate (1933) or blue steel (1934). It didn’t take long for him to become the fashion specialist, sought after by stars of the caliber of Errol FlynnHenry Fonda either Clark Gable, whom he dubbed at the scene of the fire in gone With the Wind (1939).
In 1950, age and the multiple injuries he had suffered throughout his career made Canutt focus on his facet as a second Unit Director, and leave the dirty work to younger specialists, like his sons Joe and Tap. Thus, he orchestrated the action scenes in such legendary films as ivanhoe (1952), Spartacus (1960) or Ben Hur (1959), for which designed the unforgettable chariot race. His last film was Nevada Express (1975), with charles bronson and another regular Ford collaborator, Ben Johnson.
In the final stretch of his life, he dedicated himself to writing his autobiography and collecting awards for his valuable work in more than a thousand films. The most applauded an honorary Oscar of the Academy, but he was especially excited about the star that they put on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1986, at the age of 90, he calmly rode into the afterlife.