Stunt Memorial: Canutt, Enos (RIP)

Enos "Yakima" Canutt

Born: 1895 Passed: 1986

“Two Fisted Sheriff” (1925), “Riders Of The Storm” (1929), “Lonesome Trail” (1930), “Last Of The Mohicans” (1932), “The Three Musketeers” (1933), “Charge Of The Light Brigade” (1936), “Stagecoach” (1939), “Gone With The Wind” (1939), “Dark Command” (1940), “They Died With Their Boots On” (1941), “Ivanhoe” (1952), “Mogambo” (1953), “Ben Hur” (1959), “Spartacus” (1960), “El Cid” (1961), “Fall Of The Roman Empire” (1964), “Cat Ballou”(1965), “Khartoum” (1966), “Where Eagles Dare” (1969), “A Man Called Horse” (1970), “Breakheart Pass” (1976).

Born in Washington state, Canutt became active in rodeos and wild west shows as a teenager. Purportedly, he picked up the moniker of “Yakima” during rodeo days because he billed himself as “The Man from Yakima”. Supposedly he met Tom Mix during these rodeo performances and wound up in Hollywood, where he began doubling for various performers. Later, he made the transition as a star in silent westerns. But an illness or injury caused his voice to have a gravely sound, and this basically ended his starring career when talkies arrived. It was during the sound westerns and serials of the 1930s that Yak Canutt honed his skills and gained his reputation as a premier stuntman and stunt coordinator. Canutt is credited with the development of the choreographed screen brawl (where, in earlier films, the hero and baddie threw unrealistic punches at each other and wrestled around). The Canutt fight scene involved the positioning of the camera at angles to the participants (rather than straight on), and the camera would often face one of the brawlers. These camera angles gave the perception of bone-crushin’ punches landing on the jaw. Many writers and fans also note that Canutt did much of this development during his many appearances with John Wayne in the Wayne waters for Paul Malvern’s Lone Star productions of the 1930s. Wayne and Canutt would remain friends for life.

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