Entertainment: Most Dangerous Movie Stunts of All Time

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Ever since the days of Buster Keaton, filmmakers have sought ever-more-ingenious ways to take audiences’ breaths away with increasingly elaborate stunt work. We love “special effects,” especially when there’s an element of danger for those performing them.

Don't try this at home. © Paramount Pictures/IMDb Don't try this at home.

Movie stunts take an incredible amount of work, logistics and safety precautions to properly execute — not to mention a ton of nail-biting from nervous insurance underwriters (we’re looking at you, Tom Cruise!). Yet no matter how much time and preparation goes into planning a big-time movie stunt, things can still go horribly, tragically wrong.

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Fortunately, most of the time, the professional daredevils are able to dust themselves off and make ready for the next death-defying stunt. And some, notably Jackie Chan and the aforementioned Cruise, have managed to defy both age and the odds by doing many of their own dangerous stunts.

Here are 30 of the most dangerous movie stunts ever captured.

30. Melting the Wicked Witch of the West

Movie: “The Wizard of Oz”

Release Date: Aug. 25, 1939

Actor: Margaret Hamilton

The story behind the stunt: Actress Margaret Hamilton was a huge fan of “The Wizard of Oz” books and signed on to play the Wicked Witch of the West, partly as she was in dire need of work of any kind during the Depression. But what Hamilton didn’t sign up for were the third-degree burns she endured during a smoke-and-sparks effect meant to show the witch vanishing.

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Reportedly, as pyrotechnics poofed around Hamilton, the trap door on which she was standing failed to drop her out of sight, so crew members hurried to extinguish the actress’s witch costume. Didn’t they know water, not fire, was far more dangerous to this witch?

29. Oddjob’s Fatal Electrocution

Movie: “Goldfinger”

Release Date: Jan. 9, 1965

Actor: Harold Sakata

The story behind the stunt: Oddjob was the ultimate lackey, carrying out asssination orders on behalf of his leash-holder, the villainous Auric Goldfinger. Oddjob’s weapon du jour was a flying bowler hat that was so nasty it could take the heads off of statues — to say nothing of slicing through a human neck. Watch out, James Bond!

But 007 got the better of Oddjob in the end, tossing a live wire at the henchman and toasting him to death. Actor Harold Sakata received some severe burns when the pyrotechnics meant to simulate Oddjob’s fatal electrocution torched his sleeve and injured his hand. The bowler hat was fine.

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28. Tom Cruise Running Down the Side of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa

Tom Cruise is a brave man. © Paramount Pictures/IMDb Tom Cruise is a brave man.

Movie: “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”

Release Date: Dec. 15, 2011

Actor: Tom Cruise

The story behind the stunt: Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building, standing over 2,700 feet above the ground — over a half-mile into the sky! So, it made perfect sense to have the world’s biggest movie star perform his own stunt, basically running vertically down the side of the building. Tom Cruise is nothing if not extremely brave, and there was absolutely no faking it when the “Mission Impossible” star, in a harness, made like Spider-Man high above the United Arab Emirates’ most famous city.

The story goes that the film’s original underwriter said no way, so Cruise (who also produced the film) promptly fired the insurer and did the gravity-defying moves anyway. Cruise lived to tell the tale and has continued escaping death in even more dangerous stunts, as we shall see.

To continue reading, check out the original article on Work + Money.

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