The True Adventures of the World's Greatest Stuntman: My Life as Indiana Jones, James Bond, Superman and Other Movie Heroes Paperback – 29 May 2012
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"Vic is The Man" - Pierce Brosnan
"Vic Armstrong is, of course, a legend" - Martin Scorsese
"This is the best and most original behind-the-scenes book I have read in years, gripping and revealing. Vic Armstrong is modest, humorous and wry - altogether brilliant company." - Roger Lewis, Daily Mail
"[A] page-turner... I couldn't put it down! I had a great time reading this book and give it my highest recommendation." - Leonard Maltin
"[Vic has] been this unheralded savior of movie magic for decades, and hearing how he makes the incredible credible is a must for any film fan." - Hollywood.com
"Armstrong's a fascinating guy and a straight shooter. His book is fantastic." - Ain't It Cool News
"The man is a legend in the industry... [A] mind-blowing, must-read biography." - Movies.com
"The movie memoir of the year!" - SciFi Mafia
"[Vic] talks to you like he’s your cool uncle, or the uncle you wished you had, really down to earth, but at the same time you can tell he’s got a twinkle in his eye as he’s talking..." - Geek Six
“A hell of a read.” – Film School Rejects
"The key to an entertaining autobiography is a combination of good stories to tell and a distinctive life; Armstrong has them both." - Library Journal
"Armstrong has done it all." - Empire
"A spills’n’thrills ride through a fast-forward life in pictures." - The Times
About the Author
Robert Sellers is the author of several books, including Hellraisers and a biography of Harrison Ford.
Steven Spielberg is a renowned film director.
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- ASIN : 0857689142
- Publisher : Titan Books; Updated edition (29 May 2012)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780857689146
- ISBN-13 : 978-0857689146
- Item Weight : 327 g
- Dimensions : 12.95 x 2.34 x 19.76 cm
- Country of Origin : USA
- Best Sellers Rank: #643,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from other countries
Lines like, "blimey, the stunt man is more attractive than the star" are self-serving and not helped by the testimonials from various people (some famous, some not) scattered throughout and some readers might find the slightly sexist tone a bit off-putting. This exercise in box-ticking is all very blokey (if you like that sort of thing) and told in the way of a rather annoying person hogging the conversation in a crowded pub.
You either have the knack for this sort of thing or you don't (which is why some people are better served by ghost writers) and Armstrong does not. I can tell from other reviews I'm in the minority here and, if you can put up with all this, the material is gold. If reading an auto-biography that is well-written with some charm and wit is important to you, avoid.
Firstly, the name dropping. There are times when Armstrong's casual references to legendary film stars was irritating in the extreme, not least because he would recount a story about him and a film star, and they are all great stories, but this would be followed up by "many years later when I met up with X at such-and-such awards, he immediately remembered the story, what a guy".
This got repetitive after a while, but even so, the insight and (short) story-telling more than makes up for it. There are great moments of reflection when colleagues pass away on the job, or when close shaves bring things back into context. There are comedy stories of narrow escapes and brushes with the law, there are experiences of life in the depths of Mafia ridden Colombia, and of course there are the descriptions of how he (and others) pulled off those amazing fight scenes and stunts from films such as Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Live And Let Die and countless others.
There are unnecessary contributions from the likes of Lucas, Spielberg and Harrison Ford, as if to emphasise how much everyone likes Vic, I could have done without them in the chapters. Save them til the end, Vic. Having said that, the addition of pictures throughout the book, rather than just a glossy section in the middle, added interest and context to the stories themselves.
A great book to read on your travels, or before you go to sleep at night, packed with short chapters that go through Armstrong's work, almost film by film.
One thing that becomes very clear as the book goes along, is that there's Vic's way and then there's the wrong way. Mr Armstrong has his opinion, and everybody knows it. Having worked his way up to second unit director, he also often gives the impression that he has had a hand in key scenes in a lot of big movies. And I'm sure he has, it's just you get the feeling that Vic feels if he hadn't been there, the whole thing would have been a disaster.
I would have liked some more detail on how he became a stuntman and learnt his trade, but there is very little on this, and a LOT of time spent on what locations were like and how completely MAD the stunt crew are (i.e. they get drunk frequently). Amusingly, a few little jealousies and grudges seep through, although generally Vic seems to get along OK and has certainly enjoyed his career to date. And he looks a bit like Harrison Ford (you'll pick up on this in a few of the chapters!).
As the book is unevenly paced, you often end up with intricate detail on a stunt in a lesser known film whilst big blockbusters are rushed through. Or you get loads of information on accomodation, sicknesses on set, parties and the like, and precious little on filming of the movie itself. As I said, a bit uneven.
I'm probably being too harsh. At many times The World's Greatest Stuntman is an entertaining read and does give a good insight into the world of stuntwork and making things happen on film. Vic's personality (warts and all) is clear and present and as a guide through some of the biggest action films in the last 40 years, it mostly works.
If your very strange, like me, you might be the kind of person who watches ALL of movie credits and memorizes names. One such name that pops up frequently is Vic Armstrong. Got a load of action movies in your collection? Just take a look and see how many Vic has had a hand in. He may mostly play second banana to the artistic director, though he's come close to fully directing many big titles. It hasn't happened...yet. And with the exception of Joshua Tree, it's a dream he has still to realize. One has to wonder how differently the space-time continuum would have turned out had Vic been able to become a big-time director sooner.
Despite the words 'World's Greatest' being in the title Vic Armstrong only ever wanted to be a steeplechase jockey. But I guess none of us knows where the life will take us. The path Vic eventually took proved to be filled with adventure, but his love of horses was his ticket to a lifetime of action.
Told (mostly) in chronological order, detailing Vic's childhood through to present day, his life story is filled with chance and lucky encounters. Incredibly skilled he may well be, but being in the right place at the right time never ceases to be essential, and it's remarkable how often Vic managed to stay on the right side of fate.
I always thought Vic Armstrong (or ANY stunt team for that matter) would be deadly serious and humorless, after all it IS a life and death job. But in his four decades-plus as a stunt man he sure did get up to lots of mischief. From surviving four days on a mountain on popcorn, to brewing his own bootleg beer in a hotel room there are plenty of funny stories. I'm not easily shocked, though I have to admit that Vic's story of Oliver Reed's last-minute revision of his would-be scene in Cutthroat Island is so extreme that even Oliver Reed would be ashamed.
Most people I know cannot even get important facts of their own lives correct going back a couple of years, never mind decades. But Vic perfectly recounts names, places, and such minute technical details. It's incredible.
I've always found that biographies or lifetime achievement awards mean that your career is over. But at 64, Vic Armstrong is still hard at work, in what is now essentially a family business, giving us the biggest action and prettiest fireworks. Perhaps one day soon he'll make the long-postponed transition to fully-fledged director. I guess we'll have to wait and see, there's still plenty of time.