Hal Needham, director of Hooper, dies

Burt Reynolds and the cast of Hooper in the film's final scene

Burt Reynolds and the cast of Hooper in the film’s final scene

Hal Needham, a veteran Hollywood stuntman and director of action comedies such as 1978’s Hooper, has died at the age of 82 according to AN OBITUARY IN THE LOS ANGELES TIMES.

As a director, Hooper, starring Burt Reynolds as an aging stuntman, is arguably Needham’s best work. The movie looks at the stunt work being done on a James Bond-like film by an A-list Hollywood director.

The movie has its origins in an earlier film, 1976’s Nickelodeon. It was directed by Peter Bogdanovich, with Reynolds as one of the stars and Needham as stunt coordinator.

When Hooper came out two years later, there were reviews posing the question whether Needham and Reynolds were getting a little payback. Whether that’s true or not, Hooper wasn’t just played for jokes.

The title character played by Reynolds is getting old for to be a stuntman and knows it; his next major injury could paralyze or kill him. What’s more, Hooper is being pushed by a younger rival stuntman (Jan-Michael Vincent). All of this is happening on a movie directed by egotistic director Roger Deal (Robert Klein) that resembles a James Bond film (starring, as it turns out, Adam West).

Needham also directed 1981’s The Cannonball Run, another Reynolds comedy, with a cast including Roger Moore, playing somebody who thinks he’s Roger Moore.

Here’s part of the climatic sequence of Hooper (as long as it doesn’t get yanked by YouTube):

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: