77 years on… I still haven’t seen anybody else do this… “James Cagney shows us how to dance down stairs”…

Cagney’s Cohan is walking down a marble staircase at the White House when he suddenly starts tapping and improvises all the way to the bottom. Cagney later said he dreamed that up five minutes before the scene was shot: “I didn’t consult with the director or anything, I just did it.”

This 13 second clip might be the most ambitious and dangerous dance ever put on the screen.

No CGI… No HD… 80 Years On… My favourite fencing duel still… Basil Rathbone (b&w Sherlock Holmes) and Tyrone Power…

The famous duel was staged by Hollywood fencing master Fred Cavens. Cavens specialized in staging duels that relied more on actual swordplay rather than the jumping on furniture and leaping from balconies that many film “duels” consisted of up until that point. Cavens’ son, Albert Cavens, doubled for Tyrone Power in the fancier parts of the duel (mostly with his back to camera), such as the extended exchange with Esteban ending with Don Diego’s sword smashing into the bookcase. Basil Rathbone, a champion fencer in real life, did not care for the saber (the weapon of choice in this film), but nevertheless did all of his own fencing. Fast fencing shots were undercranked to 18 or 20 frames per second (as opposed to the standard 24fps) and all the sound effects were post-synchronized.