Monday, January 05, 2009

Parkour, 30s style


Contrary to received wisdom, Johnny Knoxville was not the first human jackass: Just take a look at these anonymous Depression-era daredevils, performing exercises that would put many of today’s stuntmen to shame.
Taken from Howard Smith’s 1977 assemblage of newsreels, Gizmo! (the silly music you’ll hear in the background is part of Smith’s original soundtrack), the clip begins like a spaghetti ad: A mother feeds her son endless amounts of muscle-building pasta — and the son responds by bouncing out of the house, up trees and walls, and onto a moving train. The action — which predates French parkour by a good many decades — seems to culminate in Germany, with a death-defying ride, inside a tire, down the face of a seaside cliff. X-Games, eat your heart out!


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