I already see people bitching about THE FALL GUY (2024) movie. “Why isn’t it more like the show?”
Well, I’ll tell you. While they liked watching THE FALL GUY tv show growing up, they don’t really get why the show was the way it was. The creative choices weren’t arbitrary. They were specific to the era and history of Hollywood at that time.
The FALL GUY TV series was inspired by two movies:
The first was HOOPER (1978), directed by legendary stunt man turned director Hal Needham. It starred Burt Reynolds as a stunt man navigating the dangers of his profession and the behind the scenes life of working in movies for the important but not famous.
The second was THE HUNTER (1980), the last movie made to star actor Steve McQueen. He played Ralph ‘Papa’ Thorson, a real-life modern day bounty hunter.
All stunt men of Lee Majors/Colt Seavers age for the TV show would’ve come up working on a hell of a lot westerns. (Quentin Tarantino’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD (2019) goes into this world.) Hollywood used to make a slew of them every year. The history of Hollywood stunt work was created by men like Yakima Canutt and Ben Johnson, championship rodeo riders turned stunt men.
Locations like Spahn Ranch were used by studios all the time. Western actors and stunt men would spend their mornings in Gower Gulch outfitted in their cowboy gear hoping to get work on a movie that day. Warner Bros. had a famous western backlot seen in dozens of movies and hundreds of TV shows. They only finally closed it down in the late 1990s.
Stunt men don’t learn their trade working in westerns these days. Western movies are instead something they hope to get the opportunity to work on.
Steve McQueen became famous for playing bounty hunter Josh Randall on the TV series WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE (1958-1961), so the idea of him playing a kind of contemporary version of the role made sense.
Lee Majors first came to prominence on the western TV series THE BIG VALLEY (1965-1969). He then went on to even greater success as Steve Austin, THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN (1974-1978). Though Steve was a secret agent and former astronaut, the show made sure to steep its lead in western imagery–from his clothes to his last name.
Colt Seavers in the TV series is a bounty hunter as a way of continuing the western theme and to get him into trouble week after week. We don’t live in that world anymore though.
Ryan Gosling doesn’t have a history of playing cowboys. Instead, he’ll probably have to solve the case to avoid being “The Fall Guy” for the murder. A nice play on words for the title.
Director David Leitch is an expert former stunt man and the world of the movie is likely informed by the world of stunts he came up in. As it should be.