Dr. Strangelove - George C. Scott's tumble and recovery in the War Room, which they decided to keep in the film even though it was completely accidental.
That was Michael Moschen, not David Bowie.
D'oh! Caught by a fake out!
Okay, change my third pick to this:
- William Shatner in Star Trek Generations stepping his horse around as Picard tries to convince him to return to reality.
Robert Patrick sprinting with his mouth closed in Terminator 2. Makes a subtle but huge difference in terms of making him seem inhuman in those early scenes before the CG effects take over.
The little shove Jean Claude Van Damme does at the end of JCVD to escape the bank robbers.
This is a guy whose whole career is based on physical prowess in action movies. So it's fascinating watching him in a movie where he's playing a 50 year old (and exhausted) man who is acutely aware that he's past his prime and his body cannot always do what he asks of it any more, what his fans want, what's required to complete an action sequence in a movie, etc.
The "fantasy" ending of JCVD, vs the little shove he really gives, the real tension you feel as an audience member as to whether he can actually kick the cigarette without embarrassing himself. There have been a ton of movies about people, mostly men, coming to terms with their aging. But very few have been less romantic about it than that shove in JCVD.
- It's a terrible movie and it precedes a terrible scene, but Collin Chou messing with his guns one handed in Matrix Revolutions is pretty cool.
"I'm walking here! I'm walking here!"
The barricade failed, and a typical New York driver tries to run through the foot traffic for a scene in Midnight Cowboy. Dustin Hoffman stays in character, bangs on the hood of the car, and ab-libs the famous quote. A scene that simply happened spontaneously.
That's a really great one.
Maybe, maybe not.
I pretty much had the same thing happen to me, except it was in Beverly Hills and it was a Rolls Royce intent on making a left hand turn to beat oncoming traffic without regard to the numerous people in the crosswalk. Smacking a Rolls had a certain satisfaction to it.
Buster Keaton sitting on the wrong end of a roof beam, two stories up, then nonchalantly sawing clean through it.
Arnold Schwarzenagar's reaction when they break into Thulsa Doom's Mountain of Power to rescue the princess. But then he tastes his first chance at vengeance as he comes face to face with Rexor, and all else is forgotten. http://videosift.com/video/Conan-the-Barbarian-Battle-at-Thulsa-Dooms-Temple, starting at 8:18.
Jet Li taking apart Mel Gibson's gun in Lethal Weapon 4.
I can't youtube this, but has anyone seen Une Femme Mariee? It's a Godard movie, and there's this amazing take where the actress slips as she's running across the street. Obviously unintentional, but the most memorable bit of that movie.
The TV version of the Weaver basketball shot is one-take Cranston going top shelf with a large pie.
I'm confused. What's a physical "bit"? Does it have to be a little skill, or handling an object, or can it just be a bit of body language? Well since I'm not sure here's what I came up with, I'm not sure if this makes sense for the list or not.
3. William H. Macy using his ice-scraper in Fargo.
After being denied by his father-in-law for a loan, he goes out to his car in a lonely snowy parking lot and starts scraping the ice off his car in a manner that is at first mundane, then comedic, then tragic, all within the space of a few moments - the Coen Brothers' sensibility summed up in one wordless scene.
2. Steve Martin using his hat in L.A. Story
Steve Martin is so good at physical comedy when he wants to be. There are two moments in this movie that I love and both involve his hat. The first is right after he takes his first ride with Victoria Tennant, who is from England and so drives on the wrong side of the street. He kind of explodes out of the car, with his hat flying out first and he only just managing to grab it. The second is right after a successful date with her, where he tosses his hat behind his back and catches it. Both are so perfect and spontaneous and I wish I knew how long it took them to get them right.
1. Bilbo's little punch in Fellowship of the Ring
Watch this moment to understand how thoroughly Ian Holm nailed Bilbo's character, and why all the other actors on set were in awe of him as an actor, including Ian McKellen. One perfect little punch with his little fist holding the ring, right before Gandalf intimidates him with magic. It seems silly, but I think doing this sort of thing well is very hard.
You can see it at this link, which unfortunately I could only find in French (where apparently Bilbo is called "Bilbon").
Really like your 1 & 3 examples, Sinnick. I love it when actors show you character outside of their dialogue. Macy scraped the hell out of that windshield.
And I knew I forgot a recent one. Ty Burr does a lot of slapstick in Modern Family, most of it sorta-funny pratfalls. But in last week's Valentine's episode, he has this great bit as he bursts into the house, searching for name tags in a frenzy. He empties a box, finds them, and they fly out of his hands. He snatches them out of mid-air and rushes right out of the scene. What makes it better is how this happens in the flow of a longish take.
You can watch it here.
Yeah I'd say the thread is a bit muddled. I kind of assumed it was instances of actors doing real world skills but that doesn't exactly seem to be the case with the posts in this thread or the original podcast choices. If it's opened up to favorite physical acting bits I'd add the following
Ghostbusters, where Murray as Venkman starts twirling in a circle mimicing the roller skater after asking Dana out on a date.
Killing Zoe, where Eric is riding down in the elevator stroking the gold bullion.
I'll have to think about it a bit more if it actually supposed to be actors performing a real world skill though.
In no particular order:
-Terrence Stamp's loping walk in The Limey. Can't find a clip of any of the lingering shots of him stalking LA, but you do get a bit of it here (plus it has, my #2 moment from the film, that grimace at the end)
-Ed Harris sticking his hand into the chemical toilet in The Abyss.
-Robert Mitchum lighting Kirk Douglas's cigarette in Out of the Past. Plus, love the line. "Cigarette? Smoking."
As soon as I read the title of this thread I thought of one very specific scene, but I had to double-check to make sure it's not faked. And it's not.
Chloe Moretz really did flip the shit out of that butterfly knife in Kick-Ass.
Val Kilmer walks coins up and down the back of his hand in almost every movie he's been in, going back to at least Real Genius.
I was astonished this wasn't included in Tom's three.
All three of yours are great, but this one is aces. Just reading the first couple words totally transported me.
"I'm cooperatin' here!"
I was going to post this! It really is a fascinating skill.
I will add: any movie that Chistopher Walken gets to dance in, but specifically Pennies From Heaven. I think most people by now know he was trained as a dancer before he went into acting.
- The armless, legless man rolling and lighting a cigarette in Freaks. With his lips only.
- Ricky Jay touching playing cards in any movie, one of the best examples is in The Ranger, the Cook and a Hole in the Sky.
- Bishop's knife trick in Aliens. I know Tom debunked this, but the actor actually can do that trick, just not as fast as that film suggests. He's done it in other films and it is damned impressive.