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Double Dare (2004)

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DOUBLE DARE is a double-barreled, action-packed documentary about the struggles of two stuntwomen in male-dominated Tinseltown to stay working, stay thin, and stay sane.

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Title: Double Dare (2004)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Jeannie Epper ...
Herself
...
Herself (as Zoe Bell)
...
Herself
...
Herself
Eurlyne Epper ...
Herself
...
Himself
Terry Leonard ...
Himself
...
Himself
...
Himself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
May Boss ...
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Terry Frick ...
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...
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Storyline

DOUBLE DARE is a double-barreled, action-packed documentary about the struggles of two stuntwomen in male-dominated Tinseltown to stay working, stay thin, and stay sane.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Saving the film industry, one actress at a time.

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Documentary

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Details

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Release Date:

15 April 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

3, 2, 1 - Action  »

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Did You Know?

Quotes

Zoe Bell: [Speaking of Lucy Lawless/Xena] That's my acting double.
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Crazy Credits

"Only one stuntwoman was harmed during the making of this film" See more »

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Features 1941 (1979) See more »

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Mega-Mix 2001
Written by Delta Dreams
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User Reviews

 
Cunning stunts!
8 May 2005 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

I attended a press screening of 'Double Dare', so I got to meet this film's director and editor as well as the documentary's main subjects -- Jeannie Epper and Zoë Bell -- and to participate in Q&A. I sceptically asked if any of this material was staged: specifically, the sequence in which the documentary camera crew just happen to be present (with camera rolling) when Zoë Bell gets the 'phone call informing her that she's been hired to stunt-double for Uma Thurman in 'Kill Bill', and the stunt coordinator's voice down the 'phone line sounds perfectly clear. Director Amanda Micheli assured me that this scene was dinkum, saying: 'I staked her out for ten days, with a 'phone tap, until she got that call.' Then Micheli admitted that *one* thing in this movie was faked: Bell had got a haircut while this documentary was in production, so in some of the documentary footage (shown out of chronological sequence), she wears a wig so that the shots will match.

The title of 'Double Dare' is a pun: these women *double* for actresses in stunt sequences. My only complaint about this very moving documentary is that it tells us nearly nothing about the *history* of stunt women. We see a brief clip of Pearl White doing her own stunts in a silent serial. (Helen Gibson would have been a better choice for inclusion here: she did her own stunts in 'The Hazards of Helen', and also stunt-doubled for Helen Holmes.) There was a long period in which Hollywood actresses were always doubled by males, usually small-statured men such as Dave Sharpe. All we get about that here is a rostrum shot of TV actress Irene Ryan in costume and make-up with her (very unconvincing) male double. I wish that Micheli had included film clips such as the fight between Edna May Oliver and Blanche Yurka in 'Tale of Two Cities' (both of them blatantly doubled by brawny men in 18th-century frocks and poke bonnets), or Betty Hutton's leap off a bridge into a moving jeep in 'Star Spangled Rhythm' (doubled by a stuntman in a wig and skirt that don't conceal his linebacker physique).

The opening sequence of 'Double Dare' shows a stunt woman preparing for a fire stunt, in full body harness: ironically, the burning woman whizzes by so rapidly, she could just as well have been a dummy. Every scene in 'Double Dare' is fascinating, but the real eye-opener is a conference between male and female stunters (they have different trade guilds), in which the stunt men make it clear that they don't respect stunt women as equals. Some of this is down to the fact that men tend to get much more dangerous stunt work than women, yet some of the hostility towards these women is just macho arrogance. The female stunters expect equality and respect (fair enough), yet in this footage they refer to each other as 'girls'.

Jeannie Epper, ageing gracefully from stunt woman to stunt coordinator, points out that a stuntman can wear padding under his costume, but stunt women are usually dressed in skimpy outfits with no such option ... and stunt women must often run in heels! Having briefly done stunt work myself, I can testify that stunt men have one disadvantage that women don't: when doing a long rolling fall downstairs as a double for a male actor, I had to keep track of when my face was towards the camera, and I periodically had to raise my arm (while falling) to conceal my face, which didn't resemble the actor's face. Stunt women, using make-up and long wigs, can hide their faces more easily than stunt men.

Speaking of padding, in one sequence of 'Double Dare' we see stunt women squealing in girlish glee as they try on the falsies they'll need for body-doubling a busty actress. We see Jeannie Epper (a grandmother, but still a working stunt woman!) pricing the plastic surgery she'll need if she hopes to carry on doubling for young actresses. And there's one bizarre sequence, in which a stunt woman proudly shows off her new breast implants to her colleagues ... who admire her new breasts while ignoring her enormous facial mole.

I'm often sceptical when showbiz people trot out their 'spiritual' beliefs, but I was intrigued when Epper and Bell separately discussed their deep belief in Jesus. Epper asserts that God is protecting her. Stunt people, whether male or female, *must* trust the stunt riggers and support crew, placing their own safety entirely in these people's hands. It had never occurred to me that this situation parallels the sincere faith that some people place in a deity.

Amanda Micheli's direction and camera work are excellent, most notably in a sequence where Bell practises dives from a high ladder into an air bag: Micheli and her camera are *above* Bell on this lofty perch. If you've got vertigo, you might want to skip this scene.

We get sound bites from Lynda Carter (for whom Epper doubled) and from Lucy Lawless, for whom Bell doubled ... although Bell wittily notes: 'She's my acting double.' Even the end credits are fascinating. During the documentary, we meet Jeannie Epper's daughter Eurlyne, who followed her mother into stunt work but now has an injury that may end her career. As the film ends, Zoë Bell is riding high as Thurman's stunt double. Then the end credits tell us the aftermath: Eurlyne Epper has recovered and is stunting again ... but Bell injured herself during 'Kill Bill' and will require surgery. (Yet she'd recovered in time for the screening I attended. You go, Zoë!)

I found every frame of 'Double Dare' fascinating ... and there are even a few scenes that convey a girls'-locker-room camaraderie, without ever diminishing the dignity of these craftswomen. The stunt women are rigged, but my vote isn't: I rate this movie 10 out of 10.


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