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Spills for Thrills (1940)

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Warner Bros. short about stuntmen and stuntwomen and how they do their work, featuring real-life stunt artists Parry, Wiggins, and Pomeroy.


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Title: Spills for Thrills (1940)

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Cast overview:
Harvey Parry ...
Mary Wiggins ...
Allen Pomeroy ...
Himself (as Allan Pomeroy)
Knox Manning ...
Narrator (voice)


A behind the scenes look (at Warners) at the life of some of Hollywood's top stunt-people, including Harvey Parry, Allen Pomeroy and Mary Wiggins. This short also incorporates much archive footage taken from Sennett's Keystone Kops to Warner's silent-days Rin-Tin-Tin to the most recent (late 1930s) Warner films in which Parry, Pomeroy and Wiggins had worked. Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

7 January 1940 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


Vitaphone release #9793-9794. See more »


Edited from Keystone Hotel (1935) See more »

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User Reviews

AWESOME for 1940... Still Entertaining Now
8 June 2008 | by (Jacksonville, FL) – See all my reviews

I saw this short on TCM and was very pleasantly surprised. It's interesting, educational, and entertaining... and it's NOT a film promo thinly disguised as an educational short like many of the old shorts that pop up on TCM.

This short is a tribute to the work of the stuntmen and stuntwomen of Hollywood, and it demonstrates their work with numerous film clips from the silent era up through the 30's. We are shown a wide variety of examples of stunt work like car stunts and crashes, western wagon crashes, human high dives, plane flying stunts and crashes, fist fighting, falls, running on the top of moving trains, etc. Obviously, many of these stunts are a little tame by today's standards, but good stuff in the context of their era. I spotted a couple of camera tricks, but most of the clips are good solid stunt work.

There's a nice segment where stuntwoman Mary Wiggins (who is rather cute, as the narrator points out) and stuntman Harvey Parry "face off" and perform some stunts. There's a very interesting segment which shows some "stunts gone bad", including Harvey Parry and Allen Pomeroy's two failed attempts to drive a car through a dusty explosion, off a small cliff and through a wooden shack. And the final segment shows those two stuntmen working together again on the planning, executing and filming of a two car crash on a movie set.

Among the most interesting items are several stop motion sequences which show us the actions (and very quick decision making ability) of the stuntman during the stunt. There's also some corny but effective humor in this short to keep the mood light. And there's enough interesting tidbits (that the average person wouldn't know) to make this short educational as well.

I've watched a lot of old shorts on TCM which purport to be educational documentary shorts about the film business... but quickly morph into promos for an upcoming film or for a number of recent films. MGM was especially guilty of this tactic. However, although this Warner Bros. short uses tons of film clips, they are simply used as examples of stunt work and for entertainment, not for promotional purposes. In fact, the source films for the clips are never even identified.

Definitely worth 20 minutes of your time.

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