Movie Zero for the walk-away KABOOM
June 23, 2010 5:54 PM   Subscribe

As a result of a drunken challenge, we're trying to find Movie Zero (à la Patient Zero) where the hero walks away as something explodes and doesn't look back.

(You may know this trope as the Unflinching Walk, or, as the Lonely Island called it, "Cool Guys Don't Look at Explosions".)

George Clooney slouches up the street in Syriana. Gary Oldman doesn't even look up from cigarette in The Fifth Element. Anton Chigurh needs his meds in No Country For Old Men. What was the earliest movie you can think of where the character walks away and doesn't look back as something explodes? (Slo-mo optional.) We're going to trace this sucker back to the source.

(To be clear, yes, there's famous bit in Goldfinger where Bond is the only one in the bar who doesn't react to the explosion. But we're looking for the walk-away.)
posted by finnb to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Does surf or fight count?
posted by carsonb at 6:09 PM on June 23, 2010

Ah, I guess the example of Get Mean given on the TV tropes page pre-dates Apocalypse Now.
posted by carsonb at 6:15 PM on June 23, 2010

Does Mad Max count? He's driving but doesn't flinch, doesn't check rearview mirror. It predates Apocalypse Now by 4 months, but both films are 1979, so it'd be some time before that.
posted by johnofjack at 6:16 PM on June 23, 2010

I'll throw out that the trope doesn't have a Movie Zero so much as an "Artist Zero," and that artist was Buster Keaton. Known as "The Great Stone Face," Keaton's schtick was incredible physical stunts combined with underplayed comedy. Something would blow up, and he wouldn't react.

I think the Unflinching Walk is just Keaton's style used for drama instead of comedy.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:31 PM on June 23, 2010 [5 favorites]

Roy Scheider pulls this move at the end of Blue Thunder after he parks the super-helicopter on some railroad tracks.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:58 PM on June 23, 2010

Even if Apocalypse Now isn't the first, it's certainly the best.
posted by lhall at 8:04 PM on June 23, 2010

The earliest I know of is 99 and 44/100% Dead - a John Frankenheimer film from 1974.
posted by O9scar at 11:43 PM on June 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

DO you think there could be a Biblical inspiration? The first thing I thought of was Lot not watching the destruction of Sodom.
posted by NortonDC at 6:18 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Does the explosion need to be triggered by the guy who's not looking at it? Seems like that's a big part of the trope that wouldn't really be tied to Lot fleeing Sodom (he had inside knowledge of the city's destruction, but he didn't cause it directly).
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 8:00 AM on June 24, 2010

God-DAMMIT. After I posted this question some friends showed up and I got pulled away from the computer. Sorry I wasn't able to stay more in the mix, and thanks for all these answers, which give us the beginnings of a genealogy, and a bunch of points to consider: does the guy have to cause the explosion? Can the Keaton style (that's a really good point, CPB) be considered the antecedent? In terms of influence on recent action movies, that Apocalypse Now clip seems like a pretty good bet ... but now we're going to track down the Frankenheimer movie. Something definitely happened in the early 70s, I think, but as part of a larger trend towards almost, sometimes completely, comic unflappability on the part of protagonists ...

To be continued! Thanks again, everybody.
posted by finnb at 11:46 AM on June 24, 2010

99 and 44/100% Dead is surprisingly hard to come by. I caught it on cable (Fox Movie Channel), where it sometimes makes the rounds. It is on youtube in 10-minute chunks in terrible quality. But if you want to see it, the moment in question is here.
posted by O9scar at 3:57 PM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Awesome. I was just looking around for this. Thank you!
posted by finnb at 5:39 PM on June 24, 2010

How about war movies with stone-faced bomber pilots pictured with explosions in their wakes? That might be fruitful territory to mine.
posted by NortonDC at 5:55 PM on June 24, 2010

Iron Man? He pops the tank, turns around, and walks on.
posted by Draccy at 8:40 AM on June 25, 2010

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