The Black Pirate (1926)

A feature of seafaring folklore, walking the plank was a mode of execution that extends as far back to popular writings on pirates in the 1700s. It is also a distinct variant of the fight scenario that is unique to the swashbuckler film. The walk the plank scenario appears in The Black Pirate (1926) and exhibits all the conventions associated with its event schemata.

The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936)

The final act set piece of The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) is at once celebrated for the scale of the recreation of the Battle of Balaclava and notorious for the claimed number of horses injured or killed during its production. The sequence is unique beyond its reputation from an action scenario standpoint. The sequence is structured in terms of acceleration and a possesses a deadline structure that is interspersed with spectacular stunts.

Dirty Harry (1971)

The ransom rescue sequence in Dirty Harry (1971) clearly reveals how filmmakers can innovate the rescue scenario. On the hand, the sequence exhibits the prototypical character roles associated with the rescue scenario. The sequence features the captive — the kidnapped girl buried in the ground, the rescuer — Inspector Harry Callahan entrusted to deliver the ransom, and the captor — Scorpio the kidnapper who demands $200,000 in ransom for the release of the girl. On the other hand, the rescuing action presented in the sequence takes on a significantly different form. Instead of literally liberating the captive from their state of captivity, the rescuer in this instance provides a ransom to the captor in the belief that they will follow through on the release of the captive.

Dodge City (1939)

One of the most interesting features of action scenarios is their ability to adapt to the genres in which they are situated. This is specifically the case with the western and how it refashions the speed, fight and transfer scenarios. All such genre specific variations can be found in Dodge City (1939), including the saloon brawl, a staple of the western genre.

Dr. No (1962)

As the first installment on the James Bond franchise, Dr. No (1962) set the narrative template for the films that followed. One convention that the film lays down is a final act set piece in which Bond foils the plans of the antagonist through a set of actions that normally involves the explosion of their facility.

Face/Off (1997)

The final act set piece in Face/Off (1997) features John Woo’s signature action staging, initially developed in the 1980s heroic bloodshed cycle, as noted in the action profile for A Better Tomorrow (1986), and offers amongst the most notable boat chases in film history. Along the way Woo offers a Mexican standoff and a pursuit sequence that not only reveals changes in mode of pursuit but also a clear illustration how action scenarios can combine horizontally.