The Best Movie Stunt for 1979 was given to James Bond film Moonraker for the sequence where James Bond and a pilot fight over a parachute while in free fall from jumping from an airplane. Veteran skydiver Jake Lombard, bore a strong resemblance to Bond actor Roger Moore. (That is, after he was persuaded to cut his long hair and shave off his equally long beard). This allowed many relative close up facial shots of Bond in freefall. As for the role of the pilot, skydiver B.J. Worth was actually chosen first, with actor Jean-Pierre Castaldi being chosen later for studio scenes, due to his resemblance to Mr. Worth.
Except for a few brief close-ups, the entire sequence of Bond, Jaws and the pilot falling from the plane with Bond and the pilot fighting for a single parachute was actually shot in free-fall. The 7 pound camera for these sequences was mounted on the helmet of another skydiver, and a few shots are of the cameraman’s own arms and legs. Stuntmen Jake Lombard and B.J. Worth wore parachutes concealed within their suits. The “parachute” they fought over was actually a dummy ‘chute which had to be removed before the stuntman could use the real parachute underneath.
Stuntman Jake Lombard would don and remove the dummy ‘chute up to three times in a single jump. The actual parachutes used by the stuntmen had both a main and reserve ‘chute concealed within the suitcoats. A breakaway seam ran down the backside which allowed the parachute to be opened without the need to remove the coat. There were only sixty to seventy seconds of freefall time between when the stunt performers exited the aircraft and when they had to activate their ‘chutes. After factoring in the time needed to get the performers and cameraman into position after leaving their plane, only a few seconds of film could be shot per jump. Therefore, the entire sequence required 88 jumps and five weeks to film, just to produce the two minutes of footage in the final film.
Things to look up (go to IMDB):
- Jake Lombard
- Roger Moore
- BJ Worth
- Lewis Gilbert