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For Your Eyes Only: filming the car chase through the tunnels

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Aug. 1st, 1981 | 12:07 am

In 1981, American Cinematographer interviewed Arthur Wooster, Second Unit Director, and Director of Photography on ‘For Your Eyes Only.’ He told them about the second unit work, including how the stuntmen worked with Michael Gothard for the car chase in the tunnel. Some extracts from the interview appear below.

The Second Unit Has All the Fun

In a film boasting "wall-to-wall action", much of that action - both in and under the water-took place in front of second unit cameras.

As Second Unit Director and Director of Photography on the latest James Bond movie, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, I constantly found myself in situations where much of the action was. Our Second Unit shot the following sequences: the three car chase, the climbing sequence, the underwater fight between Bond and Melina and JIM at a depth of 600 feet, the underwater fight between Bond's submarine and the Mantis (a small, one-man submarine), part of the keel-hauling sequence to cut in with Al Giddings' material shot in the Bahamas, the Front and End Title sequences (directed by Maurice Binder).

The hectic car chase sequence involved a tiny Citroen 2CV being chased by two powerful Peugeots. Bond and Melina, the leading lady, are in the 2VC and the two Peugeots are much faster. Therefore, the only way they can get away and survive is by being very clever and very "Bondish".

We had Remy Julienne, who was the French stunt-car coordinator, with his team and two sons driving the stunt-cars …

The whole sequence was shot on Corfu, and John Glen and I went on a recce and planned the sequence, which was storyboarded when we got back to England. This is what happened on all of the sequences we shot …

Towards the end of the sequence the 2CV has to jump one of the Peugeots, hit the roof and then carry on down. Remy built a very long ramp and actually started on the hill side, working out very, very carefully, almost to the millimetre, exactly where the car would land and from where it would take off. Every car stunt he arranged was planned to such a degree of accuracy that we never had any problems about choosing camera positions, as he could tell us to an inch where everything was going to happen.

… As far as camera speeds were concerned, we varied the camera speeds all the time, but not very much-the cars were going fast enough not to have to under-crank much to make them look fast.

We had another car chase sequence which takes place after Bond and his party have raided a warehouse at night and the "baddie" gets away in a car with Bond chasing on foot up steps to try to cut him off in a maze of zig-zag bends ...

One of the problems with this particular sequence was that the tunnels through which the car had to drive were extremely narrow and the driver, Michael Gothard, who is the actor, drove the car himself. This was necessary because we were shooting at night and I was lighting it so that we could clearly see the actor.

He had to drive very fast through these tunnels – he was terrified and we were terrified – but he did it marvellously and only scraped the sides of the car occasionally. Remy Julienne practiced with him driving and I think Remy was quite scared being driven by Michael. They slowly got faster and faster going through these tunnels and Remy built up some of the corners of the edges of the tunnels, so that as he went round the corners the wheels went up on the bits of concrete and helped him to get round the corners faster.

Finally they all arrive at the top and Bond shoots at the car hitting Michael in the shoulder. The car goes into a brick wall and finally Bond kicks him over into the sea.

We had a lot of bad weather shooting this sequence-it rained constantly so we had to try and shoot the material inside the tunnel when it was raining and when it stopped we would rush outside and shoot the exteriors.

The sequence was supposed to happen just before dawn and Alan Hume had lit the main part of the sequence down below in the warehouse, where they have the shoot-out, for night. I lit with Brutes and Sun-Guns and odd bits of lighting to try and make it progress, so that as they got to the top of the steps it was dawn and there was enough light to be able to show the car going over the cliff …

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