The jump from the Eiffel Tower during A VIEW TO A KILL’s Paris chase is a triumph of both the practical and the courageous. Bond (Roger Moore) pursues May Day (Grace Jones), bodyguard of industrialist Max Zorin, up the iconic French landmark. Clad all in black, she parachutes from the tower and, pursued by Bond in a car, escapes in a Glastron speedboat.
The sequence had its roots in a lunch between producer Michael G. Wilson and stuntman B.J. Worth. Worth indicated to the producer he would love to jump off the Eiffel Tower for an action sequence. The idea took four years and A VIEW TO A KILL to bring Worth’s dream to fruition.
“The Eiffel Tower was tricky because they have very strict rules about stunts being performed,” says Director John Glen. “The problem with the Eiffel Tower as a jumping platform is that the top is very thin. But the bottom is very wide so it slopes outwards very quickly.”
Worth began practicing the stunt by jumping from hot air balloons. Key to the stunt’s success was figuring out how long the stunt man had before he had to open the parachute. Michael G. Wilson did the calculations: “I said to him, “You’ve got about three and a half seconds, then you’ve got to pull it.”
Worth needed two permissions from the French authorities, one to jump from the tower, the other to land in Paris. After French production manager Serge Toubout facilitated the access, a ramp was built for Worth to jump off. Weather conditions had to be just right: any sudden gusts of wind could blow Worth back into the tower. The duration of the fall was so short there was no time to open a second parachute.
At dawn on August 4, Worth, dressed as May Day, prepared to jump from the 300 metre tower. “I inhaled deeply and shouted ‘This one’s for Cubby!” he remembered. “I bolted down the plank and dove over the edge, throwing my chest to the horizon. Time almost stopped.”
The jump went off without a hitch. 30 seconds later Worth landed safely on Paris terra firma, next to his wife and children. Within the hour Producer Cubby Broccoli had delivered a case of champagne to Worth’s hotel room for a job well done.