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Nov 25 2012

The famous crocodile jump in Live and Let Die

One of the recurring features of James Bond films is how the villains devise increasingly outlandish schemes to kill him. If you have seen the 1973 film Live and Let Die which I reviewed here, you will recall the scene in which he is left standing on a tiny island surrounded by a moat containing crocodiles who can easily climb onto the island. The villains then leave him, presumably because they have other pressing things to do like iron their socks or something, and so miss Bond escaping by using three crocodiles as stepping stones, running over them to get to the safety of the other bank.

I had assumed that in filming the scene they had used realistic-looking but fake crocodiles, like the fake shark in Jaws, operated by people hidden underwater. But it turns out that the crocs were real. Here is a clip showing the stuntman who doubled for Roger Moore repeating the action several times before they got it right.

I was surprised that the crocs would stay for that long in the assigned positions and that the filmmakers would take the risk of the crocs grabbing the stuntman on the trial runs in which he fell into the water. The fact that the crocs did not tear him to bits immediately (though on one occasion they got dangerously close to grabbing him) suggests to me that they had been well-fed before the shooting and also had their legs tied underwater to prevent them from moving about too much, thus allowing the run to take place.

In the third part of Inside Live and Let Die, the backstory of the making of this film, they show how that famous scene and some other stunts came about. It turns out that the stunt double is the owner of the crocodile farm where the scene was filmed, who inherited it from his father who was eaten by one of them. Pretty grim.

7 comments

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  1. 1
    steve84

    “Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”

  2. 2
    wilsim

    Sorry, withholding my comment until I can pick up the pieces of my jaw off the floor…

  3. 3
    TheVirginian

    I read an account one time by a man who said he accidentally stepped on the back of a motionless crocodile on a lake shore and knew that he could not simply jump off because crocs are so fast they can whip their heads around and grab any animal’s leg if it tries to jump off. So he had to stand there while friends got into their boat, rowed to the front of the croc and lifted their friend straight up. Even then, the croc got a piece of his pants. So I always figured that stunt in L&LD used fake crocs. Now, it seems clear they must have been tied in a way that kept them from reaching around far enough.
    By the way, read a couple of the original Bond novels, such as L&LD, Goldfinger or Thunderball. The novel Bond is very different in some ways from the movie Bond, and the books are interesting as both thrillers and as period pieces (written/set in the 1960s). L&LD was one of the first (I think it followed Dr. No.). Goldfinger is another good one. Don’t remember much about Thunderball. Warning: They could be addictive if you like escapist action fiction.

  4. 4
    DonDueed

    I recently saw a Top Gear* special about the Bond cars over the last 50 years. The producers took pride in doing the stunts “for real” rather than faking them.

    There were a few exceptions — for example, the Lotus that becomes a submarine was done with large-scale models, with a real Lotus used for the on-land scenes and underwater interiors. (The Top Gear folks actually converted a Lotus into a working submarine for the show!)

    Another exception was the “flying Dodge” in The Man With the Golden Gun. That was going to be real — there really was such a wing-tail-and-engine attachment for a small car. Unfortunately it came apart in midair shortly before shooting, killing its inventors. (What a way to go!) The Bond producers went with a model instead.

    * For those who don’t know, “Top Gear” is a British car show that airs on BBC America. They often do crazy car conversions and other wacky stunts along with slightly more serious reviews and tests.

  5. 5
    mikmik

    Later, they asked the stuntman if he had names for his creatures.
    “Dile. Croco Dile.” he replied.

  6. 6
    Jay

    Intriguingly, cameras were rolling as well on the director when that final attempt was made:

  7. 7
    JagerBaBomb

    Love that show. Also one of the most popular internationally (and it’s been picking up steam in the states for a couple years now).

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