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James Bond films aren’t shy when it comes to high-octane action. Whether it be weaponized Aston Martin GT cars battling the forces of evil or Ford Mustangs squeezing between Las Vegas casinos on two wheels, 007 films are most comfortable being over-the-top. However, few stunt driving undertakings were more ambitious than the Astro Spiral Jump in ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. 

The corkscrew driving stunt in the James Bond movie ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ required precise calculation

The Man with the Golden Gun” featured one vehicular shenanigan after another. At one point, the namesake character, Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), flies a 1974 AMC Matador with a jet engine and wings. However, nothing in the film (or any film) quite compares to the movie’s most high-profile stunt driving, the corkscrew jump.

In the movie, Agent 007 (Roger Moore) jumps a 1974 AMC Hornet in a corkscrew fashion from ramp to ramp over a river. That’s business as usual for James Bond. But it’s an act of science and determination for the film crew. To accomplish the mid-air roll, the stunt had to be planned with computer simulations. It was witchcraft for filmmaking of the time. 

Enter the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory (CAL), a Buffalo-based pioneer of computer technology. In 1971, around three years before “The Man with the Golden Gun,” CAL project leader Raymond McHenry joined forces with W. Jay Milligan of JM Productions to plan a barrel-roll jump. According to Hagerty, CAL snagged the attention of Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman of Eon Productions, the company behind the James Bond films, after performing the jump at the Houston Astrodome in 1972.

A 1974 AMC Hornet from the movie 'The Man with the Golden Gun'.
1974 AMC Hornet | National Motor Museum, Heritage Images, Getty Images

Consequently, the formal name of the stunt driving maneuver, “Astro Spiral Jump,” is courtesy of the Astrodome. After computer simulations, planning, test jumps, and jumps before an audience, the Astro Spiral Jump made its way into “The Man with the Golden Gun.”

The stunt looked spectacular in the movie. I think we can all agree, the worst part of the whole thing is the slide-whistle accompaniment. Well, that and Sheriff J.W. Pepper’s unfortunate noises and bulbous lip full of chewing tobacco. Check out the clip below for a look at the finished product!