In the early James Bond movies, a technique known as rear window projection, or “driving a desk” was used to show a scene in the background of a stationary car (normally in a studio) to make it appear as though the car is in the middle of a high-speed car chase. This was due to the fact there were many places that it was practically impossible to take a full film crew, such as Times Square or other busy urban areas, due to the costs and restrictions in place at the time.
Also, this was well before the invention of image stabilization, meaning camera crews couldn’t simply rig their camera to the side of the car and the image would come out smooth and crisp like today. With this being the early days of Hollywood, this technique threw up some rather comical challenges, the biggest of which was that the direction of the steering wheel turned by the actor or actress would rarely match the movement in the background. This would mean if the car was really being driven in the direction it was supposed to be via the steering wheel, it would have taken a completely different route than we see onscreen.The team at WhoCanFixMyCar thought we’d retrace some of the early 007 car chase scenes to see where Bond and his accomplices would have really ended up if he had been steering a real car! The red routes below show where the car would have ended up if the steering input was real, and the white routes show the path the car takes according to the background and wider filming shots of the scene.
When people think of the first Bond car, they think of the Aston Martin DB5. But in fact, it was the modest Sunbeam Alpine that Bond put through its paces in Dr. No. The chase begins when, after leaving the apartment of Miss Taro, an enemy spy, Bond finds himself being pursued by an assailant.
The rear projection used in this chase is perhaps one of the most famous ever images of Sean Connery and Bond in general, making its way on to the cover of some versions of the DVD when it was released. Connery “controls” the car well in the opening of the scene until he stumbles upon some tight curves and hairpins, and then the chaos begins.
We pick up the action as Bond is about to launch the ejector seat after he had famously been rather comically threatened with a life-changing laser beam injury. As Bond finds himself outside Goldfinger’s car factory, there are a lot of tight corners and long straights, making it easier for the rear projection to keep up with what is going on. However, as the car turns left before Bond vertically dispatches of his captor, he forgets to turn left on the steering wheel in his Aston Martin DB5, and it knocks the rest of the car chase totally out of sync!