Rémy Julienne, who died at the age of 90 after contracting Covid-19, was one of the best conductors and stunt coordinators in the world. He was behind the unforgettable sequence in The Italian Job with red, white and blue Mini Coopers speeding away from a daring heist in Turin and went on to be the mastermind of vehicle theater in half a dozen James Bond movies. .
The most memorable scenes from the 1969 British flag crime prank began with the cars driving away driving through shopping arcades, then down the steps of the Gran Madre di Dio church while avoiding a wedding party. Later, as the Mini drivers, with stunt doubles, continued to outwit the police in cars and motorcycles, Julienne went beyond her brief and Troy Kennedy Martin’s script during filming.
A great leap between two rooftops was his suggestion, initially rejected by the director, Peter Collinson, and the producer, Michael Deeley, because it sounded too dangerous; but he persisted and used test runs on flat terrain to show that the cars could travel the required distance. This was typical of his precision in planning stunts, and there was more to come.
“It was decided that I had to do three separate jumps in each Mini,” Julienne recalls. “I explained to him that since the ceiling was very wide, we could make the three Minis all jump together. It looked so much better in one shot. It was more complicated, but really amazing. “
The 20-minute sequence was completed with the cars crossing a dam on the Po River, navigating a culvert (the inside shot near Coventry) and, in a maneuver that Julienne deemed her greatest feat, dispatching the Minis, in red, white and blue order – as in every scene – down a ramp and into the back of a stripped-down coach at full speed.
The Italian Job was Julienne’s first English production, who was French, and it catapulted him to the top of the list for organizing vehicle stunts on screen. Considering his exploits as “science instead of stunts,” director John Glen hired him for the 1981 Bond film For Your Eyes Only to coordinate a sequence in which Roger Moore’s 007 races in a yellow Citroën 2CV through of the Spanish olive groves (actually filmed in Corfu), with several laps and a jump on the car of his pursuers.
Julienne, who doubled for Moore at the wheel, also chose the make and color of the vehicle. “They asked me what would be the most ridiculous car for James Bond to drive and still cause panic among the villains,” he told 007 historians Matthew Field and Ajay Chowdhury.
Impressed with the result, Glen also had him draw on his motocross skills (Julienne was French champion in 1957) to stage a stunt with Moore on skis escaping from a bobsleigh race from a Yamaha XT500 motorcycle.
Julienne returned for five more Bond films. He beefed up automatic rickshaws in India with Honda 250 engines for a 70 mph chase at Octopussy (1983); he brought his Italian work experience to A View to a Kill (1985), with Moore in command of a Renault 11 taxi on the streets of Paris that loses its roof, then the rear half, as well as a fire truck in San Francisco; and devised the pre-title sequence for The Living Daylights (1987) with Timothy Dalton’s 007 hanging from the roof of a Land Rover zigzagging down the Rock of Gibraltar.
For License to Kill (1989), he set up giant Kenworth trucks for a race, including wheelies, down the roads of the Mexican mountains, with Dalton performing a plane jump over one of them; and in GoldenEye (1995), for a scene set in Monaco but filmed in the south of France, he threw Pierce Brosnan’s Bond in his Aston Martin DB5 against a Ferrari F355 in hairpin turns.
Remy was born in Cepoy, near the town of Montargis in north-central France, to Lucienne (nee Pavas) and Paul Julienne, a transportation contractor who also owned a café. At the age of 12, when the country was under Nazi occupation, he first rode a motorcycle, his father’s 100cc Peugeot. He also had a passion for the greats of the silent film era like Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy.
Upon leaving school, he became a truck driver, taking an interest in mechanics, and was a tank instructor during his military service in Germany. A successful motocross career followed, which resulted in stunt arranger Gil Delamere hiring Julienne to do double for French actor Jean Marais on a bicycle in the 1964 film Fantômas.
When Delamere died in a terrible filming accident in 1966, Julienne had the opportunity to become a stunt coordinator himself and established his L’Equipe team of drivers and mechanics.
He worked on more than a dozen films with Jean-Paul Belmondo, including Le Guignolo (1980), when Belmondo hung from the rope ladder of a helicopter over the Venetian lagoon, and with other French stars such as Yves Montand and Alain Delon, as well as doubling for Charles Bronson in various films.
Internationally, Julienne organized stunts for directors such as Sydney Pollack in Bobby Deerfield (1977), Roman Polanski in Frantic (1988), John Woo in Once a Thief (1991), Jackie Chan in Operation Condor (1991), James Ivory in Surviving Picasso (1996) and Ron Howard in The Da Vinci Code (2006).
His work on Fiat commercials included driving over a waterfall in one and through the open doors of a moving freight train in another.
The tragedy struck during the filming of the French film Taxi 2 (2000), when a car that lost its landing place after a jump fatally struck a camera operator. Julienne was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and received a suspended prison sentence of 18 months, reduced to six on appeal.
He wrote two autobiographies, Silence … On Casse! (“Silencio… we break”, 1978) and Ma Vie en Cascades (My life in waterfalls, 2009).
Julienne is survived by her 10-year-old partner, Justine Poulin, and Michel and Dominique, the children, both stunt performers, from her 1956 marriage to Antonie Pedrocchi, from whom she separated in 1987, as well as a daughter, Diane, from another relationship.
• Rémy Julienne (Rémi Lucien Ernest Julienne), specialist and coordinator, born April 17, 1930; died on January 21, 2021
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