In Beverly Hills Cop III, Eddie Murphy takes a scary ride for which you can’t buy a ticket. It all starts when he hops on an elevated, “three-armed” variation of a Ferris wheel featuring dangling oversize birdcages. When the ride goes awry, he leaps from cage to cage to rescue two children about to fall 100 feet to the ground from their damaged compartment.
An actual attraction at Paramount’s Great America theme park in Santa Clara, Calif., the Triple Wheel twirled too fast for the stunt jumps, says Cop III stunt coordinator Rick Avery. So the crew loaded some of the cages with sandbags and used the uneven weight, instead of the ride’s motor, to move the Triple Wheel’s arms. They also fitted the ride with safety cables attached to the jumper’s harness, and rehearsed the 12-foot leaps for a week before Murphy’s stunt double, Alan Oliney, went in front of the camera.
For one especially terrifying jump, “we knew that he could grab the side, but I wanted him to slip and hold on with one arm and make it look like he almost couldn’t make it,” Avery says. Oliney succeeded on the very first take. “It was so spectacular,” says Avery, “and we had three cameras on it. We didn’t need to shoot that again.”