The Devil at Your Heels is a 1981 documentary that chronicles the attempt of the stuntman and daredevil Ken Carter to jump a rocket-powered car over the Saint Lawrence River, a distance of one mile, which would break all existing records for jumping cars.
The documentary opens with some quick framing of the task, including footage of the ramp and the car to be used for the jump, and then chronicles how Carter became a daredevil, including footage of some early jumps. It then follows the ups and downs he experienced in his five-year journey to jump the river. He has a series of financial and technical obstacles. Technical problems include difficulties with the car (the fuel tank keeps blowing up) and the ramp he was planning to jump off (it was bumpy and not necessarily structurally sound). The financial problems are simpler; he kept running out of money and his backers were unhappy.
In the fifth year, everything was ready, but two attempts were called off — one because of a short strike by the ground crew, and one because of weather. The backers, desperate to finish, believed that Carter had lost his nerve and called him to a meeting in another city, and then brought in another driver, Kenny Powers, to attempt the jump.
Unfortunately, the bumps in the ramp had not been fixed, and as the car accelerated, it started to shake itself to pieces and fell apart in midair. The parachutes deployed and the car landed in shallow water. Powers survived with eight broken vertebrae (he later recovered fully). The effort to make the jump was abandoned.
The film closes with Carter vowing to continue trying. However, a few years after the movie was made, the ramp was demolished, and then Carter was killed in 1983 in Peterborough, Ontario, while attempting another stunt.
The ramp and its runway were located in a field just west of Hanes Road, south of county road 2 in Morrisburg, Ontario, Canada. The ramp has since been demolished, but the concrete runway still exists as of 2017.
The title song was performed by the blues performer Long John Baldry.
Produced by the National Film Board of Canada, The Devil at Your Heels won the Genie Award for Best Theatrical Documentary.