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KEN ADAM (BEHIND THE SCENES)

By: Anders Frejdh
Published:
2004-09-06
Production Designer for DR NO, GOLDFINGER, THUNDERBALL, YOLT, DAF, TSWLM and MOONRAKER

The genius of Sir Kenneth Adam struck me when I first met him at Serpentine Gallery in London in November 1999 while enjoying an exhibition dedicated to him.

He made a speech to all of us there telling many anecdotes from the Bond films and of which one has stayed in my mind ever since. It was when they filmed the pool sequence with Sir Sean Connery and some sharks for Thunderball (1965) (1965). Sean’s reaction when realising he was being filmed in a pool with real sharks next to him without any safety was unforgettable he said. Although a bit dangerous for ‘Big Tam’ himself.

Over the years I've been fortunate to meet Sir Ken at various occasions, for example at the 40th Anniversary of Thunderball at Cine Lumière in London 2005 where he was interviewed on stage by his biographer Sir Christopher Frayling.

About production designer Ken Adam:
Ken Adam was born in Berlin on 5 February 1921 but has lived in England since 1934. He trained to be an architect at London University, served as an RAF pilot during World War II, and entered films as a draughtsman on This Was a Woman (1948).

He made his name as the man responsible for the witty, inventive, high-gloss look of the James Bond films, for which he concocted ever more lavish and eye-catching sets as the success and budgets for the series rocketed. He also had a very productive association with Stanley Kubrick on Dr Strangelove (1963), with its gleaming and sinister war room, and on the contrastingly mellow Technicolor beauties of Barry Lyndon (1975), for which he won an Oscar.

As well, he is responsible for the design of such impressive and varied films as the sumptuous biopic, The Trials of Oscar Wilde (1960), the Cold War thriller The Ipcress File (1965), the fantasy Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), and the musical Goodbye, Mr Chips (1969). His most recent work has been mostly on American films, including In and Out (1997).

Read more about Sir Ken and his amazing designs in Christoper Frayling's books about him, Ken Adam and the Art of Production Design (2005) and Ken Adam designs the movies: James Bond and Beyond (2008).

This text was published by Anders Frejdh in December 2005

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