Website last updated: 17-7-2024

Production Designer Syd Cain (1918-2011)

By: Anders Frejdh
Syd Cain James Bond
Syd Cain, respected British art director and production designer who worked on five James Bond films, has passed away, aged 93.

FSWL reader Mark Ashby wrote:

"Incredibly sad to hear about Syd. A truly nice person. Because of my predilection for wearing stripy shirts he always used to have a running joke with me about going out with my pajamas on. This went on for about 20 years. Even the last time I really spoke to him at the NFT [National Film Centre] in London after a showing of Dr No I heard this voice behind me. 'Still got your pajamas on then'. Being a graphic designer we always had wonderful chats whenever we saw each other. I wouldn't presume I knew him well but of all the early Bond alumni he was the friendliest to me. God bless you, Syd."

Our friend Lee Pfeiffer, editor-in-chief of the superb film magazine Cinema Retro, remembers Syd:

"Syd's death is a personal loss to many of us at Cinema Retro who considered him a friend. His remarkable career included a long association with the James Bond films.

He began on the very first film, Dr. No, as art director, working with the legendary production designer Ken Adam. When Adam wasn't available for the second film, From Russia with Love (1963), Syd took over for the art direction and production design duties. Syd was billed as the production designer for the Bond classic On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), playing a crucial role in the design of the Piz Gloria sets that served as the Alpine HQ of Blofeld. He would return to the fold several years later as Supervising Art Director for Roger Moore's debut as 007 in Live and Let Die (1973).

Cain also did other films for Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman including the EON Productions comedy Call Me Bwana (1963) and the Saltzman-produced Harry Palmer thriller Billion Dollar Brain. In the 1950s he also worked for Broccoli and his former partner Irving Allen and their Warwick Films company.

Other major films that Cain served as art director or production designer for include Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy (1972), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966), The Road to Hong Kong (1962), Lolita (1962), Farenheit 451 (1966) and Bond director Peter Hunt's Shout at the Devil (1976). Cain also had a long association with producer Euan Lloyd, working with him on Wild Geese (1978), Who Dares Wins (1982) and Wild Geese II (1985).

In 1995, Cain renewed his association with the Bond franchise, designing storyboards for the blockbuster GoldenEye (1995) (1995).

Cain remained active in his later years, attending many Bond-themed events. On a personal note, I recall having him appear as a surprise guest at an event I was holding at Pinewood Studios in the late 1990s. Syd was shocked and humbled at the degree of interest attendees had in his work and he kept them spellbound when he unveiled a portfolio of some of his original storyboards.

In 2002, Dave Worrall and I had the honor of assisting Syd with writing his autobiography, Not Forgetting James Bond, first published in November 2002. It was fascinating to read his first-hand comments about the making of the 007 series. As with many alumni from Eon-produced films, the company always maintained reverence for his work and legacy and invited Syd to high profile events relating to the world of Bond. We join them in mourning his passing."

Photo above:
Syd Cain with Mark Ashby at Kettners Restaurant in London. © Mark Ashby. All rights reserved.

Read more about Syd Cain's 57-year long and fascinating career on IMDB:



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