Sir Kenneth Adam, OBE, born Klaus Hugo Adam in 1921, is a production designer famous for his set designs for the James Bond films of the 1960s and 1970s. Initially, he trained as an architect in London, but in October 1943, he became one of only two German-born fighter pilots to fly with the RAF in wartime. He joined 609 Squadron where he flew the Hawker Typhoon fighter bomber. After the war, he entered the film industry, initially as a draughtsman on This Was a Woman. His portfolio of work includes Barry Lyndon and The Madness of King George; he won an Oscar for both films. Having a close relationship with Stanley Kubrick, he also designed the set for the iconic war room in Dr Strangelove. Sir Ken Adam was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003.
Making the film we had a lot of fun and Berlin was, you know, they knew they were this small island in the Eastern Zone, and nobody knew how long this would last, and so on. So everybody had a good time, and we all did... have a good time – and some of the American crews, including Bob, got divorced from their wives and married some of these German model girls, you know.
But it was quite… Martine Carol played the French lead and Jeff Chandler was the American lead. And I learnt an enormous amount from Bob Aldrich. You know, sometimes I tried to bluff, and you couldn't bluff him, you know, it was no good. He saw through it immediately and I never tried again. But I respected him enormously, and I think he respected me, because I did two or three pictures with him.
I did, with Bob Mitchum, a film in Greece, and I did Sodom and Gomorrah in Italy – which we thought we would do in six weeks, and it took a year and a half, you know, in Morocco and Italy. So I basically had a very good time with Bob and he brought... he sent me over to Hollywood too, and I learnt the American way of filmmaking in the big studios, and that became very useful, of course.
Title: "Ten Seconds to Hell": learning the American way