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Minimal design, maximum impact


The Ipcress File
Ken Adam Artist
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The Ipcress File is... was very interesting, because it was not a Bond, at all. It was one of the first pictures from... from Michael Caine, and you know, we had a lot of problems with Cubby too... with Harry Saltzman, because he thought he wasn't going to make him... a sort of a poor man's Bond. And we all ganged up on him, and the director was Sid Furie, who's very talented, and said, 'You know, this is not a Bond, because Michael Caine is not a Bond type of character'. And we treated it completely differently. Did you ever see the picture? And we shot it all on location, except the one sequence with the brainwashing, and it was really a very good-looking film.

And if I remember rightly, and as a slight anecdote of it, I hope I'm right with this – I was nominated for two BAFTAs, one was for Goldfinger and the other one was for The Ipcress File. And, Cubby and Harry had taken a big table, you know, wherever it was I can't remember, and to everybody's surprise I won it for The Ipcress File, and Cubby wouldn't talk to me for... for several weeks afterwards, you know. But it was, it had a look to it, and considering that it was all shot on location… We had a wonderful old cameraman, Otto Heller, and a great operator and a very good director, who was Sid Furie... and Michael. You know, it was his second picture, or something like that, and he was brilliant in it. It worked, and we all had a lot of fun making it.

Sir Kenneth Adam (1921-2016), OBE, born Klaus Hugo Adam, was 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.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: BAFTA, The Ipcress File, Goldfinger, Michael Caine, Harry Saltzman, Sib Furie, Otto Heller, Albert Broccoli

Duration: 2 minutes, 51 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 11 November 2011