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Cracking up


Barry Lyndon: closing down the production
Ken Adam Artist
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But the sad part of it – I don't want to go into too many details – I was losing more and more of his assistance. And because I had an incredibly close relationship with Stanley I started taking all his mistakes – or which I thought were, you know, reckless decisions – on my shoulders, and sometimes going to the actors and apologising, you know, which had nothing to do with me, it was Stanley. And also what happened, I was trying to find these locations – wasn't only English locations, it was also Irish locations and French locations, and German locations, all in... in a little bit of Ireland, you know.

And I found that he liked the location, but when the scene didn't work I had to find a different location, so I was really getting completely exhausted. And, you know, what he did, of course, he said to me one day in... in the car, 'What would happen if I closed down the production for six weeks, what would Warner's do, and we get our act together more, and so on?' I said, 'Well, you would probably be the only director that I know who could get away with it'. And that's what he did, he closed down, fired everybody except me, to get the act more together, but by this time I was… Letitzia came to... to visit me on... and she was seriously concerned. And, you know, we were very close to the Kubricks, in any case, and they spent so many evenings here, and Letitzia said, 'You know, Ken is not well', and he said, 'Well, I think you are right, but whatever you do, get him treated by… get him the right sort of medical attention'.

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: Ireland, Warner Brothers, Stanley Kubrick, Letizia Adam

Duration: 2 minutes, 40 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 11 November 2011