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Michael Caine vs Laurence Olivier


Sleuth: the third star of the film
Ken Adam Artist
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We only had Michael Caine and Lord Olivier, and the third star of the picture; I had found a woman in Scarborough who had these mechanical dolls, what do you call them, automatons or something like that, which was so lucky, and she let us have them, and they became really the third star of the film. Because Joe was incredibly clever, how he used them, how they started... talking or moving or something like that, and I only built I think the laughing sailor. If you've seen the film, there was a laughing sailor who, at the most inopportune moments, started sort of cackling and so on, but it was brilliantly handled by Mankiewicz and we all got into that spirit.

Ossy, you know, with his lighting was as quick as I've never seen him before, and of course the set worked beautifully because all the flats were on wheels, were counterbalanced, and they came out quite easily, and you could even create different venues somewhere.

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: Scarborough, Michael Caine, Laurence Olivier, Joe Mankiewicz, Oswald Morris

Duration: 1 minute, 40 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 11 November 2011