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Special Project


'One of the great dance numbers of all time'
Ken Adam Artist
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We had another scene in Pennies From Heaven, it took place in a sort of very shady café off the L and I designed this very shady café. And, Bernadette Peters, who by now works as a prostitute, or no, she... she hasn't yet become a prostitute, she goes into this speakeasy or bar and she meets a villain there who is Christopher Walken. And in... while he explains to her, you know, if she wants to become a prostitute... the whole set changes and Chris Walken does an unbelievable dance number, first with two women of ill repute and then he does a striptease along the bar and... And, it is one of the great dance numbers of all times. I mean, it's maybe not Gene Kelly and Singing in the Rain or Fred Astaire, but it is quite brilliant. And, of course, most of us never knew that he was such an incredible dancer.


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: Pennies From Heaven, Singing in the Rain, Bernadette Peters, Christopher Walken, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire

Duration: 1 minute, 43 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 18 November 2011