a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Helen of Troy: the attack on the walls of Troy


The Crimson Pirate
Ken Adam Artist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

The Crimson Pirate was in... '51, I think. And I did another picture after that in Sicily for Warner Brothers called The Master of Ballantrae, with Errol Flynn – so I still had boats – and it was on that picture that I married Letitzia. And in fact I got her a job as a costume assistant with... she was with 160 male extras on one of the big ships and they're all-day out at sea. It suited her.

And then I returned to England for... on some small pictures and did also some work on Ben-Hur, because the American producer thought I was best suitable to see that not too much money was being spent and... you know, to oversee the building of the… what do you call it? …of the Circus Maximus and so on.

And, eventually – I still... being in... in Italy – got offered Helen of Troy, which Bob Wise was directing, and had had a Production Designer called Eddie Carrere from Hollywood. But... excuse me... in those days there were no film [draftsmen] working in Italy, so I finally ended up with about 12 qualified young architects, and I trained them into sort of film draftsmen, and we had a lot of fun, and it was quite a design picture.

We built the city gates of Troy at Cinecittà, and part of some of the palaces and so on, and it became so big that they took a second director, Raoul Walsh, who I'd worked with on Hornblower, he was sort of blood and guts director. And we had, at times, 3,000 extras with the first unit, and 3,000 extras with the second unit, one at Anzio, and one at the studio, you know, at Cinecittà. So it was a gigantic task to feed them all with props, and arms and so on. And... it really was fun picture.

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: The Crimson Pirate, 1951, Sicily, Warner Brothers, The Master of Ballantrae, UK, Ben-Hur, Italy, Helen of Troy, Hollywood, Cinecittà Studios, Captain Horatio Hornblower, Anzio, Errol Flynn, Bob Wise, Eddie Carrere, Raoul Walsh

Duration: 3 minutes, 42 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 14 September 2011