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Getting rid of diplomatic cars

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A suitcase full of money
Ken Adam Artist
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I was dressing a set at MGM, he comes on, says, 'Stop dressing, we're flying over to Paris, because the balloon you have to supervise'... or something. And, you know, there wasn't a London airport, you had to fly from Croydon, and he had his own plane, you know, which wasn't all that safe. In fact he was killed in a flying accident, you know, in America, in... in one of his planes.

And so I had to leave everything behind, fly with him to Paris, and then he said, 'You... you might just as well stay here, because…' We went to the studios at Belliancourt, because we did the whole... the balloon sequence – which was a balloon, probably, eight-foot diameter, or something, a model-balloon. And the Rue du Rivoli... I had to change all the shop fronts and everything else to make them look like 1880, or whatever it was.

And, so I was there for two weeks nearly, and then I said... rang up Todd, and said, 'Mike, you know, it's the second payday here, and nobody has been paid yet'. So, he said, 'Oh, you schmuck, why don't you go and see somebody, or something'! I said, 'Mike, I'm the production designer on this film, I'm not supposed to find the money'. So, in any case, he flew over the next day with a suitcase full of money – that was the sort of character he was – to settle, because otherwise the French unions, they're very tough, they would have been on strike.

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: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Croydon, USA, Paris, Rue du Rivoli, 1880, Michael Todd

Duration: 2 minutes, 11 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 14 September 2011