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Dr Strangelove: the missing pie fight

RELATED STORIES

Stories with Stanley Kubrick
Ken Adam Artist
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When you drive a director for nearly five months to and from Shepperton Studios every day you get to know each other pretty well, and Stanley was fascinated by my wartime stories. I mean he was like a little boy. Also, he had tried to become a pilot, but on his first solo flight… I don’t know if I should be saying this, you know, in these Tiger Moth and Stearman, in New York or something, we had two magnetos, and before you took off you switched one magneto off to see how many revs you lost, and then the other one. It was a way of checking that the engine was okay. Well, Stanley did that, but he forgot to switch on the thing – the magneto – and he staggered into the air, and just managed to get back and make a forced landing, and since then has never flown in any other aircraft. Imagine.

So that was one story that I got out of him. But I told him a lot of my stories and he was fascinated by that, and he was going to make a film, you know, but he wanted to make it from the First World War because you could hold all those aerial fights and battles in your frame. You didn’t have to go with, you know… and then in the end, I had no more stories so I had to invent stories to tell, but it was a great... we had a great relationship, except that I said to myself, it’s one... I can only go through it once in my life. Little did I know.

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: Shepperton Studios, Tiger Moth, Stearman, World War I, Stanley Kubrick

Duration: 1 minute, 57 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 14 October 2011