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The Kentucky Stud farm set


Ken Adam Artist
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I really started sort of expanding. It was also, since it played in Fort Knox, in Kentucky, in Goldfinger's stud farm, and Cubby [Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli] and Harry [Saltzman], myself and, I think, Guy Hamilton, went on a location scout there. And Fort Knox, the exterior was a dull, art deco, 1920 building – and all of Fort Knox is underground, in any case – but this place was in a sort of wood, surrounded by razor wire and machine guns, and on the roof machine guns too, and so on, and I wanted to… I said, 'I'm going to reproduce it exactly', and I needed to see it from the top and I flew in a helicopter over it, and you saw all those people with their anti-aircraft on top of the roof. That's true. And then loudspeakers all around me, 'You are approaching too close', or something – really quite a frightening thing. And so I decided to design the exterior completely as it was, and reproduce that on the lot at Pinewood.

And the interior, I thought I'd do something quite different, because I had looked at the bank vaults of the Bank of England and I thought they were… you know, because gold is so heavy you don't, you know, stack it higher than 2ft or 3ft, or something like that – and I had the idea... wait a moment, this... biggest gold depository in the world, that's true. You want to see gold, everybody wants to see gold, you know, and so I built like a cathedral of gold, between 40ft and 50ft high, taking up the whole of the... the big stage at Pinewood and with the gold stacked up right to the top. And I made, obviously, a sketch, because I had to sell the idea to Cubby and Harry and Guy, and Cubby and Harry were not convinced about it, and said, 'It looks like a fucking prison'. I said, 'That's exactly what I want', you know, and Guy said, 'Well, you know, it... it looks interesting', and so on. And so they went along with it, and I don't think they ever regretted it afterwards because it made an incredible scene, you know, between Sean and... the fight between Sean and… what was the name of the Korean, or whatever he was? Oddjob in Goldfinger...

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: Fort Knox, Kentucky, Bank of England, Pinewood Studios, Albert Broccoli, Harry Saltzman, Guy Hamilton, Sean Connery

Duration: 3 minutes, 38 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 14 October 2011