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An example of successful set design

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Crushing a brand new Lincoln Continental
Ken Adam Artist
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On the amusing side, by this time, we had very little problems to get cars from the Americans, and we needed a brand new Lincoln Continental, to be with one of the chief crooks in it and he's driven by Oddjob into this breaker's yard, and that brand new Lincoln Continental is put into one of these squasher things, and first becomes like a sausage, and then, you know, like a square, and I suddenly remembered in... while we were shooting it… already the whole unit felt terrible, because it was like something happening to you, you know – a brand new Lincoln Continental, a beautiful car – and I remembered that, my God, that cube is going to be too heavy for the truck I had laid on...

And I whispered over to Guy that, 'Can we cut', and he said, 'Why?' And I told him that, so he said, 'Okay, we'll cut'. And then the car, by this time, was like a big sausage, you know. But you know, it took us the best part of an hour and a half to cut a lump off it, because it would have been too heavy. And if you watch the film again, because the next moment it gets squashed like that, you see, is when the cube drops into the back of the little truck, the truck sinks down like that on its springs. But fortunately it worked, but we all felt pretty awful about that, but we got over that eventually, because every Bond film had cars and car chases, and the... so on. And although it was interesting, because on the same film I had designed all the weaponry on the DB4 Aston Martin, and DB5, for Q – who was a new character in the film – and I had quite a lot of difficulties getting a car, or two cars from Aston Martin, one to be the real run-around car, and the other one with all my gadgets on it. And we did finally get them. I don't... I don't know if EON, in fact, owned them or if they were loaned out by Aston Martin, but in any event, after that film came out, Aston had, I think it was a nearly 49% rise in their… and we had no more problems in getting cars from anybody. It was strange, you 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: Lincoln Continental, DB4 Aston Marti, DB5 Aston Martin

Duration: 3 minutes, 47 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 14 October 2011