I found this very cool Production Design Blog-a-thon, and since it’s one of my favorite Bond topics, I thought I’d participate.
I want to talk about Ken Adam’s work in the Bond films. I mean, I could talk about Syd Cain or Peter Lamont, or contrarily, about Adam’s work for Kubrick or others, but this is the topic nearest and dearest to my heart. To quote myself:
The look created by Ken Adam stepped just an inch outside of reality. His sense of space, shape, and line, as well as his use of design to create character, is nothing short of remarkable. It all started, really, with that amazing interrogation room in Dr. No — bare skylight, tiny chair, stark, cell-like shadows. Adam gave his all on Dr. No’s control room, and then made low-budget a virtue by squeezing that one last set out of thin air.
Bond films, as designed by Adam, look like you are walking into a heightened world, someplace a little more alive, a little more exciting. The sets, the furniture, the colors, make the adventures and the technology believable. I think the look of these films was as important to Bond’s early success as the adventures themselves. Few people have successfully imitated Adam — most who have tried ended up going over the top, and their designs look more like 60’s go-go bars than exciting worlds of adventure. I firmly believe that the visual world of James Bond, as designed by Ken Adam, was essential in making these movies so memorable.
Top Five Ken Adam Bond sets:
1. Dr. No: Skylit Interrogation Room
2. The Spy Who Loved Me: Atlantis (It’s big, it’s curvy, and it rises from the sea.)
3. You Only Live Twice: Hollowed-out Volcano
4.Diamonds Are Forever: Willard Whyte’s Penthouse Suite (If I were a filthy rich recluse, that’s how I’d want to live.)
5. Dr. No: Decontamination