Ken Adam Designs the Movies; James Bond and Beyond, by Ken Adam and Christopher Frayling
Thames & Hudson, hardcover

Ken Adam has had an extraordinary career. The Oscar-winning production designer worked on eight Bond films. He’s worked with Stanley Kubrick, designed the bizarre mansion in Sleuth, has created the Oscars ceremony set in In & Out, and created the titular car in Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang. He’s also designed museum exhibits, operas, and the video game Goldeneye: Rogue Agent.

Now comes a lavish picture book to celebrate his work. It’s truly an amazing package, almost too heavy to lift. There’s a four page fold-out of the war room in Dr. Strangelove (arguably his most famous set, although Bond fans might say it’s Fort Knox in Goldfinger). It’s filled with Adam’s original sketches side-by-side with stills of the resultant movie. As would be expected from such a book, the text is lightweight, but it’s informative. Here we learn that Adam didn’t enjoy working on Barry Lyndon, the movie that earned him an Oscar, because the period recreation had to be so accurate that it didn’t seem creative to him. He talks about stretching reality, about using visual contrasts for humor, and about preventing boredom.

If you like coffee-table books and you’re a Bond fan, this is simply a must-have. It’s really a thing of beauty more than a book; you won’t be curling up in bed with it! But it’s delightful.