ken adam

6 11 2009

SIR KEN ADAM was born 1921 in berlin, germany. being jewish/german he relocated in 1933 to england with his family. after the second worldwar he started to work in the film industry, educated as an architect. in the mid-fifties he worked in hollywood on AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS and BEN HUR. it was there where he met his mentor WILLIAM CAMERON MENZIES. the 1957 released and directed by JACQUES TOURNEURNIGHT OF THE DEMON ( one of my favorite films ) was his first major hollywood credit. it was in 1962 when his long lasting work on the JAMES BOND films started, with DR. NO. he designed all BOND films until MOONRAKER in 1979. inbetween in 1963 he was the production designer for STANLEY KUBRICK’SDR. STRANGELOVE: OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB. as well he was responsible for the look of another favorite of mine, the 1965 THE IPCRESS FILE. later GOODBYE MR. CHIPS, and – again with KUBRICK – BARRY LYNDON, for which he won his first OSCAR. these are only a few of the highlights I mentioned. ken adam is an amazing drawing artist with an unlimited imagination as you can see in the following sketches.

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© ken adam

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4 responses

6 11 2009
Matt

Adams is amazing, and these images in particular are exceptional. I love that scene in Strangelove (first pic). Thanks so much for sharing these.

6 11 2009
raphael

oh, another fan of kens work.
i remember seeing a shirt documentary or feature about him and his work – and being immediately hooked. at that time, a book about him was released in germany (alexander smoltczyk – james bond, berlin, hollywood; die welten des ken adam) which, of course, i had to get immediately.

its amazing how believable he makes the surreal. his fort knox for goldfinger is physically impossible (you cant stack gold that high without its own weight squishing it), several of the supervillain hideouts in the 007 flicks are so outlandish, and the war room of dr. strangelove fame, with its skewed angles – why would anyone build something like that? yet, theres anecdotal evidence that one president asked to be shown the war room after his inauguration, and adam was asked incredolously how he got admitted inside fort knox for sketching.

6 11 2009
Matt Jones

I attended a wonderful Q&A with Adam & Christopher Frayling in London a few years ago. Adam is a terrific raconteur-he told tales of being the only German fighter pilot in the RAF in WW11; flying at extremely low altitude. He had a great anecdote about secretly getting Kubrick to help him figure out how to light a cavernous Bond set. Frayling wrote a good book on Adam.

A couple years before that at the Serpentine gallery, London was one of the best expos I’ve ever seen-all about Adam’s work in production design-unforgettable.

27 11 2009
Steve Brown

Night of the Demon is one of my favorite films. The slowly building supernatural dread within a completely materialist milieu is amazing. I have heard that the rather cheesy monster which appears at the end of the film was forced upon Jacques Tourneur by the studio. Characteristically, he would have preferred to have only suggested the monster, without ever showing it.

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