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Hidden in the Credits

Production Designer Sir Ken Adam

Production Designer Sir Ken Adam

Above all, we tend to give credit to the actors in a movie. Those who know a little more about how films will tend to credit the director. But it doesn’t stop there. What about producers like Val Lewton and Henry Blanke, cinematographers like Gregg Toland and Gabriel Figueroa, editors like Slavko Vorkapich, and—more to the point here—production designers like Sir Ken Adam?

I remember having a Dartmouth Film Society dinner with Hollywood producer Max Youngstein in the mid 1960s. He had just produced Fail-Safe (1964). When I asked him if the production had been designed by Ken Adam, he positively beamed at me. He prided himself for having found someone else who gave the film a Ken Adam touch.

Why? Ken Adam was responsible for film designs which will forever be associated in our minds with the best of the 1960s, such as Doctor No (1962) and Doctor Strangelove (1964).

Doctor No’s “Reception Room” in the Film of the Same Name

Doctor No’s “Reception Room” in the Film of the Same Name

In addition there was the War Room in Doctor Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964):

 

Kubrick’s War Room in Doctor Strangelove

Model for Kubrick’s War Room in Doctor Strangelove

As one who lived through that anxious time, I will always remember Ken Adam’s sets for these and other films. Perhaps he is unknown to the general film-going public, but now that we lost him, his vision will be missed.