For the Al: Ken “Heinie the Tank Buster” Adam, Father of the Bond-Villain Volcano Lair

L-R: Set designer Ken Adam, legendary Bond producer Albert Broccoli and director Lewis Gilbert on the set of Moonraker; all photos from the British Film Institute.

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Ken Adam, who died earlier this year, was a German Jew whose family fled the Nazi regime to England. He became one of only three German-born pilots in the RAF, where as a bomber pilot who specialized in taking out German armor he earned the nickname “Heinie the Tank Buster.”

Now, folks, if it were me, escaping Nazi Germany and becoming Heinie the Tank Buster would be Al-worthy enough for a lifetime. But it wasn’t for Ken Adam.

He went on to become one of the most important set designers in film history, inventing a series of iconic sets that shaped the imagination of the whole world.

Including, ahem, the original Bond-villain volcano lair.

Yes, that one!

Well, not that one.

This one:

(Which reminds me, I’ve been meaning to blog on No Time to Die. I’ll try to get to it soon, I promise! If you’ve already seen the other Daniel Craig films, I highly recommend NTTD. It’s even good enough that I now no longer feel like my time was totally wasted by the execrable Spectre, because the story ended so well. But you do have to have seen the other movies first. And you should, it goes without saying, see it in the theater.)

Now, folks, if it were me, escaping Nazi Germany and becoming Heinie the Tank Buster, and then inventing the Bond villain volcano lair would be Al-worthy enough for about ten lifetimes.

But that’s not all Ken Adam did. Rather than waste words, let me take you on a tour:

War Room, Dr. Strangelove
War Room, Dr. Strangelove
Dr. No’s Lair, Dr. No
Ft. Knox, Goldfinger
Drax’s Conference Room, Moonraker

And of course:

Production Design Sketch, You Only Live Twice
Ernst Starvo Blofeld’s Volcano Lair, You Only Live Twice

Gentlemen, you can’t fight Ken Adam’s claim to The Al in here! This is the War Room!

I proudly nominate Ken Adam for Al Copeland Humanitarian of the Year.

2 Responses to For the Al: Ken “Heinie the Tank Buster” Adam, Father of the Bond-Villain Volcano Lair

  1. Matthew Ladner says:

    War Room alone makes him a strong contender! I think I read somewhere that Ronald Reagan asked about the War Room before his inaugeration.

    • Greg Forster says:

      Indeed, the Strangelove war room has shaped everyone’s image of the Cold War. And the “you can’t fight in here!” gag wouldn’t have been half as funny without Adam’s splendid set.

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