Production Designer Syd Cain, who worked on five
James Bond films from "Dr No" to "GoldenEye", has
died aged 93...
Syd Cain (1918-2011)
21st November 2011
Production designer Syd Cain was born on 16th April 1918 in Grantham,
His career in film spanned almost 50 years, starting as a draughtsman
on the 1947 film "The Inheritance" for the production
company Two Cities Films at Denham Studios, where he went on
to work on several productions. Prior to getting in to film,
Cain served during World War II, where a number of skills would
later prove useful. In 1954, Cain continued his draughtsman duties
but this time for Warwick Film Productions on "Hell Below
Zero" where Albert
R. Broccoli was co-producer.
Although the James
Bond film series was still a few years away
form kicking off, Cain collaborated with a lot of the talent
that would form the 'Bond family'. His first film as Assistant
Art Director was "The Cockleshell Heroes" (1955), again
for Broccoli's Warwick Films, with 007 writer Richard
Maibaum and director of photography Ted Moore. Other high profile films
in this pre-Bond era included "Our Man in Havana" (1959)
and "Lolita" (1962).
Broccoli hand-picked their first Bond crew largely
from his experience with Warwick Films, and selected Cain as
No", where one of his most memorable contributions was
the dragon tank on Crab Key island. Working under legendary production
designer Ken Adam, the team
created an unique look for the film which is still as stunning
today as it was 50 years ago.
Next up was "Call Me Bwana" for Saltzman & Broccoli's
EON Productions, before he continued Bond duties on "From
Russia With Love". When Ken Adam was unavailable to
return, Cain stepped up but was credited only for Art Direction
than Production Design. Highlights of Cain's work on the
second Bond film include the luxurious Chess Match set, where
he echoed the theme of a pawn throughout the design, and 007's
customised attache case,
which is still one of the most recognisable of the Bond gadgets.
With Adam returning on "Goldfinger", Cain bowed out
from Bond for a while as he worked as Production Designer on
films such as "The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders" (1965), "Fahrenheit
451" (1966) and the Harry Palmer adventure "Billion
Dollar Brain" (1967" for Harry Saltzman.
007 came calling again in 1969 when Cain returned for "On
Her Majesty's Secret Service", this time in the top job
as Production Designer. This was perhaps the pinnacle of his
career and he was responsible for Blofeld's iconic hideout at
Piz Gloria. EON had to pay out for a complete interior refit
to get the look that production designer Cain was after when
the Swiss authorities refused planning permission for his original
plans and a fully functioning helicopter pad also had to be built
at EON's expense. This still proved cheaper than paying for another
set of Adam extravagances however.
When Sean Connery returned for "Diamonds
Are Forever" in
1971, so did Ken Adam, so Cain dipped out of Bond again to work
on "Frenzy" and "Fear Is The Key". He returned
as Art Director for "Live
And Let Die" in 1973, where
he designed many of the film's set pieces and gadgets, including
Bond's buzz-saw Rolex watch, which recently
sold at auction for
Above: Original sketch by Syd Cain
for 007's magnetic buzz-saw Rolex watch. The watch
had to be adapted for
the buzz saw feature by cutting the bezel's edges
into sharp teeth and modified in order for it to rise
to maximum height before spinning. The buzz saw is
activated by compressed air blown through a tube
onto specially constructed vanes, causing the bezel to
rise and rotate.
Although he wouldn't work on the Bond series
with Roger Moore after his first outing as 007, Cain was Production
of his non-Bond outings during his tenure: "Gold" (1974)
and "Shout at the Devil" (1976) for director Peter
Hunt, and "The Wild Geese" (1978) and "The Sea
Wolves" (1980) for producer Euan Lloyd. Cain also worked
in television in the mid-70s as Production Designer on numerous
episodes of "The New Avengers".
His Production Designer duties continued at
a slower pace through the 1980s with credits such as "Lion
of the Desert" (1981), "Supergirl" (1984), "Wild
Geese II" (1985) and finally "Tusks" (1988).
Switching to a storyboard artist, Cain drew for "Who Framed
Roger Rabbit" (1988) and "The Neverending Story III" (1994)
before returning to 007 duty for one final time on "GoldenEye" in
1995 to storyboard the
film and design gadgets for Q-branch.
This final James Bond credit meant that Cain had worked in the
Sean Connery, George Lazenby,
Roger Moore and Pierce
Above: Syd Cain designs for the GoldenEye EMP satellite weapon.
His last production credit was as a storyboard artist for Michael
Cain's 2000 film "Shiner". He remained active in the
film community, attending conventions and reunions.
Syd Cain died on Monday 21st November 2011
at the age of 93.