Peter Lamont

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Interview Date(s): 
28 Jul 2018
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Peter Lamont

Production Designer

Interviewer: Paul Frith (PF)

Date: 28/07/2018

Total Length: 01:25:07


PF: This is an interview with Peter Lamont, 24 July 2018. I just want to thank you Peter for taking part in this. So just to start, perhaps you could tell us a little bit about your early career when you went into the film industry?

PL: Well I won a scholarship and I didn’t get the eleven-plus, but there was a scholarship available for thirteen-plus and I won it, with some friends of mine. I went to High Wycombe Technical School which had an arts school. There was a building school, a commercial school, and an engineering school. Two of my friends went to art school, there were five of us, went to [unintelligible]. So I did a three-year course. When I came out, my father, who was a sign writer and, I’m not joking, he was bloody clever you know and I still don’t know how he did it or where he learnt it, but in those days, there were no graphic aids, it was all done by hand. And we might have had a little [unintelligible] round the side of the house on a Sunday and we’d go out and I’d hold the chalk lines for him and he’s just go, “Do this”, and he’d get his pallet and [mortar stick?] and he would get some [gold size?] with just the colour of perhaps yellow or something like that so he could see what he was doing. But he never drew anything out, it was quite amazing. So he’s got his [gold size?] And about two hours later my mum would come out and [unintelligible] It was daft, you know, she had this thing and she could do it. And I often wondered, I still don’t know how my dad, or his brother, where they learnt to do this, because it was all done by hand and they had all his pencils as they called them, they were very looked after. And even inserts in papers, everything was done by hand. Then, as the war ended, and I came out of school, he got me a job at Pinewood as he knew Ernie Holding who was part of Independent Producers, and I went as a prism print boy, runner to Teddy Carrick who at that time was doing Captain Boycott. So, that was my start. And it was rather nice because at that time Oliver Twist was going on. One big thing that I did see, it had ended at that point, Black Narcissus. And it was all shot in the studio other than some jungle stuff they did at…gardens, near Richmond. And the rest was done in the studio, and I can’t tell you, if you look at it, it was bloody amazing, and there were models and they built the monastery full size. Alfred Junge was the production designer and it was amazing. So, I was there with Teddy Carrick and then I moved on to TheWoman in the Hall and with Jack Lee. And then I went on to The End of the River, it was a Michael Powell picture, but it wasn’t done by him it was an Archer’s picture but it wasn’t done by them it was black and white. And Blanche Fury was starting and that was going to the last of the Technicolor pictures and there I got my call-up. And I did go on to a film called Esther Waters and it was the introduction of Dirk Bogarde and [John Howard?] he was kind of special effects with Bill Morris and all of that. He was kind of very learned and he had this… who was the famous documenter at that time?

PF: John Grierson.

PL: No, no, no, no. The illustrator. Anyway, in one of his books, which I had, there was a railway viaduct with a train on it, and there were tenements round here with back-gardens. And there was a street, there was a shop and there were chimneys in the background, there was smoke. And in those days… I forget who drew it up now John Hosey probably something like that. In J-block, in the first office there was a place called… Bill Pearsall who was the model department and I’m not joking, after a month, after a week, they’d produce this tiny little model with a tiny little viewfinder and you could actually go down for lunch and it was incredible because they did it on D-stage and it was the last time I saw something really like that you know. All there was, there was a little bit down here with a woman hanging up the washing, there was a model train with smoke and there was Kathleen Ryan coming around going to the shop, great angle. And from there on, suddenly I… everything happened to me on the twelfth. There was Esther Waters and I went into the services for two years. I remember coming out, one time Esther Waters was at the cinema in Uxbridge. The only thing was it only lasted one day it was so awful, black-and-white, but there you are. When I came out of the services I was reinstated at Pinewood. Because in those days, Pinewood, it wasn’t Rank but Independent Producers had gone. The studio had… so I went to work on Trio with Maurice Carter and then I was transferred very quickly over to Carmen Dillon who had actually lived with us during the war and I went over with her to work on a film called…what’s it called? The Woman in Question with Jean Kent. Then from there we went on to do The Browning Version and then we went to Denham and did Robin Hood with Disney, and that was the first colour picture I worked on. And funnily enough I’ve still got some of Stephen Grimes’ continuities. In those days, if you did a continuity sketch it would be about that size. And he always used to draw in Indian ink. I don’t know how he did it but he could dip, dip, dip and never get it dirty. And of course, Disney expected next day that shot, that was the shot, you didn’t mess about, that was the shot. Ken Annakin was the director, Perce Pearce was that, and Carmen was production designer. So, we did that and at the same time the studios were just finishing No Highway. There was a film that was running there at the time called House in the Square with Tyrone Powerbut I’ve never ever found anything about it, whether or not it ever surfaced, I don’t know. Of course, then, Pinewood closed. So, I’d already gone back to Pinewood, I was still with Carmen and we did Hotel Sahara in Monte Carlo and David Thomlinson and what’s his name, the actor who played the first Poirot. Who played the first Poirot? Peter Ustinov, and he was there and I can’t tell you it was an amazing [unintelligible] the bloody stage Bill Warrington was special effects and he built dunes down in his special place with tiny little cars and all the palm trees were little feathers. I never forgot that it was bloody brilliant, we never went out the studio. And from there on we did Importance of Being Earnest, in colour again, and Carmen had her staff, there was Ernie Archer, John Box, Jack Stevens and me. And Carmen had already got an Oscar for… she was set decorator I think, on one of the ones with Laurence Olivier at Denham before the war, but they only used to get a little plaque. And subsequently everybody who worked with her we all won Oscars which was quite amazing.

PF: Could you tell me a bit more about those two Technicolor films you started working on and perhaps working with Carmen Dillon, what was that like?


PL: Well when we did Robin Hood, it wasn’t Technicolor it must have been Eastmancolor because when I first went to Pinewood there used to be a little green van in the morning and the blimp would already be on the stage and then the camera would be taken off and I knew one of the assistants, Bob Kindred, who could actually carry the camera and the magazines and believe me they were heavy. And it was fascinating, I loved all that but to be quite honest, I really wanted to go in the camera department, but you had to become clapper loader and if you didn’t have the in… and I thought, oh the art department’s not bad, of course in days afterwards you think to yourself well I’ve been all over the world, found locations and everybody comes and says oh aren’t you lucky to find this we did it. And the amazing thing is, when you saw these cameras and when you changed the magazines it was quite amazing, three strips and it was a real clatter until they closed the door, then of course then there was the viewfinder. They actually could see through the lens, I don’t know how it was done. With other cameras… I can remember when they were doing Oliver Twist, Ossie Morris was there and they had a big blimp and there was a handbar and it wasn’t until later on when you got the moy head with the handles you know, became… and of course, when they got the blimp up and they were looking through the camera, then course, when you’re ready to shoot you’ve got to turn the camera over, close the blimp and now you’re looking through the viewfinder which is now parallax compensator, so you’re supposedly looking through what the lens is seeing and it wasn’t until later that you could see what you were seeing through the lens you could shoot. But of course as time went on… there were a couple of other films I worked on, one was called Sapphire, and it had Bernard Miles in it, and it was about, kind of West Indians, there was a whole thing. It was shot in black and white but when to, kind of, the colours it was now colour. I have got a copy of it, actually and I can remember when we went to a shop, all the cornflake packets had to be black-and-white. Oh god, I can’t tell you. There was a photostat machine at that time, this was before a Xerox and all that, then we copied them all in black-and-white so all the white people were black-and-white, colours were… who was it… his wife was Melissa Stribling. Anyway, it was good. Nigel Patrick was in it. It was a good film. And incidentally, while I’m talking about it… if you liked, A Matter of Life and Death, I did have a ride on that staircase. Yeah, it was just before the war started and the staircase was coming down into the operating theatre where they all came down and they’d got the book you know and they run it and my dad worked there obviously and he said “Come on Nibbs” go down to the studio and I had a ride on it. There’s a picture somewhere.

PF: Just to go back, talking about Sapphire, could you talk about it a little bit more as it obviously a colour film, so could you talk us through the process of it?

PL: Well the whole film… Bernard Hill… what’s his name? He ran that theatre in Dereham… what was his name? And everything that happened, the policeman, she gets murdered, and of course, when you go to the colour, you’re in colour, when you go to the police and all that, it’s all in black and white. It was very subtle the way it was changed.  Basil Dearden was the director and I did several other little films then. But of course, then suddenly you then got the big thing with CinemaScope and VistaVision. And I’ve been a member of our Guild for yonks, we did have an evening at Technicolor. How they ever got anything done I’ve never seen… film running all over the bloody place it was amazing how they ever did it. And there was tale about one of the colour graders that had actually been to Ireland to do something and when it was projected the letterbox was green so they re-did it and made it red and of course in Ireland they are actually green. But that was the thing and of course there’s dye transfer, there’s no grain, that was the big thing. But of course, when CinemaScope came out it was now the big wide screen and Rank went into VistaVision with Paramount. The big problem was cameras weren’t ready at that time, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one, but before they arrived there was a camera technician who worked for Technicolor, and he converted some of the old Technicolor cameras into VistaVision cameras because you now had the space of the three magazines now coming across. And of course, in retrospect, VistaVision was twenty-five, thirty years too early, you know. It was dazzling as I’ll tell you later on but that was the first ones and I can remember vividly. And [Charlie Staffer?] was chief projectionist at Pinewood and one day he kind of went up the corridor and he got a little kind of trolley and there was a couple of cameras on there and a magazine, all that blue colour, and he’d been over to Technicolor, everything had been chucked in a skip. It was criminal, you know, it was a great system, but it was dye transfer there was no grain. Of course, Eastmancolor came in and it was always just one piece of film, but as time went on you still got comedies in black-and-white and… what’s another one we did in colour? Just trying to think.

PF: You Know What Sailors Are?

PL: Yes, You Know What Sailors Are, that was a funny one too because there was the biggest set ever been built at Pinewood and I think the budget came in at £29,000, and everybody almost shit themselves. It was a funny picture and I’ve got a copy. I’ve tried to get a copy of every picture I worked on. So that went on and… then what did I go on then? I’ll show you all my films later on, but I was starting to do other things. Oh yeah, I did do, I helped Carmen on The Sword and the Rose, that came and was kind of a sequel to Robin Hood and His Merrie Men which we did at Denham, and of course the big thing is at Denham, everything was done in the studio. There was a river there, there was what was called the fish market, there was the backlot. Amazing studio, huge stages. I remember going over there when they did Captain Horatio Hornblower and they had the Natividad in the middle of the stage with a circular arm right round it on a rocker, and there it was. Amazing, but you were 45 feet high and you could get a Pinewood stage in sideways, the big stages, into there. But of course it was closed. Anyway, I think that was on the toss of a coin. But it was probably a better studio and the labs were next door. Now it’s all kind of a park you know for facilities and stuff like that, but the labs, which were just next door, they’re all luxury apartments. And I lived over there. My dad could be there in ten minutes, well five minutes. So, I went on and I did then work for Harry Pottle on Waltz of the Toreadors and at that time he was going over to Beaconsfield and I did a Norman Wisdom picture with him over at Beaconsfield called The Bulldog Breed and then he said, “Why don’t you come over and join us?” So I left Pinewood and I went over on Crook’s AnonymousFast Lady. Then we did… they were in colour and then we did This Sporting Life in black-and-white with Lindsay Anderson. That was amazing. Then we did And Father Came Too, and then we did a television series called… it was Herbert Lom doing this thing about…but before I finished, there was, when I worked at Pinewood, there was a TV series done and it was called Interpol Calling, and my two friends, Ernie and Charlie, became Art Directors and Arthur Taksen was their set decorator and after a week he’d gone ill and they said “Would you come and be our set decorator?” I’d never done it before and a baptism of fire. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I used to make all my own props stuff like that, but in those days, there were no graphic aids. I had a friend Henry who worked at the PhotoStat we did so much money and stuff like that and it was all in black-and-white as it happened. So I had a good baptism of fire, you know. We got a car from BMC and they wanted a radio in it, and if they wanted a radio in it, I had to make one. I did have several outside sometimes. But of course, then we were over at Beaconsfield and there was a thing called Strictly for the Birds and suddenly it collapsed, the money had gone. And I was out of work for a week, and a friend of mine Peter rang me up and said “Would you like to come and work on Goldfinger?” He said, “We’ve already got a set decorator but if you’d like to come and draft…” that was my baptism of fire onto there and I never looked back, I did eighteen, I missed one, of the eighteen I was on continuously. I did nine as jack-of-all trades and then nine as Production Designer.


PF: Okay, so before we get onto Bond if we take the story back a little bit. So, working on Technicolor films, the role that you had at that time, can you tell us about the difference between how colour was used in the Technicolor films and when you moved to the Eastmancolor. Was there any…

PL: The big thing is, with Technicolor, the film was so slow, and I can’t tell you, when I went onto the set on Red Shoes, they had three tiers of brutes. They were the first brutes that came into this country, and it was like a flash of lightning had struck, and the lens was probably wide open, but you know, it was quite amazing to look at it, and of course you got that stench of carbon arcs. And after Red Shoes, they went on to do The Small Back Room in black-and-white and they also did a thing with Marius Goring in Crete…I’ve got all the films out there. And of course, he then went to Shepperton and worked for Korda again and did Hey Rosalinda!Gone to Earth and another one and then of course he then came back to Pinewood and did Peeping Tom which was a great film but it was, Christ, in those days it was taboo. But I still remember envy those days when you used to see the Technicolor van turn up and consequently, I worked on one of the films with… what was his name? Well in those days, Jack Cardiff was the cameraman, Geoff Unsworth was the operator and this other fellow was the focus puller. When you did the focus pulling, they had to go and change the magazines and all that and, of course, it was the way they went, they went, I think, two on the side and one behind, and it was a very complicated system. And we had, obviously, Natalie Kalmus come and then we also had two other ladies come over and make sure it was alright. To go over to the place was amazing. But I think subsequently in the time immemorial, I believe somebody reactivated the Technicolor camera and all that, and they actually got a lot of the equipment for processing from China. It was a good system, you know, but it was well, unwieldy you know. If you saw these blimps, and you got the operator with two handles, you know, you called it the handles, in the early days, when you saw Ossie with the pan and tilt head, you know…

PF: Well the big thing was with Eastmancolor the fact you could got out on location as well…

PL: Well we did a picture called The Dove you know and we had the first Panaflex. And the whole object was it could be hand-held. We had two of them.

PF: You mentioned, talking about Technicolor, you mentioned Natalie Kalmus. There was Joan Bridge as well, the colour consultant. How were they involved, on any of the Technicolor films?

PL: Well they would come and they would talk to the cameraman, you know, I was only a kid in those day I don’t know what they said but they always got the credit for what was very much an amazing system. But of course, don’t forget, during the war there was Agfacolor… Hitler and all his things. The Eagle’s Nest was all in colour, Agfacolor. Nothing has been, really, like Technicolor and then Eastmancolor and now you get these stupid cards you know, and you think “Christ!” And, you know, and it’s like editing. When I first started at Pinewood, a friend of mine worked on there and we used to the cutting rooms at lunchtime, and they were doing parts of Oliver Twist, and he would put it through the old Moviola you know, the whole thing like that, and suddenly it became a bit… there was thing with David Lean, they reckon, he was always held in awe because he started off as an editor, he was held in awe because they reckon he could edit a thousand-foot magazine, and do the splicing in ten minutes, and in those days, it used to be the old splicer, put it through and hit it, not with a bit of tape. But the funny thing was, during the war, David Lean lived in the village with his wife at the time who was Kay Walsh, and they used to have an allotment, would you believe behind green tiles, which is there. And there was a haystack there and us scruffy kids would play on it on the weekends, and we often saw them and they’d always kind of wave and he always wore his Crombie Coat. I never, ever worked with David but every time I walked past him when he was at Pinewood and stuff like that he would look and think “I know you”. Never worked with him though. Friend of mine did a lot of pictures with him.

PF: So, with the Technicolor films, because you mentioned that Robin Hood was probably shot on Eastmancolor…

PL: Yes, it was…

PF: So, we know that some films were listed as Technicolor but it was just the printing process they used they used after…

PL: Yes

PF: The Importance of Being Earnest, do you remember that as being three-strip or was that…

PL: No, it wasn’t it was ordinary.

PF: Was it?

PL: Yes, I used to go down to the floor quite a lot, it was amazing there with Anthony Asquith you know he used to do, they’d do a rehearsal, then shoot it, they’d print the first take, that was it. It was so well done, you know he was a lovely man, and Carmen you know she worked with him and he would often take her down to the pub in the evening and he would wear dungarees and a belt. But a very nice man, you know.

PF: And what would you say… You Know What Sailors Are, was that a Technicolor?

PL: No, no, just Eastman.

PF: That was Eastman as well?

PL: I think by that time you know everyone… Eastmancolor was just the one strip.

PF: Obviously at this point, you’d worked in black-and-white and colour and you mentioned it briefly with Sapphire. Can you talk a little bit about the difference in approaches to designs when we’re shooting in black-and-white or in colour particularly during that period.

PL: It didn’t make any difference, all the whites, the way they lived there were these two divisions between the rest of the colours. So, all the whites, with Nigel Patrick as the policeman and Bernard Miles as him as he was the murderer and the other lady who was that. It was just transposed from black-and-white to colour. Never seen it again. And then of course when we went to Beaconsfield it was done again in Eastmancolor but we did shoot This Sporting Life in black-and-white.

PF: What was that experience like then, working on This Sporting Life, obviously being now hailed as a classic of British cinema and the New Wave?

PL: Well Lindsay Anderson was a lovely man, and I was set decorator, and of course it was great because I knew quite a lot about things then you know and I didn’t go on location when they shot all the rugby sequences, but Richard was a handful at that time and we had the set on the stage where he’s looking out his bedroom window, he’s looking at Mrs Hammond in the garden you know, hanging out the washing and Lindsay said something, I can’t tell you, Richard exploded you never heard expletives like it. The continuity lady was sitting there and her eyes were in tilt she was like that. Nobody said a word. And Lindsay said, he finished and Lindsay said, “Perhaps we’ll go again when you’re ready?” Got the shot. And I used to sit with Lindsay, we used to talk together about what he wanted, sort of hand-tooled things and all that and he said “Don’t be surprised if I’m not here on Monday”, Karel would take the picture over, Karel Reisz, was the producer. Anyway, we got to Friday and Ted Sturgess who was the First Assistant said “Ladies and gentlemen” this was half past five you know… we all started at half past eight, hour for lunch… twenty past five, “Have a good weekend” and Richard said “Ladies and gentleman, I’ve been an absolute bastard to Lindsay this week, and I’m sorry, and if you didn’t know, it’s his birthday today and I’d like to give him a party.” And the champagne came out with a cake, and I thought, he was a nice bloke, you know, he was bloody difficult, but I remember he’s say to Ernie the standby, standby prop you know, because he’d always mix a drop of Coca-Cola with water, you know, to give him for whiskey, or brandy, and said “Aren’t they crap. Give me the fucking right thing you know.” Ooh, Christ! We did a great job and it was a good film. I think it was one of my first really good credits I got, you know, and of course Rachel Roberts, unfortunately, went on and committed suicide but I think she did get a nomination. It was a bloody good film and Lindsay was a charming man.


PF: So, in terms of your experience on the film, so you were jumping from colour films which could have been comedies or more fantasy, and then black-and-white, because for some cinematographers and filmmakers black-and-white was preferred at the time…

PL: I oved it. What was his name… I’m trying to think. It’ll come through in a minute…

PF: Dennis Coop?

PL: Denis Coop. So, you know, during that time that I joined Goldfinger and it was quite amazing because Ken Adam came on the first morning and was there, he said “I don’t know you, see what you can do with this” and he gave me this ruddy great folder full of photographs and blurb from Fort Knox. So, over the next month I went all through it, they couldn’t go inside the gate because only the Secretary of the Treasury is allowed inside Fort Knox, not even the President. So, I drew quarter-inch, full-sizes, everything. I did the whole bloody lot, made a model. So, he said after a month he said [unintelligible] “Let’s estimated it.” And of course at that time I think You Know What Sailor Are was the highest one… came down at £65,000, cor! Harry, Guy and Cubby came up to the office and said “How can we rationalise?” and I said we don’t have to build that… We estimated it came out about £45,000 I could build it. We had to put in rows, went into Black Park, Goldthorpe Road intersected with Bullion Boulevard, we put trees where their supposed to be. Then one day Ken Adam came into the office and he said “Have you been down on D-stage?” so I said no and he said “You ought to go down and have a look”. So I walked in, and Christ almighty, there was a façade, it was bloody gigantic. Of course, once you take it outside, it just kind of, woosh, disappears. I never had any [unintelligible] but I went back and I measured everything with the dividers was right you know. Then he came in and… all the concrete roads had all been laid and he said “You know, when we were there, the fence wasn’t in position but the cars didn’t look quite right” so I said to my brother who I’d got on the film “Get your car, come up here.” I got a viewfinder, paced out where they’d actually done the shot. Quite right. And then somebody rang me up and said “Would you like to come on my picture and do Danger Manwith…” and I went and saw Peter [unintelligible] and said I’ve been offered another job and he said “Oh no, stay on, Ken likes you” and I said “Well you could’ve fooled me”, he said “You’ll see yourself. We’ve been roaring with laughter. Every time he says something, you bite. If you’d seen that when you and your brother going out on the lot, Ken knew it was alright”. But anyway, I worked with that, we did Ipcress File. And then he popped in one day and said “Right we’re gonna’ do Thunderball.” He said “Some of you better learn how to swim underwater”, so that was me. I then collected all the stuff for the Vulcan to take out to the Bahamas and that was my job out there, so I did the whole of the [unintelligible]the interior of the bomb bay, had to ask all of the things with the Royal Air Force about bombs and stuff like that. And I went down with it. The first time I ever went down, I went down with a man called Tommy Carlin and, in those days, there was no communication, we were all grunts stuff on the [unintelligible] the cameraman came over and he grunted and put a bloody great lead weight on my fins and gave me a lamp and I’m standing there like a lemon with Scuba gear holding a lamp. We were sixty feet down, it was so bloody dark there. Of course, we came back, and we did Funeral in Berlin and then we were going to prepare Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and then of course up came You Only Live Twice. I didn’t go to Japan but our set decorator did and he unfortunately died there, there was a big panic about set decoration. So we got Vernon Dixon in to do the interior sets back at Pinewood and I took over the volcano.

PF: You mentioned Funeral in Berlin, what was the difference between working on Bond and going into Funeral in Berlin, because those… the Harry Palmer films were meant to be a more kind of, gritty realistic 

PL: The whole thing is, there was a big row between Ken and Harry on the first one and…we’re not trying to make a poor man’s Bond. What it’s supposed to be is, the Secret Service isn’t glamorous and women and you know, expense accounts and all that. We’re trying to do it realistically and you’re bogged down with paper. Well that was the first time we ever got a Xerox machine. We put everything through it, we even put a wallet folder through it. One day there was a kind of a click and a poor rubber belt came out all charred. But it was good it was a Rank picture and I can remember going to Shepherds Bush and wanting to get some equipment from them, and they said “Oh good, great we’re going to lunch, Bertarelli’s” so I was taken to lunch, “Oh, great.” And then we were going to do Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. That got delayed and then we did that and then we went back on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. And then from there, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. And then I did a couple of other little pictures. Fire Raisers and a thing called When Eight Bells Toll and then I went on to Fiddler on the Roof… set decorator. Came back from that and they’d gone to America to do Diamonds are Forever but then there was a thing with the tax thing here and then they were going to do it. So Stanley Sopel rang me up and said “Would you like to be set decorator?” so I said yes. So I did that bit and that’s where I went from there. It got to… what else did we do? Diamonds, and then we did Live and Let DieMan with the Golden Gun, and then I did a thing called Inside Out in Berlin. I’d met Ken there and he’d had a terrible time with Stanley Kubrick and he couldn’t make decisions. So I did The Seven-Per-Cent Solution with him and then we came onto The Spy Who Loved Me, then Moonraker. And in between Moonraker I did The Boys From Brazil and after Moonraker I did Sphinx and then they rang me up, I came back without a job, and they rang me up from EON and they said “Who’d you like to work for next?” so I said, “Why not me?” so they obviously spoke to Cubby and I was then promoted to Production Designer. I did the next eight, nine films other than Tomorrow Never Dies. In between I did Top Secret! because when they came to see me… because this was ZAZ, the boys who did Airplane. I didn’t see the boys but the three producers came, so they said “Well you know…” so as they went out of the door I said “You should give the job” so they said “Why?” and I said “I’ve got the badges ‘Don’t call me Shirley’.” I got the job. And after that, I don’t think I went straight on, there was another Bond and then suddenly I got a call one Easter… there was nothing, the Bond had been finished and they were going to start filming later on. I got a call to go out to Fox and I met Jim Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd and they said they said “Would you like to be production designer on Aliens?” Christ, I said yeah. So, I did the deal and then we went out to Los Angeles, John Richardson and I. While we were there, they were going to have the premiere of… the one with Grace Jones. Anyway, so we went to there and [unintelligible] said “Would you like to come to lunch?” and it was the most expensive lunch I’d ever had, obviously knocked me down a hundred quid for my fee. Anyway, we had no money, believe me. The whole budget was $15 million dollars. So, Jim said to me “How much do you want?” and I said ten percent and he said “Done”. And they went away on honeymoon and Cyril Howard rung me up and said “Warner Brothers have said if they don’t have the 007 stage, they’re not coming to Pinewood to do Little Shop of Horrors“I’ll try and get in touch, no problem”. So I said, “What will you give me in exchange?”, “How about E-stage?” so I said “E-stage with the tunnel, I agree.” And we had E-stage with the tunnel and it was good for us as it was winter, we never got cold like they did on Little Shop, and it all went well you know we had a few… it was rather like Star Wars. We had all this bloody aircraft stuff we’d bought from all over the place. And of course, in those days there wasn’t a four-walled studio, the studio still worked, and there were three pictures, Little Shop of HorrorsGunbus and us. And we never ever got to have a full complement of men. I used to go and beg people to work late going… I’d say, “Because I’ll give you anything to work all night”. Anyway, we did it and… what did we do after that? Anyway, we went on and eventually ended up in Los Angeles. Yeah, I was doing a picture, what was it? Sid Furie phoned me up, that’s right, for Licence to Kill. “Would you like to do a 4-6-week feasibility study?” I stayed 15 months to do a thing called The Taking of Beverly Hills. It was messed around by scriptwriters unfortunately. Sid wrote the script but it was about a pissed-off cop, you know, Beverly Hills has its own police force. When you’ve seen what we did in Mexico, for the money it was quite amazing but the scriptwriters got to it and of course it all turned round and they shouldn’t mess around with it. First thought is always the best thought. Anyway, from there I did another picture called Eve of Destruction and while I was there Jim ring me up and said “Come over to talk to me for a few weeks about The Abyss” and I was already going on Licence to Kill. Anyway, I went out there and you know, the whole essence of The Abyss was… don’t know if you know anything about it about the Glomar Explorer?


PF: No.

PL: Howard Hughes built it for the CIA and he used a huge moon pool they were going to bring up a nuclear submarine, a Russian submarine, off Norway. It almost worked. So, I didn’t do that, as it happened, I went on to Licence to Kill in Mexico. Did the whole picture in Mexico and Florida. I got very ill and I had hyperthyroid and almost died. I have to take little pills every day just to keep my metabolism going. And I came back to England I was out of work for about three years. We had a good way of life, my wife and I, but the only problem was we were running out of money and suddenly, out of the blue, my agent phoned and said “Jim Cameron wants you to come and work for him, on True Lies. We’ll send you a script. Talk to you on Sunday.” Spoke to the producer, and said “Yeah, I’d love to do it. Sounds…”, “Alright, we’ll, negotiate with your agent.” They came to me on Tuesday and said there’s the deal, I said “I’m not coming in for five days money it’s bloody stupid.” Sorry Jim, if you’re listening to this. So, he came back with another deal. What they came back with better than the pro rata. They said “Anyway you’ve got to come in tomorrow” so I went there. I was picked up at the airport, first class return ticket, there was a town car to meet me took me to the Santa Monica Beach Hotel. There was a strong box and there were the keys to the car, my per diem, and they just said “See you tomorrow.” And that was Jim. So we did that. That was quite amazing. It was all meant to be done on the East Coast but Arnold’s wife was having a baby and he wanted to be on the West Coast so we had to divide it up. So, I finished that came back. Oh, while I was there, I saw Michael Wilson and he said oh, we’re gonna’ re-start again. Because there was going to be a Bond in between but there was this six-year gap and I came back on Goldeneye. And Tom Pevsner, who was the associate producer, said to me “Martin Campbell’s going to be the director but he has the choice of cameraman and production designer” and I though “Well, that’s it.” He was in the office next to me and he called me in and said “Sweetie come in and talk to me”, I don’t know why he called me sweetie, so he said “Sit down”, he said “What was your last picture?” and I said “True Lies” and he went white and he said, “He’s my idol, Jim Cameron, tell me about him” So, we had a chat and I was now his man. So, I think again, we triumphed in Goldeneye, having built the streets and I still defy anybody to tell how we did it or where it was done you know. And then I went back on Titanic and then I came back, we were going to build a studio in Exeter and it was just called that we were going to do a picture called The World is Not Enough with Michael Apted. So that went on and we did all the thing with MI5, MI6 rather. We had to re-hash all the things that were done before in M’s office. Course we now knew it was Vauxhall Cross and did all the sequence on the…but it was quite interesting because one day Vic Armstrong did all the stuff on the river and we went to the dome as it hadn’t been finished at that time so we had to do a lot of gardening there when the boat came up and all that. They were so enthusiastic and it was such a fiasco that first night with the ticket and all that stuff and everybody bent over backwards to help us. And of course it was used and again, it was one of those sequences that… now Pierce was the new Bond. And of course, Michael came to me one day and he said “You know we’re supposed to be going to the river next week to carry on with Pierce in the boat and all that bit?” and I said “Yeah”,  “What’s the state of the sets we’re going to shoot on afterwards?”, I said, “All ready, all dressed ready.” So he said “How about this. Suppose I get Rick to finish off what he’s doing. I’ll go up there weekends with Pierce and we can carry on here and do the sets?” and I said, “Yeah, that’s fine” and that’s what we did you know… it’s talking to people. When I made one of my speeches I said, “During my life, I don’t write memos, I don’t do e-mails, I don’t like telephone calls I go and see people.” And I said, “The normal reaction I get, especially from the producers, is ‘Oh Christ, here he comes and he wants another set’”. But you go and talk to people and it’s now all so easy to say “Ooh, did you get my e-mail?”, “No, I didn’t get it, it didn’t come”, you know. Go and talk to people, like you’re talking to me, you know.

[00:49:20 End of Part One start of Part Two]

PF: So, Peter, could you tell us a little bit about your work with special effects, particularly for films like Moonraker?

PL: Yes, well, when did I first work with Derek? I suppose it may have been The Spy Who Loved Me because he was going to do the special effects and we subsequently went out to the Bahamas and we went there on Thunderball, there was a place we used to go to on Sundays called Coral Harbour, and when we went back on The Spy Who Loved Me, there was a hotel being built next door but it was derelict, it hadn’t been finished and Coral Harbour was just looked after by a couple of people and we did all that shot where the Disco Volante’s coming in and Bond’s saying to the girl “You’re name’s Domino” and she says “Haven’t you got little, sharp eyes” and it had all gone. And we used that for the [cabin platform?] and we had, you know, just down the road, and they built their Liparus there and it’s still off a point there, we only sunk it once and… But Derek Meddings had a very good eye, I tell you. I said in my book, he couldn’t organise a [rice pudding?] but he had the eye. I loved him, he was a lovely man and we worked on that and then we worked on Moonraker together and subsequently when we went onto Goldeneye he came and did all the special effects there with the flying MiGs and all that kind of stuff you know. When you see that, the MiG flying into that dish, Martin was saying, “Do you think you could tweak it?” so, I said “Yeah.” So it was shot again that afternoon, and unlike a lot of things, you saw it next day. When we did Die Another Day, I still… every time I see that bloody wave and there’s Pierce, it’s awful. That cost more than all the sets put together. I might tell you now that Pierce never went to Russia, he never went on to St. Petersburg and he never went to Iceland on Die Another Day. What we did with him, there’s a little Aerodrome in Islington. But Derek was very good. After Goldeneye, he didn’t feel very well and my wife at that time, this was when she was alive, she was under a doctor over at Wexham. And she was seeing our doctor and Derek was upstairs so I said “Oh how’re you doing?” and he said “Pete I’m never going to work again” so I said “Yes you will, you come and work with me, you be in the office, you can do all the sketches you want because you’re a great brain”. My brother phones me on the Monday and he said “Derek’s died”, I said “Get out, I saw him on Saturday.” And he was right, he’d died. Nice man, very, very clever, but Christ, had no idea about money. Of course, then we came to Titanic, which was quite an event. All those books there [points to books on a shelf] haven’t started it yet I was going to write a book on Titanic, the building of it you know with… well the three films I did with Jim Cameron. I’m the only one. AliensTrue Lies and Titanic. We won an Oscar, that was a big thing. The funny thing was, we went to a… my son said to me, he often worked with me and the supervising art director, he said “EON have taken a table, three tables, at the ball for the production executives.” So, I said “I don’t want to come” and they said “Go on, come. Barbara’s they’ve got these three tables we’d like you to come. They’re going to supply a car.” So, I spoke to my wife and she said “Oh alright, then we should go.” So we went and Ian Lewis who was the head, he said “Now it’s the kind of awards time” and he said “There’s a person sitting here tonight who worked on a few Bonds and I think he worked on Titanic and I’ll announce his name” and I thought I knew everything that went on in the Art Department. And it’s me. I got…there’s a smashing prize there [points to shelf] of a kind of roll of film with my name, production excellence. The only thing we didn’t fare well with… we got 14 nominations 11 Oscars we got 14 nominations with BAFTA and we got bugger all. Still, there you are. That’s the one to have. I have got… [picks up an award]

PF: Got the BAFTA

PL: There’s a tale with that. Years ago, Ossie Morris and Ronnie Udell came to me, they had a plastic one of this. They said “What do you think of that?” I said “If you gave it to me I’d throw it at you.” They said “Alright smartarse, what would you do?” So, I had a friend whose father worked… had a foundry, NewPro in West Drayton. I went over and said, “Do me a favour, cast this off, put it on a place like that” and BAFTA loved it, ordered 200 [unintelligible] I think they still make them.

PF: Yes

PL: Well, many years went past and after Titanic, one of the fellas was retiring and he came in and said “What should I do with that?” This was the original, there’s no number in it? So, he said “Oh have it”, so I had it mounted and one of my cohorts did a thing and it’s got “The Titanic non-award. The one that got away.”

PF: Brilliant, that’s fantastic

PL: Okay? Anything you want to know?

PF: Yeah, if you don’t mind, if we just take it back a little bit. So, if now we move on to talk more specifically about your use of colour in films, what about the original drafts you were doing, those 1950s early-‘60s films. The application of colour, perhaps your relationship with Carmen Dillon, other designers of the time, how was colour used then and how did that progress over the years?

PL: Well, you know she was part of the Olivier lot you know. She had a fellow who used to work with her, Roger Ramsdell and he was amazing. My brother went to London with him one day and came back and said to my Dad “Does Roger know everybody?” And Roger used to come up to the Art Department, he did all this kind of tricksy stuff. And he knew John Haye-Adams who was the, Hay Whitney, who was the American ambassador and he said to him “What are you fiddling about with in your pocket?” and he said “When I’m a bit worried I always use this” and there was this kind of pigeon’s egg in red, ruby. He knew… he was in with the Furst lot, Olivier you know. I did work with Olivier a couple of times on Sleuth and then the Boys from Brazil.

PF: So, is there anything you’d like to say about the actual designs themselves of the films?

PL: No, the big thing is you know, Ken use to always, he loved natural wood, gun metal things like that and we used a lot of brushed aluminium that sort of stuff. And he kind of set you up, the same with the cars from, Aston Martin you know, the [unintelligible]… all gun-metal cars you know the type of stuff. And there was the…the only time we ever used a car that was not like that was the deux chevaux one.

PF: Was that For Your Eyes Only?

PL: Yeah, For Your Eyes Only. You know but it was daft, you know. But it was too acidy the yellow and I had it toned down, you know. The main thing is, you know… my wife did all the colours here, I didn’t. But I tell you what, I used quite a lot in the studios when we did a lot of the sets, I used velvet on the walls and stuff like that, and it’s great. And they always used to have stuff in the drapes called art felt. When we were running out of money, when they were doing that thing with Sigourney where she’s being questioned about the destruction of the whatever it was, and she gets into her spaceship, we had no money and we wanted a really a cool set and we’re gonna’ have to work with all this wood. So I went out to Drapes and I got Wally up there and I said “You recon you can cover this with… not dark grey felt but…” and I’ll tell you, it was so smooth and we had fluorescent lights, it really came off and it was so simple. Simplicity is a keynote. Don’t over-complicate it you know. And I’ll tell you what, when we did The World is Not Enough, obviously MI6 gets blown up a bit so Michael said “Where do you think they should go? I think we should go to Scotland.” Well, I said, “My dream is to go to Eilean Donan, there’s that wonderful castle.” So, my brother went up there and we built a set and Adrian Biddle shot it, and Adrian would always sit there reading the paper, and he lit it and he just had a little, he got the special effects just to do a little whiff of smoke and it just took the edge off the sharpness and it looked real. Everybody thought we’d got it wrong and we had one or two pretty good scenic artists. When we did Goldeneye Lake Verzasca was one of the things that Martin always thought about, we loved it. Of course, you can’t go there it’s miles away. It’s the biggest thing of freshwaters in the world, but it’s in the middle of Russia somewhere. So, I was sitting at home once and I was looking at Black Narcissus. And I got in the morning and I got Derek and said, “we should build what we want. We’re messing around sending people up to here and there, they’ll never find it, let’s do what we want.” And we had a brilliant scenic artist called Brian Bishop, he painted a mountain backing in four colours, it was bloody photographic, and then in front of it we did some real model mountains. My brother, got a bloody lump of coal, must have weighed four or five tonne and they moulded it, so you’ve got all those little crevices and that and then they did the MiGs flying towards it. And then we had the same bloke you know when we had, suddenly an irate customs man come to see Tom Pevsner, so he said, “How can I help you?” he said “You’ve imported three MiG fighters from the Soviet Union without permission.” I said “What are you talking about? They’re out there”, so he said “They’re not.” “Look, we’ve had this compliant. There’s three MiGs here and they’re flying.” I said “You better come down with me” so we went out at the doorway where the pilots were going to run and there were the three MiGs. They were flat, and of course, when you walked past them, he couldn’t believe it. But he said “There’s three flying ones”, so he said “Oh, come with me” and Derek had made a third full-size 3 MiGs, and they were flying around the airfield. That’s how good he was.


PF: You mentioned this earlier, but we’re talking about Fort Knox and also making the Vulcan for Thunderball, can you talk to me a little bit about the relationship you had with the Navy or the military in getting the designs right, or was there a bit of your own…

PL: No, no, no. I mean on Thunderball, obviously we wanted a Vulcan. When Vulcan’s crash, there’s nothing left but we did manage to get hold of one of their [touring?] which was their pressure cabin bit. And then we went up to Waddington to see a bomb bay. So, we went up there and we were under this Vulcan and the phone goes for the dispersal. This squadron leader who we were with goes over- and say “Oh yeah okay.” I say “OK”, he says “I’m sorry gentleman we can’t open them today.” I reckon it was armed. But he said, there was a pay-off to this, “We’re going to do a scrambled take-off” and there were three Vulcans, they vanished in two minutes, just bloody amazing. Anyway, we got a telephone call a bit later and we went up to Horton where they had a B-1 and they opened the bomb bay for us, it was huge. So our bomb bay was very similar. The only thing that was different, there is no door from the bomb bay into…there was…just one of those things to get carry-on when Bond went through in to find out they were there. And I did that bit, swam in. And I was then talking to this squadron leader about nuclear weapons and he said “Well, I can’t tell you anything about it” but I said “We could really do with a pressure cabin”, so he said “Well”, he rang me up and said “we’re going out tomorrow to Marham.” So we went out to Marham, we went out to disposal, and there’s a Victor… not Victor, a Valiant, laying on the ground and he said “You can have anything here you want.” So, I went inside the cabin, it’s nothing like the Vulcan but I said “I’d like the whole pressure cabin.” You can’t have any of the other stuff at the back because it was all classified like the bomb bay. So anyway, they gave me the servicing book and I was reading it that night and I said “I really need the next volume.” So, I rang them up the next day and I said “Could I have this volume” and they came back and said “You can’t have it, it’s a classified nuclear weapon.” We were invited to strike command one night at Naphill, High Wycombe, and this Dennis Mountford said to me “All the questions you’ve been asking me, you can’t take photographs, but just remember what you’ve seen” and they were all our nuclear weapons all on pictures so when we did our nuclear weapons it was in effect Yellow Sun.

PF: And did that continue because there’s rarely a Bond film where we don’t see, you know, obviously Bond, being a naval man, we see a lot of…

PL: Oh, when we went to Faslane, [Richard Kenner?] was our liaison and a submarine was coming in in the background, and my brother and Richard were up on the sail and we went on HMS Churchill. Went over to… the following week we went up again, and we then went over to where they’re armed and we went on HMS Renown. So, everything was kosher, believe me.

PF: And with the interiors as well, was that from you recreating what you’d seen on…

PL: Yeah. We had a very good bloke on the aircraft thing, what was his name… Mike?

[01:06:48 Break]

PF: Okay, so I think we were last talking about Thunderball, could you talk a little bit about the production design for You Only Live Twice, I know Ken built that great big set at Pinewood- can you talk us through that?

PL: Yeah, well I didn’t go on the recce’s to… they were looking for the Garden of Death because it should come after On Her Majesty’s Secret Service where they went to this [Doctor ? house], but anyway, they were flying over and there were all these volcanoes, it was very volcanic, and Ken said to Cubby “You know, he could have his lair down there.”  That’s how it all started and of course he always had these kind of tilted things you see. So, he came up with a scheme, Roy was one of the draughtsmen, he drew it all up and we had Ronnie Udell in and he said “Well I can’t do it you know because the big problem is tubular scaffolding’s not going to go over this. There’s the compression.” So, we got Bill Brown in from [Delta-Joyce?] who used to do a lot of studio stuff, and he came back with a scheme of these 110ft high, 200ft wide and with these steels there were 33 by 12. He went up to Darlington and he got them there, they were 110ft long you could only stay off stage… and that was a problem. You couldn’t get the bloody thing to [unintelligible] so that had to be cut and plated. So he then built the cover. There had to be a structural cover so everything now could go on. In the meantime we had to build the ring outside and land a helicopter through it just to make sure you could do it so that was a moveable thing. And then they all went off to Japan, and Harry and I were there and we had to get this monorail so… in those days it was the Yellow Pages and there was a place in West Drayton, Monorail, did cement distribution around building sites. They came in, they built the monorail for us. Ken then did the kind of little…. but it all ran. And while they were there, David, who was our set decorator died. So now there’s a big kerfuffle, what are we going to do? Bob and Michael were out there, so they covered that bit and Ken got in touch with Harry and he said “Well, you’ve got Peter, he’s the one au fait with the big set, we’ll get Vernon to do all the interior sets that were left over.” So I was left to my own devices you know to get all this stuff done. We had [Jim Hole?] he made the rocket rig and all that and then of course there was the control room. In those days all the bloody televisions… it was a nightmare they were all frame-barred, you know. Anyway, it’s so easy now. Anyway, we did it then of course we had to blow the bloody thing up. Then of course with the Liparus, that was another one, with… that was… sorry, I’m getting a bit mixed up, am I? There was a funny thing then. There was a sequence out in Hong Kong, Michael White was there and they had to have the burial at sea, so the body went down, and then the [?] took it over in the Bahamas and we had a model submarine in the background and two swimmers come in and there was a little kind of foreground piece with a hatch, what they said they didn’t like. So I’m dispatched out, so I had to remake this bloody shroud thing, and when it floated down it floated down very gently, and the two swimmers come in and take it off and you see them coming towards you, put them into the hatch, go into the hatch, and then of course we’re on a set on Pinewood, where they come into the torpedo room and they unlock it, you know. So that all went well, but there was quite a lot they had to do, as you can see, with the ninjas and the sumo wrestling, all that was real, for real, the car, the girl and all that of the stuff on the mountain had to be done and then we picked everything else up in the studio. 

PF: Another film I’d like to talk about, The Spy Who Loved Me, you worked with Claude Renoir DoP, known for his use of colour in cinema. I was thinking about the sequence in Egypt where Jaws was pursuing Bond near the end...

PL: I’ll tell you something really interesting about that. We all went out and the first night we were in Cairo, it was Son et Lumiere and they got Claude to come out, because he wasn’t on the recce. Now Claude is colour blind, would you believe, and he can see only out of one eye. So it was, I’d never seen someone being like that, but it was incredible. So there was a big debate afterwards. Claude said “You can’t shoot it” so Ken chimed up and said oh yeah [unintelligible] “I tell you, I can’t do it.” And he said “The eye is an amazing optical system. You can film the Sphinx, but you’ll never see the pyramids.” So there’s a bit of dissention going on. So, anyway, my cousin came over from America, he worked with Robin Brown and people like that. He went out with a cameraman and they shot that again with special flash stock and it still didn’t come out and he then came up with a great idea. He said, “We’ve got that shot”, it hadn’t been processed yet there were two or three shots that had been processed, so he said, “What we’ll do, in that top half”, it was inky black, “we’ll put our own pyramids.” And up in the tunnel they messed around about two pyramids and kept the bottom half on the blimp heads, you know, coming in, and they shot that half, had a… and then there was a full regalia. It looked great. But Claude was an amazing man, he was lovely, but he was colour blind and could only see with one eye, but a lovely man, and he was part of the Renoir family.

PF: And what about in the same film, Stromberg’s base, the Atlantis, the big sort of…

PL: Yeah that was Ken’s designs, he liked that. We went to Okinawa and while we were out there, they had this amazing aquarium and Andre Decarre, was around at that time and he shot all the shots of the fish, of the Japanese homeland, and it was then brought back into the studio and that’s where we did that whole thing of the thing coming out of the water and water pouring down, with the Atlantis in there. And with the submarines [the wet bike?], was done by Fortnum, the Fortnum skyhook and they did the Fortnum wet bike and that was the first wet bike there was and he went into the lake off that which was again done… my cousin did a lot of this, he could do all these bits in the foreground. So, there was the shark pool, which was there as well, and I remember going to the set one day and they were shooting it and there’s a bit with Roger and Jaws, so I walked in, bumped into Ken and said “What’s happened?” and they can’t find a bloody line. So I said “I’ve got a line”, so I went over, there’s Lewis Gilbert, Bill Cartridge, Cubby, and Ken said “He’s got the line”, so he said “what is it?”, and I said “How’s that grab you?”, “Great. How’s that grab you?” As Cubby used to say, if you’ve got anything to say, say it. It might be stupid, it might be a breath of inspiration. But the Atlantis was good, of course we built a model out in the Bahamas, and that was in two locations, there was one in the bay, and then another one where we had to actually sink it. And that was Derek again. And the Liparus, that must have been 40 feet long and of course we built it in the studios again, and I don’t know if you know, but that kind of boat they went on was linear induction. We did a lot of things you know, but there you are.


PF: So, moving on chronologically, I asked you about this earlier but I think we moved onto something else but Moonraker… we’re talking about a period now where special effects were really… you know, the impact of Star Warsand everything, you mentioned using VistaVision…

PL: Well you see our big problem was, we went out to where they were building Colombia, and the idea was that we would take off in the same way, we would premiere in the same week as Columbia taking off. Unfortunately, it was two years late as they had engine trouble, so we were in science fiction rather than space fact, but NASA liked all the stuff we did they helped enormously with how it all happened and all that. But Colombia was the second one that crashed. When we went, we went out in this stretched limousine and we were briefed and they said “Whatever you do, you mustn’t hinder any of the constructers”. All these bloody people went out to see this stupid stretch limousine while we went to see their spaceship. But they helped us a lot and we did re-build one in the studios. But we did have… there was one where all the spacemen are all coming out of the cargo hold, and clever me, we had the whole of the 007 stage decked out in black velvet, we had all these runways and all these things, we’d got Anton Furst, then he was at Holoco he worked with The Who, and I said to him “if we get space guns, can we get a feed into each one?” and he said “Yeah, of course. The only thing is you’ve gotta have, now, something for the beam to hit.” But, of course, the big problem is it was degraded in the background so they had to be put in afterwards which is a bit of a shame. It wasn’t a bad film, you know, but there’s some good bits and I had a lot to do with Rio and all that, and it was all shot in VistaVision again.

PF: Yes. I was thinking about Drax’s complex as well, you know with the TV monitors, the big screens…

PL: Oh, you mean the wigwam?

PF: Yeah, how do you go about creating that sort of environment because, obviously we had the set which is very Amazonian with the lake and the greenery compared with the…

PL: Well it’s kind of a thing in my craw with that as there’s a bit of dissention, well that’s why I didn’t do the picture in Paris, Ken wanted somebody else because I was too much of a smartarse you know. He’d had this terrible time with Kubrick and we’d brought him round and, you know, we’d created a monster, I’m sorry to say. But he wanted a fellah with him, Charlie, who was a lovely man I worked with him a lot of times, but he was a yes man. I tell you if you can do it or you can’t. So he used to come in in the morning when we’re doing, on the 007 stage for Spy, and he goes “Oh, all this is done now”… “Where’s all the men gone?” Ken came and said, “Oh, they’re all down the [chippie shop?]”, he said,Why aren’t we laying the concrete?” I said, “Because we can’t lay the concrete because we haven’t finished the set. When we finish the set, we do the floor and then we polish it.” Anyway, I’m sorry…

PF: So, moving on from there, the big-budget spectacle of Moonraker, you went onto For Your Eyes Only which was a different approach to the film. Consciously, were you trying to get a different look out if Bond at that point, was there a more subtle approach to it?

PL: No, no well don’t forget that Roger was now going to be Bond… well he was Bond, wasn’t he? What did you say?

PF: For Your Eyes Only.

PL: Well yeah, the big thing is, Cubby said, “Bond’s doing the detecting, we don’t want to be burdened with gadgets.” So again, we went to Malta, we went to do underwater stuff there and I said “We can’t do it” so Michael says “Where shall we go?”, I said “We’ll go to the bloody Bahamas, you know, when it all worked” and we built the temple down there and all the fish flew in, because in Malta it was all chlorinated water. I’m almost awash…

PF: Can I ask one last thing then before we wrap up… because, obviously our project’s about Eastmancolor and the colour in film and everything, and you said you’ve got experience of cameras you’ve got knowledge of working with cameras, is there anything you’d like to say about the progression of colour perhaps, in your career, looking from ’55 to ‘85 and the big concerns maybe?

PL: Well the big thing was, in the early days colour film was very slow, and gradually over the time it became faster and faster, and also the lenses got better and better, this was the big thing and then of course then we went from incandescent light to big…bulbs. And of course, now when I worked with Jim Cameron, all the ceilings on all the sets are nailed on. When we did True Lies, we were doing the Tasker house up near Magic Mountain and Jamie Lee Curtis came in, she said “I’m Jamie Lee I said this is my team.” “I’m the production designer”, she gave me a big kiss she said “Thank you for laying all the ceilings on. If I’m lit from above I look like shit, if I’m lit normally, I look great. Thank you.” And Jim said to me “You light the sets I’ll light the artist.” And he was like that on Titanic, oh fucking hell, I’ll tell you…sorry, expletives. But you know, we did the Omega Sector Jim said to me “How high is this? If you were in a real building, how high would the ceiling be?” I said “Well, there’s normally ten feet between floor to floor and then you’ve got the concrete then you’ve got the services, so, probably…seven foot nine, seven foot six something like that.” “Fine, that’s what I want.” So, the whole thing was a huge grid made of tubular and we had the whole ceiling pulled down and we lit it with fluorescents. He likes fluorescents, he likes blue light”.



Peter Curtis Lamont was a British set decorator, art director, and production designer most noted for working on 18 James Bond movies, from Goldfinger(1964) to Casino Royale (2006). The only Bond film that he did not work on during that period was Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) because he was work on Titanic..

Throughout his near 60-year career, Lamont was nominated for three Academy Awards for his work on Fiddler On The Roof (1971), The SpY Who Loved Me(1977), and Aliens (1986).[3] He was nominated a fourth time and won for Titanic (1997). His memoir, The Man With the Golden Eye: Designing the James Bond Films, was published in 2016.