When you were working on Dr. No was there any
hint that the film would be something special?
No, I wish there had been because I was offered a
part of it as wages.
During From Russia With Love
I heard that you had a few problems with the rats in the Istanbul
sequences. What actually happened?
You obviously remember the sequence with all the rats
scurrying up and down the sewers. Well, we weren’t allowed to
use...wild rats, I don’t know what else you would call them. Anyway,
we weren’t allowed to use them in England due to the infection. So
we started off with an idea I had of using tame white rats. We
coated them in cocoa powder to darken them down, Cadbury’s I think
it was. Anyway, the heat of the lamps caused them to slow down and
sit there licking off all the powder gradually making themselves
whiter and whiter. So then we had to find somewhere else to shoot
the whole sequence. Finally we went to Spain, where we were allowed
to use sewer rats. So I set up the whole sequence in a large garage.
A large sheet of thick armour-plated glass protected all the camera
crew. The remainder of the set was then erected as ’rat escape
proof’ as we could make it.
What was Sean Connery’s and the crew’s reaction to
Sean was standing on a chair with the rest of us! But
you know how we did the tarantula sequence in Dr. No? It was
a sheet of glass erected over Sean, which the spider walked across.
Funny enough I thought that the glass shot worked quite well. I
wished it had been a trifle shorter, but then again I was looking
for it, so I could see that the thing was not crawling over the
contours of Sean’s body. For the close-up shots of the spider
crawling over Bond’s shoulder we used Bob Simmons who stood in – or
laid in – for Sean. We had a doctor standing by all the time, ready
with an injection of serum in case Bob got bitten. But back to the
rats. The Spanish Rat-Catchers provided us with rats of all shapes
and sizes. Some were really horrible. All patchy and – ugh,
horrible. Once again under the lamps they became very lethargic and
we had to prompt them with sticks and all sorts of things. Lit
torches, tapping them with sticks on their backsides. You name it we
tried it, just to get them to scamper and run. Of course in the end
most of them did escape. I think I was the second one up on a chair
when that happened. Cubby Broccoli beat me to it, even though he was
much bigger than I was!
how many rats do you think you had in all?
Oh, I think about two or three hundred. Unfortunately
in a way, we had to kill them all in the end to stop them spreading
disease, what with them being Sewer Rats.
Russia With Love
was very different in style from Dr. No. Since Dr. No
was so successful, why did the producers decide to go for a straight
thriller rather than something more in keeping with the first film?
‘Russia’ is often picked as one, if not the best Bond film in the
What is your view?
Well for one thing it had more story and guts to it
than Dr. No. I liked the film, I must say for many reasons.
To answer you as to why the change, I don’t know. I think a lot was
due to Terence Young again. Also seeing the public’s reaction to
Dr. No, discussions amongst the production team had quite a bit
to do with it.
you at the time see the Bond films going on to the cult status they
I could certainly see them going on, yes. Not to what
they are today, but I could see them making more and more and
becoming very popular. I think Bond is a figure that most men deep
in their hearts would like to be, and most women would like to meet.
It’s a fantasy figure that appeals to both sexes.
Can you explain the difference between the terms
‘Production Designer’ and ‘Art Director’?
Ah. I don’t quite know how to start this one because
I’ve always had a thing about the term ‘Art Director’ being quite
sufficient for the job and a title to be proud of. ‘Production
Designer’ was brought in by someone who wanted to be a cut above the
‘Art Director’. Let’s put it that way. In theory ‘Production
Designer’ should design the whole look of the film, in other words
he should be responsible for the way it’s lit, costumes if it’s a
period film, makeup if it’s horror and so on. Which doesn’t happen
in actual fact! And now I feel that it’s only an excuse to allow
what was once known as an assistant Art Director to be called an Art
Director for tax reasons, to be quite honest. You see, anyone below
the rank of Art Director is on P.A.Y.E. (Pay As You Earn) now, and
Art Directors and Production Designers can be on Schedule D, and
this is why you have these titles. Also according to ACTT ruling you
can’t have a ‘Production Designer’ without an ‘Art Director’. It’s
all very complicated
Where do you start when designing a set and how long does it usually
Well the first thing is to get hold of the script,
and as I read I get a mental picture of the action. I do large
sketches of what I have in mind and build the set from these working
closely with the director. The set is planned out with respect to
camera angles etc and the director gives his approval. On a Bond
picture you begin in plenty of time, but on average it takes about
ten weeks to design and build.
did you discover Piz Gloria as a location for On Her Majesty’s
Presumably the building did not exist when
Ian Fleming wrote the novel. (It’s a
reasonable assumption that Ian Fleming based Blofeld’s mountaintop
headquarters on Adolf Hitler’s ‘Eagle’s Nest’ stronghold – Ed.)
That’s true. When that set was first discussed, Harry
Saltzman, who was co-producer, took me to France saying he had
discovered the perfect location for Blofeld’s hideaway. He took me
to The Maginot Line, which was very interesting. He had made
arrangements to have a section opened for us. In case you don’t
know, The Maginot Line is made up of sections as opposed to just one
thing. Well, they opened it for us and we were given a guided tour.
We saw the dormitories and the canteens. They even had water boiling
in the kitchens to show us that everything was still in working
order. Then we went up in the lifts to the gun turrets, and even
they still worked. There is a small train that runs through The
Maginot Line and it was while we were riding on this that Harry
turned to me and asked my opinion. When I said I could reproduce
this on a stage back at Pinewood with help of false perspective sets
etc. he immediately asked the driver to turn the train back, and
within the hour we were driving back to Paris. So I suggested to
Harry it might be better that if instead of going underground, we
looked up. He then made another arrangement with the French and we
went to the French Alps. But we didn’t have much luck there. We
found one mountain that looked good, but we wouldn’t have been able
to film all around it, which was restricting. I then went onto
Switzerland and found this mountain at Muren which was opposite the