THE LAIR

When it comes to bad-guy bases, no film se­ries does it bet­ter. And the most mag­nif­i­cent of all is the hol­lowed-out vol­cano HQ in You Only Live Twice, the mod-cons of which in­clude the fol­low­ing fea­tures…

Empire (UK) - - CONTENTS - ••• WORDS NICK DE SEM­LYEN ••• IL­LUS­TRA­TION AN­THONY CALVERT 43

Diving deep into Blofeld’s hol­lowed-out hide­away. Mono­rail in­cluded.

EN­TRANCE

In the book, Blofeld’s lair is a cas­tle on the coast. But dur­ing the last week of lo­ca­tion scout­ing, pro­duc­tion de­signer Ken Adam spot­ted a vol­cano be­low and a new plan took shape. The re­al­ity of build­ing the set proved daunt­ing. The hy­draulic door was 70 feet in di­am­e­ter to al­low a he­li­copter through it, so the rest of the cham­ber had to be gi­gan­tic as well. “We looked at an old RAF han­gar,” says as­sis­tant art di­rec­tor Peter La­mont. “They said, ‘The equip­ment must have cop­per faces, if there’s a spark the whole lot will go up.’ So we built it on the [Pinewood] back­lot.”

HE­LI­PAD

One par­tic­u­larly com­plex touch to the $1 mil­lion set: the work­ing he­li­pad. Ev­ery­one was ner­vous at the prospect of a he­li­copter fly­ing in the en­closed space, but for­tu­nately it came off with­out a hitch. “There was a slid­ing roof, a bloody he­li­copter flies in, lands on a pad and that moves!” mar­vels La­mont now. “It was an amaz­ing set.” But the white cat cast as Blofeld’s pet wasn’t a fan: it got so freaked out by all the noise that it ran away, but was later found hid­ing in the rafters.

MONO­RAIL

No self-re­spect­ing mega­lo­ma­niac would de­sign an evil base with­out a func­tion­ing mono­rail. And Blofeld’s is a beaut, with pleas­ingly bub­ble­shaped cars pow­ered by hench­drivers in red over­alls. “There were no search en­gines around, so I ended up get­ting out the Yel­low Pages,” La­mont re­mem­bers of get­ting its place­ment on track. “There was a place in West Dray­ton that did mono­rails for car­ry­ing ce­ment. So they came and put in the ba­sic shape and then Ken did his de­sign on the back of that.”

ROCKET

Blofeld’s plan — to goad Amer­ica and Rus­sia into start­ing World War III by stealing their space­craft — re­quired the cen­tre­piece of the set to be a mas­sive gantry sup­port­ing SPEC­TRE’S rocket, Bird 1. The ceil­ing of the set had to be 120 feet from the ground, the set’s cav­ernous di­men­sions lead­ing to some lo­gis­ti­cal problems. “We or­dered some pieces of H iron, 108 feet long, but we couldn’t get them from Slough to Pinewood,” says La­mont. “There was no ar­tic­u­lated lorry that could get down the nar­row streets, so they had to be cut.”

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