A line-up of Eon greats at the National History Museum in 2002, where Syd was promoting his autobiography. (L to R): Ken Adam, Syd Cain, Peter Lamont and Michael G. Wilson. (Photo copyright Dave Worrall. All rights reserved).
By Lee Pfeiffer
Syd Cain, the respected art director and production designer, has died at age 93. Syd's death is a personal loss to many of us at Cinema Retro who considered him a friend. His remarkable career included a long association with the James Bond films. He began on the very first film, Dr. No, in 1962 as art director, working with the legendary production designer Ken Adam. When Adam wasn't available for the second film, From Russia With Love, Syd took over for the art direction and production design duties. Syd was billed as the production designer for the 1969 Bond classic On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969, playing a crucial role in the design of the Piz Gloria sets that served as the Alpine HQ of Blofeld. He would return to the fold several years later as Supervising Art Director for Roger Moore's debut as 007 in Live and Let Die (1973). Cain also did other films for Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman including the Eon Productions comedy Call Me Bwana and the Saltzman-produced Harry Palmer thriller Billion Dollar Brain. In the 1950s he also worked for Broccoli and his former partner Irving Allen and their Warwick Films company.
Other major films that Cain served as art director or production designer for include Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Road to Hong Kong, Lolita, Farenheit 451 and Bond director Peter Hunt's Shout at the Devil. Cain also had a long association with producer Euan Lloyd, working with him on The Wild Geese, Who Dares Wins and Wild Geese II. In 1995, Cain renewed his association with the Bond franchise, designing storyboards for the 1995 blockbuster GoldenEye.
Cain remained active in his later years, attending many Bond-themed events. On a personal note, I recall having him appear as a surprise guest at an event I was holding at Pinewood Studios in the late 1990s. Syd was shocked and humbled at the degree of interest attendees had in his work and he kept them spellbound when he unveiled a portfolio of some of his original storyboards. In 2002, Dave Worrall and I had the honor of assisting Syd with writing his autobiography, Not Forgetting James Bond, which we also published. It was fascinating to read his first-hand comments about the making of the 007 series. As with many alumni from Eon-produced films, the company always maintained reverence for his work and legacy and invited Syd to high profile events relating to the world of Bond. We join them in mourning his passing.