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One of the best things about fictional environments is that we can project our dreams on them.  And kids of the 1970s universally projected dreams onto The Brady Bunch house.

We all wanted to live there.  It was grander, fancier, and more modern than our own houses.  Even that oh-so-fake backyard, with its Astroturfed lawn and false background blue sky, was very inviting in its sterility:  it felt safe.

So, one of the worst things that can happen with a beloved fictional environment is when that fantasy is punctured.  Maybe you visit the set and see it in all its blandness.  Or you see production stills of the set–lit and empty.  Or the rare photo of a studio guy pushing a broom across the set.  The fantasy is dead.

Or–two dreams collide.

May I Borrow Your Set, Please?

When I first heard that the IMF (Impossible Missions Force) from the original Mission: Impossible TV show had invaded The Brady Bunch house, I thought it was a joke.  I thought it had to be a stupid mash-up, where the IMF barges in with guns and– Cut to a shot of Cindy Brady holding a cap gun!  Not so.

Both were filmed at Paramount Studios in the late 1960s and early 1970s, so sets would have been reused.  Very Brady Blog shows us another Paramount set shared by the two shows.

In the MI episode “Double Dead,” aired on February 12, 1972, the IMF enter a house that every person of a certain age will immediately know.  Directly below, actors Linda Day George and Paul Koslo, enter The Brady Bunch house.  Readers will recognize the green divider, wide door, red tile floor, and rock wall.  Even the Chinese cabinet to the right and the little bull sculpture on the divider are the same.  Below that, we see Alice answering the door.


Brady Bunch Interior Doorway


And moving along toward the familiar Brady Bunch staircase area, we see that the staircase itself has been removed.  But we can still make out the colored glass window above the stairs and rock fireplace.

Brady Bunch House Staircase


Here is a YouTube of that clip from MI:

For most of movie history, set backdrops had been opaque (non-transparent) sheets of fabric stitched together to form larger, set-sized sheets.

In 1950, photographer M.B. Paul was profiled creating transparent set backdrops from actual photographs.  Because they were transparent, they could be lit from the back as well as the front.

Click to Enlarge to 956 x 721 px:

Transparent Manhattan Movie Backdrop 1950

Transparent Manhattan Movie Backdrop 1950

The backdrop below may be from a movie called “Beloved Over All,” later retitled, “Our Very Own.”

Backyard Movie Set Transparency Backdrop 1950

Backyard Movie Set Transparency Backdrop 1950



Source:  Popular Mechanics January 1950

The true face of the James Bond series, at least throughout the Sixties and Seventies, isn’t Sean Connery.  It’s a German-born set designer named Ken Adam.

Ken Adam

Born in Berlin in 1921, trained as an architect in London, Adam’s hand has influenced film style through movies such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Ipcress File, Goldfinger, Dr. Strangelove, and countless others.  But his greatest, or at least his most costly, achievement was the volcano redoubt in the 5th offering of the Bond series:  You Only Live Twice.

From Fleming’s Pen to Pinewood

In the movie version, James Bond infiltrates evil villain Blofeld’s secret hideaway located inside of a hollowed-out volcano in Japan.  Complete with a sliding door on top.

You Only Live Twice Cover

Published in 1964, Ian Fleming’s novel had nothing of the sort.  It wasn’t a volcano, and it wasn’t Blofeld’s.  It was a castle that belonged to a Doctor Shatterhand.  In the novel, Bond views the castle:

…the soaring black-and-gold pile reared monstrously over him, and the diminishing curved roofs of the storeys were like vast bat-wings against the stars.

Clearly, Adam and film director Lewis Gilbert had to come up with something that would better appeal to late-Sixties sensibilities.  Something bigger.  Something more contemporary.

You Only Live Twice Volcano

The Volcano Rises

Even though exterior shots show a real volcano, Pinewood Studios, about 20 miles from London, became the location for building the interiors of Blofeld’s volcano.  Cost was projected at $1 million.

The volcano could be seen from miles around the Pinewood studios.  It rose 120 feet and consisted of a movable helicopter platform, a working monorail system, a rocket launching complete with a full-scale rocket.

It is estimated that 700 tons of structural steel and 200 miles of tubular steel were used.  But it wasn’t a permanent structure.  They also used a quarter million square yards of canvas and 200 tons of plaster.

You Only Live Twice Volcano

The Volcano’s Legacy

The volcano set wasn’t by any means the first grandiose Bond set.  The Ft. Knox set in Goldfinger rivalled it–but it was certainly the biggest.  It opened the way for an era of large-volume sets such as Adam’s supertanker set in The Spy Who Loved Me.

Short Video…

See a short video about the volcano hideout from You Only Live Twice.