Director of 3 Bond films, Lewis Gilbert, dies at 97
LONDON — Director Lewis Gilbert, whose dozens of movies included three James Bond thrillers —“You Only Live Twice,” “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker” — and the Swinging London classic “Alfie,” died at 97, colleagues said Tuesday.
Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson said in a statement “it is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of our dear friend Lewis Gilbert.” The Bond fan site “From Sweden With Love” said he died Friday in Monaco.
Broccoli and Wilson said Gilbert was “a true gentleman” whose Bond films “are considered classics within the series.”
The British Film Institute’s filmography lists 33 features directed by Gilbert between 1947 and 2002, making him the most prolific of British filmmakers. But, he acknowledged, most people remembered him for his 007 thrillers.
“When I go around the world now when I’m working it’s amazing — they’re not interested in any of my films until I say ‘James Bond,’” Gilbert told the BBC in 2010. “And the minute I say ‘James Bond’ they practically genuflect.”
Gilbert’s first Bond film was “You Only Live Twice” with Sean Connery in 1967. He returned a decade later to direct Roger Moore as 007 in “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker.”
Born in London in 1920 into a family of vaudevillians, Gilbert got his start in the movies as a child actor before joining the Royal Air Force during World War II. He made his directing debut making documentaries while seconded to the U.S. Army Air Forces’ film unit.
His first postwar credit as director was for “The Ten Year Plan,” a documentary about housing; his first feature as director was “The Little Ballerina” in 1947.
In 1966 he directed a young Michael Caine as a man-abouttown in “Alfie,” which was nominated for five Academy Awards.