Lewis Gil­bert, 97, di­rec­tor of ‘al­fie,’ James bond films

The Republican Herald - - OBITUARIES - by rObert berKVist

Lewis Gil­bert, a Bri­tish di­rec­tor, pro­ducer and screen­writer whose films in­cluded the ac­claimed 1966 com­edy-drama “Al­fie,” which made Michael Caine a star, as well as three James Bond ad­ven­tures, has died at 97.

Eon Pro­duc­tions, which pro­duces the James Bond movie se­ries, con­firmed the death.

Gil­bert directed, and of­ten wrote or co-wrote, war sto­ries, ro­mances and fam­ily dra­mas in his half-cen­tury ca­reer. He made small but well-liked films like “Ed­u­cat­ing Rita” (1983), which re­united him with Caine, and “Shirley Valen­tine” (1989).

He also made ac­tion spec­tac­u­lars like “Sink the Bis­marck!” (1960), the most suc­cess­ful of his many World War II films, which told the true story of the Bri­tish navy’s quest to de­stroy Ger­many’s largest and most pow­er­ful war­ship.

His most ad­mired film was “Al­fie,” a dark com­edy-drama that gave Caine his break­through role, as an amoral cock­ney wom­an­izer. The film re­ceived five Os­car nom­i­na­tions, in­clud­ing one for best pic­ture and one for Caine as lead ac­tor. Gil­bert was nom­i­nated as the film’s pro­ducer but not its di­rec­tor. It was the only Os­car nom­i­na­tion of his ca­reer.

“Al­fie” was a hit, but its gritty re­al­ism and its un­flinch­ing look at the con­se­quences of ca­sual sex did not type­cast Gil­bert: James Bond fol­lowed hard on Al­fie’s heels.

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