Guy Hamilton 1922-2016
Guy Hamilton, director of four
James Bond films, has died at the age of 93. Hamilton directed the
iconic 1964 entry Goldfinger - a film that established a formidable
blueprint for the series.
He returned several years later
and became something of an in house director for the franchise. He
directed Sean Connery's return for Diamonds Are Forever before ushering
in Roger Moore with Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun. Hamilton's seventies Bonds are
rather underrated to this day. Diamonds Are Forever is good campy fun
and Live and Let Die is a solid debut film for Roger Moore.
Hamilton - who was born in Paris
to British parents and worked at Victorine Studios in Nice as a young
man - served in the Royal Navy during the war. He became an assistant director
on two films directed by Carol Reed and directed his first film with
1952's b-picture mystery The Ringer starring Herbert Lom.
After a few low-budget dramas
(where he worked with Alistar Sim) he had his first taste of the big
time by directing The Colditz Story, a film that became one of the
biggest moneymakers in 1955 at the British box-office.
Hamilton's eclectic directing
duties took in Charley Moon with Max Bygraves, the drama Manuela, The
Devil's Disciple with Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas and Laurence
Olivier, and war period films The Best of Enemies and Man in the Middle.
He followed Goldfinger with the
controversial The Party's Over and then ended the 1960s with his two
most famous films outside of the James Bond franchise. The Harry Palmer
thriller Funeral in Berlin with Michael Caine and the epic Battle of
After directing three Bond
films in the early seventies, Hamilton worked more sparingly for the
duration of his career. Force 10 from Navarone met with
a mixed reception and Hamilton lost the chance to direct Superman with
Christopher Reeve because the film moved production to Pinewood Studios
at the last minute and Hamilton - as a tax exile - was only allowed in
Britain for thirty days.
In 1980, Hamilton directed
Agatha Christie's The Mirror Crack'd with Angela Lansbury as Miss
Marple and then followed in 1982 with another Christie adaptation -
Evil Under the Sun featuring Peter Ustinov as Belgian detective Hercule
Poirot. Evil Under the Sun is a very
underrated film. It looks amazing and has an incredible cast. Maggie
Smith, Diana Rigg, James Mason, Roddy McDowall, Sylvia Miles, Jane
In 1985 Hamilton returned to the
action adventure genre with Remo: Unarmed and Dangerous, based on The
Destroyer pulp paperback series created by Warren Murphy and Richard
Sapir. A Remo series was planned but the film didn't really catch on.
His last film was the little seen Try This One for Size with Michael Brandon in 1989.
In later years Hamilton was a
frequent and welcome contributor to Bond retrospectives and always
interesting to listen to. It's Goldfinger that he'l be remembered for
most of all. The film that triggered sixties Bondmania.
As I wrote in an old review of Goldfinger for this site...
Goldfinger is a wonderful piece
of entertainment. The film doesn't actually have that many different
locations, especially compared to later entries, but it still has a
sense of scope and ambition that lifts the franchise to new heights. In
fact, you could say that Goldfinger was the first modern action film
and that a lot of the stuff it introduced is still being riffed on
today. It must have been an amazing experience to go to the cinema in
1964 and watch this for the first time on a big screen. All in all
you'd have to have a heart of stone not to enjoy this film.