Lewis Gilbert 1920-2018
Gilbert was born in 1920. The son of vaudeville performers, he had a
tough upbringing but a remarkable life. After service in the Royal Air
Force he directed over forty feature films. Despite his reputation as
the director of the most fantastical (and frequently gag festooned)
Bond films (You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker),
Gilbert was equally at home with modestly budgeted dramas and in the
director's chair for Alfie, Educating Rita, and Shirley Valentine. His
most famous films outside of James Bond also include The Admirable
Crichton, Sink the Bismarck!, and Reach for the Sky.
spoken and easygoing, Gilbert was always a pleasant companion in his
contributions to Bond documentaries. Despite his polite and unflappable
personality, Lewis Gilbert always struck you as someone who had his own
opinion and wouldn't be afraid to express it. This combination was
perhaps why Cubby Broccoli always seemed happy to have Gilbert at the
helm of a Bond film. Gilbert was calm and likeable but also someone
with strong views on what he wanted in a production.
probably wouldn't be an overstatement to say that Lewis Gilbert may
have saved the Bond franchise in 1977 when he delivered the spectacular
Roger Moore romp The Spy Who Loved Me and revived interest in the
(somewhat flagging at the time) series. Lewis Gilbert's Bond films
might not be everyone's cup of tea but I would defy anyone to say they
weren't fun. The money was on the screen and the audience got a good
time. The partnership of Lewis Gilbert and Ken Adam supplied an
irresistible profusion of spectacle and excess.
Gilbert directed his last film in 2002. He could look back on a long,
distinguished and eclectic career. And while some of those films might
be forgotten today he left behind many that will never fade away. As
long as television exists, Alfie or The Spy Who Loved Me and many more
Gilbert helmed pictures will always be playing somewhere.