LONDON — Guy Hamilton, the director of four James Bond films, has died on the Mediterranean island of Majorca at the age of 93. Hamilton was at the helm of iconic 007 movies “Goldfinger” in 1964 and “Diamonds are Forever” in 1971, both starring Sean Connery, as well as 1973’s “Live and Let Die” and 1974’s “The Man with the Golden Gun,” both with Roger Moore as Bond.
In a statement, Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson told Variety: “We mourn the loss of our dear friend Guy Hamilton who firmly distilled the Bond formula in his much celebrated direction of ‘Goldfinger’ and continued to entertain audiences with ‘Diamonds Are Forever,’ ‘Live and Let Die’ and ‘The Man with the Golden Gun.’ We celebrate his enormous contribution to the Bond films.”
Hamilton’s career started when he was 17 in the accounts department of a film studio in Nice, France, but he soon gravitated to a lowly production role. He later said he “discovered how a studio worked the hard way.” This was interrupted by the start of the World War II, when he served in a covert unit of the British navy.
After the war, Hamilton worked as British director Carol Reed’s assistant on several movies, from “The Fallen Idol” in 1948 through to “Outcast of the Islands” in 1951, and including “The Third Man” in 1949. “Carol was basically my father,” Hamilton said. “He taught me everything I know. I adored him.” Hamilton also worked as an assistant director on John Huston’s “The African Queen” in 1951.
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Early films as a director included 1954’s “An Inspector Calls,” starring Alastair Sim, 1955’s “The Colditz Story,” starring John Mills, and 1961’s “The Best of Enemies,” with David Niven.
He went on to direct movies like “Funeral in Berlin” in 1966, starring Michael Caine, 1969’s “Battle of Britain,” with Caine and Trevor Howard, 1978’s “Force 10 From Navarone,” with Harrison Ford, and two Agatha Christie adaptations, 1980’s “The Mirror Crack’d,” with Angela Lansbury, Tony Curtis and Rock Hudson, and 1982’s “Evil Under the Sun,” with Peter Ustinov, James Mason and Maggie Smith. Hamilton said that to be a director demanded “a hide like a rhinoceros.”
Hamilton remains best known for his four Bond films, and he played a major part in developing the franchise’s distinctive style, including the glamour. “Don’t take a train when you can take a plane, and if you’re going to take a plane, take the newest one around. And if you give Bond a car, don’t show what’s been seen — show what’s not out yet,” Hamilton said.
The world of Bond could not be ordinary. “Bond couldn’t have just any yacht. It had to be the biggest yacht in the world. We were creating a dream world, defining what was ‘Bondian’,” he said.
However, Hamilton was keen to emphasize that he and producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were not spendthrifts. “In the making of Bond films we are some of the meanest toughest filmmakers. If we spend a million dollars, it had better be up there on the screen,” he said.
His Bond movies, in common with his other pics, were marked by a wry humor, rooted in his war-time experience. “Everybody was a bit facetious, and the typical English thing is to make jokes in order to pretend you’re not frightened,” he said.
Hamilton was married twice, first to actress Naomi Chance, and later to Kerima, who was also an actress.
Sean Connery in 1971’s ‘Diamonds Are Forever’