×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lewis Gilbert, Director of ‘Alfie’ and Three James Bond Films, Dies at 97

Prolific British director Lewis Gilbert, whose credits include “Alfie” and three James Bond films, has died. He was 97.

Gilbert’s directing career spanned seven decades with credits on more than 40 films, from the 1945 documentary “The Ten Year Plan” to the 2002 comedy “Before You Go,” starring Julie Walters.

He was born in London in 1920 and performed as a child actor in films in the 1920s and 1930s, before choosing to study direction, assisting on Alfred Hitchcock’s “Jamaica Inn” in 1939. During World War II, he worked on films while serving with the Royal Air Force’s film unit and the U.S. Army Air Forces.

After the war, Gilbert worked in documentaries. He started directing war movies including 1956’s “Reach for the Sky,” 1958’s “Carve Her Name with Pride,” and 1960’s “Sink the Bismark.”

One of his best-known works came with 1966’s “Alfie,” based on the Bill Naughton play, which his wife Hylda had seen. Gilbert was nominated for a best picture Academy Award for producing and the film received four other Oscar nominations, including best actor for Michael Caine, who portrayed an unapologetic womanizer. “Alfie” won the Jury Special Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Gilbert was persuaded by Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli to direct “You Only Live Twice” in 1967 and returned in the late 1970s to make two other James Bond films: “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker.”

In the 1980s, Gilbert directed movie versions of two Willy Russell plays, “Educating Rita” and “Shirley Valentine.”

He was awarded the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1997 and made a Fellow of the British Film Institute in 2001.

“It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of our dear friend Lewis Gilbert,” Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said in a statement on Tuesday. “Lewis was a true gentleman. He made an enormous contribution to the British film industry as well as the Bond films, directing ‘You Only Live Twice,’ ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ and ‘Moonraker.’ His films are not only loved by us but are considered classics within the series. He will be sorely missed.”

“The DGA mourns the passing of Lewis Gilbert whose more than 70-year legacy as a film director has served as an inspiration to so many,” the Directors Guild of America said in a statement. “Not limiting himself to any one genre, Gilbert found strength in tackling a diverse slate of films; from war dramas like Sink the Bismarck! to light comedies like Alfie – both earning him DGA Award nominations for Outstanding Directing in Feature Film. But his most enduring impact may be his three iconic James Bond films in the 1960s and 70s; You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, where his wit and sly humor elevated the genre. He will be deeply missed.”

More Film

  • Jim Gianopulos

    Paramount Chief Jim Gianopulos Unveils Diversity Initiative

    Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos has announced that all studio productions will be required to complete a plan to enhance diversity. Wednesday’s reveal follows Paramount’s commitment to participating in Time’s Up and Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s 4% Challenge. The name is derived from women having directed only 4% of the country’s top grossing movies [...]

  • Leave No Trace

    Oscar Analysts Are Sincere -- but Often Totally Wrong

    With Oscars arriving Feb. 24, we can expect multiple “who will win/who should win” columns. There will also be a flurry of post-show analyses about the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and why members voted the way they did. Since AMPAS never releases polls or voting tallies, these pundits will never be contradicted [...]

  • On Eve of Oscars, Variety’s Film Experts Answer Three Pressing Questions

    On Eve of Oscars, Variety’s Film Experts Answer Three Pressing Questions

    We continue to live in a divided world, with the current political landscape in the United States a seemingly endless hotbed of tumult and acrimony. Issues of racism, bigotry, diversity and gender equality drive the creative players as well, with Oscar-nominated films parlaying said themes into compelling, thought-provoking cinema. To analyze 2018 in big-screen entertainment, [...]

  • Karl Lagerfeld'Lagerfeld Confidential' Photocall at the

    Karl Lagerfeld Remembered at Costume Designers Guild Awards

    The death of fashion and costume designer Karl Lagerfeld cast somewhat of a shadow over the usually jubilant Costume Designers Guild Awards — the only award show where clothes literally steal the spotlight away from actors — which was held at the Beverly Hilton on Tuesday night. Here it was obvious that Lagerfeld’s impact on [...]

  • 'Captain Marvel' First Reactions: Early Reviews

    'Captain Marvel' First Reactions: 'The MCU Feels More Complete'

    “Captain Marvel” is soaring following advanced press screenings on Tuesday. Reactions from early showings have hit Twitter, and audiences are keen on Marvel’s first female-led standalone movie. Critics are praising Brie Larson’s performance as Carol Danvers, the nostalgic ’90s setting, and the cosmic sci-fi elements. Goose, Danvers’ cat, is also getting a lot of attention from [...]

  • Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Astrid (America

    Box Office: 'How to Train Your Dragon 3' Flying to $40 Million-Plus Debut

    Universal and DreamWorks’ “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” will soar to the top of the domestic box office when it debuts this weekend in over 4,000 North American theaters. The studio anticipates an opening around $40 million, which would fall just short of the debut of its predecessors, 2010’s “How to Train [...]

  • Times Up Inclusion Red Carpet Fashion

    Stars Like Lena Waithe, Rachel Brosnahan Support Issues Through Fashion

    On a Sunday morning in November 2017, Oscar-nominated costume designer and stylist Arianne Phillips pulled up to CAA for a meeting to which she’d been invited without receiving any other information. “Reese Witherspoon was there at that meeting, and I know her because we worked together on ‘Walk the Line,’” says Phillips, who’s also worked [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content