Lewis Gilbert

Biography

Lewis Gilbert CBE (born 6 March 1920 in Hackney, London) is a prolific British film director, producer and screenwriter, who has directed more than 40 films during six decades; among them such varied titles as Reach for the Sky (1956), Sink the Bismarck! (1960), Alfie (1966), Educating Rita (1983), and Shirley Valentine (1989), as well as three of the classic James Bond films: You Only Live Twice (1967), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979). In 2001 he was made a Fellow of the British Film Institute, the highest accolade given in the British film industry. Lewis Gilbert was born in Hackney, London on 6 March 1920 as the son to a second-generation family of music hall performers,[1] and spent his early years travelling with his parents, and watching the shows from the side of the stage. He first performed on-stage at the age of 5, when asked to drive a trick car around the stage. This pleased the audience, so this became the end of his parents' act. When travelling on trains, his parents frequently hid him in the luggage rack, to avoid paying a fare for him. His father contracted tuberculosis when he was a young man. He died aged 34, when Gilbert was seven. As a child actor in films in the 1920s and 1930s, he was the breadwinner for his family, his mother was a film extra, and he had an erratic formal education. In 1933, at the age of 13, he had a role in Victor Hanbury's and John Stafford's Dick Turpin, and at age 17 a small uncredited role in The Divorce of Lady X (1938) opposite Laurence Olivier. Alexander Korda offered to send him to RADA, but Gilbert chose to study direction instead, notably as an assistant on Alfred Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn (1939).[1] When the Second World War started, he joined the Royal Air Force's film unit, where he worked on various documentary films. He was eventually seconded to the U.S. Air Corp film unit, where his commanding officer was William Keighley, an American film director, who allowed Gilbert to take on much of his film-making work. After the war, he continued to write and direct documentary shorts for Gaumont British, before entering low budget feature film production.[1] Gilbert made his name as a director in the 1950s and 1960s with a series of successful films, often working as the film's writer and producer as well. These films were often based on true stories from the Second World War. Examples include Reach for the Sky (1956) (based on the life of air ace Douglas Bader), Carve Her Name with Pride (1958) (the story of SOE agent Violette Szabo) and Sink the Bismarck! (1960).[2] [edit] Alfie In 1966 Gilbert directed Alfie[3] starring Michael Caine. Gilbert's wife Hylda discovered the play by Bill Naughton when she visited the hair salon and sat next to an actress who was in a production. Upon seeing the play, Hylda urged Gilbert to make it into a film. Gilbert used the technique of having the lead character speak directly to the viewer, a technique he later also used in Shirley Valentine (1988). Gilbert said Alfie was only made because the low budget was "the sort of money Paramount executives normally spend on cigar bills".[4] The film won the Jury Special Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and was nominated for five Academy Awards including best picture.[5] Gilbert was also nominated for a Golden Globe for best director. The film was remade in 2004 with Jude Law.[6] In 1967, Gilbert was chosen to direct Lionel Bart's musical of Oliver! but contracted to another project had to pull out and recommended Carol Reed who took over.[1] [edit] James Bond Despite being known for character dramas, Gilbert directed three of the most epic and expansive installments of the James Bond series. After some reluctance, he was persuaded by Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli to direct You Only Live Twice in 1967.[7][8] Gilbert returned to the series to make two more films, The Spy Who Loved Me[9] in 1977 and Moonraker[10] in 1979. In these films he worked with Roger Moore. [edit] Later career In the 1980s he returned to more small-scale dramas with successful film versions of Willy Russell's plays Educating Rita (1983)[11] and Shirley Valentine (1989).[12][13] Gilbert also directed the film Stepping Out (1991).[14][15] In 2001, Lewis Gilbert was made a Fellow of the British Film Institute, the highest accolade given in the British film industry. On 20 June 2010 he appeared on the BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs. In it he said of The Adventurers, that the film was a disaster, and that he should never have made it. Of working with Orson Welles on Ferry to Hong Kong, he said that it was: "dreadful, it was my nightmare film. It was a dreadful film, and everything was wrong with it; principally him (Welles)." He also said that his biggest mistake was failing to secure the directorship for Oliver. Lionel Bart had assured Gilbert that nobody else would do the film, but Gilbert also signed a contract to make another film (that he has since refused to name), which caused him to miss out on directing Oliver!.

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Person Photo

Birth Name

Lewis Gilbert

Birth Place

London

Birth Date

3/6/1920

Death Date

2/23/2018
Known For
Movie Poster

Moonraker: Bond '79

Self (archive footage)

Movie Poster

Over the Moon

Minor Role (uncredited)

Movie Poster

The Divorce of Lady X

Tom (uncredited)

Movie Poster

Best Ever Bond

Himself

Movie Poster

Death at a Broadcast

Autograph hunter (uncredited)

Movie Poster

Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007

Himself

Movie Poster

The James Bond Story

Himself

Movie Poster

Moonraker

Man at St. Mark's Square (uncredited)

Starring In
Movie Poster

Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007

Himself

Movie Poster

Moonraker: Bond '79

Self (archive footage)

Movie Poster

Best Ever Bond

Himself

Movie Poster

The James Bond Story

Himself

Movie Poster

Moonraker

Man at St. Mark's Square (uncredited)

Movie Poster

Over the Moon

Minor Role (uncredited)

Movie Poster

The Divorce of Lady X

Tom (uncredited)

Movie Poster

Death at a Broadcast

Autograph hunter (uncredited)

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