Sad to hear that film director Lewis Gilbert has passed away at the grand old age of 97
Gilbert was the man responsible for some of my favourite films; Alfie, Educating Rita, The Spy Who Loved Me, Carve Her Name With Pride, Reach for The Sky, the list goes on in a career that stretched all the way back to his war days when he joined the RAF's film unit and the First Motion Picture Unit of the USAAF. In the 1950s, Gilbert cornered the market in making British war films such as the aforementioned Carve Her Name With Pride and Reach For The Sky, Sink The Bismarck! and Albert, RN, which ultimately put him on the radar of Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman who chose him to direct the Sean Connery Bond film You Only Live Twice. This proved so successful that Gilbert returned to the world of Bond a further two times with 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me and 1979's Moonraker. He returned to the war genre for Operation Daybreak about the assassination of Heydrich.
Away from action, Gilbert was responsible for the 1966 Michael Caine film Alfie (on the recommendation of his wife Hylda who had visited the hairdressers and met an actress in the stage play) and reunited with Caine again in 1983 for an adaptation of another play, Willy Russell's Educating Rita. This film led to another dual partnership with for Gilbert playwright and star as he went on to direct Russell's Shirley Valentine and to cast Rita star Julie Walters in two more productions; Stepping Out and his final film, 2002's Before You Go.
Gilbert died peacefully in his sleep at home in Monaco on 23rd February.