One of Britain's most celebrated filmmakers, Oscar-nominated Lewis Gilbert made nearly a dozen war movies during his 70-year career, but is best-known for his work on the James Bond franchise and British comedies "Alfie" (1966), "Educating Rita" (1982) and "Shirley Valentine" (1989). Born in Hackney, London in 1920, Gilbert spent his early childhood touring with his vaudeville performer parents, first appearing on stage with them aged just five. In his teens Gilbert made the move to the big screen, playing Jem in "Dick Turpin" (1934) and appearing alongside Laurence Olivier in "Divorce of Lady X" (1938). But Gilbert was more interested in pursuing a career behind-the-scenes and after studying directing at Alexander Korda's Denham studios, assisted on Alfred Hitchcock's last British film, "Jamaica Inn" (1939). During World War II, Gilbert volunteered for the Royal Air Force's film unit and worked alongside Hollywood greats William Keighley and Frank Capra in the U.S. Army Air Forces' First Motion Picture Unit. After the war ended, Gilbert helmed several documentary shorts for Gaumont British, made his full-length directorial and screenwriting debut with Margot Fonteyn vehicle "The Little Ballerina" (1947), and first caught major attention with race-against-the-clock medical thriller "Emergency Call" (1952) and then controversial crime drama "Cosh Boy" (1953). After receiving his first of many producer credits on adventure "Johnny on the Run" (1953), Gilbert made crime noirs "The Good Die Young" (1954) and "Cast a Dark Shadow" (1955), clashed with star Orson Welles on "Ferry to Hong Kong" (1959) and established himself as a war movie master thanks to the adaptation of John Harris novel "The Sea Shall Not Have Them" (1954), biopic of aviator Douglas Bader, "Reach for the Sky" (1956), and the true story of SOE agent Violette Szabo, "Carve Her Name with Pride" (1959). "Sink the Bismarck!" (1960), "Light Up the Sky" (1960), "H.M.S. Defiant" (1962) and "The 7th Dawn" (1964) all followed, but Gilbert achieved his biggest success when he moved away from the war genre. Starring Michael Caine as a fourth wall-breaking playboy, Gilbert's romantic comedy "Alfie" (1966) picked up five Oscar nominations including Best Picture, while a year later he was hired to direct Sean Connery's proposed swansong as James Bond, "You Only Live Twice" (1967). Gilbert would twice return to the 007 franchise with "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977) and "Moonraker" (1979), but not before working on notorious flop "The Adventurers" (1970), teen romance "Friends" (1971) and its sequel "Paul and Michelle" (1974), and his final war movie "Operation Daybreak" (1975). Gilbert achieved both box-office and critical success in the 1980s with adaptations of two Willy Russell plays, "Educating Rita" (1982) in which he reunited with Michael Caine, and Shirley Valentine (1989), before working on Liza Minnelli musical comedy "Stepping Out" (1991), paranormal horror "Haunted" (1995) and family comedy "Before You Go" (2002). He passed away at his Monaco home in 2018 just a week shy of his 98th birthday.
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Directed Best Picture Oscar nominee "Alfie"
Worked on James Bond franchise for first time with "You Only Live Twice"
Reunited with Michael Caine on "Educating Rita"