Star Archive

Lewis Gilbert (1920 - 2018)

When Lewis Gilbert passed away, much of the focus on his work was on the three Bond films he directed, plus his resurgence in the 80s with Shirley Valentine and Educating Rita. However, it's arguable that his run of films in the 50s were his greatest contribution to cinema.

He was born into a family of music hall performers and began his career in films as a child actor. Alexander Korda was impressed with him and offered to send him to RADA to train but Gilbert preferred to aim for a directing career so Korda sent him to Denham to begin as a third assistant director. by the time war broke out he'd reached the rank of first assistant director.

He enlisted with the RAF, but was later assigned to the US Army Air Forces film unit. On being invalided out he wrote and directed documentary shorts. He made several low budget features over the next few years, but it was the success of  Emergency Call, released as a first feature, which raised his status. this was also the first film in which he collaborated with writer Vernon Harris who he would work with consistently throughout his career.

As a director who'd served in the war, he was a natural pick for the cycle of war films which dominated 50s cinema. He also showed, in Cast a Dark Shadow and Carve Her Name With Pride an ability to provide strong roles for actresses - something of a rarity in the 50s - which would resurface in the 80s with Shirley Valentine and Educating Rita.

The massive hit he scored with Alfie which kept him afloat in the Swinging 60s while many of his contemporaries had to move to television to survive. It also got him the first of his Bond films. Apart from Bonds, his 70s films were little noticed. He fought to get Educating Rita made, raising the money before getting a distribution deal and insisted it retain the star of the original stage production, Julie Walters. He received a lifetime achievement award from BAFTA in 1990 and continued to make films into his 80s.

Gilbert's brand of solid professionalism was little regarded by film critics in an age of auteurism but there are few directors who can match his sustained career or match the number of great films he produced.   


1944 Sailors Do Care
1945 The Ten Year Plan
1946 Arctic Harvest
1947 The Little Ballerina
1949 Under One Roof
1950 Once a Sinner
1951 The Scarlet Thread
1951 There is Another Sun
1952 Emergency Call
1952 Time, Gentlemen, Please!
1953 Cosh Boy
1953 Johnny on the Run
1953 Albert, R.N.
1954 The Good Die Young
1954 The Sea Shall Not Have Them
1955 Cast a Dark Shadow
1956 Reach for the Sky
1957 The Admirable Crichton
1958 Carve Her Name With Pride
1958 A Cry from the Streets
1959 Ferry to Hong Kong
1960 Sink the Bismark!
1960 Light Up the Sky!
1961 The Greengage Summer
1962 HMS Defiant
1964 The 7th Dawn
1966 Alfie
1967 You Only Live Twice
1970 The Adventurers
1971 Friends
1974 Paul and Michelle
1975 Operation: Daybreak
1976 Seven Night in Japan
1977 The Spy Who Loved Me
1979 Moonraker
1983 Educating Rita
1985 Not Quite Paradise
1989 Shirley Valentine
1991 Stepping Out
1995 Haunted
2002 Before You Go

Lewis Gilbert at Amazon UK  

Lewis Gilbert at Amazon US