James Bond fans all over the world are saddened by the passing away of Guy Hamilton, who directed four entries in the series, two of which – Goldfinger and Live And Let Die – remain amongst the most popular, while Goldfinger is still considered by many to be the best 007 flick ever.
After serving in the Royal Navy during World War 2, Hamilton quickly became an assistant director, notably for Carol Reed, who was instrumental in getting Hamilton his first position as director, on the B-movie mystery The Ringer. He then went on to make a variety of movies in different genres, perhaps his most notable efforts being the prisoner of war story The Colditz Story which was his first big hit, and what is often regarded as the best version of An Inspector Calls. Replacing the sacked Alexander Mackendrick on the set of American Civil War drama The Devil’s Disciple, featuring Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster, gave him his first taste of a bigger budget and big stars.
Hamilton actually turned down an offer to direct Dr. No, not thinking the movie would be successful, and preferring to make films like youth drama The Party’s Over which was heavily censored, Hamilton asking for his name to be removed in protest, but he obviously changed his mind when offered the third Bond film Goldfinger, bringing a lighter touch to the series, the film being an even bigger smash than Dr. No and From Russia With Love. Notable subsequent works were the Michael Caine Harry Palmer spy thrilller Funeral In Berlin, and the star-laden war spectacle Battle of Britain, easily my favourite of his non-Bond films that I’ve seen, before returning to the Bond film franchise with the Connery’s one-off return to the ‘official’ series Diamonds Are Forever, that film’s very jokey tone continued by Live and Let Die, which was Roger Moore’s first 007 film, and The Man with the Golden Gun. He was asked to direct The Spy Who Loved Me, but Hamilton decided Bond, saying he had ran out of inspiration.
Though he never matched the impact of his Bond movies, he continued to direct every now and again, including two Agatha Christie adaptations and the cult action adventure Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. He was originally chosen to direct Superman: The Movie but, due to his status as a tax exile, he was allowed to be in England for only thirty days, where production had moved at the last minute, to Pinewood Studios. The job of director was then passed to Richard Donner. He was also asked to direct the 1989 Batman, but by then had decided to retire.
Said Sir Roger Moore on Twitter:
“Incredibly, incredibly saddened to hear the wonderful director Guy Hamilton has gone to the great cutting room in the sky. 2016 is horrid.”
RIP Guy, your Bond films continue to be watched and enjoyed by people of all ages!