Lewis Gilbert (born March 6, 1920) is a British film director, producer and screenwriter, born in London, England. After a career as a child actor in films in the 1920s and 1930s, he began shooting documentary films for the Royal Air Force during World War II. Gilbert made his name with a series of successful films as director, and often writer and producer as well. These were often based on true stories from World War II. 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).
In 1966 Gilbert directed Alfie starring Michael Caine. Gilbert said the film was only made because the low budget was "the sort of money Paramount executives normally spend on cigar bills". The film was nominated for five Academy Awards including best picture. Gilbert was nominated for a Golden Globe for best director, and the film was remade in 2004 with Jude Law.
After some reluctance, Gilbert was persuaded by Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli to direct the James Bond film You Only Live Twice in 1967. Gilbert would return to the series to make two more films, The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977 and Moonraker in 1979. Despite being known for character dramas, Gilbert directed three of the most epic and expansive instalments of the Bond series.
In the 1980s he returned to more small-scale dramas with successful film versions of Willy Russell's plays Educating Rita (1983) and Shirley Valentine (1989).