Website last updated: 12-7-2024

All My Flashbacks: The autobiography of director Lewis Gilbert

By: Anders Frejdh
Lewis Gilbert, All My Flashbacks, autobiography
Lewis Gilbert, All My Flashbacks, autobiography
Having directed three of the biggest Bond films - You Only Live Twice (1967), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979) - this book from Lewis Gilbert is surely going to be an entertaining read for any film scholar and Bond aficionados in particular.

Lewis Gilbert shot to prominence in 1950s British cinema by directing such successful films as Reach for the Sky, Carve Her Name with Pride and Sink the Bismarck!. In the sixties, he notably directed Alfie. Gilbert has helmed three lavish James Bond movies: You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. In the 1980s he turned to small-scale dramas, directing Willy Russell's Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine.

This is Lewis Gilbert’s own story - fifty years at the top of the movie business.

Publisher Marcus Hearn remembers Lewis Gilbert who passed away in February 2018

It was a privilege to publish Lewis Gilbert’s autobiography back in 2010. I was in awe of his work and incredible versatility long before I met him. There may have been other directors who could have made Moonraker and Educating Rita, but to have excelled at both, within the space of just four years, made him a unique talent amongst British filmmakers.

We spent many happy days working on the manuscript and going through his remarkable scrapbooks, selecting pictures. He was a wealthy man, but was refreshingly pragmatic when, one winter’s afternoon, his central heating failed to keep us comfortable. “I know what to do,” he announced, “we’ll work in the kitchen.” As I gathered my laptop and a pile of papers I found myself wondering how moving to a similarly chilly room was going to help us. His plan soon became clear – he opened the oven door and switched it on. “There you are,” he beamed. “That’ll warm us up in no time.”

Lewis brought a similarly pragmatic approach to his Bond films, and was astonished by how much Moonraker ended up costing. I sensed that he was surprised the series was able to survive its excesses.

When I knew Lewis he was in his late 80s and could look back on a distinguished career, but he was still haunted by lost opportunities. Chief amongst these was Oliver!, which he had longed to direct in 1968. He told me that he still had nightmares about the circumstances that came between him and this cherished project.

Despite his age, Lewis refused to accept that he had become an insurance risk to potential employers. He was still working on screenplays, and hoped to find a younger director he could work alongside. After all, he pointed out, Charles Crichton had made A Fish Called Wanda under a similar arrangement. At one point he even offered me a job as his assistant. While this was a tempting offer, I could see that Lewis’ ambitions would soon be curtailed by his failing health.

Some of today’s most prominent tributes have included headlines that describe Lewis as a ‘James Bond director’. He was, of course, so much more than that, but he was proud of his association with 007. And rightly so – over the course of three incredible films he proved that nobody did it better.

Book details:
Hardcover: 400 pages, 40 colour/bw illustrations
Publisher: Reynolds & Hearn Ltd
ISBN-10: 1 904674-24-5
Dimensions: 234 x 152 mm
Price: 19.99 GBP

Order All My Flashbacks by Lewis Gilbert at a discounted price from Amazon UK.



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