Guy Hamilton, Director of Classic James Bond Films, Dies at 93
If you like James Bond movies, you have several people to thank for your hero. Ian Fleming, obviously; he wrote the original Bond novels. Harry Saltzman and Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli produced and guided the franchise for decades; Terence Young directed the first two movies starring Sean Connery. And then there’s Guy Hamilton, who helmed perhaps the greatest Bond adventure of them all, Goldfinger. Sadly, per the BBC, Hamilton past away on Wednesday in a hospital on the Spanish island of Majorca. He was 93 years old.
Although the first two Bond films, Dr. No and From Russia with Love, established the template for the 20 films to follow, it was Goldfinger that refined that formula to perfection. Here’s what I wrote about the film in a recent piece ranking every 007 movie (Goldfinger took the top spot):
Goldfinger is the ultimate Bond; the source from which springs not just every Bond film that followed, but many action movies of all shapes and sizes. It’s one of the most influential movies of the 20th century. Anytime a dapper hero peels off a scuba suit to reveal a freshly-pressed tuxedo, or fells his opponents with a gadget-heavy sportscar, Goldfinger’s impact lingers on.
While the Bond movies were always a team effort, Hamilton’s often credited with emphasizing gadgetry in the franchise, and Bond’s cool cars and weapons quickly became a staple of every film until the Daniel Craig reboot. Bond’s iconic Aston Martin DB5 was scripted only to have a few paltry tricks; Hamilton was the one who suggested its famous revolving license plate (because, supposedly, he’d been getting a lot of parking tickets). History also credits Hamilton with giving villain Auric Goldfinger his deadly laser weapon, which he uses to intimidate a captured James Bond in one of the most famous scenes in movie history. (In the Goldfinger novel, Goldfinger threatens Bond with a circular saw):
Hamilton returned to the 007 series three more times: for Connery’s last official Bond, Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Roger Moore’s first Bond, Live and Let Die (1973), and its underrated follow-up The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), which is my personal favorite of the Moore Bonds.
Earlier today, Roger Moore tweeted this tribute to the late director:
Hamilton actually knew Ian Fleming from their time serving in British intelligence during World War II. After the war, Hamilton became the assistant director to Carol Reed; he worked for Reed on his great movies The Fallen Idol and The Third Man. Reed then helped Hamilton get his start as a director; his directorial debut was the 1952 mystery The Ringer starring Herbert Lom. His other directorial efforts included the Harry Palmer thriller Funeral in Berlin (1966), the war epic Battle of Britain (1969), the Agatha Christie adaptation The Mirror Crack’d (1980), and the ’80s action classic Remo Williams: The Adventures Begins (1985).
It’s certain, though, that Bond will be his legacy. People will continue to watch (and filmmakers will continue to be inspired by) Goldfinger for decades to come. That movie inspired so many copies, both within the James Bond franchise and elsewhere. But in many ways, it has still never been topped. We here at ScreenCrush tip our razor-brimmed hats to the passing of an important director.