Sunday, June 16, 2013


There was a director who was often picked as the man to helm any 'international' big budget or high profile motion picture. His name is Guy Hamilton; he is now 90 years of age and long retired from the business.

Born in Paris, France, to English parents, he ended up staying there during the war and the Nazi occupation.

He moved to the director's chair after working as an assistant director for people like John Huston and Carol Reed. (It should be noted that "assistant directing" has little if anything at all to do with "directing", other than giving instructions. Many people move from the art and editing departments to herding the cattle... I mean, directing.)

Mr. Hamilton was, for a few years, the keeper of the James Bond franchise: Goldfinger (1964), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die (1973), and The Man With the Golden Gun (1974).

In the late 1960s he was chosen as the man to helm the big-budget historical air-battle opus Battle of Britain, a film which threatened to get out of control -- which it did, finally reaching movie screens in 1969 after many delays in production.

One major movie event he was slated to guide ended up without him when cameras started rolling. That picture was Superman: The Movie (1978) which ended up being directed by Richard Donner; who did a terrific job, as many people would agree. Hamilton had to bow-out when the film's producers relocated the production, from its intended location of Italy, to England. Since he was a "tax exile", which meant one could spend just 30 days in the country, quite impractical for most films, Hamilton could not add Superman to his list of achievements.

"James Bond is that one..."
Some may argue that he was not an inspired director, although people like me would say the opposite. Guy Hamilton was known and trusted as being someone who could contain an over-sized production and get the film in the can. We often forget that this quality is a big part of getting a movie made -- especially movies of a certain super-size, where if anything and everything will go wrong, they will. Getting pages of script shot while adding something extra is always a desired combo on a film.

After all, a great cinematic moment for me is from Battle of Britain: There is a scene at night where RAF workmen wheel a Spitfire fighter from the hanger; they stop to look at the blitz on London happening far off in the distance; the close-ups on the workers' faces as the stare, transfixed, is something that is worth pages of rambling script. Those shots say so much.

Mr. Hamilton is getting a bit on in years but his memory of working on various productions including 1964's James Bond outing Goldfinger is still there. The following video was taken in 2009 at the University of Aberdeen; Hamilton converses with Janice Forsyth as part of The Director's Cut program; he tells some funny stories about Sean Connery and the making of Goldfinger...

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