Friday, April 22, 2016

Guy Hamilton, RIP

Was saddened to hear yesterday that director Guy Hamilton passed away. Having lived to the age of 93 there's no denying that he enjoyed a full life, and while he has an impressive roster of credits that span the 1950s through the late '80s, he's probably best known for his key role in the early days of the James Bond franchise. While Terence Young ably directed the first two pictures, 1962's Dr. No and 1963's From Russia With Love, it's arguably with Hamilton's 007 debut, 1964's Goldfinger that the quintessence of what we consider "essential" to Bond was established.

The witty banter, the wacky gadgets, the larger-than-life villain ("No, Mr. Bond! I expect you to die!"), and the general tone of arched-eyebrow detachment we now think of as key ingredients in any 007 concoction all came from Goldfinger and Hamilton. While he skipped the next few entries, Hamilton returned to the franchise with Sean Connery's farewell picture, Diamonds are Forever, and the first two Roger Moore entries, Live and Let Die and The Man With the Golden Gun.

Hamilton was also briefly attached to helm the Alexander Salkind production of Superman: The Movie in the late '70s but was forced to drop out due to the peculiarities of where star Marlon Brando was allowed to film (Richard Donner eventually got that gig). Hamilton had mostly dropped out of public life for the past few decades, content to pop up periodically on documentaries and retrospectives about the Bond phenomenon, but while he may be gone, the mark he left on the longest-lived franchise in history is an indelible one.

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