Gilbert’s most famous film came in 1966 with Alfie, starring a rising Michael Caine. The low-budget film about a young womanizer would go on to win the Jury Special Prize in Cannes, and receive five Academy Award nominations, including one for best picture.
Shortly after Alfie, Gilbert was persuaded by Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli to direct the fifth Bond film, 1967’s You Only Live Twice starring Sean Connery. It would be the first of three 007 titles he would helm, returning later for The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.
The 1980s saw him return to smaller British drama, with 1983’s BAFTA-winning Educating Rita — reuniting him with Michael Caine and serving as a breakout film for Julie Walters — and 1989’s Shirley Valentine, both based on Willy Russell plays.
He was awarded the CBE in 1997 and in 2001 was made a fellow of the British Film Institute.