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British filmmaker Lewis Gilbert in 2000.

Lewis Gilbert, a British director, producer and screenwriter whose films included the acclaimed 1966 comedy-drama Alfie, which made Michael Caine a star, as well as three James Bond adventures, has died at 97.

Eon Productions, which produces the James Bond movie series, confirmed the death.

Mr. Gilbert directed, and often wrote or co-wrote, war stories, romances and family dramas in his half-century career. He made small but well-liked films, such as Educating Rita (1983), which reunited him with Mr. Caine, and Shirley Valentine (1989).

He also made action spectaculars such as Sink the Bismarck! (1960), the most successful of his many Second World War films, which told the true story of the British navy's quest to destroy Germany's largest and most powerful warship.

His most admired film was Alfie, a dark comedy-drama that gave Mr. Caine his breakthrough role, as an amoral cockney womanizer. The film received five Oscar nominations, including one for best picture and one for Mr. Caine as lead actor. Mr. Gilbert was nominated as the film's producer, but not its director. It was the only Oscar nomination of his career.

Alfie was a hit, but its gritty realism and its unflinching look at the consequences of casual sex did not typecast Mr. Gilbert: James Bond followed hard on Alfie's heels.

Mr. Gilbert's first foray into the world of 007 was You Only Live Twice (1967), the fifth movie in the series. With a screenplay by Roald Dahl, it followed Bond (Sean Connery) into the dark universe of the villainous Blofeld (Donald Pleasance), who had plans to rule the world.

Mr. Gilbert returned to the franchise 10 years later, directing The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979), by which time Roger Moore had replaced Mr. Connery as Bond.

In his autobiography, All My Flashbacks (2010), Gilbert wrote that he could immediately see that Moore had to be a different sort of Bond.

"While watching him, I'd had the feeling that Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, the film's producers, wanted him to be Sean Connery," he wrote.

"This was no use. Roger didn't have Sean's animal grace. However, he was at ease in light comedy. It therefore seemed to me much more sensible for Roger to play to the strength he had, rather than the one Sean had."

Before Alfie, Mr. Gilbert was best known for a series of fact-based Second World War films. Reach for the Sky (1957), which he wrote and directed, told the story of Douglas Bader, a Royal Air Force hero who, despite the loss of his legs, was able to become a fighter pilot and survive a Nazi prison camp.

A year later came another tribute to wartime heroism, Carve Her Name With Pride. Written with his frequent collaborator Vernon Harris, the movie recounted the true-life adventures of Violette Szabo, a French-speaking widow living in London who was recruited by the British secret service and who was captured on her second undercover mission to France and executed by the Nazis.

He often took on a producing role as well, as he did with, among other films, Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine and The Adventurers, a 1970 political drama based on a Harold Robbins novel involving a jet-set son of an assassinated diplomat.

Mr. Gilbert was born in London on March 6, 1920, into a show-business family, including a number of music hall performers. Before long, he, too, was performing, leading to small roles in a few films as a teenager.

He got his start behind the camera with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War when he made several documentary shorts, an experience he put to good use in his war films of the 1950s and 60s – although the first feature he directed was not a war movie, but The Little Ballerina (1948), the story of a young girl in London who dreams of becoming a famous dancer.

His wife, the former Hylda Tafler, died in 2005. They had two sons, John and Stephen. There was no immediate word on who Mr. Gilbert leaves.

Late in his career, Mr. Gilbert mostly directed small-scale stories about women (making a slight detour with Haunted, a 1995 horror film with Kate Beckinsale, Aidan Quinn and John Gielgud). Educating Rita followed a young housewife (Julie Walters) through her chaste relationship with an alcoholic professor (Mr. Caine) who becomes her tutor and mentor and winds up with a few insights about himself as well.

Both Ms. Walters and Mr. Caine were nominated for Oscars in 1983. (The awards went to Shirley MacLaine, for Terms of Endearment, and Robert Duvall, for Tender Mercies.)

Another of Mr. Gilbert's later projects was Shirley Valentine, which, as with Educating Rita, was adapted from a play by Willy Russell. The film is a portrait of a Liverpool housewife (Pauline Collins) who breaks out of her numbing routine when she travels to Greece.

In Mr. Gilbert's last movie, Before You Go (2002), based on Shelagh Stephenson's first play, The Memory of Water, three sisters (Ms. Walters, Joanne Whalley and Victoria Hamilton) reunite to attend their mother's funeral.

But even with that film's release, he was not quite ready to call it a career, telling Variety that he could still get a movie done and done on time and within a budget.

"There's nothing that can replace experience," he said. "I know to sit in a chair, not to rush around, and the film will get made. When you're young you get much more stressed. But now I don't encounter any problem that I haven't dealt with before."

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