John Glen (director)

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John Glen
Born (1932-05-15) 15 May 1932 (age 92)
Years active1948–2015

John Glen (born 15 May 1932) is a retired English film director and editor. He is best known for his work on the James Bond series, firstly by editing a number of earlier James Bond films and then later moving on to direct a further five Bond films in the franchise.

Life and career[edit]

Glen had his start in the film-making industry as a messenger boy in 1945.[1] By the late 1940s, he was working in the visual and sound editorial departments of Shepperton Studios for films produced by Alexander Korda,[2] such as The Third Man (1949) and The Wooden Horse (1950). Moving up the ranks, Glen made his picture editorial debut on a documentary series titled Chemistry for Six Forms in 1961, and his directorial debut on the TV series Man in a Suitcase in 1968 (directing the episode "Somebody Loses, Somebody ... Wins?").[3]

During the 1960s and 1970s, Glen served as a film editor and second unit director, working on such films as Superman (1978) and The Wild Geese (1978); he also contributed to three James Bond films: On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979). Following the release of Moonraker, Glen was promoted to the rank of official director of the series;[4] he went on to direct all five Bond films of the 1980s. He holds the record for directing the most number of films in the series to date, just one film more than Guy Hamilton. The films are:

After Bond, Glen continued to direct, with credits including Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992) and The Point Men (2001). He also directed episodes of the science-fiction television series Space Precinct (1994–95). In 2001, he published his memoir, For My Eyes Only.

Directorial style[edit]

Glen's films contain a recurring motif in the form of a startled pigeon that makes the actor (as well as the audience) jump;[4] it is especially noticeable in his five James Bond films. Variations exist; in some cases, the animal is a cat (A View to a Kill) or a monkey (The Living Daylights). As editor of Moonraker, Glen was responsible for creating the "double-taking pigeon", an editing trick that makes it appear as if a bird in St Mark's Square in Venice cannot believe its eyes when Bond's (Roger Moore) gondola transforms into a hovercraft. In addition, all of Glen's Bond films feature a character who dies by falling from a height, in a sequence commonly accompanied by the same "male scream" sound effect.

Glen often re-used actors in his films. In his autobiography, he states that he wanted to cast Timothy Dalton in Christopher Columbus: The Discovery but that Dalton left the project before shooting commenced; Glen wonders whether – following an argument at the end of shooting on Licence to Kill – Dalton did not wish to appear in any more of his films. Several other cast members from the Glen Bond films appear in Christopher Columbus: the Discovery; among them are Robert Davi (who played Franz Sanchez in Licence to Kill), Benicio del Toro (who played Dario in Licence to Kill), and Michael Gothard (who played Emile Leopold Locque in For Your Eyes Only).

By far his most frequent acting collaborator was Roger Moore, who worked with Glen on eleven films.


Year Film Director Editor Second unit
1969 Baby Love Yes
1969 The Italian Job uncredited
On Her Majesty's Secret Service Yes Yes
1971 Murphy's War Yes uncredited
Catlow Yes
1972 Pulp Yes
Sitting Target Yes
1973 A Doll's House Yes
1974 Gold Yes Yes
Dead Cert Yes
1975 Conduct Unbecoming Yes
1976 Shout at the Devil Yes
1977 The Spy Who Loved Me Yes Yes
Seven Nights in Japan Yes
1978 The Wild Geese Yes Yes
Superman Yes
1979 Moonraker Yes Yes
1980 The Sea Wolves Yes
1981 For Your Eyes Only Yes
1983 Octopussy Yes
1985 A View to a Kill Yes
1987 The Living Daylights Yes
1989 Licence to Kill Yes
1990 Checkered Flag Yes
1992 Aces: Iron Eagle III Yes
Christopher Columbus: The Discovery Yes
2001 The Point Men Yes


  1. ^ Vienne, Marie-France (27 December 2010). "John Glen". Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  2. ^ Wilner, Norman (10 December 2012). "John Glen: We talk to the veteran 007 director, in town tonight for TIFF's In Conversation With... series". Now. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  3. ^ Dillon, Mark (4 December 2012). "The name's Glen, John Glen". Canadian Cinema Editors. Archived from the original on 6 August 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  4. ^ a b Inside For Your Eyes Only (Blu-ray). Bond 50, For Your Eyes Only Disc: MGM. 2012.{{cite AV media}}: CS1 maint: location (link)

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