British filmmaker John Guillermin was all of 22 when he was mustered out of the RAF and began making documentaries in France. Hoping to hone his cinematic technique, Guillermin studied the Hollywood studio system first-hand in the latter part of the '40s, then made his feature-film debut at 24 with the British melodrama Torment. More prodigy than genius, Guillermin stuck to safe commercial fare along the lines of Miss Robin Hood (1952) and Operation Diplomat (1953) throughout the '50s. His budgets and box-office pull improved with such films as I Was Monty's Double (1957), The Day They Robbed the Bank of England (1960), Tarzan Goes to India (1962) and The Blue Max (1966), films that did as well in the U.S. as they did in England. On the strength of these projects, Guillermin returned to Hollywood, where he helmed the 1968 George Peppard detective picture P.J., then directed another "early bloomer," Orson Welles, in House of Cards (1969). After the high point of The Towering Inferno (1974), Guillermin's work became less distinctive; on such later films as King Kong (1976) and Death on the Nile (1978), he was just another technician, whose direction was no better or worse than his scripts. John Guillermin's last feature film was King Kong Lives (1986). Guillermin died in 2015, just shy of his 90th birthday.