The Quiet American
Michael Caine - a London great
Robert Elms lists his three favourite Michael Caine films and explains why the Rotherhithe born actor is a true London great.
Michael Caine is arguably the greatest actor our city has ever produced, certainly the finest screen star to emerge from over the water. Born into a working class Rotherhithe family, son of a Billingsgate fish porter, despite his extraordinary success, including a brace of Oscars and Baftas, he has always maintained the air of the London boy done good.
He first appeared in the sixties, an overnight success after years of trying, as part of that groundswell of swinging London, which also threw up the likes of Terence Stamp and David Bailey.
It began with Zulu where he perversely played an upper class officer and was solidified in the sixties with a trio of definitive British films; Alfie, The Italian Job and Get Carter, which made him a star.
Michael Caine in 1967
Through an amazingly long career he has perhaps travelled further than any of his contemporaries. Magnificent movies have appeared at every stage of his working life, and so have desperate turkeys, as Michael Caine seems incapable of not appearing in just about every movie he’s offered.
The good though, has outweighed the bad and the best is perhaps unequalled by any British movie star. He gave a famous TV masterclass on screen acting a few years back, which revealed him as a master of cinematic understatement, and despite now being in his seventies there is still a wonderful wide-boy gleam in his eye.
My favourite three Michael Caine films are:
2 Get Carter
3 The Man Who Would Be King
last updated: 22/02/2008 at 17:36
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