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24 September 2014

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You are in: London > Entertainment > Films > Features > Michael Caine - a London great

The Quiet American

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

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:

1 Alfie

2 Get Carter

3 The Man Who Would Be King

last updated: 22/02/2008 at 17:36
created: 05/01/2006

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We want to know what your favourite three Michael Caine films are and why?

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1. Alfie 2. The Italian Job 3. Sleuth

Island Gaffer
1 Get Carter: gritty and gruesome. It still fascinates how rough it was up north in the Sixties/Seventies - during my lifetime. Caine is a brilliant thug and delivers one of the greatest film lines: "You're a big lad but you're out of shape. I do this for a living, now behave yourself." There's the added bonus too of an incomparable sixties babe in the shape of Britt Eckland and let's not forget the unbelievable theme music by Roy Budd. It's raw and it's an all time great film. 2 The Ipcress File: I love the way Caine spends the whole film looking confused and there's splendid support acting, particularly the oh-so-British Nigel Green. The image of the rusty nail in Palmer's hand has lived with me for 30 years. John Barry supplies spine-tingling music to cap off a brilliant film. 3 The Italian Job: got to be up there just because of the England supporters' Hillman vans with 'Ball' and 'Bell' scribbled pathetically on the side. Caine's suits and general attire are immaculate and it captures perfectly the swinging sixties in London when the country felt great. And who can forget Noel Coward.

Zulu, Alfie, Italian Job

Howard Bellafonte
dirty rotten scondrels, italian job, get carter

Alex Spencer
Without A Clue Without A Clue Without A Clue Because I was in it!

Kelvin Davis
1. The Ipcress File, 2. Alfie, 3. Get Carter

Harry Dwyer
1 Zulu 2 The Island 3 Get Carter

Richard Labern
1 Alfie, 2 Get Carter 3 ????

Andreas Mandrysch
The Ipcress File The Italian Job Funeral in Berlin

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