Release Year: 1966
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Writer: Bill Naughton (screenplay based on his 1963 play Alfie)
Starring: Michael Caine, Shelley Winters, Millicent Martin, Julia Foster, Jane Asher, Shirley Ann Field, Vivien Merchant, Eleanor Bron, Denholm Elliott
Rating: Nominated for 5 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor (Michael Caine), Best Supporting Actress (Vivien Merchant), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Song. Won 1 Golden Globe: Best English-Language Foreign Film. Nominated for 6 Golden Globes: Best Director, Best Actor – Drama (Michael Caine), Best Supporting Actress (Vivien Merchant), Best Supporting Actress (Shelley Winters), Best Screenplay, Best Original Song. Won Cannes Jury Special Prize. Nominated for the Palme D’Or.
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #255, week 19 2019
The story of an unrepentant casanova and his growing understanding of the consequences of his lifestyle.
Alfie can kindly be considered an iconic British 1960’s film or, less kindly a film very much of its age. It has that typical 1960’s feel: fresh, provocative, realistic, innovative. Despite its interesting script, Alfie would be only a shadow of itself without Michael Caine (The Quiet American, 2002). Caine’s stardom exploded during the 1960’s and his cockney dialect, good looks, and charm suits Alfie to a tee. As the film explores universal themes such as love, devotion, responsibility, etc. Caine manages to keep us engaged with his character despite the fact that he is at once both likable and despicable. His conduct is hardly ever defensible, yet he keeps us if not on his side, than at least still in the vicinity of his corner. The constant breaking of the fourth wall gives the film is nice twist, even though it is not as novel know as it was then, and helps to make this an interesting and still thought-provoking film, even though society today is much more permissive of such egocentric pursuits of pleasure. Recommended.
Several well-known actors at the time was offered the part of Alfie, including Richard Harris and Laurence Harvey, but they turned it down due to the taboo subject of abortion. Terence Stamp, who had played the role on Broadway, refused to reprise the role on film, thus clearing the way for his friend Michael Caine’s big breakthrough.
American actress Shelley Winters (The Poseidon Adventure, 1972) received second billing even though she only appears in three scenes. She couldn’t understand a word of what Michael Caine was saying due to his heavy Cockney dialect. She had to wait for his lips to stop moving before she said her lines.
The feature film début of Vivien Merchant for which she also received her only Oscar nomination.
Picture Copyright: UIP