Happy 90th Birthday, Michael Caine
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This is a really good article from The Spectator:

Michael Caine: no, Zulu doesn’t incite far-right extremism

Tanya Gold
11 March 2023

Michael Caine is 90 this week, and he offers to accept questions by email, which he will then answer by email, as if we are communicating between galaxies. Normally this would bother me—gah, actors—but it is Michael Caine, so I can’t mind. Maurice Micklewhite’s invention Michael Caine—he named himself after The Caine Mutiny—is as luminous a piece of 20th-century British culture as Eleanor Rigby. There are some people you want to be happy. They deserve it.

He replies quickly: this is a functional man. What did I expect? He has been nominated for an Academy Award six times in four separate decades, and won twice, and he is still working. This is work.

‘I became an actor because I wanted to kiss a girl, and I got to kiss all of them’

‘There are no films I wish I hadn’t made,’ he says, and this is a singular attitude. John Gielgud would not have had the confidence to appear in Jaws: The Revenge and was not a big enough star for The Muppet Christmas Carol. ‘I got paid for all of them,’ he adds, and he bought his relations a house each. He didn’t even bother to read the script for The Swarm, a 1978 horror film in which bees gang up on him and Olivia de Havilland. His work ethic was Academy Award or a million dollars. He calls his career ‘a miracle without the slightest difficulty’. It’s not true, of course: he struggled for a decade in regional theatre. But confidence is his defining characteristic, and it gives him, among actors, a peculiar grace.

This confidence is due to his mother, Ellen, I think, a cook and charwoman who loved him. He owes the most to her, he says. When his father, also called Maurice, a fish porter at Billingsgate, left to serve in the second world war Caine was six years old. ‘When his truck disappeared around the corner, she turned around to me and said: “Now you have to look after me.” And she made me a man in one sentence.’ He had an unhappy experience as an evacuee—he was locked in a cupboard—and, as a result, all his charity work now is for children.

When Caine was depressed as a young man after his father died, his mother spent the life insurance—£25— on sending him to Paris, so he could see the scope of the world. He loved the book Springtime in Paris by Elliot Paul and stayed in the hotel where Paul had lived. When he ran out of money, he slept in the airport and sold chips on the street next to a friendly hotdog vendor. He returned to find a telegram saying he had a job on a film. He claims he had no plan and says he became an actor for the girls. ‘I became an actor because I wanted to kiss a girl, and I got to kiss all of them, so I thought it a good profession.’

My feeling is that The Man Who Would Be King is Sean Connery’s greatest performance. And, yet, Michael Caine is likely better in it. (And Saeed Jaffrey might be the best of all.)

[Comment at Unz.com]

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