Maurice Micklewhite in London, 14 March 1933.
1951–53—served in Korea with Royal Fusiliers.
Married 1) Patricia Haines, 1954 (divorced 1956), one daughter; 2)
Shakira Khatoon Baksh, 1973, one daughter.
Late 1940s-early 1950s—acted with amateur groups while working as
a laborer; 1954–56—played small parts in provincial theaters
and Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop; appeared frequently on
British television; 1956—began appearing in bit roles in feature
films; 1964—critical attention for role in
; 1965—played role of Harry Palmer in first of series of films,
The Ipcress File
; early 1970s—involved with Klinger-Caine-Hodges Productions;
1980s—much work for TV, including
Jack the Ripper
, 1988, and
Jekyll and Hyde
British Academy Award for Best Actor, for
, 1983; Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, for
Hannah and Her Sisters
, 1986; CBE, 1993; Best Actor Golden Globe Award for
c/o Dennis Selinger, International Creative Management, Oxford House, 76
Oxford Street, London W1N OAX, England.
A Hill in Korea ( Hell in Korea ) (Amyes) (bit role as Pvt. Lockyer)
How to Murder a Rich Uncle (Patrick) (as Gilrony)
The Key (Reed) (bit role); Blind Spot (Maxwell) (bit role); The Two Headed Spy (de Toth) (bit role as 2nd Gestapo agent); Carve Her Name with Pride (Gilbert)
Passport to Shame ( Room 43 ) (Rakoff) (bit role); Danger Within ( Breakout ) (Chaffey) (bit role)
Foxhole in Cairo (Moxey) (as Weber); The Bulldog Breed (Asher) (bit role)
The Day the Earth Caught Fire (Guest) (bit role)
Solo for Sparrow (Flemyng) (as Mooney); The Wrong Arm of the Law (Owen) (bit role)
Zulu (Endfield) (as Lt. Gonville Bromhead)
The Ipcress File (Furie) (as Harry Palmer)
Alfie (Gilbert) (title role); The Wrong Box (Forbes) (as Michael); Gambit (Neame) (as Harry); Funeral in Berlin (Hamilton) (as Harry Palmer); Hurry Sundown (Preminger) (as Henry Warren)
Billion Dollar Brain (Russell) (as Harry Palmer); "Snow" ep. of Woman Times Seven (De Sica) (as handsome stranger)
Deadfall (Forbes) (as Henry Clarke); Play Dirty (de Toth) (as Capt. Douglas); The Magus (Green) (as Nicholas Urfe)
The Italian Job (Collinson) (as Charlie Croker); Battle of Britain (Hamilton) (as Sqdn. Leader Canfield); Too Late the Hero (Aldrich) (as Tosh)
The Last Valley (Clavell) (as Captain); Get Carter (Hodges) (as Jack Carter); Simon, Simon (short)
Kidnapped (Delbert Mann) (as Alan Breck); Zee and Company ( X, Y, and Zee ) (Hutton) (as Robert)
Pulp (Hodges) (as Mickey King); Sleuth (Mankiewicz) (as Milo Tindle)
The Black Windmill (Siegel) (as Major John Tarrant); The Marseilles Contract ( The Destructors ) (Parrish) (as Deray)
The Wilby Conspiracy (Nelson) (as Keogh); The Romantic Englishwoman (Losey) (as Lewis Fielding); The Man Who Would Be King (Huston) (as Peachy Carnehan)
Peeper (Hyams) (as Leslie Tucker); The Eagle Has Landed (John Sturges) (as Col. Kurt Steiner)
A Bridge Too Far (Attenborough) (as Lt. Col. Joe Vandeleur); Harry and Walter Go to New York (Rydell) (as Adam Worth)
California Suite (Ross) (as Sidney Cochran); Ashanti (Fleischer) (as Dr. David Lenderby); Silver Bears (Passer) (as Doc Fletcher)
The Swarm (Irwin Allen) (as Brad Crane); The Island (Ritchie) (as Maynard); Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (Irwin Allen) (as Mike Turner)
Dressed to Kill (De Palma) (as Dr. Robert Elliott)
Victory ( Escape to Victory ) (Huston) (as Colby); The Hand (Stone) (as Jon Landsdale)
Deathtrap (Lumet) (as Sidney Bruhl)
The Honorary Consul ( Beyond the Limit ) (Mackenzie) (as Charlie Fortnum); Educating Rita (Gilbert) (as Professor)
The Jigsaw Man (Young) (as Sir Philip Kimberly/Sergei Kuzminsky); Blame It on Rio (Donen) (as Matthew Hollis)
The Holcroft Convention (Frankenheimer) (as Noel Holcroft); Water (Clement) (as Baxter)
Half Moon Street (Swaim) (as Lord Bulbeck); Hannah and Her Sisters (Woody Allen) (as Elliot); Mona Lisa (Neil Jordan) (as Mortwell); Sweet Liberty (Alda) (as Elliott James)
The Fourth Protocol (Mackenzie) (as John Preston, + exec pr); Jaws—the Revenge (Sargent) (as Hoagie); Surrender (Belson) (as Sean Stein, mystery novelist); The Whistle Blower (Langton) (as Frank Jones)
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Oz) (as Lawrence Jamieson); Without a Clue (Eberhardt) (as Sherlock Holmes); Jack the Ripper (Wickes) (as Frederick Abberline—for TV)
Movie Life of George (Brand—for TV); The Trouble with Michael Caine (Macmilan—for TV)
A Shock to the System (Egleson) (as Graham Marshall); Bullseye! (Winner) (as Sidney Lipton/Dr. Daniel Hicklar); Mr. Destiny (Orr) (as Mike); Jekyll & Hyde (Wickes—for TV) (title role)
Noises Off (Bogdanovich) (as Lloyd Fellowes)
The Muppet Christmas Carol (Henson) (as Scrooge); Death Becomes Her (Zemeckis); Blue Ice (Mulcahy—for TV) (as Harry Anders, + pr)
On Deadly Ground (Seagal) (as Michael Jennings); World War II: When Lions Roared (Joseph Sargent—for TV) (as Joseph Stalin)
Len Deighton's Bullet to Beijing (Mihalka) (as Harry Palmer)
Blood and Wine (Rafelson) (as Victor Spansky); 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Hardy—for TV) (as Captain Nemo); Mandela and deKlerk (Sargent—for TV) (as F.W. deKlerk)
Little Voice (Herman) (as Ray Say)
Curtain Calls (Yates) (as Max Gale); The Cider House Rules (Hallström) (as Dr. Wilbur Larch)
Quills (Philip Kaufman) (as Dr. Royer-Collard); Get Carter (Kay) (as Cliff Brumby); Miss Congeniality (Petrie) (as Vic); Shiner (Irvin) (as Billy Simpson)
Not Many People Know That , London, 1985.
Not Many People Know This Either , London, 1986.
Michael Caine's Moving Picture Show , New York, 1988.
Acting in Film: An Actor's Take on Movie Making , New York, 1990.
What's It All About? , New York, 1992.
Spies and Sleuths , New York, 1997.
With Marco White, Canteen Cuisine: In the Kitchen with Michael Caine , London, 1997.
"Interview: Michael Caine," in Playboy (Chicago), July 1967.
"Playing Dirty," interview in Films and Filming (London), April and May 1969.
"The Man Who Would Be Caine," interview with M. Rosen, in Film Comment (New York), July/August 1980.
Interview with Nick Roddick, in Stills (London), October 1984.
Interview with John Kobal, in Films and Filming (London), January 1985.
Interview with Derek Winnert, in Radio Times (UK), 27 October, 1990.
Interview with Brian Case in Time Out (UK), 16 September 1992.
"Michael Caine's Presentation Speech," in Film Score Monthly (Los Angeles), no, 74, October 1996.
Andrews, Emma, The Films of Michael Caine , London, 1977.
Hall, William, Raising Caine: The Authorized Biography , Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1982.
Judge, Philip, Michael Caine , New York, 1985.
Gallagher, Elaine, Candidly Caine , London, 1990.
Farber, Stephen, "Alfie," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Spring 1967.
"Michael Caine," in Focus on Film (London), Spring 1973.
Films (London), October 1982.
Ciné Revue (Paris), 27 January 1983 and 12 April 1984 (both with filmography).
Photoplay (London), June 1983 and February 1984.
Current Biography 1988 , New York, 1988.
"Michael Caine. Cockney Gentleman," in Film en Televisie (BE), March 1990.
"Michael Caine," in Stars (Mariembourg), no. 29, 1997.
* * *
Michael Caine belonged in the Cockney contingent (Anthony Newley, Terence Stamp, Twiggy) that rose to stardom soon after kitchen-sink Northerners such as Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay. While Stamp came on as the smart tough mod, and Newley led with his pathos, Caine's basic persona was the upwardly mobile Cockney, with 1960s executive specs and crispy well-groomed wavy hair, who yet retains, without inverted snobbery and in a naturally neat voice, his Cockney accent. He was laid-back, too—tall, amiable, almost lordly—and his cool blue eyes bespoke calm calculation, bedroom sensitivity, and/or deep dark scheming. This balance of easy sociability and private purpose is of the essence.
Son of a fish porter and a charwoman, Caine rose through rep to television, which he alternated with innumerable bit and supporting parts. Auditioning for a grumbling Cockney soldier in Zulu , he was surprised to be offered a lead role, and as an aristocratic young officer, whose authority must be overthrown by toughly professional Stanley Baker. Caine revamped his stereotypically effete character, so that his languid air proved deceptive.
While Caine's performance in Zulu drew considerable critical attention, he languished for almost a year without film offers after the picture's release. Then Harry Saltzman, co-producer of the fabulously successful James Bond films, tapped him for the lead in the screen version of Len Deighton's espionage novel The Ipcress File . As the insolent, working-class secret agent Harry Palmer, Caine was a complete antithesis to James Bond. The long, improvised, supermarket scene in the film embellishes the everyday melancholy that extended Caine's rapport with audiences. The subsequent Palmer films, Funeral in Berlin and Billion Dollar Brain , the latter directed by Ken Russell, Caine's handpicked choice, neglected that intimate rapport with audiences, and failed. As did Caine's return to the character twenty years later in Bullet to Beijing, producer Harry Allan Tower's flat start to a proposed new series of Harry Palmer theatrical adventures that died aborning when the film was spun off to TV and video. In Alfie Caine's Cockney chauffeur, a smoothly relentless Casanova, with his insidiously cynical chats direct to the audience, stirred a deep uneasiness about permissiveness. It was a role shunned by almost every eligible star; Caine won his first Oscar nomination, and the film was the biggest-ever British money-earner in the United States. It made him the star he is today.
Caine contributed polished performances to many lesser films, although his very Englishness, as domestic production flagged, set him adrift in productions of "ersatz internationalism," as he called it. Of various war action films in exotic locales, the most interesting were two toughly ironic meditations on idealism and power: The Last Valley , written and directed by the late novelist James Clavell of Shogun and Noble House fame, with Caine as a thoughtful German mercenary in the Thirty Years' War; and John Huston's long-aborning The Man Who Would Be King , with Caine as the feet-on-the-ground adventurer Peachy Carnehan, opposite Sean Connery's upstart title character. In both films, settings and trimmings somehow eclipsed stars and themes intrinsically as powerful as The Bridge on the River Kwai or Apocalypse Now . Caine's long line of affable scoundrels and conmen extended to chillingly calm London gangsters in Get Carter , a pet project of Caine's directed by Mike Hodges, that has been relocated to America for a 2000 remake starring Sylvestor Stallone in the role originally played by Caine, who is set to play a cameo in the remake; and Mona Lisa , for which Caine took substantially less than his usual astronomical fee in order to get the film made. In Kidnapped his sword-fencing worked in well with his airily long-limbed command of personal space.
Caine's sharply blue, yet softly bulbous, eyes suggested quietly devious, complicated, or creative characters. Pulp , Sleuth , and Deathtrap were dialogue comedies involving writers in murder-plot-andcounterplot; they were near two-handers, Caine "duetting" with, respectively, Mickey Rooney, Laurence Olivier (Caine plucking an Oscar nomination from under the knightly nose), and Christopher Reeve. A fourth variation on writer/reality games, The Romantic Englishwoman , with Caine as a writer fantasizing his wife's adultery, promised greater depth, but the eagerly awaited collaboration between Caine and director Joseph Losey seemed short-circuited by a tricksy script.
Caine's air of mischievous sensuality explains his three gay roles: in Deathtrap (where he and Reeve kiss), Dressed to Kill (as a psychiatrist who is also a transvestite homicidal maniac), and California Suite (with Maggie Smith as sexually ambiguous Hollywood marrieds doubly nervy while awaiting the Oscar announcements).
By 1979 Caine's career again risked losing direction, with a run of parts in mediocre spy, horror, and disaster films. Educating Rita was a "return to roots," to the director of Alfie , and to Oscar nomination. Caine played an extinct poet turned university lecturer, disillusioned by the grooves of academe, and vacillating between his textbooks and his whiskey bottle; but revivified by the cheek and eager optimism of working-class housewife Julie Walters. Alan Alda's Sweet Liberty and Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters brought Caine fully into the American comedy of manners. In Alda's film he sketches a film star surely based on himself. A gregarious Cockney now King of Hollywood, he good-naturedly jollies Alda, as a history professor, out of his misery about moviemakers travestying his serious book. In Allen's slightly sad comedy, Caine, a business manager for rock stars, is torn by guilt about loving two sisters, and ends up prey to the nervousness with which the Allen character began; an intriguing role reversal. Though every character but Allen's was dissatisfyingly foreshortened, Caine won a Supporting Actor Oscar.
He continues a highly popular star, though he is frequently criticized for being less than selective about the projects he takes on. He played the real inspector Frederick Abberline, the working-class chief detective on the trail of the infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper in writer-director David Wickes's two-part telefilm produced for the Ripper's centenary. The film proposed a final solution to the century-old mystery, naming the Queen's royal physician as the legendary killer, a solution offered by the 1979 Ripper film, Murder by Decree , as well. For Wickes also, Caine played the title roles in Jekyll and Hyde , the umpteenth version of the durable Robert Louis Stevenson barnstormer, this one produced for British and American television. For TV, he also played an unremarkable Captain Nemo in an unspectacular mini-series based on the Jules Verne classic; and gave a remarkable performance (sporting a convincing South African accent) as F. W. deKlerk opposite Sidney Poitier's Nelson Mandela in Mandela and deKlerk , a docudrama about the fall of apartheid.
He returned to comedy with Noises Off , Peter Bogdanovich's film adaptation of playwright Michael Frayn's takeoff on British sex farces, appearing opposite his old Deathtrap flame Christopher Reeve. In The Muppet Christmas Carol , he played Scrooge opposite a bevy of Jim Henson's puppet creatures in Dickensian garb. 1992's Blue Ice , a film he also produced, found Caine once again embroiled in secret agentry. He was a villainous oil baron whom Steven Seagal prevents from destroying the Alaskan landscape in On Deadly Ground .
Late in the 1990s he returned to more meaty roles. In Little Voice he gave a notable turn as a sleazy talent scout who discovers an introverted girl (Jane Horrocks) with an amazing skill for imitating famous songstresses like Judy Garland and Shirley Bassey. And in The Cider House Rules , based on a novel by John Irving, he adopted his first American accent (down-home Maine no less) to play the sympathetic head of an orphanage and earned another Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his trouble. The busy star somehow managed to find the time find to write his autobiography, published in 1992 under the title What's It All About? , Caine's famous refrain from Alfie , as well as open a string of upscale restaurants in London and Miami.
—Raymond Durgnat, updated by John McCarty