“Born on 14 March, 1933, as Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, the son of a fishmarket porter and a cleaning woman, he was an evacuee from London’s East End during the Blitz and housed in the countryside with a couple who beat him and locked him in the cupboard under the stairs, decades before Harry Potter made such bijou accommodation fashionable.”
Stephen McGinty in the Scotsman: “For too long his true talent was camouflaged by his public persona, which is why some think he can only ever do cockney accents, despite the fact his big break in Zulu came when he played against type as an upper-class officer. In fact, the producer thought him so effeminate in the role of Lieutenant Broomhead that he cancelled his seven-year contract on the grounds that no-one would wish to see him again…. Michael Caine got his stage name from a movie—The Caine Mutiny was playing across the road from the phone box in which he was standing listening to his agent say that Equity needed a new name—and he repaid the favor by making as many of them as possible, an average of three a year during the 1970s. He says this was driven by a poor boy’s desire to become rich. He said of Jaws: The Revenge: ‘I have never seen the film, but by all accounts it was terrible. However I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.'”
Anglophenia is spending the entire week celebrating Caine’s 80th, and today, Leah Rozen picks out “five definitive Caine performances” that “define different periods or phases of Caine’s career” and posts clips from each. Frankly, though, I’d head straight to John Haydon‘s annotated list of ten for the Washington Times. Topping it is Zulu (1964), followed, in order, by Educating Rita (1983), Get Carter (1971, “one of his most violent roles”), The Italian Job (1969, “a cult classic and was named the 27th greatest British film of all time by Total Film magazine in November 2004″), The Eagle Has Landed (1976), Sleuth (1972, “Both Mr. Caine and [Laurence] Olivier earned Oscar nominations”), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), The Ipcress File (1965, “Caine’s Palmer is the antithesis of James Bond”), Alfie (1966), and Noises Off (1992).
Some of us never tire of looking at photos of Michael Caine. Life‘s just posted a series of previously unpublished photos from 1966, and Time‘s got 29 from various years. And if you’re in the British capital, the Museum of London‘s featuring “never-before-exhibited photographs, iconic portraits by David Bailey and Terry O’Neill” as well as a snappy quote: “I’m every bourgeois nightmare—a Cockney with intelligence and a million dollars.”