|Purchase: Amazon | Chapters|
Length: 592 pages
Start Date: Summer 2009
Finished Date: Summer 2009
Where Found: Public library
Why Read: Michael Caine is such a sharply intelligent actor that I was curious how he wrote.
Summary: A witty, reflective, and humble memoir from his poor childhood in London, his stint in the British Army, his work in Zulu, The Ipcress File, Alfie, Sleuth, The Man Who Would Be King, Dressed to Kill, Educating Rita, the Oscar-winning Hannah and Her Sisters, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and up to A Muppet Christmas Carol.
I recently saw the fantastic & absorbing film Inception in which Sir Michael Caine has a small but important part and this brought me back to 2 1/2 years ago when I read his autobiography named for the title song of his early hit Alfie.
Caine is both an entertaining & insightful writer, shining light on his life and career through small moments & interactions with costars, directors, family and friends, which I will briefly speculate on here. He tells fascinating stories about his childhood in southeastern London where his father worked in a fish market and he would answer the door for bill collectors, pretending that his mother wasn't home. He joined the British Royal Army where he was stationed in Germany during the Korean War, retaining memories of many memorable encounters.
As for his acting career, it was The Caine Mutiny that provided inspiration for his stage name. After many small TV and theatre roles, he made his big break in British films Zulu, The Ipcress File, Alfie, and The Italian Job, all of which propelled him to fame and made a smooth transtition to Hollywood to star in The Man Who Would Be King, Educating Rita, the Oscar-winning Hannah and Her Sisters, the fascinating Hitchcock-esque character in Dressed to Kill, and the hilarious Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, holding his own against goofball Steve Martin. The last referenced film in this book is the delightful A Muppet Christmas Carol in which Caine played Scrooge. This was a good sense of timing in ending the book as the 1990s were much more relaxed until his career took off again with his second Oscar win in 1999 for The Cider House Rules. The last decade have been incredible for Caine, who has worked almost nonstop since. His follow-up memoir, The Elephant to Hollywood, supposedly picks up from where this first memoir left off up to the present, covering lots of great movies. I’m definitely going to read that!
Even if you are just vaguely familiar with Michael Caine, you will find his rags to riches story intriguing and sharply written. As for those who consider themselves fans, this is a must-read.
Rank: (A)- Excellent, Recommend