Monday, June 20, 2011
Missing Michael Caine
See there's a funny thing and not a lot of people that, but when you are an exile from your homeland you start to get nostalgic about all sorts of obscure things and people, even folks you may have thought were a bit annoying when you were back at home.
So today when the conversation turned to celebs in compromising positions, I happened to mention a time when I had seen Paul Young the worse for wear in a nightclub. It wasn't a glamorous worse for wear thing because it was 10 years after Young ceased to be big and he was on one of those dinosaur '80s tours - the type of thing you sometimes see Tears for Fears and Billy Idol doing at Virginia Beach.
"You mean Paul Young - everything must change, Paul Young," said a colleague.
"The very same," I replied and for the rest of the day Paul Young songs were circling around my head.
Now tonight I am feeling nostaglic for Michael Caine, even though there were times when I thought he was a Thatcherite w****r back in Blighty.
Now Michael Caine is older than my dad and he's been in some lemons.
But in saying that I'd defy anyone to watch Alfie with Caine in and then watch the more recent version starring Jude Law, to say Law was better. Because Caine does cocky and charming, ruthless and polished much more effectely than Law.
In fact, Caine cut a blonde and chiselled presence through my childhood, not quite good looking enough to be perfect he epitomised Anglo Saxon England with his estuary tones, that bordered on the pitch of a second hand car salesman, before skitting off to a slightly higher place.
He was great in The Man who Would be King, masterful in Educating Rita and rediscovered his talent more recently in Little Voice.
But for Caine aficionados his performance in the 1971 film Get Carter was his finest moment. Get Carter was more cult than mainstream. Like the Wicker Man, it's the kind of movie that needs to be appreciated with the passage of time.
It's also unremittingly bleak, set in a Newcastle with bad brown floral wallpaper, that's without pity and redemption. There's only one way this movie can go and it's downhill to a place where coal trundles by the muddy sea. Extremes bring out the best in characters and Caine is no exception. Forget the stuck up English officer in Zulu, or some of the less memorable roles. Caine is chillingly badass in Get Carter. You can't watch Carter and go away without feeling someone has given you a good kicking behind a warehouse in the drizzle.
Distance makes me miss Caine all the more. I can't say the same about Phil Collins.