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Michael Caine

On Saturday afternoons for non-sport lovers BBC2 broadcasts an interview with a famous film star – normally with Michael Parkinson – followed by a film showcasing the star.

Saturday it was the turn of Michael Caine and The Ipcress File. The first interview with Parkinson was in 1973 and Michael Caine wore those bold framed glasses which are his trademark. It was worth watching to see how much male fashion in clothes has changed so much in 45 years.

Michael Caine had a highly successful run in films from mid to the early seventies; Zulu, Alfie, The Italian Job andGet Carter were all popular and critical successes.

He never replicated that run though performed well in Sleuth, Educating Rita and The Quiet American.

In an era of northern stars like Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay, Terence Stamp and Michael Caine flew the flag for the south. He was a reliable actor but not a great one.

The Ipcress File has dated. Bond films have worn better.

The plot was hard to follow but I always enjoy Nigel Green, one of the most underrated actors of that time and best remembered as Colour Sergeant Bourne in Zulu. It’s main interest for me was to see a London now scsrcely recognisable of parking meters with yellow expiry on them and a world of no mobiles, internet or indeeed any form of computer.

In his first interview with Parkinson Caine assured us he would never emigrate , in a subsequent one he had gone to Los Angeles and in a third was back. This might explain why he was never as popular as say David Niven who also spent much of his life abroad. When Niven returned he was greeted by a bevy of porters at Heathrow who later provided the biggest floral Rribute at his funeral to  “ the greatest gentleman they ever knew”. It’s that sort of connection that Michael Caine never quite achieved.

About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts