5 Michael Caine Mini Retro Reviews

 

Remembering Some Retro Reels from Caine from the Seventies and Eighties…

 

Over many, many years in show business Michael Caine has starred with four men who played Bond… Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and Woody Allen. These movies are not them.

 

 

 

Since I was a wee girl, Michael Caine always been there like an avuncular figure to me – not a zany kind of uncle like Bill Nighy – but one I can always depend on being there and giving a solid performance or support. This to his acting contemporaries or those newer to the profession in just over 60 years of films and TV. These are just a handful of Caine’s performances that I grew up with..

Comedies, drama, murder mystery, thriller, romance, disaster movies and spy films he’s done them all. And regulars to this blog know I’ve reviewed more than a few of them…

 

The Black Windmill (1974)

The Black Windmill Trailer 1974, Video Detective, http://www.youtube.com

Everyone (or maybe just me) remembers their first introduction to Michael Caine and The Black Windmill  was mine. Although since then I’ve read the book of the film – as it was the film of the book –  Seven Days to a Killing (title in wee font, film title in big groovy font). I basically had the choice of reading this or a Maeve Binchy book on a wee holiday break. This won easily, as was a book blast from the film past I wanted to relive in my head. It also had a natty picture of Caine on the cover (and surprisingly not a windmill. In silhouette.)  I sadly haven’t seen the film since my first viewing way back in the eighties. So completely forgot that Donald Pleasence and Joss Ackland were in it. And even more surprising this the second of three films from the seventies that he starred in with Pleasance. The others being The Eagle Has Landed (1976) and Kidnapped (1971) .

Tells of a British Intelligence officer, John Tarrant (Caine) whose young son gets kidnapped and Tarrant doesn’t know if he can even trust his MI6 workmates. Especially as the ransom is half a million pounds in uncut diamonds, which “coincidently” is how MI6 is funding his latest operation. Can he really trust his British Intelligence colleagues? And can they trust him, with his boss, Harper (Pleasence) convinced Tarrant is behind the kidnapping? And what have the windmills to do with the plot?  Is that a hovercraft? Did anyone care? Surprisingly, this film was reported to be a flop despite it being directed by Don Siegel of Dirty Harry (1971) fame. Despite having Caine in it. And Pleasence. And it’s not even a guilty pleasure for me (or as far as I know bought Caine a house). Anyway the scene with his character’s son’s bicycle lying on the ground after the kidnapping with the wheels turning still haunts me. As does the theme, despite their cool credits.

 

Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979)

Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979) Official Trailer #1 – Michael Caine Movie, Movieclips Trailer Vault, www.youtube.com
Another of those Christmas Day and Bank Holiday Irwin Allen disaster films of way back then, that literally sank without trace at the Box Office. With not even an Oscar nomination. Beyond the Poseidon Adventure had an all-star cast like it’s 1972 prequel. The cast headed by an emotional – but sometimes shouting –  goood guy salvage worker in Michael Caine. After Allen’s favourites for the role Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood turned it down. And so did John Wayne, when he saw the script. Caine’s supporting cast including bad guy Telly Savalas , random Von Trapp kid Angela Cartwright and British disaster movie , Juggernaut (1974) survivor Shirley Knight. And also stars Caine’s later co-stars in Surrender (1987) Sally Field and Peter Boyle in this Allen vehicle.
In this we return to the upturned Poseidon boat from the original movie. And the good guy salvage workers looking for the boat’s stashed gold coins and gemstones and the bad guys for the stash of plutonium. With enough Plutonium aboard to keep Doc Brown happy in Back to the Future (1985). With a plot including explosions, lots of shooting and doomed passengers needing saved. With even more twists and turns in the plot with some of the passengers, crew and salvage workers not who they seem to be. But despite all this comedy drama, there’s still a touch of romance.

Sweet Liberty (1986)

Sweet Liberty Trailer 1986, Video Detective, www.youtube.com

Another one from the Eighties, this satirical comedy was written, directed and starring Alan Alda. Also with an all-star eighties cast including Lois Chiles, Michelle Pfeiffer, Bob Hoskins and Lilian Gish. It tells of a professor of history, Michael Burgess who writes a well researched novel about the The American Revolution. He sells the film rights only to see it turned into a Hollywood bonkbuster production. And nothing like his original book and its history much to his obvious annoyance. His home town is taken over for the filming with Caine playing a womaniser of a leading man, Elliott James and his leading lady Faith (Pfeiffer). This then leading to romantic complications of all sorts for the cast… and also behind the scenes Burgess has troubles with his elderly mother, the leading lady and his girlfriend.

 

Educating Rita (1983)

“Educando a Rita” (educating rita) 1983 trailer VO, decine21, http://www.youtube.com

One of my favourite Willy Russell plays came to the big screen with Caine and Julie Walters in this almost My Fair Lady  (1964) adaptation. Caine stars a jaded, university professor Frank (Caine) with a drink and relationship problems. He is assigned to work with Rita (Walters), a working class Liverpudlian hairdresser who wants to improve herself by studying literature. What follows is a lovely platonic relationship between the two, where she feels more distant from her friends and partner who discourages her wanting to have a baby instead. However in contrast Frank, through his belief in Rita and giving her the confidence she sorely needs, supports and encourages her in her university course. In turn Rita encourages him in returning to his poetry writing and she reignites his liking for literature. And gives him a decent haircut from that famous 80s mop.

There are some wonderfully fun comic moments and support from Maureen Lipman and Michael Williams. And Caine and Walters have a great fun and supportive chemistry too in this British comedy, Walters’ debut. Both the leads won Golden Globes and Oscar Best Actress and Actor nominations. However, it all could have been so different, it was interesting to learn that this could have had a believable American cast too, with Paul Newman and Dolly Parton as the leads.

Water (1985)

Water – Trailer, Umbrella Entertainment, http://www.youtube.com

Set on the Caribbean Island of Cascara, a (fictional) British colony complete with flag, salute and governor. It tells how the island lives a quiet and peaceful existence until an oil rig strikes sparkling water with a laxative effect. And then everyone who’s anyone takes an interest in the island including the Cascara Liberation Front, Downing Street and the French, Cubans and Americans. With Michael Caine starring here as the Island Governor – complete with plumed hat – whose previously quiet life is thrown into chaos with Brenda Vaccaro, as his embarrassment of a wife. Both are supported by a who’s who of British comedy including Leonard Rossiter (as a British minister) , Fulton McKay (as a constantly drunk reverend) and Billy Connolly (as the constantly singing member of the island’s liberation front).

Both Connolly and the film’s writer Dick Clement praise Caine in his support and for his performance in this movie respectively. This also was a parody, as a tongue in cheek satirical reference to the then invasion of the Falkland Islands. And it even has a cameo from Margaret Thatcher, with Maureen Lipman, Michael’s co-star in Educating Rita making an appearance as the then Prime Minister. It really is a treat, and one on the to review pile.

And these are just a few of the many, many Michael Caine films I’ve seen back then and there are many, many more.. in a fact you don’t have to be a Sleuth (1972) to find The Swarm (1978) of his movies, but Victory  (1981) will be yours if you add Michael Caine to my search engine… where you’ll hit the Bullseye (1990) and find my reviews giving Michael Caine a Hand (1981) in posts from Blame it on Rio (1984) to X, Y and Zee (1972). So Surrender (1987) to your Caine guilty pleasures, and watch and learn how he’s Dressed to Kill  thrill in more than one performance.

 

The Marvellous Michael Caine Blogathon, From Alfie to Zulu, 2018.

This post was added to my 2018 blogathon celebrating the work of Michael Caine. Other reviews with this cast include Michael Caine in Surrender (1987), The Hand (1980),  The Swarm (1978),  Dressed to Kill (1980),   Bullseye    (1990),  Interstellar (2014), X,Y and Zee (1972), The Eagle Has Landed (1986), Blame it on Rio (1984), Victory (1981) and The Prestige (2006).

Donald Pleasence starred in The Eagle Has Landed and Halloween (1978). Other reviews here include Telly Savalas in The Cartier Affair  (1984) Von Trapp kid Angela Cartwright in The Sound of Music (1965) and Shirley Knight in As Good as it Gets (1987). Sally Field and Peter Boyle star in Surrender  with Caine, and Boyle stars in Outland (1981).  Michelle Pfeiffer stars in Into the Night, Grease 2 and The Witches of Eastwick. Lois Chiles in Dallas and Bob Hoskins in Mermaids.  Julie Walters stars in One Chance and Mamma Mia and Mamma Mia 2. Billy Connolly stars in Columbo and Brenda Vaccaro in Airport 77.

 

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2 thoughts on “5 Michael Caine Mini Retro Reviews

  1. So many Michael Caine movies, so little time! The only one that I’ve seen from this list is Educating Rita, which I really need to watch again. I don’t remember too much about it, except that I liked it well enough. Anyway, fun post!

    Liked by 1 person

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