one of only two film stars nominated for an acting Oscar in every decade from the 1960s to the 2000s. And on 14 March 2013 he celebrates his 80th birthday. Sir Michael Caine we salute you!
In honour of Caine’s record-breaking career, and his signature, laconic style – beloved by impersonators, especially in his native UK – here’s our guide to the best movies he’s starred in:
The Italian Job, 1969. Under cover of their country playing a world-cup football match in Turin, English gangsters set out to nick a consignment of gold bullion from the same traffic-packed city. Caine’s great as he struggles to keep his comical accomplices in check, especially behind the wheel of one of the film’s iconic small cars in a fantastic chase scene.
Get Carter, 1971. In this gritty thriller, Caine is Jack Carter, a London gangster seeking the truth about his brother’s death. His quest takes him north to Newcastle where he meets a stony wall of silence and takes matters into his own violent hands. Caine’s performance is both brilliant and bleak – like the soulless, modernist cityscapes that backdrop the action.
Hannah and Her Sisters, 1986. Caine scooped the Oscar for best supporting actor in this comedy drama. He plays Elliot who has an affair with his matriarchal wife’s sister, setting off a series of a series of emotional landslides that threaten to engulf the whole family. Brimming with laughter, tears and subtle beauty; and arguably director Woody Allen’s best film.
The Cider House Rules, 1999. With the tagline, ‘A story about how far we must travel to find the place where we belong’, this intelligent, character-driven drama has Caine as a charismatic, drug-addicted doctor in charge of an orphanage from which a young inmate, played by Tobey Maguire, ventures out into the world. It landed Caine his second Oscar for best supporting actor.
Batman Begins, 2005. Caine impresses as Alfred, the super-hero’s ever-reliable butler and confidante. Director Christopher Nolan creates a much darker scenario than earlier Batman movies, with man-behind-the-mask Christian Bale particularly doom-laden. Caine provides just enough light relief to keep the movie in flight.
Born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in London’s unfashionable Rotherhithe district, Michael Caine has indeed come a long way. Knighted in 2000 for his contribution to cinema, still making films today, and now 80 years old. As one of the star’s own cockney characters might say on such a red-letter occasion – ‘Cheers!’