Draw-droppingly misogynistic – whether she or it, still a bird claims the eponymous London Lothario, Alfie (Oscar-nominated Michael Caine – The Cider House Rules, The Italian Job) as he charms and swaggers his way through a series of casual encounters.

It’s the swinging London of the 1960s – and on release, director Lewis Gilbert’s (Moonraker, Educating Rita) character study of the cocksure Alfie Elkins was seen as on the mark, capturing the zeitgeist following the oppressive post-war years. Alfie was a bit of a lad up for a lark – his male entitlement facilitating the fathering of an illegitimate child with Julia Foster (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Half a Sixpence), becoming involved with a couple of older women – and any number in between. It’s confronting the backstreet illegal abortion of Vivien Merchant (Accident, The Homecoming) that brings some semblance of realisation to Alfie’s behaviour. His charismatic veneer slips. But it’s all too little too late.

Adapted by Bill Naughton (The Family Way, Spring & Port Wine) from his own stage play, whilst the female characters are well-developed (as the wealthy businesswoman, Shelley Winters – The Poseidon Adventure, The Dairy of Anne Frank – can more than match Alfie at his own game), this is Michael Caine’s show all the way. His asides to the audience direct to camera allow a justification that, in today’s environment, do not carry muster.

Nominated for five Oscars (Caine, Gilbert, Naughton, Merchant as well as best film).

Rating: 54%

2 thoughts on “‘Alfie’

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