Alfie (1966 film)
original movie poster
|Directed by||Lewis Gilbert|
|Produced by||Lewis Gilbert|
|Written by||Bill Naughton|
|Music by||Sonny Rollins|
|Editing by||Thelma Connell|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release dates||March 1966 (UK release)|
|Running time||114 min|
Alfie is a 1966 British film directed by Lewis Gilbert, starring Michael Caine. It is an adaptation by Bill Naughton of his own novel and play of the same name. The film was released by Paramount Pictures.
Alfie tells the story of a womanising young man (Caine) who leads a self-centered life, purely for his own enjoyment, until events force him to question his uncaring behaviour and his aloneness. He cheats on numerous women, and despite his charm towards women, he treats them with disrespect and refers to them as "it", using them for sex and for domestic purposes. Alfie frequently breaks the fourth wall by speaking directly to the camera narrating and justifying his actions. His words often contrast with or totally contradict his actions.
The film begins with Alfie Elkins (Caine) ending a relationship with a married woman, Siddie (Millicent Martin), and getting the woman from another of his affairs, Gilda (Julia Foster), pregnant. The film then follows his life for a few years, documenting events that lead to the character's emotional growth, starting with the birth of his son.
Alfie has a health check in case of hereditary diseases, but his inability to commit to the child's mother leads to her marrying a bus conductor (Graham Stark). The health check reveals Alfie has tubercular shadows on his lungs, and this, combined with being banned from seeing his son, leads him to have a brief mental breakdown.
Alfie then spends time in a convalescent home, where he meets Harry (Alfie Bass), who confronts him about his delusion that he is doing no harm, and Harry's wife (Vivien Merchant), whom he gets pregnant in a one-night stand. Later on in the film, the ensuing abortion is a turning point for the character, and the only time other than his passing out/breakdown where he exhibits real emotion—breaking down in tears at the sight of the aborted foetus.
In the meantime, he meets Ruby (Shelley Winters), who is an older, voluptuous, affluent and promiscuous American, while freelancing taking holiday photos of tourists near the Tower of London. Later, as a car-hire chauffeur, he picks up a young hitchhiker, Annie (Jane Asher) from Sheffield, looking to make a fresh start in London, who moves in with him. She proves preoccupied with a love left behind, scrubbing Alfie's floor, doing his laundry, and preparing his meals to compensate. He grows resentful of the relationship and drives her out with an angry outburst, later regretting it.
Near the film's close, Alfie decides to change his non-committal ways and settle down, albeit with the rich Ruby. The day he chooses to suggest this to her, he finds a younger man in her bed, leaving him on his own and disheartened at the film's end and wondering “What's it all about? You know what I mean”.
The film is unusual in that it has no opening credits and the end credits feature photos of the principal actors, as well as of the main technical crew, including director Lewis Gilbert and cameraman Otto Heller. It was filmed at Twickenham Studios with scenes shot at several locations in London; including Waterloo Bridge which is seen at the beginning and end of the film where the title character walks into the distance accompanied by a stray dog and Tower Bridge which is the backdrop for the photography scene with Shelley Winters.
The original British film soundtrack featured jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins with local musicians from London including Stan Tracey on piano, who improvised "Little Malcolm Loves His Dad" (although never credited), Rick Laird on bass, Phil Seaman on drums, Ronnie Scott on tenor sax. The released soundtrack album, recorded back in the States with orchestration by Oliver Nelson, featured Rollins, but with other musicians. The title song, "Alfie", was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and was a hit for Cilla Black (who is believed to have sung on the original British soundtrack), Cher, Madeline Eastman, and Dionne Warwick. Numerous jazz musicians have covered it and it has become a jazz standard.
Awards and recognition
The film won the Special Jury Prize at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival. It was also nominated for several Academy Awards including Best Actor in a Leading Role (Michael Caine), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Vivien Merchant), Best Song (Burt Bacharach and Hal David for "Alfie") (a UK hit record for Cilla Black, but performed by Millicent Martin in the original UK release and Cher in the American print of the movie), Best Picture and Best Writing (Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium).
- Michael Caine as Alfred "Alfie" Elkins
- Shelley Winters as Ruby
- Millicent Martin as Siddie
- Julia Foster as Gilda
- Jane Asher as Annie
- Shirley Anne Field as Carla
- Vivien Merchant as Lily
- Eleanor Bron as The Doctor
- Denholm Elliott as The Abortionist
- Alfie Bass as Harry Clamacraft
- Graham Stark as Humphrey
- Murray Melvin as Nat
- Sydney Tafler as Frank
Sequel and remake
References in popular culture
- The LP, "Nino Tempo's Rock 'N Roll Beach Party" (1956 Liberty Records … LRP3023) can be seen hanging in Alfie's apartment in several key scenes.
- New York post-hardcore band Polar Bear Club references "Alfie Elkins '66" in their song "Drifting Thing" off their 2009 release Chasing Hamburg.
- The soundtrack to Austin Powers in Goldmember (in which Michael Caine appears) contains a song entitled "Alfie (What's it All About Austin)". This song is a cover of the title song of the movie, with all occurrences of "Alfie" replaced with "Austin".
- The film inspired The Divine Comedy's Becoming More Like Alfie, which samples its opening dialogue in its introduction.
- "Alfie, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
- Alfie at reelstreets. Retrieved 6 November 2013
- Neil Mitchell (11 May 2012). World Film Locations: London. Intellect. ISBN 184150484X.
- South Bank Movie Trail at filmlondon.org Waterloo Bridge at Film London South Bank Movie Trail. Retrieved 6 November 2013
- "Festival de Cannes: Alfie". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 7 March 2009.
- Norma Lee Browning, 'It's Time to Speculate on Nominees for Oscar', Chicago Tribune (1963–Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 10 February 1967: c17.
- "Ditto: Alfie". Retrieved 7 March 2009.
- Alfie at the Internet Movie Database
- Alfie at allmovie
- "Michael Caine's Russian Home" (in Russian language). caine-home.narod.ru. Retrieved 31 March 2008., Screenshots from the film
|Special Jury Prize, Cannes
No award 1967-8