Caine’s next film was a marked change of style but no less iconic. As womanising, misogynist and charmer Alfie, Caine would break the fourth wall with constant addresses to the audience. What he did though was take an inherently flawed character with some deplorable character traits and make him not only oddly endearing, but someone we slowly begin to feel a level of sympathy with as we discover he’s incapable of living responsibly or finding love. Despite going from woman to woman, he lives an ultimately sad and lonely existence. It’s a role requiring layering, and this is something Caine has always been particularly adept at. He’s got an ability to play charming characters who have an underlying sadness.
The music in Alfie is great with Sonny Rollins score but in particular the iconic, classic soundtrack feature song written by Burt Bacharach and performed by Cilla Black (Cher performs the US version, but Cilla’s is the superior version). It’s a beautiful track which has a beautiful tinge of melancholy (particularly felt in Black’s vocal).
The film being shot and set in the 60’s really compliments the story and central character. The more recent modern update with Jude Law, for a variety of reasons did not work, but the time and place was a big reason for that. Additionally, that kind of likeable rogue character is something very difficult to pull off. Caine is a master at doing just that. Jude Law on the other hand just came off as arrogant and sleazy.
The next major iconic role, with its own distinct and clear soundtrack would be in The Italian Job. Caine as Charlie Croker, a career criminal tasked with pulling off a daring daytime gold heist in the middle of Turin is effortlessly charming again. The Italian Job is a part of British pop culture. It’s lovingly looked upon as a piece of classic British cinema that encapsulates British spirit. The film with its memorable theme tune and iconic images of Mini-Coopers tearing around the streets and Mountain roads of Turin are unmistakable.
Caine again manages to helm the film and effortlessly command the screen. Again, a great mix of flaw, charisma and cool and a toughness. The score and soundtrack are constantly engaging and always infectious from legendary music icon, Quincy Jones. It’s an unmistakable element of the film that you cannot help but think fondly of as a fan of the film. It’s an essential layer.
As cinema was getting progressively tougher coming into the 70’s, Caine jumped aboard a dark and gritty thriller. Get Carter. Everything mentioned here is essential British cinema, but Carter for me is the standout. For Caine, he had become an effective cinema tough guy. He was tall. He seemed tough. He didn’t become as associated with hard men as other actors certainly, and could shift his roles around nicely, but as a tough guy, back in the day, he was always effective, and Get Carter cemented him as such.
Get Carter is a dark, brooding thriller which sees Caine head up to the North of England to investigate the death of his brother. Carter is a character who is un-salvageable. He will cross lines. He’s a classic anti-hero. From his opening encounters during his investigation we know how he plays the game, and he’s persistent. Right up until the moment his character ends up meeting his demise to bring the film to moral equilibrium, Caine excels in portraying a character of such stoic, cool demeanour with savage ferocity simmering below the surface.
With stunning photography and a dusty, grimy, dishevelled setting which is a world away from the bustle and glamour of early 70’s London, Get Carter is a fantastic looking piece of cinema. Then atop everything, from the opening montage of Caine travelling from South, up to North by train, Roy Budd’s iconic score and Carter theme kick in. The music is great and that central, almost jazzy score seems to perfectly fit the film, even with its dark, gritty tone. And again…fans of Get Carter will struggle to think of the film without thinking of that exquisite score.
That concludes the essential, career defining period in Caine’s career, where classic films gave birth to iconic characters and additionally, each film has also become synonymous with its iconic, identifiable music.
Tom Jolliffe is an award winning screenwriter and passionate cinephile. He has three features due out on DVD/VOD in 2019 and a number of shorts hitting festivals. Find more info at the best personal site you’ll ever see…https://www.instagram.com/jolliffeproductions/