Siobhan Kennedy-Clarke’s classic film reviews
Our fictitious reviewer Siobhan (KayCee) didn't have much of an education but she's passionate about films
When Michael Caine was young he was considered quite good looking and for a while in the 60s he was probably the biggest British star there was if you don’t count Sean Connery who only did James Bond. Michael did things like Zulu and The Ipcress File but his big success that made him a heartthrob was Alfie.
If you watch this now it is extremely un-PC. The way he talks to women and treats them and the fact that he’s got umpteen on the go at the same time it just isn’t done these days but you’ve got to realize things were different in those days and anyways not every man was like him in fact very few because it’s a film not real life.
Alfie is a jack-the-lad in London this was 1966 but it was kind of old fashioned even in its day The Beatles were past the clean-cut stage and the suits but Alfie and his mates are still looking like that and the music when he goes to a gig in a pub its not rock or even pop but jazz I suppose it took people a while to follow fashions.
So Alfie is what’s known as a ne’er-do-well funny expression it means he will never do well I think because all he’s interested in is pulling women he ain’t got a proper job but does a bit of chauffeuring and hangs around with his mate taking pictures of tourists with no film in the camera and gets them to pay in advance for nothing.
Not the sort of guy you’d take home to meet the family he’d probably seduce your Mum while you was making a cup of tea mine would of gone for it I’m sure. He’s got this quiet little “bird” as he calls them Gilda whose a soppy old thing and wants to have a proper home life with him even though she knows it will never happen and this bus conductor whose a real nice guy wants to give her that but he ain’t sexy like Alfie. “She’s a standby and she knows it and you can be very happy if you know your place,” Alfie says maybe not those exact words
And he’s got this nice woman with a bit of life to her Millicent Martin big TV star at the time she’s married and Alfie tells you all about her and her husband in the voiceovers they use she’s called Siddie. He meets her once a week or something but right at the start of the film she’s starting to think she owns part of him and a bloke like him can’t have that so she’s on her way out.
Funny thing about Alfie is that he’s very particular about things he don’t like lipstick on his collar and he likes things neat and tidy but what he really likes is to get his own way.
One day at a transport café he meets this Annie (Jane Asher Paul McCartney’s girlfriend at the time) whose running away from her life up north and she’s hitched a lift with a lorry driver friend of Alfie’s but Alfie tricks him and takes Annie to his place. And all she does is scrub the floor and cook him meals she makes hotpot which is like a stew and he says it makes him bloated she just keeps busy all the time trying to forget some bloke back home.
So that’s plenty of birds to be going on with you might think but one day when he’s out doing the photographing scam he meets this big blonde Ruby (Shelley Winters) whose got money so he helps himself to some of her too.
To give the film a kind of serious point there was a lot of tuberculosis around at the time and he’s got it and gets sent to a I don’t know hospital or nursing home in the country to recuperate which means recover or get better I looked it up. Alfie gets released quite quick but goes back to visit this other patient Harry and meets Harry’s wife Lily (Vivien Merchant) who is no oil painting and a bit kind of chunky if you ask me but that don’t matter to Alfie a bird’s a bird and he is driving this Rolls Royce cos I told you he was a chauffeur so he gives her a lift back to London but they stop on the way for some refreshments and he has it off with her down by the river.
Around this point in the film the chickens start coming home to roost. Gilda’s pregnant and wants to keep the child so she does and she and little Malcolm get together with the bus conductor which makes Alfie feel something for a change he’s a bit jealous.
After their little fling by the river Lily is pregnant too (that was a common thing in films then because birth control wasn’t so good no pill or nothing just rubber johnnies they didn’t call them condoms then). Obviously Lily can’t keep the baby cos she’s married so Alfie arranges for an abortionist to come and that’s pretty horrible.
There’s this big punch-up at the pub gig because the lorry driver he nicked Annie from knows about it and in the end Alfie’s decided the most important thing in life is your health (but probably because in hospitals they have nurses and nurses are birds usually certainly in them days).
So as you can see it’s not the sort of thing you’d get away with nowadays but it’s good fun very entertaining quite funny. Whatever you do watch this version don’t go for the Jude Law remake it just ain’t the same no good at all. This one’s a kerrrlassic.