Quick Review: Alfie (1966, Lewis Gilbert)

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RATING: 7/10

Director: Lewis Gilbert
Cast: Michael Caine, Shelley Winters, Julia Foster, Vivien Merchant, Jane Asher
Screenplay: Baill Naughton (based on his play “Alfie”)

Synopsis: Alfie (Michael Caine) is a young English playboy who plays the rounds in London. But when the women of his life face challenges that affect them ultimately, Alfie is along for the ride as he narrates a few years of his colourful life as tips on “how to pick up, birds”. 

Quick Thoughts:

1. Stylistically, “Alfie” is superb. Everything from the cinematography to the music is well crafted and adds a lot to the pacing of the movie. I would say that it is before its time not only because of it’s photography and score, but the use of flashback, slow motion and fast cuts make it interesting and gives it a “new-like” feeling. 

2. Michael Caine is superb. I actually saw the 2004 Jude Law “Alfie” way before this and he, though Mr. Law is quite a good actor himself, can run circles around the modern day Alfie. Caine gives Alfie enough character and layer that we don’t get bored by watching the womanizing adventures of just one man for nearly two hours. His final breakdown scene was believable and not over done. He was perfect for this role. He was swift, exciting and exuberant. Quite an Oscar nominated worthy performance. 

3. Though Vivien Merchant’s torn wife was the performance that garnered the Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, we must not forget that “Alfie” is full of wonderful supporting female performances. Shelley Winters, Julia Foster and Jane Asher did just as equally great in their limited screen time. “Alfie” the movie wouldn’t work without the women, and casting here was great. 

4. As a Best Picture nominee. I’m not so sure. It was a cute movie and all but I felt like it was lacking something. I see why this is a true classic but a Best Picture nomination may have been a little bit over done. It didn’t have the “zing!” most Best Picture nominees have so it certainly doesn’t have the gold that the winners definitely have. However, it was a great film nonetheless. 

5. The title song is bewitching and is purely perfect. One thing I really like about “Alfie” is the use of music. It made the movie more upbeat for what it really is. 

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