The mod suits, the Sonny Rollins score, the sights and sounds of Swinging London... These fashions and fittings may root Alfie in its time (1966 to be precise), but its story and themes are bang up to date.
A year after he came to fame as Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File, Michael Caine received his first Oscar nomination playing the Cockney Lothario who flits from woman to woman. And although, like any reckless young shagmeister, he ends up getting two of his “birds” pregnant, it’s against his principles to settle down and raise a kid.
“Once I met the husband and, blimey, it didn’t half put me off the wife,” Alfie jokes, setting himself up as an icon for lads then and now. But even as this sexist alley-cat strut pushes us away, Caine’s personal charisma reels us back in with a series of disarmingly open straight-to-camera monologues.
Only a couple of lead roles into his career, Caine was already giving a masterclass in screen acting. With hooded eyes locked right into the audience’s gaze, he reveals little cracks of vulnerability in the character’s cocky veneer. Alfie shelters behind a verbal wall of self-deceit, his fear of commitment as relevant now as it ever was.