The great British actor, star of films such as “Ipcress” by Sidney J. Furie, “Unsuspected” by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, “The man who would be king” by John Huston, “Hannah and her sisters” by Woody Allen, “The Cider House Rules” by Lasse Hallström, “The Quiet American” by Philip Noyce, The Prestige” by Christopher Nolan and many others, turns ninety.
Born in London in 1933, Maurice Joseph Mickelwhite – better known by his stage name Michael Caine – after abandoning his studies, from 1952 to 1954 he served as a rifleman in the Royal Fusiliers during the Korean war.
He later attended the course in dramatic art at the Clubland recreational club and carried out the most disparate trades – messenger boy, clerk at the London markets, played in small parts in a small theater in Sussex and at the Workshop Theater in London – before arriving at the film debut in a supporting role in The Fusiliers of the China Seas (1956) by J. Amyes.
After other minor parts – How to kill a rich uncle (1957) by Nigel Patrick, The key (1958) by Carol Reed, School of spies (1958) by Lewis Gilbert with Paul Scofield and Virginia McKenna,, The two faces of General Shadow (1958) by André De Toth, Foxhole in Cairo (1960) by John Llewellyn Moxey, …and the Earth caught fire (1961) by Val Guest, , The wrong arm of the law (1963) by Cliff Owen and his first film of some importance Zulu (1964) by Cy Endfield, the producer H. Saltzman entrusts him with the lead role in ipcress (1965) by Sidney J. Furie, in which he gives life to the figure of the shady, taciturn and phlegmatic secret agent Harry Palmer, a sort of antithesis of the contemporary James Bond (played by Sean Connery at the time).
A similar anti-heroic atmosphere is also found in the following Funeral in Berlin (1966) by Guy Hamilton and, albeit more nuanced, in The Billion Dollar Brain (1967) by Ken Russell, with Karl Malden. After interpreting Alfie (1967) by Lewis Gilbert, with Shelley Winters, appears as the protagonist in numerous films, often providing high level performances – The unsuspected (1972) by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (at his last director), with Laurence Olivier or The man who wanted to be king (1975) by John Huston, with Sean Connery and Christopher Plummer.
With California Suite (1978) by Herbert Ross, with Walther Matthau, Maggie Smith and Jane Fonda, his vein seems to turn towards comedy, as happens in Hannah and her sisters (1986) by Woody Allen, with which he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, Two children of… (1988) by F. Oz, Without clue (1988) by Thom Eberhardt, in which he plays Sherlock Holmes. However, he doesn’t stop working in strong dramatic roles, as in Dressed to kill (1980) by Brian De Palma, with Angie Dickinson, or in Blood and Wine (1997) by Bob Rafelson, with Jack Nicholson and Jennifer Lopez.
In 2000 he won a second Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for The cider house rules by Lasse Hallström, with Charlize Theron and three years later interprets The Quiet American (2002) by Philip Noyce, based on the book of the same name by Graham Greene.
After seventy he continues his career with The Weather Man – The forecast man (2005) by G. Verbinski, The Prestige (2006) by Christopher Nolan, with Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson and Hugh Jackman, The children of men (2006) by A. Cuaron, with Julianne Moore, e Sleuth – The unsuspected (2007) by Kenneth Branagh, remake of the aforementioned 1972 film and in which he plays the role that thirty-five years earlier had been Laurence Olivier. In the three episodes of the Batman series directed by Christopher Nolan – (Batman Begins (2005) The dark Knight (2008) e The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – plays the role of the faithful butler Alfred.
Among the other films we mention Gambit – Grand theft at Semiramis (1966) by Ronald Neame, with Shirley McLaine, The wrong box (1966) by Bryan Forbes, English noir based on the novel of the same name by RL Stevenson, And the night came (1967) by Otto Preminger, with Jane Fonda and Faye Dunaway, The long days of the eagles (1969) by Guy Hamilton, war film, with Laurence Olivier, Christopher Plummer, Trevor Howard, An Italian shot (1969) by Peter Collinson, with Raf Vallone, The inglorious seven (1969) by André De Toth, It’s no longer time for heroes (1970) by Robert Aldrich, with Henry Fonda, They strike mercilessly (1972) by Mike Hodges, The Drabble case (1974) by Don Siegel, Marseille contract (1974) by Robert Parrish, with Anthony Quinn and James Mason, The seed of hate (1975) by Ralph Nelson, with Sidney Poitier, A romantic Englishwoman (1975) by Joseph Losey, with Glenda Jackson, The night of the eagle (1977) by John Sturges, with Donald Sutherland and Robert Duvall, That last bridge (1977) by Richard Attenborough, with a large cast of leading actors including Dirk Bogarde, James Caan, Sean Connery, Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins, Ashanti (1979) by Richard Fleischer, with Peter Ustinov and Omar Sharif, Escape to victory (1981) by John Huston, with Max von Sydow, Sylvester Stallone and Pele, Death trap (1982) by Sidney Lumet, The honorary consul (1983) by John MacKenzie, with Richard Gere, based on the novel of the same name by Graham Greene, Sweet Liberty – Sweet independence (1986) by Alan Alda, Fourth protocol (1987) by John MacKenzie, based on the book of the same name by Friedrich Forsythe, Mr Destiny (1990) by James Orr, Noises off stage (1992) by Peter Bogdanovich, Blue ice (1992) by Russell Mulcahy, Intrigue in St. Petersburg (1996) by Douglas Jackson, Quills – The Pen of Scandal (2000) by Philip Kaufman, with Geoffrey Rush and Kate Winslet, Miss Detective (2000) by Donald Petrie, with Sandra Bullock, The last glass (2001) by Fred Schepisi, Quicksand – Accused of murder (2003) by J. MacKenzie, The Statement – The sentence (2003) by Norman Jewison, Behind the corner (2004) by Jordan Roberts, Witch life (2005) by Nora Ephron, Is Anybody There? (2009) by John Crowley, Inception (2010) by Christopher Nolan, Journey to the mysterious island (2012) by Brad Peyton, Now You See Me – Wizards of Crime (2013) by Louis Leterrier, Interstellar (2014) by Christopher Nolan-
Still active in old age, in more recent times it has appeared in Youth – Youth (2015) by Paolo Sorrentino, Now You See Me 2 (2016) by John M. Chu, Unsuspecting suspects (2017) by Zach Braff, Dear Dictator (2018) by Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse, King of Thieves (2018) by James Marsh, Alice and Peter (2020) by Brenda Chapman, keeper (2020) by Christopher Nolan, The latest book ( 2021) by Lina Roessler, Twist (2021) by Martin Owen, Medieval (2022) by Petr Jákl.
Michael Caine is also the author of the book Acting in front of the cameraexcellent acting manual published in Italy by Dino Audino Editore.
Eclectic actor, skilled in using the most different acting registers, together with Paul Newman and Jack Nicholson he is the only actor in the history of cinema to have obtained Oscar nominations for films made in five decades.