Film Review – THE ITALIAN JOB (1969)

THE ITALIAN JOB (UK, 1969) ***½
      Distributor: Paramount British Pictures; Production Company: Oakhurst Productions / Paramount Pictures Corporation; Release Date: 5 June 1969 (UK), 3 September 1969 (USA); Filming Dates: began 24 June 1968; Running Time: 99m; Colour: Eastmancolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: Peter Collinson; Writer: Troy Kennedy-Martin; Producer: Michael Deeley; Associate Producer: Robert Porter; Director of Photography: Douglas Slocombe; Music Composer: Quincy Jones; Film Editor: John Trumper; Casting Director: Paul Lee Lander; Production Designer: Disley Jones; Art Director: Michael Knight; Costumes: Dinah Greet (uncredited); Make-up: Freddie Williamson; Sound: John Aldred, Gerry Humphreys, Stephen Warwick; Special Effects: Pat Moore.
      Cast: Michael Caine (Charlie Croker), Noël Coward (Mr. Bridger), Benny Hill (Professor Simon Peach), Raf Vallone (Altabani), Tony Beckley (Freddie), Rossano Brazzi (Beckerman), Margaret Blye (Lorna), Irene Handl (Miss Peach), John Le Mesurier (Governor), Fred Emney (Birkinshaw), John Clive (Garage Manager), Graham Payn (Keats), Michael Standing (Arthur), Stanley Caine (Coco), Barry Cox (Chris), Harry Baird (Big William), George Innes (Bill Bailey), John Forgeham (Frank), Robert Powell (Yellow), Derek Ware (Rozzer).
      Synopsis: Comic caper movie about a plan to steal a gold shipment from the streets of Turin by creating a traffic jam.
      Comment: Visually stylish caper comedy that is typical of its time, mixing late-sixties excess and imagery with stunning locations and quirky performances. Caine and Coward are in good form, with the latter making for a memorable imprisoned crime lord who enjoys all the luxuries of life from his cell. Troy Kennedy Martin’s script appears to have been used lightly by director Collinson. The set pieces – notably the heist and the ironic finale – are the main selling points alongside Douglas Slocombe’s gorgeous photography and Quincy Jones’ witty score.
      Notes: Remade in 2003.

Film Review – THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL (1992)

Image result for the muppet christmas carolMuppet Christmas Carol, The (1992; USA/UK; Technicolor; 86m) **** d. Brian Henson; w. Jerry Juhl; ph. John Fenner; m. Miles Goodman.  Cast: The Muppets, Michael Caine, Steven Mackintosh, Meredith Braun, Robin Weaver, Donald Austen. The Muppet characters tell their version of the classic tale of an old and bitter miser’s redemption on Christmas Eve. Delightful adaptation with Caine excelling in role which requires him to act largely with puppet characters. Lovely script with gentle humour makes this a warm and heart-lifting seasonal movie. Based on the novel “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. [U]

Film Review – GET CARTER (1971)

Image result for get carter 1971 blu-rayGet Carter (1971; UK; Metrocolor; 112m) ***** d. Mike Hodges; w. Mike Hodges; ph. Wolfgang Suschitzky; m. Roy Budd.  Cast: Michael Caine, Ian Hendry, Britt Ekland, John Osborne, Tony Beckley, George Sewell, Geraldine Moffat, Dorothy White, Rosemarie Dunham, Alun Armstrong, Petra Markham, Bryan Mosley, Terence Rigby, Glynn Edwards, Bernard Hepton. When his brother dies under mysterious circumstances in a car accident, a London gangster travels to Newcastle to investigate. Quintessential British gangster movie with Caine’s iconic performance setting the bar for others to follow. Hodges directs with flair and Suschitzky’s photography evocatively captures the bleakness of the North-East landscape. Budd’s minimalist score adds to the menace. A genre classic. Based on the novel “Jack’s Return Home” by Ted Lewis. Remade as HIT MAN in 1972 and again in 2000. [18]

Film Review – THE IPCRESS FILE (1965)

Image result for the ipcress file 1965 blu-rayIpcress File, The (1965; UK; Technicolor; 109m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Sidney J. Furie; w. W.H. Canaway, James Doran; ph. Otto Heller; m. John Barry.  Cast: Michael Caine, Nigel Green, Guy Doleman, Sue Lloyd, Gordon Jackson, Aubrey Richards, Frank Gatliff, Thomas Baptiste, Oliver MacGreevy, Freda Bamford, Pauline Winter, Anthony Blackshaw, Barry Raymond, David Glover, Stanley Meadows. In London, a counter espionage agent deals with his own bureaucracy while investigating the kidnapping and brainwashing of British scientists. First-rate and gritty spy thriller with a typically complex plot. Caine’s hero is the antithesis of James Bond, with his ordinary lifestyle and lack of glamour. Brainwashing sequence in the final act is effectively shot and acted. John Barry’s moody score adds significantly to the cold atmosphere of espionage and deceit. Based on the book by Len Deighton. Followed by two sequels – FUNERAL IN BERLIN (1966) and BILLION DOLLAR BRAIN (1967) – and later two direct to video releases – BULLET TO BEIJING (1995) and MIDNIGHT IN SAINT PETERSBURG (1996). [PG]

Film Review – MONA LISA (1986)

Image result for mona lisa blu-rayMona Lisa (1986; UK; Technicolor; 104m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Neil Jordan; w. Neil Jordan, David Leland; ph. Roger Pratt; m. Michael Kamen.  Cast: Bob Hoskins, Cathy Tyson, Michael Caine, Robbie Coltrane, Clarke Peters, Kate Hardie, Sammi Davis, Rod Bedall, Zoe Nathenson, Joe Brown, Pauline Melville, Hossein Karimbeik, John Darling, Bryan Coleman, Robert Dorning. An ex-con gets a job as a driver for a beautiful high-priced call girl, with whom he forms an at first grudging, and then real affection. Dark film explores the seedy side of the London underworld. Hoskins is perfect as a man out of his time and Tyson equally as good. Caine is imposing as the boss of the operation. The film twists in a way inspired by the pulp fiction it openly emulates. Hard-hitting and shocking finale. All backed by Nat King Cole’s timeless hit. [18]

Film Review – HANNAH AND HER SISTERS (1986)

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986; USA; Technicolor; 103m) ∗∗∗∗∗  d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen; ph. Carlo Di Palma; m. Puccini.  Cast: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Michael Caine, Carrie Fisher, Barbara Hershey, Maureen O’Sullivan, Dianne Wiest, Max von Sydow, Lloyd Nolan, Daniel Stern, Julie Kavner, Joanna Gleason, J.T. Walsh, John Turturro, Richard Jenkins. Between two Thanksgivings, Hannah’s husband falls in love with her sister Lee, while her hypochondriac ex-husband rekindles his relationship with her sister Holly. Brilliantly observed portrayal of the lives of three sisters, their relationship with each other and with the men in their lives is amongst Allen’s finest achievements. Sharp and witty script is enhanced by superb performances from the cast. It is a movie that presents its three-dimensional characters in a way that is utterly engaging and believable. Caine, Wiest and Allen (as writer) all won Oscars. [15]

Film Review – GET CARTER (2000)

Get Carter (2000; USA; Alphacine; 102m) ∗∗  d. Stephen T. Kay; w. David McKenna; ph. Mauro Fiore; m. Tyler Bates.  Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Miranda Richardson, Rachael Leigh Cook, Alan Cumming, Mickey Rourke, Michael Caine, Rhona Mitra, Johnny Strong, Gretchen Mol, John C. McGinley, John Cassini, Mark Boone Junior, Darryl Scheelar, Crystal Lowe, Lauren Lee Smith. A mob enforcer living in Las Vegas, travels back to his hometown of Seattle for his brother’s funeral. During this visit, he realizes that the death of his brother was not accidental, but a murder. Remake of 1971 classic British crime thriller lacks the grittiness, wit and punch of the original. Clumsily edited action and dialogue sequences drain the movie of any tension and coherence. Stallone delivers a one-note performance and the villains lack any depth of character. Caine, who plays Cliff Brumby in this film, played Jack Carter in the original. [15]

Film Review – THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE (1961)

Day the Earth Caught Fire, The (1961; UK; B&W; 99m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Val Guest; w. Val Guest, Wolf Mankowitz; ph. Harry Waxman; m. Stanley Black.  Cast: Janet Munro, Leo McKern, Edward Judd, Michael Goodliffe, Bernard Braden, Reginald Beckwith, Gene Anderson, Renée Asherson, Arthur Christiansen, Austin Trevor, Edward Underdown, Ian Ellis. Political science fiction drama about a global ecological disaster caused by nuclear weapons testing. Taut direction and a strong script backed up by an excellent cast add authenticity to the doom-laden political messaging. Strikingly photographed with great matte work, overseen by art director Anthony Masters, to capture a heat ravaged London. Look out for Michael Caine as a traffic policeman. [12]

Film Review – FUNERAL IN BERLIN (1966)

FUNERAL IN BERLIN (1966, Lowndes Productions, UK, 105 mins, Colour, 2.35:1, Mono, Cert: PG, Spy Thriller) ∗∗∗
      Starring: Michael Caine (Harry Palmer), Paul Hubschmid (Johnny Vulkan), Oskar Homolka (Col. Stok), Eva Renzi (Samantha Steel), Guy Doleman (Ross), Hugh Burden (Hallam), Heinz Schubert (Aaron Levine), Wolfgang Völz (Werner), Thomas Holtzmann (Reinhardt), Günter Meisner (Kreutzman), Herbert Fux (Artur), Rainer Brandt (Benjamin), Rachel Gurney (Mrs. Ross), John Abineri (Rukel), David Glover (Chico).
      Producer: Charles Kasher; Director: Guy Hamilton; Writer: Evan Jones (based on the novel by Len Deighton); Director of Photography: Brian Elvin (Technicolor); Music: Konrad Elfers; Film Editor: John Bloom; Production Designer: Ken Adam; Art Director: Peter Murton; Set Decorator: Michael White, Vernon Dixon.

funeralinbIn this solid follow-up to 1965’s THE IPCRESS FILE, British agent Harry Palmer (Caine) is sent to Berlin to receive a Communist defector (Homolka), but the true situation turns out to be rather more complicated.

The plot twists and turns and Caine is again highly watchable and droll as Palmer. But whilst the first film indicated a desire for exec producer Harry Saltzman to move away from the James Bond formula, in this second outing there are increasing nods toward his prime asset. This would be taken even closer with the third film in the series – BILLION DOLLAR BRAIN. In the meantime, Jones’ competent adaptation of Deighton’s complex novel keeps the viewer engaged. The production credentials are strong with great use of the Berlin locations, tight, if safe direction from Hamilton and a good supporting cast adds some energy to the proceedings.

The familiarity of the ingredients had been well and truly set by this point and the genre would become increasingly inhabited by far-fetched spoofs and parodies.