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Retrospective: Swinging 60s

Winner of the prestigious Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1966, Alfie is the movie that rocketed Michael Caine to stardom, cemented his image as a cockney sex-symbol and gave him one of his most enduring catchphrases - so much so he called his autobiography "What's It All About?" The role of womanising cad Alfie Elkins fit the then 33-year-old Londoner like a glove and earned him his first Oscar nomination.

Alfie is a charming, rogueish and seemingly cynical Cockney who cannot get his fill of women. He uses them without shame or malice, jumping from one bed to another without much thought or feeling. Of course, Alfie is not as carefree as he would have the audience think.

Based on the play by Bill Naughton, Lewis Gilbert's film broke new ground by interspersing its anti-hero's conquests with frank and witty confessionals delivered straight to camera. Such is Caine's ease in front of the lens that this theatrical device works beautifully on-screen, especially when Alfie begins to query the value of his rootless, carefree existence. Hugely entertaining, Alfie is both a British classic and a valuable record of the hedonistic swinging 60s.

Jury Special Prize, Cannes Film Festival 1966 • Best English-Language Foreign Film, Golden Globes 1967
Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Song, Academy Awards 1967
It remains Michael Caine’s most e!ective film in the way it defines a type who was specific and universal – and above all, human.
Hollywood England
Lewis Gilbert
Michael Caine, Vivien Merchant, Shelley Winters, Millicent Martin, Jane Asher
1966 | 114 min | Comedy, Drama