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BOOKENDS: The Elephant to Hollywood

The three knights of British cinema have taken disparate routes in their twilight years. Roger Moore jettisoned a hokum career for more worthwhile pursuits as a Unicef ambassador, while Sean Connery settled into his Bahamian golf-resort to champion Scotland’s independence. Michael Caine, however, has added a further veneer to a great body of work.

9 October 2010

12:00 AM

9 October 2010

12:00 AM

The three knights of British cinema have taken disparate routes in their twilight years. Roger Moore jettisoned a hokum career for more worthwhile pursuits as a Unicef ambassador, while Sean Connery settled into his Bahamian golf-resort to champion Scotland’s independence. Michael Caine, however, has added a further veneer to a great body of work.

The three knights of British cinema have taken disparate routes in their twilight years. Roger Moore jettisoned a hokum career for more worthwhile pursuits as a Unicef ambassador, while Sean Connery settled into his Bahamian golf-resort to champion Scotland’s independence. Michael Caine, however, has added a further veneer to a great body of work.


In the 17 years since his first autobiography, Caine has won numerous plaudits, including an Oscar for The Cider House Rules, and enjoyed a renaissance courtesy of the revamped Batman franchise. So there’s plenty to cover in this latest book (Hodder, £20).

His struggle to balance financial temptations and artistic integrity is equalled by a sway between male bravado and empathy. His grubby treatment of his first wife is countered by his attempts to understand today’s youth. Bad behaviour is mostly on the part of others. My favourite moment involves Caine’s restaurant partner, Peter Langan. Dining with Caine at LA’s Ma Maison, Langan lurches up to Orson Welles, calls him an ‘arrogant fat arsehole’, then pees in a plant-pot.

Caine’s political views blow with the prevailing wind, having backed Thatcher, Blair and Cameron. He is more engaging when examining film’s potential, and proves an amusing raconteur. From incorporating Prince Philip’s mannerisms into his Zulu role to Len Deighton’s lessons on how to crack two eggs with one hand, it’s the peeks behind the silver screen that make the book light up.


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