A young wife decides to complete her education and take her exams. She meets a professor who teaches her to value her own insights while still being able to beat the exams. The change in ... See full summary »
Alfie returns, up to his old womanizing ways, until he meets his match in a sophisticated magazine editor Abby. His pursuit is complicated by his encounter with Norma and the fact that a ... See full summary »
For Alfie, the only real life is sex life; only then can he kid himself he is living. Sex is not used as the working-class boy's way to 'the top'. Executive status has no appeal for Alfie. Nor has class mobility. He is quite content to stay where he is, as long as the 'birds' are in 'beautiful condition', as he assures us they are in one of the candid, over-the-shoulder asides to the camera which the film carries over from "Tom Jones". The film shows how much of the 'swinging 60's' quality of London life was a male creation, and through the dominance of the fashion photographers, a male prerogative. Written by
Directed by Lewis Gilbert. Written by Bill Naughton. Running time: 114 minutes. Classified PG.
Alfie is a fantastic example of what I would call a perfect movie: it has a message, it states it clearly, it mixes humor with poignancy, and it's highly stylistic. And did I happen to mention that Michael Caine is in it? The story of the film revolves around a selfish cad (an exceptional Caine) who takes advantage of nearly every woman he encounters and, as a result, is eventually left alone. While Alfie has some very funny moments, it is far from being a comedy: at heart, it is a grim drama about the consequences of selfishness. From the opening scene -- an overview of London at night leading to a shot of Caine and one of his mistresses attempting to copulate in a car -- to the rather dismal conclusion -- another shot of London at night with Caine pondering the meaning of life -- Alfie is directed with flair and elegance. The cinematography is outstanding and the accompanying jazz score establishes an appropriate mood. Each performance is terrific in its own way: Shelley Winters is flawless as Alfie's counterpart, and Graham Stark (a recurring star in Blake Edwards' films) turns in a great supporting role as the ethical husband of one of Alfie's lovers. The script is taut, well-written, and highly influential (Alfie's occasional monologue to the camera is a technique that has been replicated countless times in modern films). Screenwriter Bill Naughton also made the clever decision to assign no last names to any of the principal characters. The only part with a surname belongs to Alfie Bass, who portrays a hospitalized father that stands out as the only truly virtuous character in the entire picture. There are some very light and witty moments in the film, but the scenes that stand out the most are the powerful ones revolving around Viven Merchant's abortion. Director Lewis Gilbert made the wise decision to not show anything explicit, but in the process he made these scenes increasingly haunting and heart-breaking. The shot that focuses on Caine's face as his emotions melt at the sight of his unborn child is remarkably intense. Over-all, Alfie is intriguing, entertaining, and oddly touching. Its influence can be seen in practically every romantic comedy since its release (even High Fidelity owes much of its success to this gem). Alfie went on to score five Oscar nominations, including nods for the extraordinary performances of Caine and Merchant.
**** - Classic
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