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 this movie carries over from Tom Jones (1963). This movie shows how much of the "swinging 60s" quality of London life was a male creation, and through the dominance of the fashion photographers, a male prerogative.Written by
Michael Caine plays Alfie, a hipster swinger in 1960s London whose attitudes and actions we abhor even as we warm to the twinkle in his eye.
Caine plays the role just right. The movie would go nowhere if he wasn't able to make us understand what about Alfie attracts women despite his treatment of them. The film has noble ambitions, and explores some pretty dark (and for the time, edgy) terrain, when Alfie's antics catch up with him and he leaves one of his conquests (played quietly by Vivien Merchant) in the hands of a sleazy abortionist. The look on Caine's face when he returns to his apartment and sees the aborted fetus, visual confirmation of his callous disregard, was enough on its own to earn him the Oscar nomination he received for this film.
Much of the marketing for "Alfie" positions it as a gay romp through the swinging 60s, but it's actually quite a bitter little pill to swallow, and it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
With Shelley Winters as a blowsy American who's as good at playing Alfie as he is her.
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