Michael Caine in The Magus (1968, dir. Guy Green)
Michael Caine in Billion Dollar Brain (1967, dir. Ken Russell)
The dark side of fame:
“A long time ago I interviewed Michael Caine. He came to America to make a movie called Hurry Sundown, after having become a success in Alfie and The Ipcress File. And I said, ‘What does it feel like to be a movie star? And he said, ‘You can’t go into a dirty bookstore anymore.’
He said, ‘I tried it. In England we don’t have the kind of pornography you have over here, but I’d heard about the stores in Times Square. And so I looked in through the window of one of them; I was curious. With my trained actor’s eye, I quickly realized that there was no eye contact in a porno store. Everybody looks as tunnel vision, nobody looks at anybody else, and I realized this is a way… An actor would notice this. And I congratulated myself, I said Michael, you can walk right in there because nobody will look at you, so I walked right in.
‘Unfortunately, there was a gent on an elevated stool with a microphone whose job it was to say, ‘Okay gents, this isn’t the library, make your purchases.’ And he got on his microphone and said, ‘Look who we have in the rubber wear section - Michael Caine!’”
-Roger Ebert, Fresh Air, orig. airdate March 21, 1996
“I was in a club somewhere in the West End just after Get Carter was released and the gangster I’d based Jack Carter on - not that he ever knew it - came up to me and said, “I saw that Get Carter, Michael.” Uh-oh, I thought, but I kept a dead straight face and I said, “Did you?” and he went on, “Biggest load of crap I’ve ever seen.” “Really?” I said, looking for the exit. “What makes you think that?” And he said, “Michael, you weren’t married, you didn’t have any kids and you had no responsibilities. You don’t understand why we do things. Me, with no special skills, I had to hold on to a wife and kids.”
And I thought - no special skills? He’d only killed about five people - not that he’d ever been charged with anything, but everyone knew…and I said, “Oh blimey, you’re right. That was a terrible mistake.” I completely agreed with everything he said. You don’t want to argue with someone like that.
Violence has consequences and you don’t often see that in movies. It’s a sort of pornography: people are struck time and time again and the next time they appear they just sport a small Band-aid, not even a black eye or missing teeth. If you were a real victim of the violence you see in films, you would be in hospital or dead. In Get Carter you see the effect of one whack, although we never cut to the gore.”
-Michael Caine, The Elephant to Hollywood
Goldfinger - Shirley Bassey (vocals) Composed by John Barry for Goldfinger (1964)
“I went and stayed with John Barry for a couple of weeks [while my new home was under construction]. By then he was a top movie composer. He had made a big score for Zulu and was booked to write the music for The Ipcress File, which he did, magnificently.
During my stay, he was writing the music for a James Bond movie. I hadn’t realized that there was such a big drawback to staying with a composer: they compose all day and in John’s case, all night. You wind up with no voice from shouting above the music. John could work twenty-four hours at a stretch, and as he would not accept rent, I took on the role of a helpful gofer to his driven genius. I made tea and sandwiches, did the tidying up, and ran errands as he slaved away at the piano. One night I got no sleep at all, as over and over again for hours on end right until dawn he worked on the same tune.
I slept for short periods, but would wake up when the music stopped. I had gotten so used to it that the silence bothered me. I decided to get up and make coffee for John. I entered the room and found him slumped exhausted over the piano. He had obviously finally finished the one tune that he had been slaving on all night. I made him some coffee and he played it for me as the sun came up and warmed the room. Not only was I the first person to hear this tune, I heard it and heard it all night long.
‘What’s it called?’ I asked him when he finished playing. ‘It’s Goldfinger’ he replied - and fell fast asleep on the piano.
Shortly after that my house in Albion Chase was ready and I moved into my own home for the first time. A unique joy. That night I fell asleep in my strange new surroundings humming Goldfinger to make myself feel at home.”
-Michael Caine, in his autobiography What’s It All About?