Michael Caine Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 2 January 2017

Michael Caine

The Oscar winning British actor Michael Caine was born in 1933 at Bermondsey in London. He did not come from a theatrical family. His father was a porter at the Billingsgate fish market. His mother was a charlady (cleaning lady). His real name was Maurice Joseph Micklewhite. Young Maurice was evacuated from his home during the German World war II Blitz. He was placed in a home for 6 weeks where he was badly mistreated. He was beaten and poorly fed. At times he was locked in a cupboard. Finally his mother rescued him and throttled the lady who had mistreated him. The family expected Maurice to follow in his father’s footsteps, but he had other plans. He had early, if non-professional experiences with acting. At the age of 3 years on a regular basis he would have to convince the rent collector that “Mummy’s out”, while she hid behind the front door coaxing him.

Family

Michael did not come from a theatrical family. His father was a porter at the Billingsgate fish market. His mother was a charlady (cleaning lady). Michael’s father liked to gamble. His mother worked as a cleaning lady to give her sons a better life.

Brothers

Maurice grew up with his brother Stanley. The boys had an older brother, David, who was born with epilepsy. He was institutionalized as a baby. It was widely assumed in the 1920s that epilepsy was a form of mental illness which was untreatable. Their mother kept David’s existence a secret until her dying days.

Childhood

The Oscar winning British actor Michael Caine was born in 1933 at Bermondsey in London. His real name was Maurice Joseph Micklewhite. The family expected Maurice to follow in his father’s footsteps, but he had other plans. He had early, if non-professional experiences with acting. At the age of 3 years on a regular basis he would have to convince the rent collector that “Mummy’s out”, while she hid behind the front door coaxing him.

World War II Evacuation

Young Maurice was 6 years old when war was declared with Germany. He and brother Stanley were evacuated from his home during the German World war II Blitz. He was placed in a home for 6 weeks where he was badly mistreated. He was beaten and poorly fed. At times he was locked in a cupboard. Finally his mother rescued him and throttled the lady who had mistreated him. His mother was later evacuated as well.

Education

After the Blitz, Michael attended Wilson’s Grammar School, an academically selective secondary school. It was located in Peckham, close to where Last Orders was filmed. He did not like school and left at age 16. A Methodist minister introduced him to amateur theatricals which he did enjoy at school.

Military Service

He entered the army as a private after a few years of low-paying jobs. He was stationed in Korea and did not like the army either. Family Caine married one of his rep co-stars, Patricia Haines. The two had a daughter, Nikki, before divorcing. Caine later married Shakira Caine (nee Baksh) in 1973, Thy have two children: Dominique and Natasha.

Career

Caine has become a major film star, appealing to both men and women in his wide range of films. He is a versatile and very hard-working actor. His film career was launched by playing gritty working-class roles. The first was Alfie (1966) in which he played a womanizing Cockney in swinging London. Then came a trilogy of spy movies which were big successes. He played Len Deighton’s bespectacled agent, Harry Palmer, in Ipcress File, Funeral in Berlin, and The Billion Dollar Brain. He received Oscar nominations as Best Actor for Alfie, Sleuth and Educating Rita, he has won two Best Supporting Actor awards: for Hannah and her Sisters and The Cider House Rules. One film critic claims that Caine’s poor background caused him to take on a variety of roles in poor movies just to keep on working.

Films

Caine’s best remembered films are probably: Ipcress File, Zulu, Mr. Destiny, A Bridge Too Far, Miss Congeniality, Last Orders, The Man Who Would Be King, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Sleuth, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Hannah and Her Sisters. Interestingly in Zulu he plays a dilated aristocratic British officer, quite a stretch from his background. The portrayal was right on, at least with American audiences. I’m less sure about British audiences.

Sources

Caine, Michael. What’s It All About (1992)

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