Happy 90th Birthday, Michael Caine!

I can’t help myself.  Sir Michael Caine (nee Maurice Micklewhite, a “proper” cockney name if there ever was one) turned 90 today.  It’s also good to take a break from all the nonsense that we are forced to endure on a daily basis anymore. 

So here goes:  Happy Birthday! to a wonderful actor, whose existence for a brief few hours made the lives of moviegoers enjoyable.

What a career!  What a life!  A confident man who went to the school of hard knocks, he had one of the greatest work ethics in show business.  He took any acting job that came down the pike.  “Why not?” he said, “I became an actor because I wanted to kiss a girl, and I got to kiss all of them, so I thought it a good profession.”

As an actor, he never disappointed.  Even though he was proud of his cockney roots, he could play a toff if need be.  Zulu in particular stands out.  Likewise in Sleuth, an outstanding little drama in which he goes toe-to-toe acting-wise with Laurence Olivier.  (Try to find it if you can, it’s brilliant).  In the Dark Knight trilogy, he played Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s elegant butler, the embodiment of a gentleman’s gentleman.

This confidence is due to his mother, Ellen…He owes the most to her, he says. When his father, also called Maurice, a fish porter at Billingsgate, left to serve in the second world war Caine was six years old. ‘When his truck disappeared around the corner, she turned around to me and said: “Now you have to look after me.” And she made me a man in one sentence’. (Michael Caine: no, Zulu doesn’t incite far-right extremism  Tanya Gold, 11 March 2023.)

The list is endless:  Alfie, The Ipcress File, Hannah and Her Sisters, Educating Rita, and so on.

As far as I’m concerned, his greatest role was that of Peachy Carnahan in The Man Who Would Be King.  Many critics think that this was Sean Connery’s greatest role as well.  I agree.  Their complementarity, their ability to play off each other, raw masculinity mixed with boyish, devil-may-care humor made John Huston’s movie and instant epic.*

Caine’s contributions, his very stage presence and his cinematic canon) stand him out as a giant in a business that is dominated by little men.  For this he deserves to be commemorated.  Well done, Sir Michael, may you and your family enjoy this day.

Here’s one of my favorite scenes:

*Little known fact:  Huston wanted to make this movie back in 1956.  He originally cast Clark Gable as Dravot and Humphrey Bogart as Carnahan.  


  1. Happy birthday, Sir Michael Caine!

    George, you’re so very right…Sir Michael is a tremendous actor! (Not only did The Man Who Would Be King star both Caine and Connery, but also featured Christopher Plummer. Then, we also had Maurice Jarre’s fantastic musical score for the film. You just can’t get any better than that!)

    Thank you for taking our minds away from things for a few moments, George. 🙂

  2. Is it bad that I’m of the age where the only movie I can remember Michael Caine from is A Muppet Christmas Carol 🙄


    • He is absolutely fantastic in A Muppet Christmas Carol. He is the only actor I’ve seen who has managed to play the utterly heartless Scrooge and the repentant Scrooge convincingly. That version has so much understated humor in it as well…

      But yes, I’m also of the age that this is the movie that I remember him from.

      • Yup!

        I think most 90’s kids would remember Michael Caine from this…or Goldmember as Austin Powers’ dad lol

      • Christine says

        Muppet Christmas Carol is one of my favorites! Honestly such a great family film, and he was a great Scrooge! We watch it every Nativity.

  3. The Man Who Would Be King is one of my favorite films! A great one. Sad, memorable, funny, exciting and mysterious. My father and I watched it nearly every year on a VHS tape he recorded from television in the 1980’s. I intend to keep the tradition with my son! “Thank you sir!”

    • You’re welcome. The movie gripped me from start to finish. Especially the masonic thing and how it was woven back into history via Alexander the Great and his engineers. (That classic Greek temple standing out in the midst of the Himalayas was startling as was the uncovering of the altar with the masonic engraving on it.) Mind blowing. And then there was the end…

  4. Deacon John says

    What a great actor, one of my favorite movies is ZULU. I think he was also in the original Italian Job wasn’t he?

    • He was indeed. His greatest line was:
      “I only told you to blow the bloody doors off!”

  5. Even the casting was a tale in itself:

    The Man Who Would Be King had been a pet project of John Huston’s for decades after he had read the book as a child. Huston had planned to make the film since the 1950s, originally with Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart in the roles of Daniel and Peachy. He was unable to get the project off the ground before Bogart died in 1957; Gable followed in 1960. Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas were then approached to play the leads, followed by Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole. In the 1970s, Huston approached Robert Redford and Paul Newman for the roles. Newman advised Huston that British actors should play the roles, and it was he who recommended Connery and Caine. Caine was very keen to appear, especially after he was told that his part had originally been written for Humphrey Bogart, his favourite actor as a young man.

    The role of Roxanne (the only listed female character in the movie) was originally slated for Tessa Dahl, the daughter of Roald Dahl and actress Patricia Neal. Dahl, excited to take the role, had prepared for the part by losing weight and capping her teeth. However, at the last minute, director Huston had decided to cast someone whose appearance was more in keeping with natives of Kafiristan. “We’ve got to find an Arab princess somewhere”, he is recounted as saying over dinner with Caine. At that same dinner, Caine’s Indian-descended wife Shakira was present, so Huston and Caine persuaded her to take on the role. ‘

    And finally, the richly-voiced District Commissioner in the film
    (as seen in the scene that George provides us with the link to)
    was played by the English actor Jack May who played Theoden King
    in the 1981 BBC radio drama production of The Lord of the Rings,
    which can be accessed in 13 hour-long episodes at:

    As Michael Caine himself might have said:
    “Not many people know that.”

  6. I enjoyed his comedic turn as Sherlock Holmes alongside Ben Kingsley in Without a Clue.

  7. Sean Connery about “The Man Who Would Be King”

    [Video – 05:37]

    With Billy Fish on the casting…

  8. George, please don’t fail to mention Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, one of the few remakes that is better than the original. Michael Caine was the anchor in that stellar cast, and he showed his full comedic talent.

  9. George Michalopulos says

    Here’s an interesting analysis on The Man Who Would Be King:


  10. Kipling wasn’t too far off: the successors of Alexander in the far East merged with the natives and created Greco-Buddhist kingdoms:


    • George Tempelis says

      Interesting. I know the Greek CHurch vehemently objects to the pleas of the Harappan Kalash people from the northwestern Desi (Indian) subcontinent, but those who prefer profane hellenism over sacred hellenism want them back as a bargaining chip.

      • Exploring European ancestry among the Kalash
        population: a mitogenomic perspective


        ‘ With a population of around 4 000 individuals, the Kalash people have been living in the Hindu-Kush mountain valleys of present-day northern Pakistan for centuries. Due to their mysterious origin and fairer European complexion, the genetic history of this ethnic group has been investigated previously using different markers. To date, however, the maternal genetic architecture has not been systematically dissected based on high-resolution complete mitochondrial genomes (mitogenomes), making their maternal genetic history, especially their genetic connection with Europeans from a matrilineal perspective, unclear. To unravel this issue, we analyzed mitogenome data of 34 Kalash samples together with 6 075 individuals from across Eurasia. Our results indicated exclusive western Eurasian origin of the Kalash people, represented by eight haplogroups. Among these haplogroups, J2b1a7a and R0a5a (accounting for ~50% of the Kalash gene pool) displayed in situ differentiations in the Kalash and could be traced to the Mediterranean region. Age estimations suggested these haplogroups arose in the Kalash population ~2.26 and 3.01 thousand years ago (kya), a time frame consistent with the invasion of Alexander III of Macedon to the region. One possible explanation for the maternal genetic contribution from Europeans to the Kalash people would be the involvement of women in foreign campaigns of ancient Greek warfare, followed by a founder effect. Our study thus sheds important light on the genetic origin of the Kalash community of Pakistan. ‘

        If they are not Orthodox Christians
        why would the Greek Church care?

  11. George Michalopulos says

    I couldn’t help myself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uf6rX-q7lQY

    “I’ll teach you all how to slaughter your enemies like civilized men!” Connery at his finest.