Thursday, 26 March 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1969: Michael Caine in The Italian Job

Michael Caine did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Charlie Croker in The Italian Job.

The Italian Job is an enjoyable enough heist film, although I do feel it could have more fun with the colorful gang aspect. I mean why even have Benny Hill if you're going to barely use him?

Michael Caine plays cockney crook Croker who's just after being released from prison looks to find a new heist. He finds that in the form of the message of a dead man who gives him the plans on how to rip off an armored car in Italy. After some difficulty in convincing the powerful incarcerated mobster Mr. Bridger (Noël Coward) he heads the plan, with a fairly large team, to go through with the complicated plan while avoiding the Italian mafia who are very much opposed to it. This is not exactly the most complex part Michael has ever played as Charlie is just a carefree crook not at all like the ruthless crook he would play just two years later in Get Carter. Caine's performance is really just all about his charm. He's certainly likable enough in his happy go lucky manner as Croker goes about the early steps of the job, and even smiles his way through a beating at the hands of Mr. Bridger's men after he dared to interrupt his time in the bathroom.

Caine has some down moment of sorts when he's just going through the plan which he handles just fine I suppose. There are also the few moments where he interacts with the mafia boss. Caine is commanding enough in these scenes to deliver some intensity to the standoff and in turn deliver a bit gravity though this almost seems like a pointless effort since the mafia ends up factoring very little into the final conclusion of the film. Most of Caine's performance is strictly based around his charisma, and it is not like he even has really a comic presence here so to speak it's more lighthearted than anything else. Caine is charming here though in his usual slight smile Michael Caine sort of way. As charming Caine performances go I would not necessarily call it his best, as I found him more charming in The Man Who Would Be King just for one example, and that film also bothered to give him more to do than this film does. 

The whole third act of the film barely features Caine actually in that the actors barely factor in when the film depicts the heist. It keeps everything really about the images associated with it and there really are not any character moments for most of the final act. Something finally does happen though in the film's literal cliffhanger ending. It's still pretty limited stuff though but Caine certainly delivers his "great idea" line quite enjoyably. It's a fun little moment to end things on and is rather fitting for his performance which is a fun little performance. Considering the film decides to limited Croker's as a character about as much as it can he still manages to to make something out of almost nothing in terms of material. Caine is entertaining with what he does have, and what he does do works for the film's breezy tone. This is a great distance from his best work as an actor though it is a decent enough showcase for his movie star sort of appeal.

24 comments:

luke higham said...

Louis: Ratings & Thoughts on the rest of the cast.

Louis Morgan said...

I'll save Coward for the moment.

Hill - 3(He's funny in his brief little moments but as I said in the review he's underutilized)

Vallone - 3(He also doesn't get much to do but he brings enough menace in his few scenes)

luke higham said...

Louis: I'm not particularly surprised that you liked Coward the most, also, what did you think of that famous one-liner that I mentioned beforehand.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Pretty unexpected. Seems like a relatively weak year so far but who knows, Hopper might surprise us.

luke higham said...

GDSAO: No, he fucking won't. Whatever performance, that is reviewed last is usually the weakest of the bunch although it'll likely be a slight exception this time, plus, Louis said that he preferred Nicholson over Fonda & Hopper in a previous review.

http://actoroscar.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/best-supporting-actor-1969-jack.html

Matt Mustin said...

Sometimes he saves the most anticipated review for last.

luke higham said...

Matt Mustin: I won't deny that, but I'm still sticking to my guns here, no matter what.

mcofra7 said...

I wouldn't be so sure about Hopper. Repeated viewings can change opinions. Louis previously said that Haley overacted in Watchmen and that Steiger was better than Courtenay in Dr. Zhivago for example.

luke higham said...

Mcofra7: Well, regardless of the rating, he'll finish no higher than second.

mcofra7 said...

Yeah probably, but I would be really surprised if he came in last.

Matt Mustin said...

Louis, what's your ratings and thoughts on Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: First Contact?

Matt Mustin said...

Also, ratings and thoughts on Dennis Hopper in The Spreading Ground?

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

@Luke: Sorry if I offended you haha, if it's worth anything I think Easy Rider is easily the least impressive Hopper performance I've ever seen. Holden will win this alternate for sure, as for overall it'll definitely still be Voight and Hoffman.

luke higham said...

GDSAO: I was hardly offended, sometimes the message I give, can come off as quite negative, but I really wasn't towards Hopper's performance. I actually liked his performance well enough, but I just wanted to state the fact that Louis, had previously called his performance good and nothing more, as well as Nicholson giving the best performance in the film, at the end of the day, Louis's opinion does matter to me a great deal, Not once have I ever complained about his ratings, reviews or rankings, I willingly accept it with grace and just move on the next one.

Anonymous said...

What are your ratings and thoughts on Simone Signoret in The Deadly Affair? And Audrey Hepburn in How to Steal a Million and Charade?

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Speaking of Audrey, do we consider Peter Finch to be lead or supporting in A Nun's Tale?

John Smith said...

Bonus review: Carl Boehm/ Peeping Tom

Anonymous said...

GDSAO: To me, supporting. The movie is really a character's study of Gabrielle.

Anonymous said...

Louis, I've seen you've put Audrey's work in Children's Hour ahead of her work in Love in the Afternoon. So is now Audrey a 3.5 for the former (instead of a 3)? Because I remember you gave her a 3.5 for the latter.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Anonymous: In which case 1959 supporting will probably be

Finch (a request I believe, by whom I can't recall)
Olivier
Schildkraut
Boyd
Mason

I do hope Louis will cover Coward for 1969 then. His performance in Our Man in Havana is even better variation on his persona but judging by the strength of the year, he's not quite up there.

Anonymous said...

Also, your ratings and thoughts on her in The Unforgiven?

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Also glad you bumped down O'Toole and Burton to 3's for their horribly uninspired creations, I actually for one much prefer Wayne over the two for at least Wayne had some entertaining qualities to his performance.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

By the other two I meant O'toole and Burton please don't crucify me haha, not Voight and Hoffman :D

Louis Morgan said...

Matt:

Stewart - 4(It's Stewart doing his own Captain Ahab, well before he actually did it, in an effective fashion. I find the Star Trek Next Generation crew stately to the point of blandness so I quite liked that he actually gets to do something here. Stewart's performance works well as a driven obsession and I find he rather effectively broke down the straight laced character in a believable fashion here)

Hopper - 4(How'd you see that so fast? Although I actually saw this rather terrible film long ago without knowing name, and actually imagined it must have been a tv movie. After learning the name though I did think Hopper gave it his all giving a pretty moving depiction of a standard over the hill detective sort of character)

Anonymous:

Signoret - 4(Despite it being Signoret in the role she is not given a great deal to do here. Signoret though gives a strong performance as she creates the mystery around her character of whether she's cold from grief, or from something far more
devious. Her reaction at the end is terrific)

Charade & How to Steal a Million 4 and 3.5 respectively (Both are charm based performance and Hepburn had plenty of that to go around. I would say though she's even more charming in Charade and I would say has superior chemistry with Grant than O'Toole. Also in Charade she gets a boon by doing a good job of portraying her character's confusion and fear around the central mystery)

Anonymous:

Those two should have been in reversed order.

Anonymous:

The Unforgiven - 2(It's not much of a film to begin with and she does not really override her miscasting. She's mostly there just to be distraught and scared. She's not truly bad, but she's not very good here)

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar:

I downgraded both when I realized whenever I think of O'Toole's performance I just recall that he's sorta boring there, and with Burton just how amateurish he seems compared to Shaw and Laughton.