The story of a cockney Don Juan who finally finds out the truth that to make birds and brass (especially birds) the object in life brings disillusionment with the passing years.
East End wide boy Alfie Elkins is not really a bad person. It’s just that he has an overwhelming desire for the opposite sex. In fact, he finds “birds” irresistible.
Alfie plays merry hell with the women in his life – mournful Vivien Merchant, buxom Shelley Winters, and waif-like Jane Asher – but he’s beginning to find the competition catching up with him.
Alfie’s snappy flannels and bogus regimental blazer mark him out as an old-fashioned sexual predator, but he is losing ground to the dandified young bucks who prowl Swinging London.
Before he became associated with restaurants, Michael Caine was absolutely excellent as the foul-mouthed anti-hero. It was a screen persona so effective that Caine used it for the next 20 years.
You may not like Alfie or the way he constantly confides in you from the screen, but you will find him interesting.
His combination of emotional detachment and male chauvinism could easily stick in the throat, but that persuasive Caine charm, directed as much to the audience (through asides direct to camera) as his female targets, is shot through with vulnerability.
Paramount made the movie on a shoe-string budget expecting little from it and ended up with a potential Oscar-winner. The movie received a nomination for Best Picture, and Caine was nominated for Best Actor.
Also nominated were actress Vivien Merchant and Bill Naughton who wrote both the screenplay and the original stage play. Even the title song (composed by Burt Bacharach and sung by Cilla Black) won a nomination.
Downbeat ending aside, this frank (for its time) movie was a smash at the box office, won critical acclaim and became a lasting tribute to sixties London vibrancy.
A vastly inferior 2004 remake starred Jude Law in the title role.
Shirley Anne Field