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C Entries
  Edward L. Cahn
  Sir Michael Caine
  James Cameron
  Lewis John Carlino
  Richard Carlson
  John Carradine
  Helena Bonham Carter
  Leo G. Carroll
  Maurice Cass
  Lon Chaney
  Lon Chaney, Jr.
  John Cho
  Arthur C. Clarke
  Phyllis Coates
  Joan Collins
  Sir Sean Connery
  Roger Corman
  Buster Crabbe
  Richard Crane
  Tom Cruise
  Peter Cushing
 
CAINE, SIR MICHAEL
(1933– ). British actor.

IMDB credits Perhaps, when he first became a prominent performer in the 1960s, Michael Caine was not a particularly good actor, and perhaps he merited Richard Thomson's scornful dismissal of his talents in the first edition of The Biographical Dictionary of Film.  And certainly, it is hard to be impressed by his first contributions to science fiction film—an uncredited cameo in The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) and his curiously detached spy, Harry Palmer, in The Ipcress File (1965), Funeral in Berlin (1966), and Billion Dollar Brain (1967). But though he may not have been the best actor around, Caine was determined to become the industry's most energetic actor; and displaying the admirable work ethic he had first applied to menial jobs and military service, he has now kept acting almost constantly for sixty years. And not even the long-indefatigable Sean CONNERY can match the number and length of his performances.

Examining his filmography, one can deduce his modus operandi: after finishing a film, he would go home for a few days and relax; then, he would pore through all the scripts being offered to him, choose the best one, and get back to work. Sometimes, they seemed sure to be excellent films; sometimes, they seemed sure to be terrible films. But even appearing in an abomination like Jaws: The Revenge (1987)—the project that prevented him from personally accepting the Academy Award for his role in Woody ALLEN's Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)—was preferable, in Caine's view, to a period of inactivity.

Further, while his nonstop labors surely pleased the working-class Caine with the massive amounts of money he was earning, it is also often true that, the more one does something, the better one gets. And the other miraculous thing about Caine's career is that, by means of sheer persistence, he gradually transformed himself into a superior actor. The first indication of improvement came in Sleuth (1973), where he held his own again none other than Sir Laurence OLIVIER; he memorably teamed up with Connery in The Man Who Would Be King (1976); and he earned a Golden Globe for his performance in Educating Rita (1983), and a second Academy Award for The Cider House Rules (1999).

Still, it was relatively late in his career when he began to make memorable contributions to science fiction film—for there was nothing he could do to make films like The Swarm (1978), The Hand (1981), or Jaws: The Revenge watchable. But he was enjoyable in Brian DE PALMA's revision of Alfred HITCHCOCK's Psycho, Dressed to Kill (1980); competent as Dr. Henry Jekyll in the television movie Jekyll & Hyde (1987); and amusing as an inept Sherlock Holmes in Without a Clue (1988). Most remarkably, he provided cinema with an amazingly credible Ebenezer Scrooge in the company of puppets in The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992). He was also an excellent Captain Nemo in the miniseries Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (1997), and hilarious again as Austin Powers's father in Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002). More recently, he has become a recurring presence in the films of Christopher NOLAN: in addition to effective supporting roles in The Prestige (2008) and Inception (2010), he provided Batman with the best butler he has ever had in Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), and The Dark Knight Rises (2012). All things considered, one has to wonder why it took so long for the British government to finally, in 2000, make him a "Sir."

True, any admirer of Caine must concede that he is not incapable of missteps: I was not particularly impressed by his stereotypically eccentric geezer in Children of Men (2006), and he never managed to convey any genuine desire to save the human race from extinction as an elderly scientist in Interstellar (2014) —though he would been a much better father to Matthew McConaughey than the perpetually mediocre John LITHGOW. However, effective contributions to Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012), Now You See Me (2013), and Now You See Me 2 (2016) demonstrate that he has lost none of his skills, and with three films scheduled for released in 2017, he has clearly lost little of the drive that has made him a worthy edition to this reference work, and to many others as well.

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