It's been a long journey for Maurice Micklewhite - born with rickets in London's poverty-stricken Elephant & Castle - to the bright lights of Hollywood.
With a glittering career spanning more than five decades and starring roles which have earned him two Oscars, a knighthood, and an iconic place in the Hollywood pantheon, the man now known to us as Michael Caine looks back over it all.
Funny, warm, honest, Caine brings us his insider's view of Hollywood (where there's neither holly nor woods). He recalls the films, the legendary stars, the off-screen moments with a gift for story-telling only equalled by David Niven. Hollywood has been his home and his playground. But England is where his heart lies. And where he blames the French for the abundance of snails in his garden.
A plaque now celebrates him at the Elephant in London. His handprint is one of only 200 since 1927 to decorate the hallowed pavement outside that mecca of Hollywood stars, Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
A very British star, The Elephant to Hollywood is the remarkable full circle of Michael Caine's life.
"There are things that I have done in my life that I should regret. I don't." On these pages is the familiar, engaging voice one expects to encounter: Cockney lad who realised the impossible dream — unchanged, unglazed, still so astonished at his good fortune that his natural comedic impulse must continually poke fun at himself and his surroundings. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that, as Alfie, Michael Caine forever epitomized a culture that was coming of age in the sixties — the quintessence of the average man transformed by the promise of changing times — or perhaps its that few other actors have so magically forged a persona beyond the characters they've inhabited onscreen. Whatever the reason, Michael Caine has remained one of the world's most versatile, enduring and beloved actors of our time.
Born in 1933 in London's impoverished East End, Maurince Joseph Micklewhite had an eye disorder that made him appear sleepy, ears that stuck out at rights angles and rickets that forced him to wear heav boots ("l must have scared the hell out of the other kids"). With all the easy charm and humour of a natural raconteur, Caine enchants with tales of his hardworking mum and his non-won journey to fame, his hilarious stint in the arm ("they called it National Service; we called it hell") and terrifying time in Korean jungles and his baptism into the Swinging London of Albert Finny, Vidal Sasson, Terence Stamp, Julie Christie and Peter Sellers ("the only time in my life when nothing went wrong for anybody"). What's It All About? Is also about the movies — from Afie to Sleuth to The Man Who Would Be King to Hannah and Her Sisters — and about the craft. In the course of seventy-seven films, Caine has worked with such legends as Sir Laurence Olivier ("Call me Larry"), Elizabeth Taylor, Peter O'Toole, Sidney Poitier and Brigitte Bardot, and with such legendary directors as John Huston (who, at their first meeting "looked like god on a bad day"), Woody Allen, Brian De Palma, Otto Preminger and Vittorio De Sica.
But above all, What's It All About? Is about the companions on his life journey,
from his long-term friendships with Roger Moore ("He was famous, handsome, elegant
and generous; I was obscure, ugly, scruffy and mean"), Sean Connery and Cary Grant,
to name but a few; to his extraordinary love affair with his wife, Shakira.
What's It all About? Is a book of anecdotes and insights, full of stories of romance, humour, lust, bad behaviour, good deeds, rough times and halcyon days. Candid, vibrant and warm, here is a captivating self-portrait of a man who is at once sublimely ordinary and simply extraordinary.
Academy Award winning actor Michael Caine, internationally acclaimed for his talented performances in movies for over twenty five years, shares his personal insights into the art and science of film acting.
"YOU must always steal" writes Michael Caine, "but only from the best people. Steal any trick that looks worthwhile. If you see Vivien Leigh or Robert DeNiro or Meryl Streep do something stunningly effective, and you can analyse how he or she did it, then pinch it. Because, " Caine explains, "you can be sure that they stole it in the first place." In Acting In Film, Caine gives the reader a once-in-a-lifetime chance to rob him blind. The man who's hypnotized the camera lenses for a quarter of a century reveals the most closely guarded secrets on script preparation, working with the director, forming a character, voice, sound, and movement. Pearl by pearl he lays out the Caine wisdom on everything from set politics to set decorum, the film bureaucracy, and more.
Michael Caine offers his practical philosophy with straightforward clarity, wit and humour: "Don't sit as if you have nothing to say. YOU should be bursting with things to say. You lust choose at this particular place and time, not to say them. "
"Caine knows so much, not just about acting, but about the whole business of filmmaking.
Don't think of this as too esoteric or for actors only. You'll be laughing, absorbed
The Daily Mail
"Love scenes on film will never seem the same. .."
The Daily Telegraph
"VVitty, articulate and always entertaining, Michael Caine takes the nuts and bolts
of film acting to pieces and gives away more trade secrets in the process then you
thought existed. "
The Sunday Times
"Caine demonstrates how sheer technique can mutate into something meaningful and
"A serious, but entertaining, insight into the mechanics of acting."
London Evening Standard