Blowing the Bloody Doors Off and other Lessons in Life (2018) – Michael Caine

Title:Blowing the Bloody Doors Off and other Lessons in Life
Author:Michael Caine
Date published:2018
Publisher: Hachette Books
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Michael Caine is a bloody charmer! He is the epitome of the English gentleman and the Cockney badass he so often plays in the countless films generations have been privileged to view. Even before picking up this delightful memoir of his I always had the distinct impression that Michael Caine was something special. With his rebellious Cockney accent and the black rimmed spectacles he was not the typical hero type, and yet when he spoke people listened.

Part memoir and part life lessons, Caine imparts his knowledge and tells stories of Hollywood and the film industry through a series of chapters that are meant to give hope and guidance to any inspiring actor or actress, however these ‘lessons’ can also be viewed as the wisdom gained from leading a mostly good and humble life. No stranger to hardship, Caine grew up poor and was a member of the very same British working class who stood in lines to receive a portion of ‘the dole’. He knew what it was like to be poor, and often alludes to the fact that this was a genuine motivator in his decision to always work – even if the roles were sometimes less than exemplary. In saying this Caine is very candid about his many film choices over the years, and (mostly) has only wonderful things to say about his many co-stars.

As a rather ‘old-school’ hard-working actor Caine believes most importantly in a strong work ethic that includes being on time and always knowing your lines, something that is considered vital in all industries and aspects of life. He waxes lyrically about his time working on the sets of some of my favourite films including The Cider House Rules (1999), Inception (2010), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) and Interstellar (2014). Of course he also manages to get one extremely interested in watching his masterpieces such as Educating Rita (1983), The Italian Job (1969), Alfie (1966), the film that introduced him to the concept of stardom, Get Carter (1971) and of course the Batman films circa (2005 – 2012). His portrayal of Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Banner’s pretty awesome butler is legendary and these performances helped create his gentlemanly persona.

As well as his love for the industry and his genuine affection for the actors he has befriended over the years and his love of acting, Michael Caine is firstly very much a family man. He writes fondly (and often) about his wife of 46 years Shakira, his 2 daughters and his 3 grandchildren whom he believes are more important than all the riches in the world. However this is not to say that Mr. Caine is averse to a little spending. His honesty regarding his years of poverty are both inspiring and humbling.

Another wonderful aspect of this subtle memoir is the grace and respect in which he writes about every film (even the so-called bad ones). He is a gentleman in every sense of the word, and it is inspiring to read how he uses each difficulty in his life, and the act of growing old, to his benefit.

The glamorous parties with Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly, dating Natalie Wood and Nancy Sinatra and being best friends with Sean Connery, Sydney Poitier and Laurence Olivier are only one part of Michael Caine’s life. He acknowledges this life, but is quick to remind the reader that both hard work and luck played ‘roles’ in his success.

I have always loved a good memoir, especially those on Hollywood and the bygone era, and this was everything I could have hoped for and more) but Michael Caine is certainly not over yet and that’s a bloody good thing.

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