ALFIE (1966). Director: Lewis Gilbert.
The big surprise is that this, the original Alfie, isn't half as good as the remake with Jude Law. Michael Caine, a cruder, less charming and much less likable Alfie – not to mention a more immoral one -- never quite comes off entirely real in this, and the movie is at times a bit tedious. Alfie is an unfocused character and the many supporting characters are not well developed. Vivien Merchant makes an impression as the lonely wife who has a cheap affair with Alfie and gets pregnant, but Shelley Winters (as the rich older woman Ruby) and Michael Caine make a very odd pairing. [When Caine asks Winters what her new boyfriend has that he hasn't got and she says “he's younger than you are” they show the guy in her bed; in the remake he remains unseen.] There is a lively, funny – if typically unrealistic bar fight – but not much else to recommend it. Some may feel this early version of the story has more bite and is more faithful to the original play, but it simply isn't as entertaining as the remake, and has its own ill-conceived moments of sentiment. NOTE: To read a review of the Alfie remake with Jude Law, scan down the movie reviews page at HIGH AND LOW NY http://highandlowny.tripod.com/id27.html.
Verdict: Not so great. **.