‘Alfie’ – Hey, Jude. What’s It All About?
The Bill Naughton play-to-film was a career maker for fledging star Michael Caine in 1966, when the generation gap was widening with the impact of the Beatles and Carnaby Street. Caine’s Alfie had an evil gleam in his eye and his attitude, personifying the “All We Need Is Lust” approach of playboys of that period. The under-30 hippies were into love on a higher level and their commitments were to causes. Caine’s Alfie was still swinging in the Frank Sinatra “Come Blow Your Horn” way, which is why his final comeuppance by the mature “bird” (Shelly Winters) was more devastating than the one by Liz (Susan Sarandon) in Law’s “Alfie.” Both matrons dump Alfie for younger lovers. However, while Caine’s character is overturned by a baby-faced rock ‘n’ roller, Law looks younger that the first Alfie’s adversary.
But the main difference which undoes Law’s Lothario is that Caine’s cad was cold-hearted. Law is simply too lovable. In fact, the new Alfie even loves kids. You can see it when he looks at the baby he fathered illegitimately. In 1966, Alfie was agonizing over an aborted fetus in a scene that sent shockwaves through the establishment. Still, one element that redeems the Alfie remake is the original Mick Jagger music, which has a more potent point of view than Law’s asides to the audience. Jagger’s mere vocal presence upstages the film star. Let’s face it, the old Rolling Stone has solid cad credentials. Buy Jagger’s CD and leave Law’s movie alone.