What’s It All About?

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Michael Caine, nee Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, was born into a poor but loving family in London’s East End on March 14, 1933. His father was a porter at Billingsgate fish market; his charlady mother devoted herself to her husband and children. Briefly evacuated from London at the beginning of World War II, Michael and his brother Stanley were soon taken back to the capital by their mother. Because of the Blitz, however, they moved to Norfolk, where they remained until the war’s end. After the war, Michael began his lifelong love affair with movies and his acting career by participating in several amateur London theatrical productions.

When he was eighteen, Caine entered the National Service. (In one of the most amusing sections of the book, he describes his experiences in Germany and wartorn Korea.) After returning to London, Caine finally got a job as a stage manager for an acting company. He was now on his way to a theatrical career. During this period he was briefly married and fathered a daughter, Dominique. He acted in several stage productions, and secured minor roles in numerous movies and television productions. He lived in the “Swinging London” of the early 1960’s, where he made friends with others who were soon to become famous, including Terence Stamp, Sean Connery, Peter O’Toole, and Roger Moore. In 1963, Michael got his break when he won a leading role in ZULU. From his success in this film, he rapidly starred in a succession of popular films, including THE IPCRESS FILE and ALFIE.

Among the highlights of Caine’s account are his hilarious courtship and successful second marriage to Shakira, the birth of their daughter Natasha, his associations with such acting and directing legends as Laurence Olivier, John Huston, Otto Preminger, and Woody Allen, and his lasting friendships with both the famous and the ordinary. Caine leaves the reader with an impression of a warm, compassionate, witty, and talented man who has remained devoted to his family, friends and ideals. WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT is a joy from beginning to end.