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Top 10 Michael Caine Performances

Written by Richard Bush His name, is Michael Caine. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down the top 10 performances by famed British actor Michael Caine. For this list, we are focussing on the most entertaining and iconic roles throughout Michael Caine’s career, from his stint as Batman’s butler to his foray as the arrogant Alfie. Special thanks to our users jkellis, AvrilLavigneandAFI, drewbrown, The Doctor, sarahjessicaparkerth, Jedimperial96, karaokeguy, Chance Ellison, Nana Amuah, Ryan Otto and James Ward for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Top 10 Michael Caine Performances

His name, is Michael Caine. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down the top 10 performances by famed British actor Michael Caine.

For this list, we are focussing on the most entertaining and iconic roles throughout Michael Caine’s career, from his stint as Batman’s butler to his foray as the arrogant Alfie.

#10: Lawrence Jamieson
“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (1988)

Who says conmen can’t be charming, ay? A sophisticated trickster who prides himself on subtlety and class, Caine’s Lawrence Jamieson is sent into a spin when Steve Martin’s uncouth Freddy Benson turns up on his turf. The two trade blows back-and-forth, with Caine’s highbrow foolery leading to some hilarious chemistry between the two. It’s a slight aside from his usual out-there cockney characters, which makes each encounter with a comedy heavyweight like Martin all the more entertaining.

#9: Peachy Carnehan
“The Man Who Would Be King” (1975)

Another conman story now - sort of - with Caine and Connery playing two soldiers who end up being mistakenly worshipped by a group of people in a secluded society. A rebellious soldier who decides to live life his own way, Caine’s Peachy Carnehan is full of wit and wisdom, delivering everything from perfect comic timing to satisfying strictness. Ultimately, this role gives us a bit of everything from Caine - humour, drama and cheekiness. We tip our hat to you sir.

#8: Harry Brown
“Harry Brown” (2009)

An old, disgruntled ex-soldier, sick of watching his local area terrorised by juvenile delinquents, there’s something eerily realistic about “Harry Brown” - almost as if Caine really did go postal and they just set-up a few cameras to catch the action. Seeking revenge on those who murdered his friend, Caine’s performance as Harry Brown is calm and collected yet undeniably deadly. And it’s the sincerness of his delivery that makes him so likeable. Caine’s getting on a bit, and he pulls off this appropriately-cast role with aplomb.

#7: Elliot
“Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986)

For those who wanted to see Caine as a vulnerable, desperate married man who’s having an affair, look no further than “Hannah and Her Sisters”. With love triangles forming all over the place, this Woody Allen picture serves up a plethora of colourful characters, with Caine’s love-crazed Elliot being one of them. In love with Barbara Hershey’s Lee, married man Elliot hedges his bets whenever he can over the course of three thanksgiving dinners. We kind of feel sorry for him, but at the same time, don’t.

#6: Doctor Robert Elliott
“Dressed to Kill” (1980)

A film with more twists and turns than a racetrack, “Dressed to Kill” is a quintessential 80s ‘whodunnit’ thriller. Caine plays psychiatrist Robert Elliott, and you’re never quite sure where his loyalty or agenda lies. It’s a film you’ve really got to experience to understand the tension and drama Caine delivers, but think Hitchcock’s “Frenzy” meets “Psycho”. Caine’s unpredictable character is the vital ingredient in this film, and it proves that sometimes, not even the audience can deduce if he’s good or bad.

#5: Alfie Elkins
“Alfie” (1966)

This role of a suave, cockney playboy became defining for Caine. “Alfie” sees him portray the eponymous womaniser who flits about sleeping with seemingly every woman he encounters - but he soon realises that there are certain consequences that go with his deceitful, manipulative lifestyle. Whether he’s addressing the audience, getting into scraps or, let’s face it, being a misogynistic pig, Caine’s performance is engaging throughout - and till this day proves to many that he can be charming as well as tough.

#4: Charlie Croker
“The Italian Job” (1969)

To many, the film that will immortalise Caine’s quotes in cinema forever. Playing gold-hungry crook Charlie Croker, Caine shines as the devious, charismatic thief in this 60s heist film. Whether he’s delivering hilarious one liners or just moaning at his crew, he strikes the balance of comedic and dramatic delivery perfectly, be it his “bloody doors off” line or his purchase of a new car. And who better to be stuck on a literal cliffhanger with.

#3: Milo Tindle
“Sleuth” (1972)

With moments you’re not quite sure whether you should wince or laugh at, “Sleuth” is a classic mystery about murder and one-upmanship. Caine’s Milo goes head-to-head with Laurence Olivier’s Andrew, a man whose wife he has been having an affair with. A strange negotiation goes south and we’re not quite sure who's dead and who did what. Caine’s cunning throughout is glorious, with a performance that leaves us constantly guessing whether he is the victor or victim.

#2: Harry Palmer
“The Ipcress File” (1965)

Not quite Sherlock Holmes and not quite James Bond, Michael Caine’s portrayal as the cool-headed Harry Palmer is one for the history books. Tasked with investigating a murder and a series of strange brainwashing cases, Palmer encounters a few uncouth characters and, of course, the dreaded Ipcress file, along the way. With a performance that will make you long to see Caine sport the 007 nametag, he’s just as confused as us throughout as everyone seems to be switching sides in a heartbeat. And who can forget that mind-numbing interrogation scene.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few Honourable Mentions.

Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead
“Zulu” (1964)

Dr. Wilbur Larch
“The Cider House Rules” (1999)

Alfred Pennyworth
“The Dark Knight Rises” (2012)

#1: Jack Carter
“Get Carter” (1971)

Word of advice, don’t get on the wrong side of Michael Caine, especially when he’s got a shotgun. Setting out on a revenge-driven killing spree following the murder of his brother, Jack Carter kicks, punches, stabs and shoots his way to the truth. Caine’s performance in this film has been integral to building what is now the textbook cockney gangster character, with send-off lines, dramatic close-ups and no-nonsense interrogations aplenty. His acting chops are multifaceted, but nothing’s ever suited him quite as well as the gangster look. Have a drink on us, Michael.

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