Michael Caine, Shelley Winters, Millicent Martin, Julia Foster,
Michael Caine makes a fabulous cad as the randy playboy Alfie, but it’s the female leads who make a more lasting impression in this surprisingly candid study of British sexual and social mores just as the sixties began to really swing. Directly addressing the camera through pre- or post-coital confessionals, the casual misogynist Alfie serves up a lothario’s list of do’s and who’s: married women are preferable conquests, unless they’re too “mumsy”; women are “birds,” or merely “it,” as in “And it can cook, too.” He’s a cad, all right, but is there a heart of gold hidden within? “Is Every Man an Alfie? Ask Any Girl!!,” pipped the ads, and it’s Alfie’s lovers (especially a tipsy Shelley Winters as a just-as-debauched wealthy woman) who provide the film’s best ripostes. Alfie’s offhand treatment of previously taboo themes like adultery and abortion shocked audiences, and prefigured the cultural revolution to come. Jazz legend Sonny Rollins contributed the film’s relaxed, breezy score.