Discover more from Feature Presentation
The B-Sides: Michael Caine
The flip side of his filmography
The B-Sides is a series from Feature Presentation highlighting the underseen, underrated, and underappreciated gems of a filmography, genre, or theme.
Just a few weeks ago, Michael Caine - he of over 160 film credits spanning eight decades - announced his retirement at the age of 90. He cited the fact that "The only parts I'm liable to get now are old men, 90-year-old men, well, maybe 85..." and I find that hilarious. His reason isn't, "Duh - I'm 90 freakin' years old!" - which would be my reason. He would keep going if he thought it was still worthwhile.
Luckily for us, he's given us more than enough great films, from his iconic roles in Get Carter, Dressed to Kill, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Christopher Nolan's output, and so many more. But what about the B-sides? The ones you don't know but should...
Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979)
After “The Poseidon Adventure”, in which the ship got flipped over by a tidal wave, the ship drifts bottom-up in the sea. While the passengers are still on board waiting to be rescued, two rivaling salvage parties enter the ship on search for money, gold and a small amount of plutonium.
Disaster movies are typically huge epics - casts with more stars than the heavens and enough special effects to burn a hole in a producer's pocket. That's absolutely the case for The Poseidon Adventure, the 1972 Irwin Allen-produced shipwreck flick.
Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, the quite-delayed 1979 sequel, couldn't flip the ship back over and do it all again, instead opting to feature salvagers and pirates who want what was left behind. They crawl around the ship, jump over debris, pull guns on each other, and don't have quite the same enthusiasm found in the original film. I can definitely see why people would find that less interesting (because it is), but I like it when people crawl around on ships, jump over debris, and pull guns on each other because I just like the bones of disaster movies - especially when those people are Michael Caine, Sally Field, Peter Boyle, Veronica Hamel, and many others.
Half Moon Street (1986)
Dr. Lauren Slaughter, a research fellow at the Arab-Anglo Institute in London is utterly frustrated by her job. To supplement her income, she starts moonlighting at the Jasmine Escort Service, where she has more control over men and money than she does at the office. On one of her ‘dates’, Lauren meets the politician Lord Bulbeck who is trying to mediate a peace accord between the Arabs and Israelis. Bulbeck falls in love with his escort, and unwittingly, Lauren becomes a pawn in some very dirty politics.
A b-side if there ever was one. A box office flop. No Blu-ray release. The DVD is out of print. I had to rent this from the video store on VHS...
Most known as the movie where Sigourney Weaver is naked a lot, largely because Sigourney Weaver is naked a lot. Let's be honest, this is her movie. Bored by her stuffy life, she decides to become an escort for the easy sex and elusive anonymity. Because she doesn't need the money (or the sex), she can blow off any creep she wants.
The guy she falls for is Michael Caine. It probably has nothing to do with his mustache, but that certainly couldn't hurt. He’s a British politician whose day-to-day largely revolves around international relations, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I would say that it feels "timely" or some crap like that, but really you could watch this day any day of the past century and it would feel omnipresent.
She gets caught up in some espionage and the movie goes from there. It's not a bad little flick. Reminded me a lot of Hitchcock's Torn Curtain, the Paul Newman/Julie Andrews film about love, backdropped by the Cold War. That is, if Julie Andrews was naked the entire movie and Paul Newman was rocking his Color of Money mustache…
A female executive and a night janitor conspire to commit a daring diamond heist from their mutual employer, The London Diamond Corporation.
Demi Moore and Michael Caine play two employees of The London Diamond Corporation who plan the perfect heist. Get the combination, take just enough, disappear, and be on your plane to Guatemala before they even notice.
The only problem? It's the 1960's and they just invented security cameras! What are they going to do!
As you can see, there's a lot about this that is very silly (the framing device especially) but I can't say no to a good-to-pretty-interesting heist flick, one where I definitely did not know where it was going.
Between this, Half Moon Street, and Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, I have learned that Michael Caine was a very lucky man...
Credit: Each plot synopsis comes from Letterboxd via TMDb.
Feature Presentation is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.