Saturday 16 March 2013

Harry Palmer turns 80 ....

UK screen giant Michael Caine has just turned eighty years old, and there has been a significant amount of coverage in the UK's - in the world's media - recognising his contribution to film over the last five decades.

I enjoyed particularly this article in the Daily Telegraph, which looks at his successful roles - and those which didn't work so well! Reading it you realise quite what a back catalogue of roles the man has, in some really iconic films spreading from the sixties right up through the present decade, with his role in Batman.

The Ipcress File is properly acknowledged as one of his successes, and his capability to embody a character perfectly is reflected by the journalist:
"Caine’s laconic spy Harry Palmer spends the opening two minutes of The Ipcress File (1965) brewing a hot cup of Java from espresso beans freshly ground on camera? Either way, after the film was released, the popularity of real coffee in Britain went through the roof, roughly in line with Caine’s career."
Happy Birthday, Sir Harry .... sorry, Sir Michael!


  1. Sir Harry? That means Sir Harry Saltzman, whose first name was given to the person with "no name" in the novel! For me, it is always Sir Michael, the London legend.

    1. I meant 'Harry Palmer', as Caine's sort of synonymous with him in the sixties.

    2. The anecdote is Michael Caine chose both names: Harry and Palmer. I read Ipcress File when it was first published in 1962 ( having read a few Bond novels during 1958-60), and watched the film when it was first released (having watched the 3 Bond films before then). I never heard then Michael Caine's name was synonymous with Harry Palmer, the way Sean Connery was synonymous with James Bond then and now even after Daniel Craig. In 1960s-that is late 1960s, Michael was best known for his" Italian Job" as by that time Ipcress File was forgotten. Now it is surely Alfred.

    3. I think Harry Saltzman had a part to play in it too. I suppose the point about Caine being synonymous with Palmer is more a visual style point - you think about the look, the glasses - they're often referred to in sketch comedy, for example, as a 'proxy' for a spy. I was thinking about the fast show, for example.

  2. Actually I liked this about Sir Michael:

    "I thought, well, I'll read it and turn it down," Caine told the Los Angeles Times last year about his role as Alfred Pennyworth in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy......,
    Batman is not Batman without Alfred, ....."
    Well, indeed!

  3. Such a great actor, and very humble too. One of my favourites for sure. Harry Palmer, Alfred Pennyworth, Zulu, and The Man Who Would Be King. Bravo Sir Michael! Many happy returns!

  4. They're all great, stand-out characters. Adaptability seems to be his forte as an actor.