Michael Caine’s Little Voice?

Happy 85th Birthday to Sir Michael Caine! Cheers and a heart warming wish for a wonderful celebration. Two time Oscar winner, Sir Michael Caine has an amazing acting career with 167 movie credits, to date. He, Lawrence Olivier, and Jack Nicholson are the only actors to be nominated for an Oscar in five different decades. That is an impressive longevity in Hollywood. So, when the opportunity arrived to write a blog post about him, I couldn’t wait. There was only one problem, which film?

At first, I decided to write a review on one of my favorite Caine films, Gambit (1966) with Shirley MacLaine and Herbert Lom.  Then, I planned to compare it with its reboot made in 2012 with Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, and Alan Rickman.  I changed my mind and decided to compare another Caine movie, Alfie, with its reboot.  It offered Jude Law as the curious Alfie in 2004. Unfortunately, for Jude Law, Caine’s 1966 Alfie was much more convincing, sympathetic, and likeable. Actually, it didn’t matter which movies I compared to the original Caine movies. It always had the same result. Caine’s movies are better.

So, I changed my mind yet again. I decided on writing a post on one of his darker characters. This character reminds me of someone or someone’s I have had the displeasure of meeting in my life. Caine’s portrayal of the mean, despicable music promoter and talent agent, Ray Says. Caine’s portrayal is so believable that I hated the movie the first time I watched it. Then, I realized how brilliant his performance was in this film. He went places with that character that was just shocking. Now, I love watching this bittersweet comedy/musical: Little Voice (1998), even if I still flinch at Ray Says singing, It’s Over.

Before I begin, I want to give many thanks to Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews for Hosting The Marvellous Michael Caine Blogathon: From Alfie to Zulu.  I must say that Marvellous is a near perfect adjective to describe Sir Caine. To read more articles about this marvellous actor, please use the link below…



A Bit of Caine’s life and Cockney Accent

To understand my fascination with Michael Caine movies, it is important to understand his voice. If a Caine movie is on, I don’t need be in the room to know it. As long as I can hear Caine speaking, I will know it’s him. Especially, if he is allowing more of his natural dialect, Cockney, to shine through. Cockney is a London dialect from the “rough” Southeast end of the city. In the old British class system, if you spoke with a cockney accent, you would immediately be labeled as part of the “working class.”  As part of the working (lower) class, you might also be stereotyped as a funny but not too bright, uneducated, and unclean, poor person. I always think of English actor Charlie Chaplin’s lovable character: The Little Tramp when I think about this stereotype. It is no wonder that Chaplin’s characterization reminds me of this; since, he and Caine grew up in the same poor area of London. The area is known as the Elephant and Castle.

Although there is a certain amount of charm in Chaplin’s Tramp; Caine understood, in reality, that this insulting stereotype influenced people to keep them from a better life. His accent and dialect became a badge of honor for him. He would keep it his whole life. His Cockney hero growing up was his father. During WWII, he went off to fight the Germans for four years. During the war, the section of London that Hitler heavily bombed was Caine’s neighbor.

As a child, Caine watched movies that helped him escape the suffering for a while; however, there were no Cockney heroes in the movies, just the opposite. They were usually portrayed as the criminal, drunk or idiotic comedy relief.  Caine wants to be a Cockney hero for people still living there and struggling. He wants them to say: If he did it, so can I.  He never forgot where he came from nor does he ever want too.

Summary of Little Voice (1998)

Little Voice is based on a successful play written by Jim Cartwright ( The Rise and Fall of Little Voice). It stars: Jane Horrocks, Brenda Blethyn, Ewan McGregor, Jim Broadbent, Annette Badland, and Phillip Jackson.

The story is rather simple. LV (Little Voice) (Jane Horrocks) is a crippling shy and fearful young woman who lives with her overbearing, narcissistic mother, who never shuts up. Their relationship is based on resentment and jealousy. The father was a barely surviving record shop owner who died years before. The only thing he left for his wife was a run down shop with a livable attached home. His favourite records became LV’s most cherished possessions. When she plays records by Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Shirley Bassey, Billie Holiday, or Ethel Merman, she escapes to a fantasy world where she is singing, in their voice, these special songs for her father. She desperately wants to please him; so, she can see him smile and be happy. Which is something he didn’t experience much of while he was alive.

Her insensitive, and vulgar mother played perfectly by Brenda Blethyn (won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for this role) thinks LV is a kooky, weird and a total waste of time nut. I doubt there is a nurturing bone in this mother’s body.  LV is soft-spoken; but, around her mother she chooses to hardly speak at all. Probably, she can’t get a word in edgewise. Oddly enough, the mother’s best friend is a neighbor across the street who is mute, Sadie, (Annette Badland). These two friends is hilarious.

Mari (Mum) likes to hang out at the local nightclub owned by Mr Boo (Jim Broadbent). She likes to drink to excess and flirt around for a bit of fun and to feel desired by men. Here, she meets Ray Says (Michael Caine). To give you a taste of Mari’s exuberance and quirky ways, watch this funny clip of her telling Sadie how great it was to meet Ray Says in an open room cafe.

If Mari’s accent is too much, just play it over few times. Her meaning will come through. I love the way she refers to her derriere as her golden, old arse. The whole clip makes me laugh. Annette Badland is just brilliant with her facial expressions.  I assume Sadie is still a virgin.

Ray Says is a talent agent with no clients. He is a one hit wonder with a song he recorded thirty years ago, It’s Over. His fifteen minutes of fame expired years ago. Yet, he continued to squeeze every drop of life and passion out of it for years. He is a man afraid of change and refuses to let go of the past. He has met some good friends along the way; but, most have fallen to the wayside. Mr Boo is probably he most loyal friend. He loans him money to pay his debtors and gambling debts. Says is a desperate man at the end of his career rope. He keeps his 1960 Chevy, cherry red, Impala convertible as a status symbol of who he was.

In the meantime, electrical things keep shorting out at the record store/home. Even the phone. So, workers come to the house to replace the phone. One of the workers is young Billie (Ewan McGregor). He is intrigued by LV’s shyness because he too suffers fit. Billie finds a unique way of getting to know LV. He will eventually befriend her; and, they will share bits and pieces about each other’ s life.

Billie tells LV how much he enjoys taking care of homing pigeons and is worried about “Dwayne” who has not returned from France. LV tells Billie she never goes out of the house. It a start for the two of them.

On the Second night of Ray and Mari’s date, Mr Boo wants Ray to hear the angelic voice coming from LV’s window. Ray believes LV is his ticket back to success and fame. LV doesn’t sing for anyone but her Father. Watch how sleazy Ray convinces LV to do it for her father in front of an audience to make him proud.

When LV tells Billie, he knows right away that LV is being taken advantage of and he tries to make sure that Ray and her MUM is stopped. So, LV promises Billie it is for only one time. So, she performs and is a great success at Mr Boo’s Nightclub. The following day, Ray begs, borrows, gambles, pawns and steals to enough money to redecorate the nightclub and produce an expensive show, tailored around LV’s songs. He even invites “real” talent agents and music CEOs to watch LV perform. He can almost smell the ink on the contracts.

However, LV only promised one show. Why would a misogynist like Ray Says believe what a woman says? When Mari fails to get LV ready for the big night, Ray horrendously lashes out at her MUM.

Again, I don’t want to spoil the whole movie. However, I did mention before how Ray Says meanness near the end almost spoiled the movie for me. Well, I was not the only one with that problem. Here is a quote from highly respected movie critic, Roger Ebert concerning this meanness:  One problem is that the Michael Caine character, sympathetic and funny in the opening and middle scenes, turns mean at the end for no good reason.

This is one of the few times I have to disagree with Roger Ebert.  Ray Says has every reason to turn mean.  First of all, he too is a narcissist, like Mari. Unlike Mari, he can use the charm to get what he wants. He is not a NICE guy. He uses everyone. When he realizes his dream is dead and the mafia is ready to take him to his maker….He breaks down and screams that blasted song, It’s Over. It’s almost like a Greek tragedy for Ray’s bitter end.

Of course, there is so much more to this really funny movie. The most spectacular, besides the acting, is Jane Horrocks singing impressions. She is beyond good. I couldn’t believe she sang those songs. She was near perfection.  I erroneously thought she lip synched those songs.  Let’s just say, the movie must be pretty good; since, I laughed through nearly all of it.

Little Voice was more than a good movie for me.  It also allowed me to see that even an unlikable character is important to move the plot of the story along. I finally understood Michael Caine when he described the difference between a movie star and a movie actor. When this movie first started, I saw Michael Caine the movie star. However, near the end, I saw Michael Caine the movie actor. He admits in an interview that Ray Says is nothing like himself.  To him, Ray is so evil, he’s funny.  If you have not seen this movie, I think it would be worth your time. Here’s just a sample of Horrock’s LV performance.







April Showers in The Movies Blogathon: Pride And Prejudice (2005)

Many thanks to Movie, Movie, Blog, Blog for hosting April Showers Blogathon 2017.  I enthusiastically urge you check the link below for more posts on other movies that use rain to enhance its movie experience:




After a particularly harsh Winter, it feels natural to welcome Spring with some sort of celebration.  Being able to stay outside for long periods of time, you are able to see nature bursting with new life as it graces us with images and scents of  blooming flowers, fresh air and wet green grass. As it rains, you can feel the growth of new beginnings. As true with most things in life, there is an upside and a downside.  The negative reactions to change could also include degrees of fear, uncertainty, and apprehension.  As a result, people tend to be a bit anxious about changes, especially when it affects their future, like a new love.

Nothing affects the future like a budding romance in the Spring. It is one of nature’s strongest forces. However, no matter how glorious it feels to be in love, there is a stark reality. There is no guarantee that it will last, forever. In the United States,  50% of all marriages end in divorce and many, who don’t divorce, wish they could have chosen a different spouse.  The positives and negatives of Spring romances are a reality that affect life on this planet, for better and worst.

No one understood these Spring Romances better than Jane Austen in her novel, Pride and Prejudice (1813). She presents rules, obstacles and warnings of how to, and not to, fall in love with the wrong person. The main  characters, Elizabeth Bennett (Lizzy) and William Fitzgerald Darcy, represents a couple who struggle with these rules. They approach each other with as much honor and passion as any knight on a battlefield. The emotional duel between these two head strong, intelligent people is like nothing ever written before; even  when compared to Shakespeare‘s standards of fearsome love battles: Beatrice and Benedict in Much Ado About Nothing or  Katherine and Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew.  Austen’s Lizzy and Darcy tangle with the Forces of Nature too; and no amount of reason or strong will can stop them from hating the fact that they are falling in love, despite their best efforts not to do so.

Of course, the real test of this classic tale is to transfer their love battle to the Hollywood screen, with all its explosively charged passions still in tact within the confines of polite society.  How does a film maker translate this magical and sensual tale to the screen and still be true to the book?  How do you take people from another time in multi-layered clothes, who are not allowed to touch each other, let alone talk openly or privately without a chaperone, appear sexy and passionately in love for a modern audience?

In my humble opinion, Director Joe Wright‘s film, Pride and Prejudice (2005), had accomplished just that. It is the most beautiful and sensual retelling of any romantic classic that I have ever seen.  It is so beautifully made,  I believe it is visual poetry. And poetry, as we all know, is the language of love.

How does Wright make a classic love story into poetry on film?  It is accomplished with careful and artistic use of the movie making elements of cinematography, filming in lush locations, employing the right melodic music,  having a great story, with wonderful actors set in lavish sets and costumes. And perhaps, and even more importantly, the use of the Seasons with its natural elements. Much of this film’s imagery, is a product of an artistic utilization of the natural landscape and weather. Since April Showers is the theme of this post, and romance is the background, I want to focus on one a scene in this movie that uses rain, in particular, in conveying the emotional tone and the movement of the story..

Summary for Essential Scene

During 19th century Merry England, the Industrial Revolution was soon to begin as the war with Napoleon was nearing its end.  On the home front, life was routine.  Women, for centuries, were needed to help increase their family’s fortunes by marrying wealthy men.  They were not allowed to inherit the family fortune if there was a male relative about who could inherit instead.  These woman faced eviction if these male relatives so chose (Entailment in Property law).


The Bennett Family consisted of a Mother, Father and five daughters. With no sons to inherit, an estrange male cousin, Mr. Collins, will inherit the Bennett estate, Longboure, once the Father passes away.  So being a good mother, Mama Bennett (Brenda Blethyn), who has a complete lack of any tack or finesse,  finds it imperative to hunt and capture good husbands for her young daughters.

This is made very difficult, because the money that should have been saved to add to their dowry (to attract suitors) was foolishly overspent on new dresses and frills to lavish on her favorite daughters and the home. Father Bennett (Donald Sutherland) basically lets Mother Bennett have her way in most cases to avoid listening to her nagging.  Elizabeth loves and admires her father’s witty intellect. She finds solace in her father’s company when they discuss and debate concepts introduced by the books they have read.  Thanks to her parent’s unhappy marriage, Elizabeth is determined to marry for love, only.  Poor Elizabeth, due to  the family’s unfortunate circumstances, Mama Bennett is near manic and extremely manipulative in her matching making efforts. You know the philosophy: The ends justified the means.


At every opportunity, she would “present” her daughter’s before men of wealth, usually at local dances.  Jane (Rosamund Pike) is the eldest and prettiest daughter. She is a very sweet natured young Lady; but, she is also extremely shy. Jane and Elizabeth are each others confidante.  The family relies on Jane to find the wealthiest husband in order to save them from poverty. Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) is the second daughter and also very pretty. She is very intelligent with an independent spirit. She doesn’t always filter her words when she speaks her mind. Which is a huge turn off for most men.

When Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen) and Elizabeth eyes first connect, they both like what they see. This is why Elizabeth asks Mr. Darcy if he likes to dance.  His response is: Not if I can help it. It is too crowded and loud to continue the conversation.  It is at this same dance that Jane attracts the attention of a new wealthy neighbor, Charles Bingley (Simon Woods).  He walks up and introduces himself, his two sisters, a brother-in-law and his best friend, Mr. Darcy.  He asks Jane for a dance. Mama Bennett is pleased to be sure; but, she sees the wealthier, Mr. Darcy, standing behind his friend.  Without missing an opportunity, Mama Bennett begs Darcy to dance with one of her daughters; then, she nearly pushes Lizzy ( Elizabeth) on Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth is naturally embarrassed.  Darcy who is completely disgusted by Mama Bennett’s obviously crass attempt at  “head hunting” turns his back on them all and stalks off.  Shocked by his rudeness, Lizzy is equally disgusted by his snub.

Elizabeth soothes her mothers hurt feelings and her own by agreeing that Mr. Darcy is “ill-favored” despite his wealth. He does appear arrogant and haughty; but, in his defense, he is overly shy and inept at social function.  So much so, that when he gets nervous, he tends to stutter.  Of course, Mother Bennett agrees with Lizzy; and, advises her never to dance with “the man” even if he asked her too.  Elizabeth promises never to dance with Mr. Darcy.

Later, Elizabeth hears Charles Bingley trying to urge his friend into dancing. He compliments Jane, “She looks like an Angel” and says that Lizzy is quite handsome too.  At this, Darcy went to a place, no man in his right mind, should ever go.  Miss Austen, please excuse my paraphrasing.

He says: She is not handsome enough to tempt me.  I didn’t come here to give “consequence” (boobie prize) to girls who have been rejected by other men.

Oh yeah, Darcy went there.  Guess who over heard it? Yep, Elizabeth. The War is on!  So, what does a young, powerless women do to get back at someone who has insulted her very core? You heard the expression: A best defense, is a great offence.  Lizzy perseveres and pretends, it did not bother her.  Then, she smiles the most dazzling smile she has ever smiled before, and looks straight into the eyes of Mr. Darcy, as she sides pass him on the crowded dance floor. She then finds her closet friend to whisper what Darcy had said.  He is still watching (bewitching?) sees both woman look back at him and laugh.

The lines are drawn; yet, we know both Darcy and Lizzy cannot continue this confusing entanglement for too long. She believes the horrible lies and gossip about Darcy.  He constantly reminds himself of her common breeding.  At every opportunity she tries to avoid him; and, if she cannot avoid him, she sarcastically teases him about his pride. He interprets this as a coy flirtation.

When Darcy hears that someone said Elizabeth was the Local Beauty, he not only says that it must have her mother who said it; but, he also adds that her mother must have been a “wit” or joking.  All awhile, Darcy continues to fall helplessly in love with her; until, he cannot take it anymore.  He decides to degrade himself and declare his love.  He knows that Lizzy must agree that she is very fortunate to have him propose since he is her superior.   He understands that he has much to lose, his reputation, family respect and his own self respect…”but it cannot be helped.”   Elizabeth has everything to gain.  How could she refuse him?

Just before he proposes to Elizabeth, they attend Church service.  She is told by Darcy’s cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, that Darcy bragged about helping his friend Bingley dodge the marriage bullet with an “unsuitable” young lady.  Lizzy knew that the unsuitable young lady was her dear sister Jane.  Elizabeth also understood that Darcy destroyed her sister’s happiness and possibly her family’s as well.  This truth, along with the many lies told to her from Mr. Wickham (Darcy’s enemy), is overwhelming. Elizabeth runs from the Church just as a thunder storm is about to break loose.  Darcy runs after her, and finds her under a stone pavilion, sheltering herself from the storm. This is the climax of the movie.  Here,  Director Wright creates a vividly visual poem .  I have included a link below to watch this magnificent scene. Confrontation and open truth, can be brutally painful; but, it can also cleanse the spirit for change. The rain, music, and emotions are one. Their sounds are as vital as any lover’s heartbeat.

Even with the Academy Award winning music by Dario Marianelli , the lush locations, brilliant cinematography by Roman Osin , and the incredible performances under Wright’s direction, this scene is unforgettable as a result of implementing the thunder storm as a leading character.  It is one of the most passionate and powerful scenes in movie history. Enjoy!

The Darcy’s Proposal in the following link: