Is Michael Caine One Of Britain’s Greatest Film Icons?

Why Michael Caine should be inducted into the British Film Registry.

Curtis Evans


As you may or may not know, WhatCulture is launching the British Film Registry, an annual event to celebrate the best in British film that is based on the American ‘National Film Registry’ model. Each December we will be inducting five British Films and two British Film Personalities into a fictional vault (basically a Hall of Fame) based on your votes.

To celebrate this inaugural induction, over the next few months we will be bringing you an array of featured articles based on British Cinema to inform, entertain and stimulate the British Film Fan within and of course, to fly the flag of that glorious institution that makes us so proud to be British.

What greater time to launch such a celebration of British Film than the year which has seen The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and of course the London Olympics. Our inaugural induction this December will bring to a close this year which will truly be remembered as a proud year to be British.

So without further ado, let me kick off this British Film Registry season with a look at why I champion the great Sir Michael Caine as my first pick to become one of our inaugural inductees.  To cast your own votes on which Films/Personalities should be inducted visit our page at

Sir Michael Caine

Picking just two personalities is an impossible task. There are so many great individuals who have been involved with British Cinema,  both in front of the screen and behind it. There are virtually hundreds/thousands that would be worthy of induction into the British Film Registry, however a choice must be made and here is my first.

Sir Michael Caine is without a doubt, a national treasure. His filmography is utterly astounding, from British Classics, to Global blockbusters, he has proved that there is nothing that he cannot do and has achieved more longevity than almost anyone in his generation, no less famous or less on our screens now than he was in the 60’s.

Zulu, Alfie, The Italian Job, Battle of Britain, Get Carter, The Eagle Has Landed, A Bridge Too Far, Educating Rita, just a few of the all time classics which were fortunate enough to feature this special actor. His more recent work is equally impressive, he has shown that regardless of age there is always room for an actor of his calibre and his success hasn’t waned in the slightest. His performances in the likes of The Italian Job, Get Carter and Educating Rita simply ooze that cheeky cockney charm loved the world over. He deservedly picked up two Oscars for his outstanding performances in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and The Cider House Rules (1999), fine testament to an illustrious career.

His filmography shows that whether it’s straight drama or comedy, he can do it. From the gritty performances in Zulu and A Bridge Too Far to the whimsical The Muppets Christmas Carol, Michael Caine has delivered spot on performances year in year out, proving that there is plenty of room to be both dramatic and humorous when the time comes.

For me, Caine stole the entire Dark Knight trilogy. In a series which featured great performances from Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hardy and the late Heath Ledger, Caine’s Alfred was a mainstay providing consistency of both humour and emotion, such a difficult feat to accomplish. Despite limited screen time in The Dark Knight Rises, in my opinion his scene at the Wayne family graves was the highlight of the film, such raw and real emotion is so rare to see, which makes his performance so beautiful, so special and yet expertly understated.

Michael Caine represents everything British. He is a perfect example of British spirit and industry, working his way up slowly. Caine left school at 15 and took a succession of working class jobs before serving his country in the Royal Fusiliers during the Korean War. Caine hit the big time the hard way, gradually progressing from stage to small screen and finally landing roles in Zulu, The Ipcress Files and Alfie which made him the household name we all now love.

In my opinion, there are few more deserving to be inducted into the British Film Registry than Sir Michael Caine. He’s not only a British national treasure, but a global icon. He shows that Britain will always be able to compete with anything our friends across the Atlantic can produce. Michael Caine has demolished the world stage representing Britain year in, year out…and to think, he was only meant to blow the bloody doors off!

Sir Michael Caine: Global Icon, British Legend.


Voting for this year’s round of inductees is now open. You can nominate your maximum of five picks by filling out the form below.