Alfie (1966)

83. Alfie (1966) [Rated PG]

summary from

Alfie is a young man from the working classes of London. He is confident, charming, totally self-centered and very successful with the ladies; using them for his immediate pleasure without emotional involvement and leaving a trail of emotional devastation. His callousness toward these women contrasts with the delusion that he causes no harm; he is just teaching life’s lessons.

directed by: Lewis Gilbert

starring: Michael Caine, Shelley Winters, Denholm Elliott

A Trailer

Non-Conservative Reviews

Abortion/Life Content:

Michael Caine: Is today the 22nd?

Julia Foster: Yeah, I think so.

Caine: Shouldn’t our little friend have arrived on the 19th?

Foster: Don’t worry, he’ll turn up. He always has done.

Caine: He’s usually so punctual.

Julia Foster: Alfie, I was thinking. Why can’t we… go through with it?

Michael Caine: Blimey, what an horrible thought! I’ve never been through with anything in all me life. I mean, if I was to marry you, you might gain a husband but you’d lose a bleeding good friend.

Foster: You don’t have to marry me, Alfie. I’ve got it worked out.

Caine: I don’t care what you’ve got worked out. You’ve got to think twice before you turn an innocent little creature out into this world.

Foster: I wouldn’t turn him out. I’ll have him adopted.

Caine: Adopted? What are you talking about?

Foster: Well, by a rich woman, see?

Caine: A rich woman?

Foster: I’d like to do that much for him. I’d be certain he’d have a good life, then.

Caine: Steady on, girl. You can’t be sure there’s something there yet, can you?

Foster: This morning, I thought I felt him kick.

Caine: Kick? How can they kick? It won’t be the size of my thumbnail.

Foster: I’ll tell you next time.

Caine: You’ll do nothing of the sort! You don’t want to give way to your impulses like that. Something a woman might think natural a bloke will find a bit sickening.

Foster: Mrs Artoni at the caf called her husband every time their baby moved.

Julia Foster: Alfie, please. Can I, you know, go through with it and have the baby?

Michael Caine: What you asking me for? It’s yours, isn’t it? Nobody in this world has any right to stop you doing what you want to. Steady on, girl. Now, then. Don’t break your bleeding heart. If you wanna do something and you think it’s right, you do it. To hell with ’em. Mind my shirt.

Michael Caine: Do you know what? She was quite happy them months she was carrying, which to my mind was out of place in a way, her not being married… Mind you, she came over quite beautified for a time, especially in the early months. I told her. I says, “Blimey, girl, you ain’t as ugly as I thought.” Anyway, her time comes and into the hospital she goes to have it. I wasn’t there, so I didn’t know till they told me. Then, from all accounts, the kid comes out a treat, Right bang on the minute, you might say. […]

Nurse: What do you think of your son, Mr Elkins?

Caine: My what?

Julia Foster: He hasn’t seen him yet.

Nurse: Here he is. He’s the image of his father.

Caine: Yes. I can see more of me in him than you. What are you gonna call him?

Foster: I thought Malcolm Alfred.

Caine: Malcolm bleeding Alfred? He’ll never forgive you if you give him a name like that! Here, he’s moving. Quick, you better take him.

Michael Caine: And, on top of them, there was always the odd bird that came my way by chance.

Woman: Oh. what a lovely baby. Is it yours?

Caine: No, no, it’s my sister’s. So why I had to get involved with Gilda, I do not know.

Julia Foster: What’s that brown round his mouth?

Caine: It’s a bar of chocolate I gave him.

Foster: Oh, Alfie, you shouldn’t!

Caine: You smell a bit milkified.

Foster: I’m sorry, Alfie, I’ll have a wash.

Caine: No, I don’t mind, it smells mumsy. How long will you do the breast-feeding caper?

Foster: As long as I can. It’s the best thing for him.

Caine: You don’t wanna let yourself get too attached to him, y’know.

Foster: Well why shouldn’t I? I’m his mother.

Caine: And I’m his father, but you’ve gotta be fair. You’ve gotta think of him. What about this rich woman?

Foster: What rich woman?

Caine: The rich woman you was gonna get him adopted to, so he’d have a chance in life.

Foster: I’ve got to think about it. I can’t rush into it.

Caine: Well you better make up your mind quick, one way or the other.

Foster: Why should I?

Caine: He might get so drawn to you, it’ll fret his heart out when they take him away.

Foster: Who says they’ll take him away?

Caine: That’s what you said. You were gonna get him adopted by a rich woman so he’d want for nothing.

Foster: That was a long time ago.

Caine: You know what you’ve had, don’t you, girl? You’ve had a change of heart. I can see it in your face.

Foster: What about it? Haven’t you ever had one?

Caine: Yes, but I’ve always resisted it. Lying in hospital feeding him brought it on. I could see your face changing every time I went in. Coming over all mumsy, it was.

Foster: I’m not ashamed of it.

Caine: But you’ve got to think of him. You could never bring him up like this rich woman could. Give him the things she could.

Foster: We’ll see. I’m going back to work next week.

Caine: She could really take care of him. Dress him handsome. Feed him beautiful.

Foster: Who says I can’t dress him proper? Look at that lovely shawl, and the things for him in that drawer.

Caine: You can’t learn him to talk nice. Not like this rich woman could.

Foster: I can if I try hard.

Caine: Not proper, you can’t. Before he can talk proper, he’ll be “bleeding” this and “bleeding” that and perhaps worse.

Foster: I won’t let him.

Caine: These are dry, you can use ’em. Anyway, Who’ll look after him when you go back to the caff?

Foster: I’m not going back. I’ll work in the brewery. It’s better paid.

Caine: Lugging bleeding beer crates about? When will you learn some sense? Who will look after him while you’re at the brewery?

Foster: A woman called Mrs Tippet. She’s got four children of her own and she’ll look after him from Monday morning till Friday teatime. And I’ll have him all the weekend. I think that’s best for him.

Caine: And what about… and what about me? You think I’ll spend my weekends dodging under wet nappies?

Foster: You won’t leave us, Alfie? Not now?

Caine: I’ll have to think about it.

Foster: Please! I won’t ever ask you for anything, not a farthing. But don’t leave us now. If you do…

Caine: Don’t talk like that. I haven’t said I’ll leave you. I had to speak up. I don’t think you’re doing right by that kid.

Foster: But I will, Alfie. I’ll look after him. I’ll never neglect him. Never.

Caine: I’m only telling you the truth as I see it.

Foster: You won’t leave us, will you? Promise me, Alfie. Promise!

Caine: Let go. Don’t ruckle my sleeve. I ain’t a savage. I ain’t gonna scarper. But don’t start crying, either. I’ll belt you one for sure. I don’t feel up to it. Don’t jump up to him at once. It don’t do. You’ll grow more attached to each other, and he won’t go to Mrs Tippet. Here, mate. That’s enough of that. I’ll give you something to cry for. Come on now. There you are. All you need is a father’s voice. He’s got a hard life in front of him. Don’t give him any wrong impression from the start. Now, about this little kid of mine. He turns out to be a real quick ‘un, And he don’t half love it when I play games with him. Never wants his mother, always asking for his father. Very soon, I find I’m getting quite attached to him, Know what I mean? That’s something I always guard against. Because sooner or later that’s gonna bring you some pain. So if a bird ain’t got you one way, she’s got you another. That’s the trouble. Once you get a kid in your life, it ain’t your own.

Julia Foster: What’s that?

Graham Stark: That ring I was talking about.

Foster: It’s heavy!

Graham: 22 carat. Solid gold. Same as I say that was my mother’s.

Foster: They don’t make rings like that today.

Graham: No, They made ’em to last in the old days.

Foster: Can I try it on?

Graham: Yeah, go on. Er, no. No, sorry, but it’s bad luck. Once you put a wedding ring on, you should never take it off. That’s what they say. I don’t know if there’s anything in it.

Foster: Humphrey? How would you feel… bringing up another man’s child?

Graham: Have a cherry? You mean little Malcolm? Well, I mean… Once we were married, I could only look on him as my own child. I’d try to be a good father to him, if he’d have me.

Michael Caine: What a lad. He could hardly keep his eyes open, but he wouldn’t give in. Know what? He went off just like that. He’ll be a real handful in a few months’ time. We’ll have to be careful what we say in front of him. He’s as sharp as a needle. Wait till he sees that great teddy bear I bought for his birthday. It’s about that size. Ever so soft. The bloke who sold it to me said it was a real rich kid’s teddy. Here, do you fancy an hour’s kip, girl, while he’s asleep? Cloth ears! I’m talking to you.

Julia Foster: Humphrey’s been to see me twice this week at lunch time.

Caine: What’s he after? A bit on the side?

Foster: Nothing like that. We just talked a bit.

Caine: Then don’t tell me what you talked about, because I don’t want to know! One thing I can’t bear to hear about is a bird and a bloke having innocent talks together. I think it’s more intimate than the other. What is he after?

Foster: He wants to marry me.

Caine: What did you tell him?

Foster: That I’d talk it over with you first.

Caine: Why talk it over with me? You’re a free agent.

Foster: Malcolm needs a father.

Caine: What do you think I am?

Foster: I don’t mean just a weekend father, I mean a proper father.

Caine: Yeah, well, we all need proper fathers. And proper mothers, too, come to that. It seems there’s just not enough to go around these days.

Foster: I don’t love him.

Caine: I don’t know what love is, the way you birds talk about it.

Foster: But I respect him.

Caine: Well, you’d better marry him, then, hadn’t you? You’ve got young buster in there to think about. I’ll be seeing you. Maybe.

Michael Caine: Very few birds can get into my rhythm of sleeping.

Eleanor Bron: I see.

Caine: I find myself lying there in the dark staring at the ceiling. I keep thinking about this kid I used to know. I was friendly with his mother. Nothing special, just an ordinary girl. But I knew him well, the child.

Bron: I’m afraid there’s something I must tell you.

Caine: All I wanted was for her to come back with little Malcolm, so we could spend our Sundays together. But she never come. Do you understand me?

Bron: Oh yes, perfectly.

Caine: Now. If you lose a bird, you can always replace her. But with a child, it’s different. They’re each one themselves. Each one’s got his different nature. I may not be the best dad in the world, but I am his real dad. Credit where credit’s due.

Bron: There’s something I simply must tell you.

Caine: He’s come out of these loins. What do you wanna tell me?

Bron: Look at this.

Caine: They can’t get away from it. He’s my son.

Bron: This is your X-ray, Mr Elkins.

Caine: Blimey! Is that me?

Bron: Yes, it is.

Caine: I’m just a load of old ribs!

Michael Caine: You know what? I had an horrible nightmare.

Eleanor Bron: You must have had too much supper.

Caine: No, serious. I dreamt that the hydrogen bomb had fallen, and I didn’t get killed. But I got some of that dust on my shoulder, see? I rushes in this house, shuts the door, and who’s standing there? Little Malcolm.

Bron: Who?

Caine: Oh, yeah. It’s this kid I used to know. And then I realised that this… this dust on me, this poison I’ve picked up… will kill him. And I was taking it to him. I was taking death to him. But what could I do? I had to save my bleeding self, didn’t I? Made me feel rough, though.

Bron: I suppose it would make some sense to a psychiatrist.

Michael Caine: Come in. You’re a bit early, girl.

Vivien Merchant: I didn’t want to be late. Is he coming?

Caine: Yeah, about two o’clock, he said. Here, give us your bag. Blimey! Your hands ain’t half cold. You ain’t worrying, are you?

Merchant: A bit.

Caine: Yeah, you’re all dark under the eyes.

Merchant: I couldn’t sleep last night.

Caine: Well… And you can get ready for him when you want to.

Merchant: Thanks.

Caine: I’ve let myself in for something this time alright. It was that day I took her up the river, see. Round about three months ago, it was. That was something I thought I got for nothing. But it don’t never work out that way, does it? So, I agrees to help her and lay it all on, Well, it was the least I could do, knowing old Harry, an’ all. See what I mean? Ahh, Come in, mate. Well, here we are.

Denholm Elliott: What do you mean, here we are?

Caine: I mean you’ve come to the right place. And this is the young lady I talked to you about on the phone.

Merchant: Pleased to meet you.

Caine: Got your gear with you?

Elliott: Don’t ask questions.

Caine: Sorry. This is the room where you can examine this young lady.

Elliott: And why should I examine this young lady?

Caine: Well, you got to, ain’t you, before you do it?

Elliott: Before I do what?

Caine: Do what you’ve come to do.

Merchant: Quiet, Alfie. There must be some mistake.

Caine: You are the bloke… the gentleman I talked to last Thursday night?

Merchant: Alfie, please, be quiet.

Elliott: Don’t worry, my dear. Now, I must have a serious talk with you both. Are you two married?

Caine: Us two married?! Blimey! Do we look it? No. I mean, she’s a married woman, but I’m a single man.

Elliott: Is there any chance of you getting married in the near future?

Caine: I very much doubt that. What do you say, Lily?

Elliott: But you are the putative father?

Caine: The what? Me? I’m nothing. I’m just obliging a friend.

Elliott: Well, that’s unusual. It’s very unusual.

Merchant: You are the man who… is going to help me?

Caine: Her old man’s in a sanatorium, see? And she’s had a moral lapse. See what I mean?

Elliott: I’m not quite sure that I do.

Caine: It’ll never happen again. She needs helping because her marriage would look very dodgy if her husband came out at this stage of the game. Got me? She’s got three other kids as well.

Elliott: And where do you fit into all this?

Caine: Well, she had no place to go, see?

Elliott: Well, that’s most altruistic. I hope you both appreciate the seriousness of this case. To terminate a pregnancy after 28 days is a criminal offence punishable in a court of law with seven years’ jail. Do you understand this, you two?

Caine: Yeah.

Elliott: Not only that, but it’s a crime against the unborn child. It’s a course never to be embarked upon lightly. You must consider the circumstances thoroughly before you go through with your decision. Since afterwards it will be too late to change your mind. Have you given the matter your fullest consideration?

Caine: What do you say, Lily?

Merchant: I’ve no way out.

Elliott: Then you’ve decided to go through with it?

Merchant: Yes, I must.

Elliott: Then I might be able to help you.

Merchant: Thank you.

Elliott: Yes. Have you got the money?

Caine: Yeah, the money. The young lady’s got it.

Elliott: That’ll be 30 pounds.

Caine: 25. That’s the figure we discussed.

Elliott: Very well, then, 25. Right. Very well. Right, young lady, would you care to follow me? I’ll need some boiling water.

Caine: The kettle’s on the stove in there.

Elliott: Good.

Caine: I hate anything like this. My understanding of women only goes as far as the pleasure. When it comes to the pain, I’m like every other bloke. I don’t wanna know. Have you done?

Elliott: Almost everything I can do.

Caine: Can she go home now, then?

Elliott: ####, no! It’s only been induced. It hasn’t happened yet. That comes later. If her temperature rises rapidly, give her two of these. I’ll leave you six.

Caine: How will I know?

Elliott: Well, if she starts to sweat, give her two.

Caine: Here, mate. Shouldn’t you see the job through, considering how much you’ve been paid?

Elliott: Two if she sweats.

Caine: How you feeling, girl? He gave me these tablets to give to you. Take two if your temperature goes up. You do look old, girl. He got his money easy.

[Vivien Merchant screams in pain]

Caine: Not so loud. My landlady’ll hear!

Merchant: I can’t help it! This pain!

Caine: Lily!

Merchant: This pain! I can’t help…!

[Michael Caine slaps her face]

Caine: I’m sorry, Lily. I’m sorry. I had to do it. If my landlady heard, she’d have the ambulance here! Doctors, police, the lot! All this would have been for nothing! See what I mean? That’s why I had to do it. Is there something I can get you, Lily? Would you like a cup of tea?

Merchant: No. You go. I’m better on my own. There’s nothing you can do.

Caine: You’ll be alright, will you? You’re sure you’ll be alright? I know it don’t look nice, going off and leaving her, But what do look nice when you get close up to it?

[Michael Caine goes off walking around and eventually returns]

Michael Caine: Lily? Is it all over?

Vivien Merchant: Yes. I’ll be ready to go in a minute.

Caine: There’s no hurry, girl. No hurry.

Merchant: Don’t. Don’t go in there.

[Michael Caine walks into the curtained off area and sees the dead “product of conception” and starts crying]

[scene change:]

Michael Caine: I could have dropped on the spot with the shock. All I was expecting to see was… Come to think of it, I don’t rightly know what I was expecting to see. Certainly not this perfectly formed being. I half expected it to cry out. It didn’t, of course. It couldn’t have done. It could never have had any life in it. Not a proper life of its own.

Murray Melvin: No, I suppose not.

Caine: Still… it must have had some life, of course. And… as it lay there so quiet and so still… it quite touched me. And I started praying or something. Saying things like, God help me! and things like that. And then I starts to cry. Straight up. The tears were running down my face. All salty. Like I was a kid myself.

Melvin: Crying for him, you mean, Alf?

Caine: No, not for him. He was past it. For my bleeding self! You know, it don’t half bring it home to you what you are when you see a helpless little thing like that lying in your own hands. He’d have been quite perfect. And I thought to myself, You know what, Alfie? You know what you done? You murdered him.

Melvin: Well, there’s nothing you can do about it now, Alf.


a clip of the abortion part of the movie from a Christian youtube video entitled “Proof: Hollywood Knows Abortion is Wrong”

from a commenter at Jill Stanek’s pro-Life site:

I’d like to second the original “Alfie”. Michael Caine’s face when he sees his aborted child is one of the great moments of film, in my opinion.

from an article by the non-pro-life Charlotte O’Sullivan at The Independent:

Once upon a blinkered time, even the most liberal of scripts wouldn’t have dared to drum up sympathy for such a figure. It was dangerous enough to show the woman who was having the abortion as human. Thus in 1965’s Alfie (a film turned down by Laurence Harvey, James Booth and Anthony Newley, because they didn’t want to be associated with a film containing an abortion scene), Vivien Merchant’s careworn housewife, Lily – caught out by her one-afternoon stand with Michael Caine’s arrogant charmer – is the one we feel for, her face pulverised by shock as she leaves his pad after an illegal, botched job. The abortionist has a coat wet with grease and a smile moist with contempt – silly cow, his expression seems to say, you brought this on yourself.


Alfie (1965) is the movie that gave British actor Michael Caine one of his first starring roles. As the title character, Caine plays Alfie, a free-wheeling, promiscuous bachelor in 1960’s London. He carelessly roams from one of his many “birds” (girls) to another without any care for emotional or physical consequences. Alfie’s breezy existence crashes to a halt, however, after he procures an illegal abortion at his apartment for a married woman he’s impregnated. After the sordid deed is completed by a seedy abortionist, Caine enters his kitchen and confronts the sight of the dead fetus that the abortion has produced. Although the viewer does not see what Alfie sees, we see the man become incredibly distressed and troubled at what he’s faced. The scene is the critical moment of the film, as Alfie is now forced to confront what he’s done and what he’s made of his life. Alfie rushes from his apartment to visit his friend Nat, to whom he makes a startling confession.

ALFIE: I could’ve dropped on the spot with the shock. All I was expecting to see was — Well, come to think of it, I don’t hardly know what I was expecting to see. Certainly not this perfectly formed being. I- I half expected it to cry out … And as it lay there, so quiet, so still, it quite touched me. And I started praying or something, saying things like, uh, “God help me,” and, uh, things like that. And then I started to cry. The tears were running down my face. Oh, slowly, like I was a kid myself … Y’know, it don’t half bring it home to you what you are when you see a helpless little thing like that lying in your own hands. He’d been quite perfect. And I thought to myself, “Y’know what, Alfie? Y’know what you’ve done? You murdered him.”

The pro-life message of the movie is undeniable. It’s also the reason that this film, considered a “classic” by many movie historians, is rarely, if ever, seen on network or cable television anymore.

This past weekend (11/5/04), Paramount Pictures released a stylish remake of Alfie starring Jude Law. Despite adhering to many aspects of the original, the abortion component has been emasculated in the new version. Instead of facing the gruesome realities of abortion, the title character confronts loneliness, alienation, and rejection. (Yawn.)

from the Turner Classic Movies website:

The abortion scene, indeed, became a flashpoint for the film when it was screened on the Paramount lot for Jack Valenti, the President of the Motion Picture Association of America, and Production Code staffers. After the screening Valenti asked for feedback and was surprised to hear everyone voicing their approval of the film on moral grounds. “I’m not asking about morality,” he said. “I don’t think any man has the right to pass judgment on the rightness or wrongness of another man’s actions. What a person does in his private life is his own business. What I’m talking about is taste. What about that abortion scene?” (from See No Evil: Life Inside a Hollywood Censor by Jack Vizzard).

The simple fact was that the depiction of an abortion (even though it happens off camera) in a movie was a clear violation of the Code despite the film’s sensitive treatment of it. Valenti had no choice but to appeal the film and ask for an exception which it was granted. Rated “Suggested for Mature Audiences,” Alfie appeased the then still powerful religious groups that closely monitored Hollywood movies; The Christian Century, a Protestant publication, deemed the film “highly moral” and The National Catholic Office for Motion Pictures (formerly known as the Legion of Decency) gave it an “A-IV” rating, adding “in spite of the light treatment of immoral situations, the film develops the theme that an individual must accept responsibility of his actions.”


“In fact, Alfie is the one who suffers most – from himself,” Caine responded in a recent interview. “And one of the main lessons from the film was the anti-abortion theme.

“It came out strongly against that terrible idea of backstreet abortions. I know that other actors turned down the role because of the abortion scene, but one of the main reasons I wanted to do the movie was because the abortion scene was in it. I thought it was about time that the horror of these backstreet abortions was exposed.”

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1 Response to Alfie (1966)

  1. Pingback: Welcome | Abortion in Film

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