CAINE IS A MAN OF MYSTERY -- AGAIN.Byline: EVAN EVAN Expandable Van HENERSON
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Some 35 years ago, Michael Caine watched Laurence Olivier pull a performance out of a tiny box.
"We did five days of rehearsals, and he couldn't get it right," recalls Caine of their 1972 mystery/thriller "Sleuth." "Then on Thursday, he brought in a matchbox, opened up the matchbox and brought a little mustache out and stuck it on.
"He looked in the mirror and said, 'Now I know. That's who he is.' And then he was brilliant," Caine continues. "He said to me, 'Michael, I have never been able to act with my own face. All this week I've been trying to do it, and it hasn't worked again.' He wore that funny little mustache out of that matchbox for the entire picture."
Now Caine has taken on the Olivier role, sans mustache, in a new version of "Sleuth," and you have to wonder how often the specter of the great lord came up.
"It didn't come up much," says Kenneth Branagh who directed the new version, which came out Friday and also stars Jude Law.
"Someone had said to (Michael), 'You're doing "Sleuth" again? You're putting yourself up against Olivier.' And I think that had just momentarily thrown him."
"I explained that's not the case," continues Branagh, who with his 1989 "Henry V," was accused of doing the same thing. "Really it's so different, it's just not going to happen."
A new "Sleuth" after all, requires a new approach, not to mention a new scribe -- in this case, prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter Noun 1. Harold Pinter - English dramatist whose plays are characterized by silences and the use of inaction (born in 1930)
Pinter . If the 2007 film had been mystery business as usual, Caine says he wouldn't have signed on.
"We had done a perfectly good job the first time, and I didn't see any point of remaking it," says Caine, who earned an Oscar nomination with Olivier. "This is not a remake. There are maybe two or three lines of dialogue from the original, and that's all."
A prototypically clever mystery play written by Anthony Shaffer Anthony Joshua Shaffer, (May 15 1926 – November 6 2001), was an English playwright, novelist, and screenwriter. He was born in Liverpool and was the twin brother of the better-known Peter Shaffer. He graduated with a law degree from Trinity College, Cambridge University. , "Sleuth" was a London and Broadway hit in 1970 before the playwright adapted it into a film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz Joseph Leo Mankiewicz (February 11, 1909 – February 5, 1993) was an American screenwriter, director and producer. Biography
Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to Franz Mankiewicz and Johanna Blumenau, Jewish immigrants from Germany, .
In both incarnations, a graying mystery writer and brash young actor square off in a gadget-filled house over a round of mind games, deception and possibly murder. The prize is the writer's wife who is having an affair with the actor. Twist follows twist, then it's game over.
Genre fans may already know of "Sleuth's" much-talked-about plot gimmick, which happens about halfway through the story, but Branagh isn't especially worried.
"The truth is out there in every way, shape and form," says Branagh. "At the same time, there's a terrific short-term memory short-term memory
Abbr. STM The phase of the memory process in which stimuli that have been recognized and registered are stored briefly. for the so-called classics, indeed even about the great artists. It's Olivier's centenary in London, and there's something of a quiet outcry over the fact that it's almost been ignored ... because not enough people know who he is now."
In Pinter's version, the setup is the same, but the twists snake differently. Pinter, who had never seen the play or the film, took the plot's bones and went his own way. That means after the story's famous first "gasp!" moment (which we won't spoil), matters between Andrew Wyke (Caine) and Milo Milo, athlete of ancient Greece
Milo (mī`lō) or Milon (mī`lŏn), fl. 500 B.C., athlete of ancient Greece, b. Crotona. Tindle (Law) take a seamier turn.
Consider also the contrast in locales. Mankiewicz's baronial ba·ro·ni·al
1. Of or relating to a baron or barony.
2. Suited for or befitting a baron; stately and grand: a baronial mansion.
Adj. 1. mansion with all its toys, clowns and laughing statues has given way to an icy high-tech estate in which Wyke monitors everything via tiny remotes.
Branagh chalks the film's new darker tone primarily to its screenwriter whose name is an adjective for gritty sparseness. A "Pinter-esque" "Sleuth"? Absolutely, says the director.
"The original and the play have a sort of flamboyance, a delight in theatricality," says Branagh. "But in this, everything is leaner, tighter. Across his career, Pinter's plays have been getting shorter and shorter. It's like a stock being reduced, reducing and reducing until it becomes something pungent with meaning and flavor, getting to the essence of something."
Stage vets Pinter, Branagh and Law treated the five-week "Sleuth" shoot -- with scenes filmed in order -- largely the same as they would a play. Caine, who hasn't been on stage since the early 1960s, felt moments of flashback flash·back
1. An unexpected recurrence of the effects of a hallucinogenic drug long after its original use.
2. A recurring, intensely vivid mental image of a past traumatic experience. .
"Both Jude and I knew all the dialogue before we even started rehearsal, let alone the movie," Caine says. "Then the movie came as sort of an adrenalin rush. We just went zoom! Right through it."
Evan Henerson (818) 713-3651
up close with Michael Caine>
At 74, Michael Caine is back above the title in
"Sleuth." The good-humored actor -- who recently wrapped the newest "Batman" film, "The Dark
Knight" -- looks back and forward.
On his temporary retirement: I retired when I was 65. I wasn't going to do any more work. ... I did an autobiography. I had eight restaurants. I went to Miami for the winter, and I opened a restaurant there, and Jack Nicholson John Joseph Nicholson (born April 22 1937), known as Jack Nicholson, is a three time Academy Award winning American actor internationally renowned for his often dark-themed portrayals of neurotic characters. and (director) Bob Rafelson turned up and said, "Do this picture with us." "Blood and Wine." And I had such a great time with Jack that it restored my faith in the business. ... I now work on exactly what I want to do, when, where and with whom I want to do it.
On remakes of his movies: I've never seen "Get Carter." I saw "The Italian Job," which was so modern and CGI CGI
in full Common Gateway Interface.
Specification by which a Web server passes data between itself and an application program. Typically, a Web user will make a request of the Web server, which in turn passes the request to a CGI application program. and it was like the leading character seemed to be Charlize Theron rather than Mark Wahlberg For the actor and television game show host, see Mark L. Walberg.
Mark Robert Michael Wahlberg (born June 5 1971) is an Academy Award-nominated American actor and television producer. . I don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. what happened to Mark. He was very quiet. Charlize came on like bloody gangbusters. And "Alfie," I just knew what was going to happen. It was out of its time. ... I think it would be very funny if you called it "Alfina," made her a girl.
On flops: I always say I only take responsibility for the pictures I played the lead in. I was in a picture for 10 minutes, "Jaws 4," and I got the blame for that. I said, "Wait a minute! The picture was two hours long. I was there for 10 minutes. What are you blaming me for?"
On "The Dark Knight The Dark Knight may refer to:
Ledger was born in Perth, Western Australia, the son of Sally Ledger Bell (née Ramshaw), as the Joker. Brilliant. It will be a brilliant movie, too, because I thought that "Batman Begins" was the best Batman movie I had ever seen. This one is better, and I'm only the butler, so I'm not pushing my career or anything. I can tell you, however, that the butler didn't do it.
Director Kenneth Branagh, left, kept daunting daunt
tr.v. daunt·ed, daunt·ing, daunts
To abate the courage of; discourage. See Synonyms at dismay.
[Middle English daunten, from Old French danter, from Latin memories of Laurence Olivier at bay for Michael Caine.
MICHAEL OWEN BAKER>LA.COM
up close with Michael Cain (see text)