41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2000
If you like movies, this book is a great read. If you're interested in acting in movies, it's an essential read. If you're interested in moviemaking (behind the camera), it's still an essential read: buy extra copies to pass around on the set, especially if you're a struggling filmmaker and you have a cast of friends who've never acted before.
As a teacher, Caine is as straightforward as he is as an actor. You watch his performances and you're seeing an actor who understands that less is more. You read this book and you're listening to an instructor who understands the same thing. Every anecdote he tells about films he's been in and stars he's worked with is not just namedropping, it's ALWAYS relevant to whatever helpful point he's making about the craft of film acting. And to him it is very much a craft, not an art. The art takes care of itself; it happens mysteriously, but it can only happen if you nail the craft first. No arty-flighty book about acting theory or the Method, this is a working-class, meat-and-potatoes manual that anyone can relate to, much like its author.
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2000
Michael Caine delivers a direct and useful how-to book for aspiring film actors. He doesn't delve into the psychological underpinnings of acting-there are hundreds of books that already do that. He assumes that you've taken classes, appeared in plays, and understand the artistic aspects of creating a character. He also understands the psychological leap required for the actor to learn how to deal with the camera, and the complex interrelationship between actor, director, and crew. For the performer about to step onto a soundstage for the first time, this volume is a must. The book could have been subtitled, "Film Acting: the First Hundred Mistakes and How To Avoid Them."
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
In one night I read this book wanting to put myself in the shoes of Michael Caine and seeing his perspective on movie making. Many times I have sat with other actors and filmmakers to gain an insight and to know their passion as a thespian. Michael Caine is a talented individual and what an experience it must have been for the people who had a chance to be part of this two-day class which was transcribed in this book. Thank you Michael Caine and Maria Aitken for releasing this book.
If you are a passionate, disciplined actor who would like to learn several pointers from this professional, buy this book.
Look at this as an inexpensive tool to improve yourself as a thespian. Wonderful reading! Highly recommended!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2005
Caine writes a lot like he acts: he just gets going, with no fuss. Some of his acting notions are simplistic -- he notes how the early actors were orating like theater actors (which is true), but he doesn't note that they were acting in silent film, where grand gestures and flamboyance was necessary (unless possibly dealing with extreme close-ups). The nice thing about his book, however, is that it is specifically related to film acting; he knows the difference between stage and screen, and this very practical book could be very useful for those young actors who don't realize the extreme difference between the two mediums (he at one point criticizes the theater actors who can't come to accept the rules of the movies). The book details Caine's own thoughts, which are mostly sensible approaches to the art -- you get a sense of him, how his view is that the camera already loves you, so don't bother trying to woo it with shameful mugging.
He touches on a lot of rather simplistic notions, but they're nevertheless important, and he makes you understand the importance of nuance: it's necessary to understand the logic of a line rather than the line itself; how to indicate through your face when another actor reads a line and they're only half-way through a sentence that you know what you're going to say next, but have to wait for them to finish; the millions of possibilities on how to react in terms of inflection when offered something as simple as tea. He talks about some of his own quirks, not wanting to put his character shoes on until just before shooting, but it's never about him more than it's about acting. He does manage to be charming in an underhanded way -- he slips in a tribute to the beauty of Julie Christie, for instance. (He also takes a few seconds to note Orson Welles' genius, the bullying of Otto Preminger, and how Montgomery Clift's jealousy as an actor is unhealthy.) He spends time with a lot of technical tricks that make a lot of sense -- simply reading lines and walking during a rehearsal, so that you won't forget your lines when you're shooting (because movement will be tied to the words). A fine little book.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 1999
Often when studying acting, you get tied up with all the aesthetics. And when you take your grasp at acting, you're lost. You focus on the aesthetics, but when you TRY TO ACT it's a different story. Thank God for this book! Filled with practical suggestions that help A LOT. It tells you what to do and how to do it without confusing you. For instance, Caine writes about how powerful the expressionless face is. I remember when I rehearsed for a monologue written by David Mamet, I video taped myself doing it with an expressional face and without it. Surely enough, the latter was better. Thanks Michael Caine, you're a great help!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2004
Caine's book is by far the most practical book on acting I've read, and I've read a few. Some are very beautifuly written, poetic and psychological, but for someone who really wants to learn something about acting for film, I would recommend this book first. It is at times bleakly honest but highly readable. If you've done any acting, you'll find yourself nodding frequently.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2006
This book is short and sweet, right to the point and actually pretty fun to read. Michael Caine knows what he's doing (ridiculously obvious comment of the day) and he gives a lot of great tips to actors and filmmakers alive. I am a director and I've read dozens of books on directing and there are things in this slim volume that I have never seen anywhere else.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2008
Caine's book is informative and entertaining, full of practical advice for anyone seeking a career in film. The title may be a tad misleading, though, because this isn't really a text about acting. "Working as a Film Actor" may have been a more appropriate title.
To really learn a process of acting that goes beyond "tricks of the trade" (be it on stage, in film, or in any venue or medium) I'd recommend reading the signature titles of Uta Hagen and Stella Adler. THEN read Caine's book to get some perspective on the ins and outs of working specifically in film.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2002
If you need sound advice, this is the place to go. Veteran actor Michael Caine illustrates his principles with amusing anecdotes. Even if you're not interested in film acting, this is a delightful read filled with interesting tidbits about stars like Stallone ... who apparently cared more about writing the screenplay to his Rocky sequels than acting. My only quibble is I wish it were twice as long.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Michael Caine was a Cockney with burning ambition, unproven talent and few connections.
If he wanted to be a movie star, he decided, he'd have to invent himself as one.
He went to "in" places, wearing glasses, smoking a cigar. And became known, he says, as "that guy who wears glasses and smokes a cigar." He got a few working class parts. That got added to the description. Then he worked hard to show his sunny personality. And became known, he says, as "that easy-to-work-with working class actor who wears glasses and smokes a cigar."
For all the success he gained with that self-created image, he was not, he knew, on the Hollywood A-list. [He should have been. Just for one, Get Carter is a remarkable film, with a stunner of a performance from young Michael Caine.] And yet he got invited to A-list parties. Why? He was amusing. His wife was intelligent and a raving beauty. And he never asked the A-listers for work. Which was the real key, he says. B-listers have a bad tendency to hustle at social events. He just tried to be fun.
But wait. Isn't this a book for actors? A very narrow book, in fact, aimed at helping the actor who's completed his/her academic training make a smoother transition into the world of big time filmmaking?
Yes, it is. But "Acting in Film" is a much more profound book than that. Like "Improv Wisdom," it's a manual for a successful life.
You want to be a star --- or just the star of your own life --- you want to inhale these 168 pages and think deeply on the lessons he delivers. Like creating an image for yourself. Like: "Play for the moment: Immortality will take care of itself." Like: "Get your own act together" (shades of Epictetus). Like: "The director's word is law." Prepare like mad. Try anything. But never sleep with the leading lady. (Okay, that last one is just for actors. Anyway, these days leading ladies seem to prefer crew guys with washboard abs.)
A bonus: Michael Caine is a great storyteller who has tucked a mini-memoir into these pages. You'll thrill to the story of how he and Christopher Reeve prepared to kiss each other on the mouth in "Deathtrap". You'll smile at John Huston telling him, "Speak faster; he's an honest man." You'll giggle at what Caine did when Anthony Quinn's minions gave him daily updates on Quinn's mood but never asked about his. And you'll have an empathetic rush when he explains why director Carroll Reed dropped a coin when a take wasn't working.
Oh. The acting advice. My friends who have made money at this art tell me that you won't find an actor who hasn't read Caine's book and doesn't love it --- he knows what the basics are, and he lays them out with Cockney simplicity. So if Hollywood stardom is your idea of a life, you should honor and obey Michael Caine. Just don't try to put one over on readers who have become leading men and women in their own lives thanks to his book