Cover image for Blowing the bloody doors off : and other lessons in life / Michael Caine.
Blowing the bloody doors off : and other lessons in life / Michael Caine.
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hachette Books, 2018.
Physical Description:
xii, 273 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
791.43028092 CAI Book Adult General Collection

On Order



Now in his 85th year, Hollywood legend Michael Caine shares wisdom and stories from his remarkable career in this "engrossing" memoir that "shines with positive energy" ( Library Journal , starred review).

One of our best-loved actors, Michael Caine has starred in over 100 films in his six-decade career, spanning classic movies like Alfie , Zulu , and The Italian Job (the inspiration for the book title) to playing Alfred opposite Christian Bale's Batman in Christopher Nolan's blockbuster Dark Knight trilogy. Caine has excelled in every kind of role--with a skill that's made it look easy.

Caine knows what success takes. He's made it to the pinnacle of his profession from humble origins. But as he says, "Small parts can lead to big things. And if you keep doing things right, the stars will align when you least expect it." Still working and more beloved than ever, Caine now shares everything he's learned-and "his fans will be rewarded, as will anyone seeking an enjoyable, inspirational read" ( Library Journal ).

Author Notes

Sir Michael Caine CBE has been Oscar-nominated six times, winning his first Academy Award for the 1986 film Hannah and Her Sisters and his second in 1999 for The Cider House Rules . He has starred in over one hundred films, becoming well-known for several critically acclaimed performances including his first major film role in Zulu in 1964, followed by films including The Ipcress Files , Get Carter , Alfie , The Italian Job , Dirty Rotten Scoundrels , and Educating Rita , and more recently The Dark Knight , Is Anybody There?, and Harry Brown . He was appointed a CBE in 1992 and knighted in 2000 in recognition of his contribution to cinema.

Married for more than 30 years, with two daughters and three grandchildren, he and his wife Shakira live in London and Surrey.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Oscar-winning British actor Caine (What's It All About?) mines his long career for entertaining anecdotes and life lessons in this genial memoir, taking readers from his childhood in a London slum to his years as a struggling unknown-one studio canceled his contract because an executive thought he looked gay-to major roles in hits such as Alfie, Sleuth, and Batman Begins. Much of the book is blithe showbiz picaresque, stocked with A-listers including John Wayne and BeyoncAc and full of filmmaking pratfalls. ("The bees were shitting on us," he writes of a scene in The Swarm, which he cheerfully allows may be "the worst movie ever made.") From these vignettes, Caine distills advice on topics including acting mechanics ("Stand straight and you look younger; round your shoulders for instant aging") and success strategies ("You are always auditioning"), and delivers generic pep talks ("Any time you learn from a failure, it's a success"). His pensAces gain resonance from deeply felt passages on the grueling rejection and insecurity of an actor's life, the sting of being typecast as an "ignorant cockney bastard," and the immersion in craft and preparation that overcome obstacles. Caine's writing-funny, warm, down-to-earth-will captivate fans and casual readers alike. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

New York Review of Books Review

I WAS A READER without a rudder, trying to make sense of a thick stack of new books by and about people in show business. 1 was looking for an organizing principle, something with which to give the loopy don't-try-this-at-home life lessons offered by the actor Gary Busey the same steady gaze 1 might apply to the cheery, working-bloke wisdom of the actor Michael Caine. And I was failing. Until, that is, Justine Bateman took a breath in the middle of fame (Akashic, $26.99), her own provocatively burbling, expletive-laden throw-down, to acknowledge the work of the sociologist Erving Goffman. Dropping her blue streak, the actor - best remembered as the materialistic teenage daughter Mallory Keaton in the wildly popular Reagan-era sitcom "Family Ties" - refers calmly and respectfully to Goffman's revelatory mid-20th-century analysis of ordinary, private human behavior as theatrical performance in the service of impression management. And just like that, in the middle of an F-bomb-laden anecdote about how fame is fleeting (and how fleeting fame sucks), her scholarly reference offered the key to approaching this seasonal pile of personal narratives: Writing by themselves or with backstage help, remembering the early days or pumping themselves up about the present, coordinating their book publicity and negotiating their next projects, these show people are each working hard to put on a show - a show that sells an image. The reminiscence that brought sociology to mind for the 52-year-old Bateman was about a time in 2008, decades past her teenage celebrity, when she walked a red carpet at a movie opening. "I was at my brother's premiere," she writes, in one of her few uninflected, Freud-ready referenees to her younger brother with his own fame meter, the actor Jason Bateman. "Afilm he was in, maybe 'Hancock,' " she agrees to maybe recall. She made her way past the usual photographers, they snapped their usual snaps, and then they started calling out to whoever was behind her on the assembly line - someone apparently more famous than she was at the time. And that realization of her diminished place in the world order freaked her out. Now the image she is selling, wearing a challenging stare and a sleeveless T-shirt that says HOLLYWOOD in a full-page posterized photo on the back cover of "Fame," is that of a tough chick who says "Don't [expletive] with me, you [expletive], because I am IN NO [EXPLETIVE] MOOD." (I'm paraphrasing.) The subtitle of her book is "The Hijacking of Reality," and she wants her readers to know right off the bat that this is not the autobiography we might think it is because, per her very first sentence, "I [expletive] hate memoirs." Noted. BATEMAN'S I'M-SO-OVER-IT ASSESSMENT IS part furIOUS, part bonkers, and wholly riveting, for reasons she does not fully control. Michael Caine, on the other hand, is 85 years old, and he was in his seasoned early 30s with hundreds of failed auditions behind him when he made his movie breakthrough in "Zulu" (1964), "The Ipcress File" (1965) and "Alfie" (1966). He has been nominated for an Oscar every decade from the 1960s to 2002, he has been knighted and he has had - and continues to have - a grand time. He is very happy with it all, very rich and still very famous. And in his autobiographical performance, he presents the image of the pluckiest, luckiest, hardest-working, most down-to-earth chap in the world. His views on Brexit will not be discussed here. Cheers! Taking one of his most parodied lines from the 1969 comedy-caper "The Italian Job" as his title in blowing the BLOODY DOORS OFF (Hachette, $28), Caine the raconteur provides exactly what an admiring reader would want from the cockney-born Hollywood vet who won an Oscar for playing Hannah's husband in "Hannah and Her Sisters" in 1986, then revived a sagging career in 1992 as Ebenezer Scrooge in "The Muppet Christmas Carol," and is perhaps best known to today's youngest movie generation as Batman's butler in Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy. The book is based on material Caine first developed almost three decades ago when he turned a master class in movie acting recorded for the BBC into a 1990 book called "Acting in Film." (Both the book and the DVD are still available.) Those doing a side-by-side comparison will see overlaps, including an anecdote, circa 1966, about being obliging to autograph-seekers on a studio-tour bus, a kindness not forgotten by the then-unknown student busdriver, who went on to become the Hollywood agent and power broker Mike Ovitz. Caine's advice is the avuncular and sensible two-bits of a working-class lad made good: Be prepared, be reliable, be decent to others, learn your craft, give it your all, do what you do because you love to do it, not in search of money and fame. Also, don't drink too much, as he says he did in the early 1970s. But bugger Caine's acting tips. The great stuff is when he recalls his days in swinging 1960s England. Back then, Terence Stamp was his flatmate; Vidal Sassoon was his barber; he was cast in productions with unknowns Donald Sutherland and Peter O'Toole; and one afternoon in a cafe, a chum called David Baron announced he was going to chuck acting and write a play with a role for Caine. Only, Baron said, asa writer, he would use his real name: Harold Pinter. There is equally great stuff when Caine blithely talks about having participated in a lot of junk. "I made a lot of bad movies - because I made a lot of movies," he says in a kind of written shrug. "On the TV shows where they selected the year's best and worst films I was usually on both lists." My hunch is that he was equally delighted to walk all red carpets. If you're looking for stage lessons from a whole other cosmos, consider Kathleen turner on acting (Skyhorse, $24.99), in which the film professor Dustin Morrow engages the distinctive Ms. Türner in conversation, and the distinctive Ms. Türner says the first thing she does with any script is to "take a black magic marker and line out all the stage directions." She also says that "if I'm consistently making a mistake on a line, it's because the line is problematic." Playwrights, start your shudders. AND FOR VERY DIFFERENT impression management of a very different fame, turn to NEVER GROW UP (Gallery Books, $26), by the peerless martial-arts actor Jackie Chan. Specifically, the book is by Chan - translated by Jeremy Tiang from the 2015 Chinese publication - in close coordination with Zhu Mo, who introduces himself as the star's longtime friend and movie publicist, and who appears in odd little boxed-off "behind the scenes" asides offering supportive admiration. The narration is both candid and formal, blunt and methodical, informative and somewhat distant. Those so inclined might further study Goffman's theses to consider the ways effective impression management also relies on shared cultural styles. Once a star primarily in Asia, where the nimble, humorous Everyman type he created - an Everyman with phenomenal acrobatic skills - distinguished him as the attitudinal opposite and celebrity successor of Bruce Lee, Chan is now an international success, with the Hollywood track record and 2016 honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement to prove it. Yet in "Never Grow Up," he narrates with an opacity that demonstrates no interest in be- ing an ingratiating international star. And that tonal reserve makes some of his stories more disconcerting than perhaps he intended. His neutral voice is apt for his descriptions of his unhappy childhood - an unpromising student who hated school, he was separated from his parents (who moved to Australia for his father's work) and sent away as a boy to China Drama Academy, a Dickensian establishment of harsh routine and punishment. But the same affectless telling is more unnerving when he describes his illiteracy, his out-of-control spending habits, his gambling and, especially, the harsh ways he has treated his wife, Joan, and son, Jaycee, over the years. When father and son traveled by plane together for the first time, Chan took his seat in the first-class cabin; he put Jaycee in economy, saying, "When you have your own money, you can sit up front with me. You have no money now, so you sit here." The boy was 6. IF JACKI ECHANISABUMMER, Gary Busey is a humdinger - as he has been onscreen, too, in unhinged projects including "The Buddy Holly Story" (for which he received an Oscar nomination in 1979), "Lethal Weapon" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." Writing with his romantic partner, Steffanie Sampson, he calls his little cobbled-together book buseyisms (St. Martin's, $24.99). As an example of whatever the heck that is, his subtitle is "Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth," which, in a caps-letter way, spells out BIBLE. There's also "Taking Real Understanding To Heart," "Self-Imposed Nonsense," "Wanted In Forever Eternity" and oh so many more. They don't mean a thing. But they do move the story along from anecdotes about success and failure (with losses of prestige that would make Justine Bateman wince), to chatter about divorce, a near-fatal motorcycle accident, a drug overdose and his many pals, including the plastic surgeon who fixed the star's face after he was treated for cancer. Busey babbles away with galumphing energy. He and his plastic surgeon "had fun on our excursions together, and 1 took him to a lot of movie premieres and concerts. On Aug. 6, 2010, he tragically died in a car accident on Pacific Coast Highway; he is now an angel in the spiritual realm." ANYway....! IF I DON'T dwell too long on the next biggest stack of new books on the holiday shelves, that's because readership will sort itself out without any need for critical guidance. Those who are devotees of the cult series may be happy to have MONSTERS OF THE WEEK: The Complete Critical Companion to The X-Files (Abrams, $30), by the pop culture writers Zack Handlen and Todd VanDerWerff. ft's an episode-by-episode recap, with commentary. There, that's the review. The "1 Want to Believe" crowd will no doubt have bones to pick and disagreements to air concerning the authors' editorial comments about each episode, because, TV tagline to the contrary, the truth about bests and worsts is never out there. Those whose hearts are true to a different saga might seek out anything you can imagine: Peter Jackson and the Making of Middle-earth (HarperCollins, $29.99), by the British film writer fan Nathan. He is an experienced how-they-did-it guy, having previously written about the making of "Alien," "Terminator," "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" and the oeuvres of Tim Burton and Joel and Ethan Coen. Here he hoovers up minutiae about the whole "Lord of the Rings" movie-epic-ofall-times thing. His writing style is awe-struck nerd, which suits the material. IN CONTRAST, admiring appreciations of the TV series "Friends" and "Sex and the City" get less list- and more feel-y treatment - a difference in approach 1 will risk sisterly disapproval to say falls along gender lines. The pop culture writer Kelsey Miller opens I'LL be there for you: The One About Friends (Hanover Square, $26.99), her fangirl dissection, with the dismaying announcement that she was 10 years old when the show debuted on NBC in 1994. But, she declares, her nostalgia bingeing and New York City life experiences have turned her into an ardent cheerleader for whom no "Friends" anecdote is TMI. Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, a specialist in all-about-the-sitcom projects following the success of "Seinfeldia" and "Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted" (and, not TMI, a former colleague at Entertainment Weekly) approaches the close study she calls "SEX AND THE CITY AND US: How Four Single Women Changed the Way We Think, Live and Love" (Simon & Schuster, $26), very personally. Two decades after the show's premiere on HBO, she says she did her research as someone who saw her own life as a young, single woman in New York reflected and amplified in the adventures of Carrie and Miranda and Charlotte and Samantha. THESE BOOKS ARE for people who loved these shows; you know who you are. There is one book this season, however, guaranteed to engross anybody with any interest at all in Hollywood, in movies, in #MeToo and in the never-ending story of men with power and women without. Karina Longworth places the willful, wounded and wounding mogul Howard Hughes at the center Of SEDUCTION: Sex, Lies and Stardom in Howard Hughes's Hollywood (Custom House/Morrow, $29.99). And no matter how much we think we may know about Hughes - the millionaire, the aviator, the studio head, the filmmaker, the eccentric, the commitment-phobic womanizer whose strange allure entranced some of Hollywood's most famous screen goddesses - Longworth puts the man, the women and the whole flesh-peddling movie-biz circus in a new and timely perspective. She does this by giving each woman and girl, each star and starlet, each fresh hopeful and disappointed discard her own place on the page as a person with a soul of her own: Here is Hughes with Billie Dove, Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Ava Gardner, Bette Davis, Jane Russell, Rita Hayworth and Lana Türner. (He supposedly had them all.) Here, too, is Hughes sending the enabling henchmen who worked for him to procure any unknown young woman whose image he fancied by hiring them to do nothing much, with no hope of professional advancement. A former film editor of LA Weekly and critic for The Village Voice, in recent years Longworth has found a felicitous form for her keen interest in old Hollywood in her terrific podcast "You Must Remember This." "Seduction" is the valuable synthesis of her curiosity, her analytical strengths and her modern feminist orientation that results in a vibrant writing style poised between warm compassion and cool critical documentation of what ought to have been horrifying, and never was, in show business. In 1941, she writes, "Howard Hughes would move from pursuing top female stars to pursuing young (sometimes very young) women whose careers had not yet gotten very far off the ground. More than ever before, he would become obsessed with controlling these women, seeking to tie them up via marriage proposals or long-term contracts - or both - and taking ownership over their bodies and how they were presented to the public - or weren't." Hughes reached the peak of his powers over the destiny of women with his improbable ownership of RKO Pictures from 1948 to 1955. Yet in the decades that followed, as he became more and more isolated and paranoid before his puny death in 1976, young women were still willing to sign on to terms of "employment" with the rich and powerful man they hoped would make them stars. There were no hashtagged movements to encourage their protest. Longworth evokes the pathos of this deception with a controlled outrage of her own. LISA SCHWARZBAUM, a former critic at Entertainment Weekly, is a freelance journalist.

Library Journal Review

In this entertaining memoir, Academy Award winner Caine looks back at his long and illustrious career and offers candid advice to aspiring actors. Caine, who began appearing in film in 1956, attributes his success to a mixture of hard work, determination, and sheer luck. It took him eight years of appearing in uncredited and bit parts before he gained notice in Zulu (1964). He reflects that his career was filled with doubt and ups and downs. The high and low points are sprinkled throughout the "life lessons" he shares here. He offers practical advice on acting techniques, as well as developing good habits such as being on time, learning your lines, and acting with civility toward everyone on the set. He shares many colorful stories about such fellow legends as Elizabeth Taylor, Laurence Olivier, Jack Nicholson, and many others. He also discusses the other loves in his life: his wife, Shakira; children; and grandchildren and his love of gardening. Caine's narration is friendly and engaging, like listening to an old friend. VERDICT A valuable resource for students as well as an entertaining addition to Caine's previous autobiographies What's It All About? and The Elephant to Holly-wood.-Phillip Oliver, -formerly with Univ. of North Alabama, Florence © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
Part 1 Starting Out
1 It Doesn't Matter Where You Startp. 3
2 Auditioning for Lifep. 23
3 Using the Difficultyp. 41
4 Doing the Right Thingsp. 55
Part 2 Making the Cut
5 Getting There Is Just the Startp. 77
6 The Rehearsal Is the Workp. 89
7 Less Is Morep. 105
8 Having Serious Funp. 119
9 Taking Directionp. 133
10 The Big Picturep. 149
Part 3 The Long Run
11 Being a Star (or Why I Never Wear Suede Shoes)p. 165
12 Rise and Fallp. 185
13 Being Decentp. 205
14 Don't Look Back (with a Few Exceptions)p. 223
15 Getting Old and Staying Youngp. 237
16 A Life in Balancep. 253
Epiloguep. 269
Acknowledgementsp. 272
Image Creditsp. 274