The Magazine

What's It All About?

The director and stars of the new Alfie miss what the book was trying to do.

Nov 22, 2004, Vol. 10, No. 10 • By BRIAN MURRAY
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Well acted and often beautifully shot, this Alfie is the story of an endearing scamp who gets his knuckles rapped. It's a sweet piece of eye candy that borrows some of the plot but not the substance of Naughton's fine novel, which offers one of the most memorable villains in postwar British fiction, and a troubling, disturbing look into the darker corners of the human soul.

Though this new film is clearly intended to appeal to a popular audience--a production by cast and crew afraid of the original work they're attempting to remake--the latest reports show it doing very poorly at the box office. That's an interesting turn of events. Audiences should rent the old Michael Caine version of Alfie instead--or better yet, they should read Bill Naughton's novel.

Brian Murray teaches writing at Loyola College.