Two interesting people turn 81 today. I’ll get to that man of the day shortly, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about the man not of the day. That man is Michael Caine. There are two things that I really don’t like about him. First, he is an extremely overrated actor. I think he’s barely passable. He at best doesn’t harm a film by his presence. Yet he got an Academy Aware for Hannah and Her Sisters for a wholly forgettable performance. And then he got another for The Cider House Rules. This second film is particularly telling. Clearly he got it because it was the first film he had ever been in that he took enough effort to learn an accent. For a British actor, that’s amazing.
The second thing I don’t like about him is his politics. For decades, he’s been bitching and moaning about his income taxes. This is a man who owes everything he’s ever gotten to Stanley Baker giving him a part in Zulu. Otherwise, Caine would be working in a pub somewhere in a borough on London. He is entirely typical of entertainers who believe their own PR. I just wish he would get on with dying, because he isn’t doing anyone any good. I just hope the UK has a very high inheritance tax.
The man of the day, however, is Quincy Jones. Now, his politics are really great. But I wouldn’t care because Jones is a great artist. It’s kind of hard to talk about him, however, because he’s done so much. I think of him very much as I think of Henry Mancini. Basically, there is no greater compliment. He’s probably best known for producing Thriller, but we will say no more of it. He’s produced a lot of other great albums. And he’s a great film composer. And he’s a great jazz musician and composer. So let’s just go back to his first album, This Is How I Feel About Jazz. Here is “Evening in Paris,” which I think is particularly beautiful. That’s Herbie Mann on flute and Charlie Mingus on bass.
Happy 81st birthday Quincy Jones!