You’d think that the unavailability, or unwillingness, of a star to take part in the sequel to one of their films would put the breaks on things. Even more so when we’re talking about a film that really put a certain actor on the map. Such was the case with Michael Caine and the 1966 film Alfie. However, following the success of that film, the author of the original play wrote a follow-up novel. When they looked to turn that book into a sequel film, nine years after the original, they weren’t going to let the lack of Michael Caine stop them. So in 1975 we got former Animals keyboardist Alan Price taking over the role in Alfie Darling.
This time around, Alfie works driving a truck, I mean “lorry,” along with a friend. They often have to drive things to France, where Alfie has a number of ladies who are more than willing to share their beds with him whenever he rolls into town. On one particular trip, he keeps encountering a woman in a red convertible. He makes an effort to pursue her, which often leads to his truck getting pulled over for traffic violations. Eventually, he does get to meet the woman, Abby Summers (Jill Townsend), who works as an editor for a big magazine.
Upon returning to London, he tracks her down while still continuing affairs with other women. This includes Fay (Joan Collins), whose husband is often away on business trips. At first, Abby wants nothing to do with Alfie; her job keeps her way too busy, after all. However, the two soon start a relationship which is derailed slightly when they first spend the night together because…well…Alfie can’t get it up. He ends up straightening things out, so to speak, with Fay later, which results in a run in with her husband. Eventually, though, Alfie, the ultimate player, soon finds himself falling in love and hoping to marry Abby.
Having to recast major parts in movie sequels is certainly nothing new, and it still happens today. I mean, one day the Hulk is Edward Norton and the next thing we know it’s Mark Ruffalo. That’s not such a big deal, but here we go from Michael Caine to the guy who played keyboards for the Animals. Now, before you take that the wrong way, I will say that Alan Price does a decent job. He doesn’t have the charisma of Michael Caine, but we knew that would be the case going in. Price does what needs to be done to keep the story afloat, but doesn’t really contribute anything that leaves a lasting impact.
I think it’s fair to say the most interesting member of the cast is Joan Collins as Alfie’s go-to sexy older woman. Collins does steam things up a bit and does the best job of injecting some humor into the rather flat proceedings. I wasn’t so sold on Jill Townsend as Abby, however. She plays a successful independent woman who has her life way more together than Alife does. Yet, she’s kind of boring. I mean, I get why Alfie is first drawn to her; chasing her convertible around like she was Christie Brinkley in the first Vacation movie. When we get to know her, though, she comes across as pretty uninteresting.
The film goes along a pretty predictable course as the story moves forward, and we follow the on again off again nature of this couple. There are no real surprises in terms of how this relationship plays out. That is, until we get to the ending. I won’t spoil it other than to say it is horrible. Absolutely horrible! One of the worst endings of a movie I have ever seen and I’m not exaggerating. No matter how much you might have enjoyed the first ninety minutes of this movie, you will curse this film once you behold the final five minutes.
In fairness, though, Alfie Darling is a film that is not particularly bad, it just lacks oomph. Even the gimmick of having Alfie talk directly to the camera (which Caine did in the first film) is half-baked here. Price’s Alfie never addresses the audience until about thirty minutes in. The device is then pretty much abandoned again in the film’s third act. It’s all very wishy washy, which ultimately a pretty good description of the film in general.