“I’m every bourgeois nightmare – a Cockney with intelligence and a million dollars.”

Right or wrong I judge LEGO mosaics based on a single question: would I hang it on my Legoratory wall?  In the case of our next featured model here on the Manifesto, the answer is unquestionably yes.  The builder is David Hughes and the subject is the great Michael Caine as he appeared in this 1965 image by acclaimed photographer and fellow proud Cockney, David Bailey.  Bailey’s impressive catalogue of celebrity photos helped create the image of “swinging London” in the sixties and this photo became so famous that it’s now in a special collection at London’s National Portrait Gallery.  It’s interesting that Bailey’s most popular photograph was an actor because he has said more than once that “Actors are a severe pain to photograph because they never want to reveal who they are.

David Hughes does a great job duplicating the photograph, I’m not sure if he used a program or free-handed the model or some combination of both but the results are remarkable. Caine wears the black horn-rimmed glasses he donned to play secret agent Harry Palmer in three films that began with “The Ipcress File” and an unlit Gaulois dangles as if he paused to unfavorably appraise your idiotic small talk.  You’re boring Michael Caine, constant reader, its time to move along.

If you’re looking for a movie recommendation for the weekend, you could do a lot worse than the The Ipcress File, released the same year as the photo.   It’s like a grittier version of the early James Bond entries, albeit with less exotic locales and less fabulous babes.  So if you’re a fan of espionage films, Michael Caine and swinging 60’s action, you should give it a shot.  If you’re under the age of 25 or you have a short attention span,  you can just watch the trailer below, it pretty much gives you the whole story.

Shout out to constant reader Mike M. for the suggestion and be sure to check out the rest of David’s work on Flickr.

14 thoughts on ““I’m every bourgeois nightmare – a Cockney with intelligence and a million dollars.”

  1. yo man since finding ur blog Ive picked up like 7 builders who are such an inspiration. thank you for that. and your brutal honesty always is a refreshing course in plastic info, even if it hurts the feelings lol. Looking foward to many more great features old n new. cause like u said to me once , what about the older builds out there waiting to be rediscovered. Love it. thx again man. looking foward to ur next show n tell.


    1. Nice! That’s high praise to say you’ve picked up new builders, it’s like finding a new (or old) great band. I try and temper the brutal honesty thing with some humor, but this is the kind of blog you’re either down with, or you think it’s mean spirited and tune out. There are a lot of people in the hobby who fall into that second camp, they get offended very easily and like to keep things as sanitized as possible. Let me know any time you have a suggestion Mike and thanks for the comment!


  2. Saw David’s build the other day and wondered if you had seen it. All I could think of was Ipcress and Alfie. Good recommendation, although aside from Jaws 4 The Revenge, there really hasn’t been much of the Caine that really can’t be disliked (and to be honest, Caine was the best part of Jaws.)

    As a cinephile, I love it especially when a builder can cross the mediums and tap into a bit of memory like this. Even though the image is a brilliant, brilliant photograph, it still evokes the true awesomeness that is The Caine. I especially love the backlight that David was able to replicate in the mosaic and the curve of the glasses’ shadow across the cheek.

    Okay, I’ll throw in Fire Down Below as a low point for Caine; however, how much Caine can actually help a Segal flick? Really?


    1. I hadn’t seen it but fortunately Mike M. pointed me in the right direction. I’ve got a soft spot for Michael Caine, if nothing else for the classic “Victory!” Caine, Von Sydow, Stalone, and of course, Pele!

      Segal can’t be helped. His best role was in “Executive Decision”, he should pull a Sean Bean and be killed in the first 5 minutes of every film he’s in.


      1. I used to wonder if the mosaics were done freehand or with a program. I thought… Oh, look. Painting by numbers. Snide. Arrogant. But more and more, I find I care less and less. It’s the selection of the source image (when there is one) that I think really makes the mosaic for me. This one is great. Hard to go wrong with Michael Caine, but I would never have found this pic in a million years. I would have done something far more vulgar. A helicopter or a moonscape or something. But this image, which to me at first glance seems quite mundane, is actually quite arresting. Having given it a second glance, I now find that it is quite captivating. Yea… I’d hand it in my Legoatory in a New York minute! Hats off to Hughes… and as for specifics, I too was drawn to the treatment of the glass frame shadow on his face. Looking from photo to mosaic, I think it was done by hand, and I think it was the hard part. But it’s all beautiful!

        Whatever. Segal can eat one… lets get back to Michael Caine! I thought he was ok… until I saw him here with Mrs. Bullock (Sigh….). Now I know he’s EPIC!


      2. “It’s all in the buttocks, don’t I look pretty!” How have you not shared that with me before? I have not laughed that hard in at least a week.


      3. Dude, watching Segal be ripped out of that umbilicus was one of the greatest highlights in movie history. Couple that with Kurt Russell and it spells a pretty damn good flick.

        As for Ms. Congeniality, I always pictured Tim Gunn a bit shorter.

        If you’re looking for great Caine, head over to Zulu, still a fiercely awesome flick. But nothing screams more Michael Caine playing Michael Caine playing a Cockney badass than The Man Who Would be King. The Connery AND The Caine!!! “Take in the brass, Peachy.”

        I keep coming back to the photo and have to marvel at the lighting in it. That close up is almost claustrophobic, but in a comfortable or inviting way. Enticing maybe. It sort of screams, “Yeah, I’ll have a drink with ya. But your fucking buying or I’ll slit your mother’s throat. Cheers, mate!”

        Whether or not there is some sort of program aiding in the mosaic technique, I think it should be noted that there must always be some level of correction. Limited colors of four (five if you include the background) and the pixelated characteristic of LEGO needs a guiding hand when it gets fuzzy to make it NOT look like an 8-bit Mario. Seeing the works of Shaddix, Gugick, Myers, Rode, and Hughes here really shows more of an intuition than is truly appreciated in the genre. Yeah programs, whatever. But there is more to it than something barfed out on a punch card (they still use those don’t they? Hooray Univac!)

        And I can watch Segal topple away from 30,000 feet over and over again. Good times, good times.


  3. I can’t believe I forgot that Seagull scene. Definitely the highlight of his career.

    Gotta love these two doing The Caine:


  4. Somehow this post has become more about Michael Caine than David’s art. I like the style of the portrait, swinging 60’s mod. I also love me some black and white. It’s not as interesting at his Spock or even the Owl portrait from the previous owl filled post. I think the subject is really what makes this portrait.

    That being said, I heart Michael Caine!! One of my favorite quotes is,” [on Jaws: The Revenge (1987)] I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.” HA! I mean come on how can you not love that?

    I have so many favorite movies including Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and of course the movie that prevented me from ever putting my hand out the window of a moving car.


    1. Classic! DRS is still one of my favs. Shock to the System, when he throws the ashes = perfection! And let us not forget one of the greatest lines in movie history:

      I think that is the beauty of a work of art like this is that it evokes almost every aspect of the mind to work together joyfully.


      1. Hey hey hey…. My husbands people hail from the land of dikes and windmills. Roos means “rose” in Dutch dontchaknow. 😉 lol


    2. Wow, I have to see “The Hand” like now! What a hidden gem and apparently a cautionary tale. So much sweaty Michael Caine! You’re right, the comments have gone off the rails and far away from David’s mosaic, but that’s what you get on the Manifesto and trying to stop it would be both arbitrary and capricious. As you well know, my wife’s favorite movie is “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” and I took some shit for not referencing it. Damn, now I’ve got to find “The Hand”.


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