Parties: Now you see him...

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The Independent Culture

Expectations soared when guests were told that the after-party for Michael Caine's new flick, Is Anybody There?, would be held at the highly secret Magic Circle London headquarters in Euston. Sadly, though, this bash was not exactly spellbinding.

There were no illusions of grandeur: a blue, sequinned curtain hung lamely in the corner and there was not a champagne flute in sight – instead, only wine was on offer. Even Caine, who plays a retired magician in the film, was unimpressed: "We've come all this way and there isn't even anyone doing tricks. I would have at least expected that," he grumbled.

Caine had failed to spot the rotund man, armed with his magic coin and a pack of cards making his way sluggishly around the room. "I've been doing publicity since nine in the morning and I am exhausted. I'm going to find my wife and creep out into the night with her," Caine muttered before clasping the elegant Shakira and doing just that.

Underage co-star Bill (Son of Rambow) Milner was presumably sent home to bed, while the more mature actresses, Sylvia Syms and June Whitfield, began with a bold entrance – "Hello old fruit," Syms exclaimed – only to fade quickly.

So it was down to the quirky Anne-Marie Duff to bewitch the crowd and bring a touch of dazzle to this low-key occasion: "My character is really dowdy so it's great to shake off that image and throw on a glam dress," she said, ruffling her long, blonde bob. "This one's [Alexander] McQueen. I just had to have it."

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