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Get Carter (1971)

Movie still

Director: Mike Hodges
Screenwriter: Mike Hodges
Starring: Michael Caine, John Osborne, Britt Ekland, Ian Hendry
Release details: MGM, UK 1971, 111mins
Full details: IMDb
Genre: Gangster
Rating: 10 out of 10

After Zulu, Alfie and The Italian Job, Michael Caine was hot stuff, a UK action hero to be reckoned with.

Fittingly, then, he strolls through this with the same cool air of detachment that Eastwood had used to such great effect in his Spaghetti Westerns. But Caine passes on a poncho and instead opts for a suit (grey or birthday) as Jack Carter, the man with no discernible job and one less relative to visit when he goes home to Newcastle.

Director Mike Hodges eases you in so gently that for 40 minutes almost nothing happens - but no matter, because he's telling you that Carter is hard as nails and mad as hell now his brother is dead and his niece is abandoned. And because Carter reads Raymond Chandler, you can sense that he's turning over all the right rocks, just in the wrong order.

Then the low-life beneath them scuttles around and it all drops into place: the landlady gets a treat, the neighbours get a shock, George Sewell's red Jag gets impromptu ventilation and Bryan Mosley (Corrie's Alf Roberts) meets a traffic-stopping sticky end. Soon after, hard man Carter is reduced to tears by a cheap porno movie and the tale skids down an exhilarating slope to a violent ending that leaves the viewer with the sense that this is not only a landmark in Caine's career, but in British cinema too.

Review by Kim Newman, taken from Stella Artois's 100 Videos You Must Own

Get Carter was remade in 2000.

poster

Poster image © MGM/UA

Buy it from OnePoster or AllPosters

Trivia

According to Geraint Roberts (via email), it's not Brian Sewell's red jag, it's Peter's (Tony Beckley): "Peter's very upset about his car. He's going to shit all over you."

When Carter strides into the bar, there's a man sitting in the foreground drinking a pint. He has five fingers and a thumb.

DVD Extras

The Region 2 disc features: scene access; isolated music score, three trailers, including one for the UK premiere in Newcastle. The contributions to the audio commentary by director Mike Hodges, cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky and Michael Caine, although informative and interesting, were all recorded separately, occasionally giving it a kind of cut-and-paste feel.

Region 1 viewers also get an additional documentary: "Caine is Carter", although European fans with access to Turner Classic Movies on satellite or cable should keep an eye out for it cropping up before or after Michael Caine movies.

External Reviews

As bleak as it is hard and viciously uncompromising, "Get Carter" is one of those films that has become increasingly interesting over time... BBC Films

The classic Get Carter is just as good as you remembered... DVD Review

Links

Michael Brady's superior site takes you on a guided tour of the Newcastle locations used in the 1971 film, with pictures of both then and now. Comprehensive and fascinating.

The Get Carter site: the original Get Carter site, with a wealth of information on the superior original and the poor Stallone version (but concentrating mainly on the Caine version).

You can read more about playwright and actor John Osborne (most famous for his play Look Back in Anger) at TheatreHistory.com.


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