Originally posted 2018-05-02 14:04:22. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Get Carter is a 1971 British crime film directed by Mike Hodges and starring Michael Caine, Ian Hendry, Britt Ekland, John Osborne and Bryan Mosley. The screenplay was adapted by Hodges from Ted Lewis’s 1969 novel Jack’s Return Home. Producer Michael Klinger optioned the book and made a deal for the ailing Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studio to finance and release the film, bringing in Hodges and Caine. Caine became a co-producer of the film. Get Carter was Hodges’ first feature film as director, as well as being the screen debut of Alun Armstrong. MGM was scaling back its European operations and the film became the last project approved before the American company closed its Borehamwood studios. The film is set in north-east England and was filmed in and around Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead and County Durham.
The story follows a London gangster, the eponymous Jack Carter (Caine), who travels back to his hometown to discover more about the events surrounding his brother Frank’s supposedly accidental death. Suspecting foul play, he investigates and interrogates, regaining a feel for the city and its hardened-criminal element; with vengeance on his mind, the situation builds to a violent conclusion.
Caine and Hodges had ambitions to produce a more gritty and realistic portrayal of on-screen violence and criminal behaviour than had previously been seen in a British film. Caine incorporated his knowledge of real criminal acquaintances into his characterisation of Carter. Hodges and cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky drew heavily on their backgrounds in documentary film. This—combined with Hodges’ research into the contemporary criminal underworld of Newcastle (in particular the one-armed bandit murder), and the use of hundreds of local bystanders as extras—produced a naturalistic feel in many scenes. The shoot was incident-free and progressed speedily, despite a one-day strike by the Association of Cinematograph, Television and Allied Technicians. The production went from novel to finished film in eight months, with location shooting lasting 40 days.
Get Carter suffered in its promotion, firstly from MGM’s problems and secondly owing to the declining British film industry of the period, which relied increasingly on US investment. Initial UK critical reaction to the film was mixed, with British reviewers grudgingly appreciative of the film’s technical excellence, but dismayed by the complex plotting, the excessive violence and amorality, in particular Carter’s apparent lack of remorse at his actions. Despite this the film did good business in the UK and produced a respectable profit. Conversely, US critics were generally more enthusiastic and praised the film, but it was poorly promoted in the States by United Artists and languished on the drive in circuit while MGM focused its resources on producing a blaxploitation version of the same novel, Hit Man. On its release Get Carter received no awards and did not seem likely to be well remembered. It was not available on home media until 1993; but always maintained a cult following. Subsequently, endorsements from a new generation of directors such as Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie led to a critical reappraisal which saw it recognized as one of the best British movies of all time. In 1999, Get Carter was ranked 16th on the BFI Top 100 British films of the 20th century; five years later, a survey of British film critics in Total Film magazine chose it as the greatest British film of all time. Get Carter was remade in 2000 by Warner Bros. under the same title, with Sylvester Stallone starring as Jack Carter, while Caine appears in a supporting role. This remake was not well received by critics in the USA and was not given a UK theatrical release.