Get Carter (1971)

screenshot from Get Carter

Directed by: Mike Hodges
Screenwriter(s): Mike Hodges
Starring: Michael Caine, John Osborne, Britt Ekland, Ian Hendry, George Sewell, Brian Mosley
Genre: Gangster / Thriller
Country: UK
Running time: 1h 51m
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, a 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.

Get Carter was remade in 2000.


For your listening pleasure

SMERSHPod: Get Carter

The pod is going to Newcastle to examine Jack’s return home. There’ll be fights, nudity, exercising, shooters, car chases, but no spewing on the goldfish. Yes, it's Get Carter. Joining John Rain are Ali Catterall and Paul Putner.

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