Get Carter (1971)
May 21, 2018 5:49 PM - Subscribe

When his brother dies under mysterious circumstances in a car accident, London gangster Jack Carter travels to Newcastle to investigate.

Empire: Arguably the best British gangster movie ever made —indeed, today it is rated by the BFI as 16th out of the top 100 British movies ever made — the unflinching tale of one man doomed by his quest for revenge never lets up. We know the end from square one. What's more, deep down so does Jack Carter. He just no longer cares.

Based on the Ted Lewis novel Jack Returns, the plot sees the Raymond Chandler-reading, cool-as-you-like, East End gangster Carter — a character with whom Caine, having grown up in punch-drunk Elephant & Castle, could readily associate — travel to Newcastle to avenge the death of his brother. In doing so, he uncovers an underworld of organised crime, backstreet porn and unwieldy drinking receptacles: "A pint of bitter," Carter snaps, in a Cockney dialect later partially dubbed for the US release, "in a thin glass!"

Roger Ebert: The character created by Caine is particularly interesting. He's tough and ruthless, but very quiet and charged with a terrible irony. An early scene at a racetrack, where he quizzes a chauffeur hiding behind blank dark glasses, is as good a Caine scene as anything since he found the girl in his apartment in "The Ipcress File." A later scene, which cinematically compares lovemaking and sports car driving, is as funny as e. e. cummings' "She being brand new," the poem that's maybe about a Model T.

The movie has a sure touch. Very early, during the titles, we see Caine taking the train to Newcastle and reading a paperback of Raymond Chandler's 'Farewell My Lovely.' This seems audacious at the time, as if director Mike Hodges were deliberately inviting comparison with the American masters. But Hodges has the stuff, and "Get Carter" works as well as any British crime melodrama in a long time. Now that Rod Taylor has undertaken a series of movies as Travis McGee, I wonder if we could dust off Caine's American accent and hire Hodges to direct him as Lew Archer....


Filming locations

‘Get Carter’: Why Mike Hodges’ Uncompromising Gangster Film Gained Cult Following

'Get Carter' and the Birth of British Noir

Interview: Mike Hodges on Get Carter (1971)
posted by MoonOrb (5 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

And what a soundtrack.
posted by kandinski at 4:30 AM on May 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Let us not forget the style of the clothes for the film: Michael Caine in Get Carter: Killer Suit , CELLULOID STYLE: GET CARTER and Michael Caine in Get Carter. The last article covers other items in the costuming of the film, including weapons.
posted by jadepearl at 7:03 PM on May 23, 2018

Everytime I watch this film (and I watch it a lot) I’m struck by how beautiful Michael Caine is. He is angelic.
posted by valkane at 5:14 PM on May 25, 2018

Stone cold Brit classic that even ridiculous levels of adulation during the Brit pop years could not bring down... probably because (like a lot of Brit stuff) the essential grubbiness and seediness at the heart of its glamour ('like piss holes in the snow')

Previous mefi post on the iconic car park
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:50 AM on May 28, 2018

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