Get Carter (1971)
Directed by: Mike Hodges | 112 minutes | drama, crime, thriller | Actors: Michael Caine, Ian Hendry, Britt Ekland, John Osborne, Tony Beckley, George Sewell, Geraldine Moffat, Dorothy White, Rosemarie Dunham, Petra Markham, Alun Armstrong, Bryan Mosley, Glynn Edwards, Bernard Hepton, Terence Rigby, John Bindon, Godfrey Quigley, Kevin Brennan, Maxwell Dees, Liz McKenzie, John Hussey, Ben Aris, Kitty Atwood, Denea Wilde, Geraldine Sherman
“Get Carter” is a tough film, full of adrenaline, deception and cynicism. Michael Caine excels at an act of revenge that takes place in the British industrial city of Newcastle. Director Mike Hodges manages to keep you captivated all the time, despite a fairly simple story. “Get Carter” has since become a cult film. “Get Carter” is typically a film that would be much more widely known if it were an American product. However, the “limitation”, the British cast and setting, is an essential part of the quality of the film. Director Hodges (“Flash Gordon”) takes you to the chilly environment of Newcastle, where people work hard in the factories during the day to fill up in the pubs at night. Londoner Jack Carter (Caine) returns to his native soil to investigate his brother’s dubious death. Michael Caine (“The Italian Job”, 1969) is very strong in an unusually tough role. A striking scene is a scene in which Sir Michael describes the look in the eyes of an old acquaintance as “piss holes in the snow”. Caine’s cynical attitude is maintained throughout. There’s no laughing matter unless he kills a bastard and dumps it in a coal car. Caine doesn’t shy away from fighting his opponents with weapons or unceremoniously throwing them off an apartment building. Northern English criminals are in their stomach with the loner who will not stop.
Director Hodges uses themes such as lust, pornography, crime and violence, which leads to an explosive concoction. The women in Get Carter are excited portraits, always in the mood for a break or a fight. Caine chuckles when two hefty ladies get into each other’s hair in a pub, when one of them gets a little too cozy with the other’s friend. He increasingly finds himself in the lurid world of pornography, where old men gloat about young, innocent girls. Later in the film, Caine realizes that the filth is closer to him than he suspected.
The “Get Carter” story is simple, but brilliantly developed. Caine wants to avenge his brother, but do you need to sympathize with someone who is in dirty business himself and goes to work like an elephant in the china shop to find out the truth? He wants the truth and uses the same violent means as his opponents. He sees the people he meets along the way as pawns. For example, he first puts his landlady in Newcastle under psychological pressure, after which he “does her a favor” by hiding under the sheets with her so that she will not betray him. Another guy helping Caine ends up in the hospital, after which Caine goes on ice cold, leaving his helper in the wrinkles.
Get Carter is an absolute must. The film is crystal clear from time to time and shows people at their worst. Michael Caine is on a roll in an unusually serious role. The setting of the film, the monotonous street scene of an English city, is original and enhances the quality. Hodges’ best film, which is gaining appreciation.