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United Kingdom 1971
Directed by
Mike Hodges
112 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Get Carter

Michael Caine plays Jack Carter, a London gangster who goes to Newcastle to investigate his brother's supposed accidental death. As Carter asks unwanted questions, the Newcastle underworld gets edgy and tries to close him down. Carter responds with extreme prejudice. 

Although it lacks the economy and intensity of John Boorman’s classic 1967 revenge thriller, Point Blank, Get Carter is a very English take on the genre with a kind of kitchen sink sensibility that gives the film a good deal of sociological groundedness as our coolly indefatigible protagonist trawls through the crowded pubs, low rent boarding-houses and betting shops of mid-60s Newcastle. Cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky uses the bleak Northern England industrial landscape well as a setting for the underworld tawdriness.

The film is remarkably (and stylishly) explicit for its day with one scene with Carter having phone sex with Britt Ekland’s gangster’s moll as Carter’s lonely landlady listens in being a stand-out whilst in another scene Carter fantasizes about having sex with a sports car driving babe as she racks through the floor shift gear changes.

Expeditious as it is, by today’s standard the violence is not particularly graphic but like Lee Marvin’s Walker, Carter isn’t the kind of guy to second-guess himself and he dispatches his marks, male or female, with ruthless hands-on efficiency. In the opening titles we see Caine reading Raymond Chandler's 'Farewell My Lovely’ while travelling by train to Newcastle and although in places the plot can be hard to follow, this is more of a reference to Carter's dry character than any indication of his investigative style.

Hodges, who had worked in television does a solid job of keeping the tone and paced focused and if technically rough in places this doesn’t detract from the vigour of the film.




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