Eye For Film >> Movies >> Get Carter (1971) Film Review
Reviewed by: Stephen Carty
While cockney icon Michael Caine recently quipped that it "looks like Mary Poppins now", Get Carter is still as brutal as ever. Adapted from Ted Lewis' novel Jack's Return Home, Mike Hodges' seminal picture is violent, full of hard-hitting moments and peppered with liberal nudity. Indeed, going 25 minutes without a naked girl of some variety (on the phone, in a bath, not quite living any more) is pretty unlikely.
Some might find the plot confusing, but it's actually quite straightforward. After his brother dies under mysterious circumstances, London gangster Jack Carter (Caine) immediately heads back to Newcastle in order to uncover the truth. Though warned away by local hoods and thrown off the scent by rivals, Jack slowly begins to piece things together.
Though undoubtedly bleak and largely without intentional humour, the uncompromising vision results in a ground-breaking British gangster movie. Employing a second unit crew of documentary experts to achieve a decidedly gritty realism, Hodges puts us right there with Jack as he navigates smoke-filled pubs, seedy gambling rooms and old-school terraced houses. Our 'hero' - and this is a very loose term - might hail from London, but the tone reeks of the North during the early Seventies.
And then, of course, there's Caine. Instantly iconic, unflappably cool and always in control (even when caught in the middle of an early morning fumble) his self-styled suave makes nearly every line memorable. From oft-quoted remarks like: "You're a big man. But you're out of shape. With me it's a full time job." (said to Coronation Street‘s Alf Roberts, no less) to throwaway snips such as: "I've come for you, Margaret", there’s plenty to be regurgitated down the pub later on.
Yes, Roy Budd's jazzy theme-tune (which any music-orientated film fan will have on their iPod for train journeys) is as synonymous with proceedings as possible, but this movie belongs to everyone's favourite nosy neighbour. As the posters at the time declared: "Caine is Carter".
A tough watch for sure, but Mike Hodges' influential revenge thriller is dark, visionary and, arguably, Michael Caine's finest hour. A landmark British motion picture, but not a lot of people know that.Reviewed on: 19 Apr 2009