director Mike Hodges
This is one of those movies that I’ve been meaning to see again for many years. I first saw Get Carter probably around 20 years ago while I was living in England. I often refer to that brief time as my turn toward film studies really crystallized with the combination of terrific programming on the BBC and Channel 4, celebrating the “century of cinema”, and the excellent writing in The Guardian, turning me onto numerous films.
Get Carter has an excellent reputation, often making lists of “Best films from the UK”, for very good reason. It’s a crime film of its time, capturing the downturn times in Newcastle while telling an essentially classic noir revenge story. And there is Michael Caine in his prime.
He’s a gangster in London who returns to Newcastle to find out what happened to his brother, who supposedly drunkenly crashed his car into the river and died. The local gangsters and old acquaintances are pretty circumspect as he turns over stones to see what creepy crawlies spring forth. Only it only gets bleaker and bleaker as he does.
The film has a startlingly pessimistic ending, with another fantastic utilization of location, shooting on the beach where an automated trolley system dumps coal detritus into the sea. An image that has sat with me the 20 years between viewings.