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Get Carter

Jack Carter is a small-time hood working in London. When word reaches him of his brother's death, he travels to Newcastle to attend the funeral. Refusing to accept the police report of suicide, Carter seeks out his brother’s friends and acquaintances to learn who murdered his sibling and why. #What happens when a professional killer violates the code? Get Carter!
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John Chard

at 13:38 pm

When Jack went home! Get Carter, not just one of the finest exponents of British neo-noir, but one of the greatest British films ever, period. Michael Caine stars as Jack Carter, a tough no nonsense operator in the London underworld who returns to his home town of Newcastle Upon Tyne when his brother turns up dead. Directed and adapted to screenplay by Mike Hodges from Ted Lewis' novel "Jack's Return Home", Get Carter is a bleakly atmospheric masterwork that takes the period setting of the time and blends harsh realism with film noir sensibilities and filters it through an uncut prism of doom. Jack Carter as created by Caine and Hodges is the quintessential film noir anti-hero. He smokes French cigarettes and reads Raymond Chandler, there is no hiding the respect and homages to classical noir pulsing away as Jack goes on his not so merry way. He's a vengeful angel of death, but sexy as hell with it, he even has humorous pearls of wisdom to spout, delivered with relish by Caine who is at his snake eyed best. In a strange quirk of the narrative, Jack is home but he's a fish out of water, he's a suited and booted Cockney lad moving amongst the flotsam and jetsam of North Eastern society. It's a crumbling landscape of terraced houses and coal yards, of seedy clubs and bed and breakfast establishments where, as Jack wryly observes, the beds have seen untold action. Jack Carter is a hard bastard, borderline psychotic once his mind has tuned into the frequency that plays to him the tunes of mistrust, of double-dealings, liars and thieves, of pornographers and gangsters who thrive on gaining wealth while the society around them falls into a depression. It's Fog on the Tyne for sure here. Yet Jack is not devoid of heartfelt emotion, his family ties are strong, and there is a point in the film when Jack sheds a tear, it is then when we all know that all bets are off and there will be no coming back from this particular abyss. Hodges and cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky strip it all back for maximum impact, so much so you can smell the salt of the murky sea, feel your lungs filling up with chimney smoke, the whiff of working class sweat is all around, and all the time Roy Budd's contemporary musical score jingles and jangles over proceedings like a dance of death waiting to reach its operatic conclusion. And with Caine backed up by a roll call of super working class character actors, Get Carter just gets better as each decade of film making passes. Like its antagonist/protagonist (yes, Jack is both, a deliberate contradiction) it's a film as hard as nails, where home format releases should be delivered through your letterboxes in a metal case. No lover of film noir can have an excuse to have not seen it yet. Funny, sexy, brutal and not without a ticking time bomb of emotional fortitude as well, Get Carter is the "A" Bomb in Grey Street. 10/10


CinemaSerf

at 18:05 pm

Michael Caine is "Jack Carter" - a gangster who heads from London to Newcastle in England's north east to bury his brother "Frank". On the face of it, he was killed in a car accident after taking a dram or two too many. Thing is, though, "Carter" knows that his brother was no whisky drinker - and so smells a rat. Soon he is embroiled again in the local gangland antics in which he grew up, and on the trail of the truth and the perpetrators. To be honest, I don't think this is Caine's finest work - he is distinctly wooden for much of it; even when naked pointing a shotgun at two men (George Sewell and Tony Beckley) who caught him in flagrante delicto with Rosemarie Dunham's "Edna". That said, though, Mike Hodges captures well the gritty and threatening environment in which the story is set; the pace builds well and the story - though, frankly rather thin - concludes with an ending that I found entirely fitting, if a little strung out. Perhaps time has just neutered the impetus of this film? I can see why it might be considered cult, and Caine does have charisma in spades - but here there just isn't enough of a plot, nor strength in the supporting cast (which features one, pretty erotic, scene with Britt Ekland over a telephone which hardly merits a share of top billing) to lift this from a noir mediocrity. That said, the film is worth a watch. It depicts a North East England that was pretty much at the nadir of it's economic existence and with a criminal fraternity that traded in just about every commodity including children - but somehow much of that potency is just lacking now.