‘Get Carter’, (the 1971 movie)

Judith Crist in New York magazine gave ‘Get Carter’ a glowing review, saying “Michael Caine is superb, suave and sexy” and describing the film as “a hard, mean and satisfying zinger” and I could agree more.

Starring Michael Caine (a performance he takes great pride in), a young nubile Britt Ekland never sexier and playwright John Osborne, ‘Get Carter’ was adapted from the novel ‘Jack’s Homecoming’ as all great great films are……. oh and the opening title music set’s a dark menacing tone brilliantly.

Yesterday evening I recommended the movie ‘Get Carter’ to a blogger I follow, yikes that’s problematic when we all have differing tastes, and likes are purely subjective.

But here goes with my take on a film review.

‘Get Carter’ is rightly regarded as the greatest British crime movie of all time, but don’t expect an eighteenth century ‘Downtonesque’ soap opera British TV inflicts on the rest of the world (ahhh I can’t take this dross any longer!), but a period drama all the same with the backdrop a North East decaying England gripped by recession. You’ll see no fancy period costumes, no quaint English villages or lush Shire countryside, for 1970s Newcastle is a bleak grimy city who’s truly great industrial past is long gone leaving it’s inhabitants in misery and depressing poverty, ‘Get Carter’ is a TRUTHFUL time-capsule all the same depicting a region of England that’s never recovered………. and expect a meandering tale leading to a vengeful crescendo and unexpected ending.

Packed with great quotes like, “behave yourself… you’re a big man but you’re in bad shape with me it’s a full time occupation” (I’ve used that one) ranking up there with Duval’s “I love the smell of napalm in the morning”………… and there’s SO many more!

Jack Carter played by Michael Caine is a cold ruthless unlikeable London ‘crime lord’ who travels north to avenge the death of his brother (yet female movie goers thought him never sexier, unfathomable creatures 😀 ) Carter’s lack of remorse didn’t sit kindly with critics of the time but many would agree gangsters are vicious nasty criminals, you shouldn’t like him, and certainly the viewer has no empathy for Caine yet we know these heartless menacing villains exist, and I’d rate Jack Carter alongside Coppola’s ‘Godfather’ both psychopaths’ oozing screen charisma who’ll kill a man and show no remorse.

Here’s what Caine himself had to say,

“One of the reasons I wanted to make that picture was my background. In English movies, gangsters were either stupid or funny. I wanted to show that they’re neither. Gangsters are not stupid, and they’re certainly not very funny” “Carter is the dead-end product of my own environment, my childhood; I know him well. He is the ghost of Michael Caine”.

‘Get Carter’s’ response from critics was lukewarm, although not a widespread theatrical release it made money, and as the years have passed popularity has now surpassed cult status, does that ring a bell? Remember ‘Shawshank Redemption’ one of the greatest movies ever made bombed at the cinema, was panned by critics and is yet now regarded by audiences as a favourite, no a classic.

With a meandering plot (not a criticism btw) pushing the boundaries in cinema and a cold unlikeable Michael Caine’s at is finest, ‘Get Carter’ is definitely worth a watch 🙂 .

A. Shepherdson 2020

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