Film of the Week: Get Carter (1971)

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Mike Hodges directs Michael Caine, Ian Hendry and John Osborne in this bleak thriller about an enforcer who travels North back home to investigate his brother’s suspicious death.

I’m too close to Get Carter to be in any way reasonably critical of it. Even watching it after a few years off with my wife for her first time (and she’s not a fan of Caine) I just got seduced by its dank beauty and squalid pessimism. It sounds and looks and moves the way a great crime thriller should – like cheap whisky in a lipstick stained cut glass tumbler, catching the winter light before burning the throat. Nasty stuff full of shimmering refractions and sadness. The score by Roy Budd is brilliantly jazzy and mournful. Hodges matches his documentary background for capturing a milieu with the propulsive urgency of a born action director. All the cast land devestating blows as the how and the why tragically unfolds but Caine towers over all as the brute force bastard who keeps pulling at strings no one wants to see undone, not even him. He is just tremendous here and gets to actually do a bit of that acting he’s not half bad at given the chance. Perfection.

10

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