Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Eye Candy of the Day: Get Carter

My name is Michael Caine. Caine as Jack Carter looking happier than he has a right to in New Castle.

I seem to be awash in mediocrity this week. First Bridget Jones which started out as a tidbit and exploded into a full-blown rant. Then I really worked on The Paradine Case, but I think maybe I made the same mistake as the film makers there. And now, I'm talking about Get Carter (1971), the British answer to Dirty Harry (1971). This movie comes from that pop-cultural fringe that haunts the edges of my childhood memories. It joins the ranks of other gritty, violent crime movies like The French Connection and pretty much anything with Charles Bronson that I was too little to watch when it came out. I find these movies difficult to follow, boring except when the screen is awash in sex or violence (or both as the case often is) and just not that good. Get Carter suffers from all these ills, but at least Michael Caine brings a bit of freshness to the vigilante role. He's fairly breezy compared to his grim American counterparts.

Jack Carter (Michael Caine) is a London mobster who returns home to Newcastle to investigate and avenge his brothers death. The male population of Newcastle wants to kill him and the female population wants to get him in bed. That's just the way it is when you're Michael Caine, I guess. (I will have the song Michael Caine by Madness stuck in my head now for the rest of the day.) Get Carter is essentially an exploitation film. Carter is in the porn industry and the movie veers back and forth from "here, have some porn" to "oh, no, porn is baaad" in an endless loop. The most famous scene has to do with a car park. If you google Get Carter you can see lots of high res images of it since it's a famous site of pilgrimage for fans of this movie. It's slightly harder to find a picture which captures the insouciance of Jack Carter. I liked this one because it also shows the gritty Newcastle landscape which is almost like another character in the film. (The Newcastle waterfront is at least as compelling as any of the female "characters" in the movie.) One shot of the Carter's home street took my breath away with the closeness of the brown brick houses, and the hazy smoke stack skyline. This was post-industrial, pre-Thatcher Britain at its worst. When Dirty Harry was chasing punks around the streets of San Francisco, even though it was funky and, well, dirty, it was still San Francisco, the best looking city in America. Just looking at the slag heaps in Get Carter will make you to start toting a shotgun around.

Bonus Eye Candy:

This is the one genuinely amusing scene in the movie. I think its a nice twist on couple in bed gets interrupted by thugs with guns.


kda0121 said...


This is a really good movie and I liked it until the very end. I just did not want to see Carter "GET" it. I am a sap for "happy endings" and was just bummed that he got killed in the end.

Jennythenipper said...

I hate the ending too. It's annoying because Carter really does go through a learning process and change during the movie. I'm old fashioned. I like to see people rewarded for that. The nihilistic BS kind of ending only grew in popularity as the decade went on, sad to say.