KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (14)
August 14, 2017
One of 25 installments in a series of enthusiastic posts analyzing and celebrating a few of our favorite neo-noir movies from the Sixties (1964–1973).
GET CARTER | d. MIKE HODGES | 1971
Gangster Jack Carter (Michael Caine) is on a train heading north from London to Newcastle to attend the funeral of his brother, and to find out who caused his mysterious death. We see him reading a book: Raymond Chandler’s novel, Farewell My Lovely. It’s a wry choice of book; the Britain of 1971 that Mike Hodges captures in this hardbitten crime flick couldn’t have been further from Chandler’s sunshine noir California. This is a Britain of washed-out colours, rain, grim terraced housing in the shadow of gas holders and brutalist multi-storey car parks. A Britain on the slide into post-industrial desuetude, stagflation, and social unrest, and where, for most people, ‘The Sixties’ was something that only happened to a bunch of people living in London. A country, as the title of one of Roy Budd’s memorable soundtrack songs puts it, ‘Going Nowhere in a Hurry.’ In a pointed piece of casting, the movie’s vicious crime boss, Cyril Kinnear, is played by Look Back in Anger writer John Osborne, one of the ‘angry young men’ of British theatre who railed against the social mores of the day.
Get Carter is a story of revenge, told with what was, at the time, an unusual degree of naturalism for a crime film; Dirty Harry by way of kitchen sink realism. But, this being Britain, it’s also a movie about class and social expectations, about the North/South divide. Nowhere is this more succinctly expressed than near the start of the film, when Carter, having just arrived in Newcastle, walks into a bar for a drink. The room is wrapped in cigarette smoke, forlorn pop songs playing on the jukebox, lonely men propping up the bar. Carter orders a beer. As the barman goes to pour it, Carter snaps his fingers at him and demands he serves it: ‘in a thin glass.’ The bar goes quiet. Faces thick with booze, ruined by work and worry, turn to stare at the arrogant southerner. (You can almost hear them thinking, ‘who does this fella think he is?’) At the bar, the telephone rings. ‘Is there a Mr Carter in the room?’ asks the barman. ‘Yeah,’ says the gangster. His conspicuousness signals the start of a bloody campaign of retribution — underworld thug-on-thug violence — but also, at a symbolic level, of the powerful south inflicting violence on the working-class north.
KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM: Series Introduction | Kio Stark on THE KILLERS | Alix Lambert on BANDE À PART (BAND OF OUTSIDERS) | Judith Zissman on ALPHAVILLE | Mark Kingwell on HARPER | Lynn Peril on BLOW-UP | Devin McKinney on SECONDS | Drew Daniel on BRANDED TO KILL | Luc Sante on POINT BLANK | Gordon Dahlquist on LE SAMOURAÏ | Alice Boone on LE CERCLE ROUGE | Brian Berger on COTTON COMES TO HARLEM | Adrienne Crewe on PERFORMANCE | David Levine on THE FRENCH CONNECTION | Dan Fox on GET CARTER | Melissa Gira Grant on KLUTE | Brandi Brown on SHAFT | Kaleb Horton on FAT CITY | Peter Doyle on THE GETAWAY | Sarah Weinman on HICKEY & BOGGS | Annie Nocenti on BADLANDS | Josh Glenn on CHARLEY VARRICK | Gary Groth on THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE | Lisa Jane Persky on THE LONG GOODBYE | Mimi Lipson on MEAN STREETS | Sherri Wasserman on SOYLENT GREEN.
MORE MOVIES at HILOBROW: KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM: 25 neo-noirs of the Sixties (1964–1973) | James Parker’s BOURNE VARIATIONS series | Alix Lambert’s SÉRIE NOIRE series | Jacob Mikanowski’s SCREEN TIME series | Josh Glenn’s SHOCKING BLOCKING series | Joanne McNeil’s ALL MY STARS series | MORE: including dozens of HILO HERO items on movie directors and actors.
KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2017): THE KILLERS | BANDE À PART (BAND OF OUTSIDERS) | ALPHAVILLE | HARPER | BLOW-UP | & 20 other neo-noir movies. #SQUADGOALS (2017 weekly): THE WILD BUNCH | BOWIE’S BAND | THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | VI ÄR BÄST! & dozens of other squads | GROK MY ENTHUSIASM (2016 weekly): THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | WEEKEND | MILLION YEAR PICNIC | LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | & dozens more one-off enthusiasms. QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2016): “Tainted Love” | “Metal” | “Frankie Teardrop” | “Savoir Faire” | “Broken English” | & 20 other new wave songs. CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2015): DARKER THAN YOU THINK | THE SWORD IN THE STONE | OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET | THIEVES’ HOUSE | QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST | & 20 other fantasy novels from 1934–43. KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2014): ALDINE ITALIC | DATA 70 | TORONTO SUBWAY | JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | TODD KLONE | & 20 other typefaces. HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2013): “Spoonin’ Rap” | “Rapper’s Delight” | “Rappin’ Blow” | “The Incredible Fulk” | “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | & 20 other old-school hip-hop songs. KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2012): Justice or vengeance? | Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | “KHAAAAAN!” | “No kill I” | Kirk browbeats NOMAD | & 20 other Captain Kirk scenes. KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2011): THE ETERNALS | BLACK MAGIC | DEMON | OMAC | CAPTAIN AMERICA | & 20 other Jack Kirby panels.