Quarter To Three Movie Club - DEC 2018/Get Carter (1971)-Spoilers Allowed!


24 hours until spoilers are let loose!

I had a coupon to rent a movie for 99 cents on Google Play, and luckily I had a nice chunk of time yesterday.

I’ll post my typed up thoughts on the movie tomorrow, but right now I was just trying to remember more of the Sylvester Stallone remake of this movie during the 2000s. Did anyone else see that? I saw it in the theater on opening weekend, but I never heard of the movie after that. I remember really enjoying it. It had a kind of intensity, a rawness that you don’t often see in modern movies. Now that I’ve seen the original, I’m wondering if I should track down the remake.


“Come on Jack, put it away. You know you’re not going to use it.”

Spoilers Allowed!!


Over 3 hours early?


Gut level reaction: This movie had a slow start. That seems to be the common thread for Movie Club so far. What makes this movie worse in a way is that the beginning is so mysterious, and not in a good way. It uses that storytelling technique where the characters are just going about their lives, so there’s no one to explain what’s going on to the audience. It opens on a weird uncomfortable scene where some people are watching pornographic slides together. Nothing here is meant to draw you in, as far as I could tell.

Then, for whispered and not clearly discernible reasons, Michael Caine’s character gets on the train and heads to Newcastle. Just a personal aside, I’ve been on this particular route twice, once when heading to Newcastle, once when headed to Edinburgh. It is a great, scenic ride.

What’s agonizing here is that because of this story telling technique, we have no idea why he’s headed to this town, and what he’s doing now that he’s gotten here. We just have to follow along with him and look at his giant face as the director zooms in on his face in every scene.

We slowly discover that he’s here for his brother’s funeral. That his brother left behind a daughter, and a “bird”, who happens to be married, and a couple of friends who say nice things about him after the funeral. There’s a scene here that perfectly encapsulate this director’s main methodology, the technique that kind of lends an intensity to the film that wouldn’t be there otherwise. Michael Cain is talking to his brother’s coworker, and he gets up to thank him and hands him some money as the other fellow is saying he doesn’t need it, but reluctantly accepts. Except we never see Carter actually take out the money properly in the frame, because the camera is centered only on his face. We don’t see him putting it into the other fella’s pocket because the camera is now focused on HIS face. But even though it happens slightly off camera, we can still tell what’s going on.

This kind of lends itself to a kind of unique frame where I’m constantly leaning left and right and trying to see what’s going on because the director always puts the characters’ faces right there, and quite often films it from an angle where he’s blocking that face sometimes. There’s a scene where we’re introduced to the bad guy who is playing poker. Even though Carter just broke into his house, he ignores Carter and continues to play Poker. The camera stays zoomed in as he plays the game and talks to his fellow players. There’s times when another player’s head is in the way, for god’s sake. So I’m leaning left, trying to get a better look around that guy.

The truth is that this kind of filming technique is what kept the movie interesting and intense for me. The actual story isn’t all that interesting by itself. Carter’s brother stumbled upon the fact that his daughter was used in a pornographic film, and his subsequent objections got him killed by these people, these employers of our lead character.

One movie trope this film goes against is the fact that torture always works. I’m so tired of movies always showing the lead character torturing someone and they spill the beans, which leads them to the next piece of information. In Get Carter, Michael Cain tortures a few people, but it’s rightly a hit and miss technique. He gets people to talk plenty quickly. But sometimes they say something even when they don’t know. Other times they tell him something that’s not true under torture. It was kind of nice to see that, as most movies nowadays just want us to believe that torture always works.

As the movie winds down and Carter slowly gets all the people involved with his brother’s murder and his niece’s filmed sexual encounter, I do love how the actions scenes are very abrupt and to the point and feel very authentic. There’s a few sex scenes in the movie, that I admit are very erotic. There’s a scene in a car where we see Carter look at a lady’s clothed breast, and the movie cuts to a scene of him handling that bare breast. You’re wondering for a few seconds if he’s fantasizing or if the movie is switching back and forth in time. There’s a couple of other sex scenes in the movie that are not as sexy, but I do feel like they knew something about showing sex and sexuality that we seem to have lost in modern times somehow, and yet, I’m not sure what that is exactly.

It never really occurred to me if Carter ever had a real out. Back at the beginning of the movie before you really know what’s going on, he mentions a couple of times to his niece that he’s going to South America, so that’s presumably his out. We have to recall that ourselves though, since he doesn’t mention that in the second half of the movie. He’s a killer who is trying to kill the very people he works for, so he knows it’s not likely he’ll come out of this alive. As the audience I don’t think we grow particularly fond of him either. So I can’t imagine anyone watching this movie and really hoping Michael Caine’s character makes it out alive somehow. So when he does die, it just feels like a convenient way to end the film more than any kind of emotional catharsis or a real pin on the story. Boom, he’s dead, we’re done here. You may now discuss the movie.


The Junta is going to bed early.


That opening with the porno slides is so weird and uncomfortable. And surprisingly graphic, considering.

I found a lot of the details fascinating in a way that I’m not sure would have been notable to the intended audience (which is to say, British people in the era it was filmed). The train compartments with doors that were nonetheless shared by complete strangers. The way the toilets are all out back like outhouses and Michael Caine’s room at the hotel has a chamber pot, but apparently there is indoor plumbing because Kinnear’s woman (I wasn’t clear as to her name, but Glenda maybe?) runs a bath. The buzz of the telephone line after the other party hangs up instead of a dial tone.

I think probably the most memorable sex-related scene is when he’s having phone sex with his boss’ girl (Anna) while sitting right there staring at his landlady and she’s just rocking more and more rapidly as he talks. Boy.

Despite the movie poster (and putting basically the end of the movie on that is a …bold… choice), there’s hardly any gunplay in the movie, which I can’t imagine would be the case in an American movie of this sort. (It does make me wonder how the American remake with Stallone handles things.) Guns are pointed at people to get them to back off, but aside from the brief standoff on the ferry and the blonde getting shot on it, everything else is attended to much more personally. And edited around in ways that rarely actually show the violence being done, at that. Like when Carter hits people, he’s usually blocking the camera.

Incidentally, speaking of the American version, it’s notable that Michael Caine is in that version as well, though he plays Cliff Brumby rather than his original role.


Indoor toilets (and for that matter plumbing in general) were the norm in middle and upper class homes much earlier, but it wasn’t until the big social housing programmes and slum clearancesof the 50s/60s that a lot of working class people got them. The train thing, that’s just how they were, though not by my time. I grew up in the slam door era, but after individual compartments (other than the smoking compartment.


I share a lot of your opinions, Monkey (you don’t mind that I call you Monkey, do you?), excepting that I liked the guessing and the blurry storytelling of the first half, especially having to try to figure the characters’ relationships.

The earlier part of the movie felt almost like a British “Some-town-in-the-North Monogatari”. The attention to little details and noisescape everywhere. That suddenly daring precipice of a town landscape, its perspective not escaping into the flank of a mountain, but into huge factories.
Then it gets into the business of having people shocked (midly), then pleased (lazily — that police raid was much more awkward than any of the sex) My down in the dirt Ozu turned suddenly into some typical Bronson of the period. Meh.

I still love the movie for that weird first half.


That’s the thing - obviously I wasn’t alive back then, but my impression is that basically no one (at least, in urban areas) would have still had outhouses in the US by the 70s. So it’s culturally striking for me as an American.


How dare you? Only the announcer from the Codemasters’ racing games calls me that. (j/k)

I have to admit, where I really hate that type of storytelling is in books, but it isn’t as bad on film. The length is short enough that you know you’re going to get some answers soon, so it’s easier to get through without frustration. Also, I was really happy with how director/screen-writer picked images that stick in your head and pop back into your brain when you figure something out. That opening porno-slides scene is so strange in the beginning, but it sticks in your head for a couple of reasons. One is the way it focuses on the guy putting his hand on the panty-hosed leg of the girl, and how she looks uncomfortable with it. And the way it shows Michael Caine (he’s not yet Carter in the viewer’s eyes, since he hasn’t been introduced to us yet, so he’s still Michael Caine) looking at that touch with a blank look on his face. That image pops back into your head later in the movie when Carter calls her. And in your mind’s eye, that woman is now that man’s girlfriend, and Michael Caine is now Carter.

They do something similar with the young girl he meets in Newcastle. You don’t really know what the heck he’s talking about. But once he’s talking in the Pub and you realize his brother is dead, and you figure out who she is, the previous conversation kind of locks into place.


Worth noting is that there’s a strong hint that Doreen is actually Jack’s daughter, unacknowledged. (Remember, the kid yells at him about how he was sleeping with his brother’s wife.)


Interesting. I didn’t even realize what their relationship was, so I missed that part of the conversation, since I had no idea what they were talking about.


This is the first time that I’ve watched Get Carter. I have a vague recollection of watching the Stallone Get Carter, but I don’t remember anything from it.

I don’t think I liked this movie. I liked parts of it. But overall I don’t think it worked for me. It might be a case of me not appreciating or getting 70’s British cinema.

What I liked:

I liked the dialogue.

I liked Michael Caine, I thought it was a darn good performance on his part.

I liked how slow things moved in the first quarter to first half of the movie. I like it when a director is able to take his time developing the story.

The parade. I’m not sure why the director chose to include that, but it made me chuckle.

I liked how the movie ended. I assumed that the hitman was just one more obstacle that Carter would have to overcome. I like the fact that he didn’t.

What I didn’t like:

The treatment of women in the movie. I’m not going to go any further with that since I don’t want to turn this into a P&R bit, but that sort of put me off.

While I enjoyed Caine’s performance, I found most of the other performances to be lacking. Maybe it’s just a 70’s thing.

I believe it was @malkav11 who mentioned the way the movie edited around the violence. I wonder if that was to ensure the movie got a certain rating or what? It felt very noticeable to me to the point of being distracting.

I do suspect that most 70’s cinema just isn’t for me and that’s why Get Carter didn’t really work for me. I’m glad I saw it though, as this takes my pre-2000 Michael Caine movie tally to five, Zulu, Victory, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Muppet Christmas Carol and now Get Carter.

Thank you @Navaronegun .


A reminder to @Navaronegun and @ChristienMurawski that it’s the last day of the year! That said, holiday schedules have been pretty hectic, so it’s completely understandable if you guys didn’t get to see the movie this month. If you did already see the movie, we would also understand if you just posted a short post from what you recalled about the movie the last time you saw it, years ago (for instance). Sometimes it can be interesting to read what still stuck out to people in their memories after all these years.


I am planning to post later and then…determine the fate of the Junta…


The first time I saw this movie, I didn’t know who Michael Caine was, I didn’t know who Steve Martin was, and I certainly didn’t know who the actress was. And it was a completely different experience. I laughed so hard, I thought it was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen in my life. Years later, I saw the movie again, and I knew Michael Caine, I knew Steve Martin, and obviously I’d seen the movie once before, and it was a completely different experience because I had a lot of baggage in my head this time on what to expect from these actors and how they usually act, and how they deliver their lines, etc. That first time was just pure magic.


That kind of blows my mind. Not the actress part, I could see not being familiar with Glenne Headley.


I’m quite glad for the Move Club as it’s pushed me to see a few movies that I hadn’t watched before and I don’t think I would have watched otherwise. I like having a push/nudge in a direction to help give my movie viewing some focus and motivation.


Carter is alone. He’s alone with he London mob too, barely even tolerant of their “entertainments”. Shows realization of the dis of “the North” but lets it pass. Riding First class and not fitting in.

North and South. The North is a conquered state, even giving up its women in porn to feed London’s appetites. Nuclear Power Plants. Crumbling Victorian infrastructure, row houses…even the bodies laid out in a Victorian style in the home. The exploitation methods have changed, but the pattern stretching back to the beginning of the industrial revolution hasn’t. Nothing has changed. The scenery is changing.

Carter is basically a despicable character. We’re led to believe at first that he’s an anti-hero. We’re used to that. Bogie, Cagney, Robert Mitchum…years of hard-boiled PI’s and sympathetic hoodlums slapping broads around, righting wrongs with violence. We know that we’re in for a noir with the shot of him on the train reading Farewell, My Lovely. But as the film moves on we see that Carter is a despicable, selfish character. He found his way out of the exploitation by exploiting and using. He slept with his brother’s wife. His maybe-daughter, who is the one who is transgressed, is fobbed off early with a wad of Pounds. Everyone he’s touched has to pay for his selfishness, to include the girlfriend in London.

Why is Carter seeking vengeance? He claims it’s for his Brother and his Niece. This may be somewhat true, but he says quite clearly near the end, before everyone surrounding the seduction of Doreen into porn and his Brother’s murder gets what’s coming to them, the real reason. “Carter. That’s my name!” It’s all about a slight to him. A transgression against him. Not the damage that was done to lives. He’s not righting wrongs. He’s avenging a attack against his honor. Very petty. Very selfish. Very…backwards. The way you’d expect someone to act when they learned, very early in life, evidently that there are those who are exploited and those who take. He learned it long before we met him. Not far from the decayed, debris and sludge pool residue of the 200-year-old exploitation of where began, in the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. In the North. Jack Carter came home.


I like your analysis of Carter, @Navaronegun. The film holds true to keeping him despicable, it just didn’t necessarily work well for me. It was informative to watch. 70’s cinema could certainly get away with making amoral protagonists much easier than they seemingly can today.