180 - Get Carter (1971)

London's gangster is out to avenge his brother's death.

Jack Carter (Michael Caine), a London gangster, goes back home to Newcastle to investigate his brother's death. There he finds his Frank's mistress Margaret (Dorothy White) and daughter Doreen and is unsatisfied with the explanation that Frank was killed while out drunk driving.

As Carter digs deeper into the mystery of his brother's death he is dragged into the Newcastle underworld of pornography, prostitution and, above all, violence.

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
If you were asked to name a British actor, Michael Caine would probably be quite a popular answer. If you were asked to name a British gangster actor, then Michael Caine would perhaps not be as high in the echelons of Vinnie Jones, Jason Statham, Ray Winstone and other such well spoken characters.

Sure, Caine doesn't have a natural gangster pedigree, but then the role didn't require an actor who could also make you laugh with a quick turn of unexpected violence. Perhaps then, Caine's stone-faced role from The Italian Job was enough to make producers realise that Caine was the ideal man for portraying Jack Carter - the heartless gangster.

That really is the crux of where Get Carter varies from other British gangster films. Where Snatch, Layer Cake or Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels are out to lighten the mood, Get Carter is not out to make anyone laugh - even In Bruges for all its dark scenes is still a black comedy. Jack Carter, though, is a killer through necessity and has no qualms about it.

Perhaps then, the ruthless nature of the movie can be attributed to 1970's Britain. As the country was heading through a turbulent up-down economy, a widening gap between the rich and poor began to appear and this is shown on the faces of the Newcastle population of the time. The swinging 60's were over and it was now time to head back to a bitter reality.

Overall, it's a nice surprise to see a gangster movie get down and gritty with a storyline. You'll find no cheap laughs here - just a man with a gun looking for an explanation. And no-one is getting in his way.


  1. I loved this film, Caine is fantastic in it, and the ending is perfect, if a bit abrupt. The shots are mostly great too - Carter watching the video, with the shot composed through a mirror so we can see the screen and his face, is just spot-on.


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