By Andrew Stevens.
I am not here today (tonight, even) to talk about Get Carter: I am not “in the room”. There is little that hasn’t already been said about the film’s use of Tyneside’s post-industrial landscape, the eponymous car park now destined for demolition in the name of corporate-sponsored regeneration, or its pulsating resonance among the 90s lad culture demographic (Loaded even ran an abridged graphic novelised strip of it.) The clip above is simply MGM’s treatment for a US audience more accustomed to the burgeoning blaxploitation genre (here’s the US trailer for The Long Good Friday, to boot.)
In fact, while Get Carter appeared in 1971 (the same year as landmark crime caper Villain, not to mention Dirty Harry and A Clockwork Orange, another cinematic critique of municipal modernism), it made it into celluloid a mere two years after Ted Lewis’ novel Jack’s Return Home (actually set in Doncaster, which had to wait two decades for its municipal corruption episode, even then not on the scale of Poulson and T. Dan Smith), which was in turn inspired by the fruit machine murder allegedly by Dennis Stafford and Michael Luvaglio in 1967. In all, there was less than a half-decade between the pivotal crime and its cinematic treatment, though in truth the film-makers had enough damning material from the press of the day to proceed in any case. As if to twist the blaxploitation motif further, the film was remade a year later with a Pam Grier/Bernie Casey makeover as Hit Man, Carter now Tackett, the vengeful score-settler in the “black jungle”.
Its cult status assured and affirmed by the burgeoning lad culture/Britpop, Get Carter was mentioned as the blueprint for 1998’s Killing Time, hailed in the region’s press at the time as a revival of the city’s gangster flick heyday. Woefully wrong on all accounts, both in terms of plot and cast (soapland’s Craig Fairbrass as lead), it did however act as an unwitting homage to the pedestrian infrastructure of the Tyne Tunnel complex and its white-tiled walls and wooden escalators.
First posted: Saturday, July 25th, 2009.