Monthly Archives: July 2011

Get Carter 40th Anniversary

2011 marks the 40th anniversary of the original release of Get Carter, Mike Hodges brutal British gangster flick which many believe to be Michael Caine’s finest film. Caine stars as Jack Carter, a London hood who travels to Newcastle to track down the killers of his murdered brother, Frank, in a dogged revenge scenario that resembles Geordie Jacobean tragedy.

Get CarterThe story was based on Ted Lewis’s 1970 novel Jack’s Return Home. Hodges shot the film for £750,000 on location in Newcastle, in such exotic spots as Wallsend Ferry Terminal, Newcastle Swing Bridge, Black Rocks colliery and Gateshead multi-story car park. Get Carter fielded a great cast of Brit talent that included Ian Hendry, Tony Beckley, George Sewell, Geraldine Moffat, Dorothy White, Rosemary Durham, Alun Armstrong, Petra Markham, Bryan Mosley and Glynn Edwards. Playwright John Osborne played sarcastic crime boss Cyril Kinnear, in a role backers MGM had earmarked for Telly Savalas, and the New York Times noted the ‘fruity cast of supporting players’. International glamour was represented by Britt Ekland, as Carter’s lover, Anna. Also of note is Roy Budd’s now-classic score – a mixture of instrumental cues (such as the title music ‘Carter Take a Train’) and specially-written pop songs and ballads, which are is the nocturnal soundtrack to our tour of the pubs and clubs of Tyneside, as Carter roots out his brother’s murderers.

Get Carter was released in the UK by MGM-EMI in March 1971, rated X, with posters declaring ‘CAINE is CARTER’. Business was brisk, despite a frosty critical reception epitomised by George Melly’s view that this was the cinematic equivalent of ‘a bottle of neat gin swallowed before breakfast’. The film was thrown away in the US on a double-bill with the Frank Sinatra comedy western, Dirty Dingus McGee. But it has endured and now ranks high on lists of great British movies.

Read Ted Lewis’s novel Jack’s Return Home (as ‘Carter’)

Listen to the Cassette Audio Book

Mike Hodges’s original screenplay for the film

British Film Guides: Get Carter

Region 2 DVD (with audio commentary by Caine and Hodges)

Roy Budd’s soundtrack CD

Read the story behind the making of Get Carter and many other classic crime films – including Dirty Harry, Once Upon a Time in America, Bonnie and Clyde, The Godfather films, Chinatown, Pulp Fiction, Point Blank and many more in my book Crime Wave: The Filmgoers’ Guide to the Great Crime Movies, published by I.B. Tauris.

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Film Music Prom

As the 2011 Prom Season gets underway in London, the organisers are again hosting a Film Music Prom as part of the program. This seems to have become an essential part of the season at the Royal Albert Hall, London, with concerts of film music and movie musicals featuring every year.

North by Northwest

Prom 38: Film Music Prom

Friday 12 August 7.00pm

Bernard Herrmann: music from The Man Who Knew Too Much, Citizen Kane, North by Northwest and Psycho

Ennio Morricone: Theme: Cinema Paradiso

Walton, arr. Muir Mathieson: Suite: Henry V

John Williams: Music from Star Wars, Schindler’s List and Harry Potter

Jonny Greenwood, arr. Robert Ziegler: Norwegian Wood (BBC Commission, first performance)

Richard Rodney Bennett: Suite: Murder on the Orient Express

John Barry: Love Theme: Out of Africa

Various: Music from the Bond Films

Performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Keith Lockhart, featuring violinist Chloe Hanslip.

This is followed at 10.15pm by

Prom 39: The Spaghetti Western Orchestra

The Melbourne five-piece perform a selection of Italian western tracks by Ennio Morricone in their own inimitable way, using a variety of instruments and a lot of imagination.

Prom 38 will be broadcast on the night on BBC4.

Prom 39 will be recorded for transmission on BBC4 at a later date.

For more things Italian Cinema, check out my my books: Once Upon a Time in the Italian West: The Filmgoers’ Guide to Spaghetti Westerns and Cinema Italiano: The Complete Guide from Classics to Cult published by I.B. Tauris

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Servant of Two Masters

It’s just been announced in the UK that the stage production One Man, Two Guvnors starring James Corden is heading for the West End. One Man, Two Guvnors by Richard Bean, with songs by Grant Olding, is currently on a popular, critically acclaimed run at the National Theatre. On 15 September 2011 a performance will be broadcast to cinemas around the world, as part of National Theatre Live. One Man, Two Guvnors will be on tour from 27 September to 29 October, after which it will move to the Adelphi Theatre in the West End, from 8 November. One Man, Two Guvnors is an adaptation of Carlo Goldoni’s 1745 comedy Servant of Two Masters (orig: Arlecchino servitore di due padrone, or Harlequin Servant of Two Masters), relocated to 1960s Brighton.

YojimboFistful of DollarsWhen Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars was a smash in Italy in the fall of 1964, Leone’s work came to the attention of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. Leone had used Kurosawa’s 1961 samurai movie Yojimbo (The Bodyguard) as the entire basis for his plot, with some (very) minor differences. Leone received a letter from Kurosawa, pointing out that ‘I have just seen your film. It is a very fine film, but it is my film’. Kurosawa claimed copyright infringement and demanded payment. Leone, clutching at straws, discovered that both Yojimbo and A Fistful of Dollars bore a passing resemblance to Goldoni’s play. After some negotiation, Kurosawa and co. were allowed exclusive distribution rights to A Fistful of Dollars in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, plus 15% of the worldwide box office. It’s now been established that both Yojimbo and Fistful were influenced by numerous sources, including Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest (titled Piombo e sangue, or ‘Lead and blood’ in Italy) and the western-set Corkscrew.

Judge for yourself who borrowed what from where:

A Fistful of Dollars

Yojimbo

Servant of Two Masters

Red Harvest

Corkscrew

For more things Italian Cinema, check out my my books: Once Upon a Time in the Italian West: The Filmgoers’ Guide to Spaghetti Westerns and Cinema Italiano: The Complete Guide from Classics to Cult published by I.B. Tauris

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Face to Face (1967)

This film blog aims to discuss and promote new DVD and soundtrack releases, books, magazines, websites and anything else that might interest the discerning filmgoer. I’ll kick off with the new DVD edition of Sergio Sollima’s Faccia a Faccia – aka Face to Face – an Italian-Spanish co-production originally released in 1967. This highly-regarded political western from Sollima finds Gian Maria Volonté, Tomas Milian and William Berger – three of the most popular stars of Italian ‘spaghetti’ westerns – on top form. It was produced by Alberto Grimaldi (who also produced Sergio Leone’s For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) and has a score composed by Ennio Morricone.   

Faccia a Faccia (EKA40324) has been released by Eureka Entertainment Ltd in the UK in its original aspect ratio (2.35:1 Techniscope) at 107 minutes. This is the full, uncut version of the film, in the original Italian language, with newly-translated English subtitles. Those Faccia a Facciaonly familiar with the English language release of the film, or the cut version of the movie released on UK home video by AKTIV in the early 1990s, will find plenty new here. As Faccia a Faccia was shot in Italian, this is the best way to view the film – it is the version that is closest to Sollima’s intent. There are also differences in the musical score for this Italian release. For instance, the arrival of Berger’s character, Pinkerton agent Siringo, is much more effective with the addition of Morricone’s ominous cue ‘Mistererioso e ostinato’ on the soundtrack. Eureka’s release also includes two trailers for the film (which feature alternative takes and shots not used in the final cut), an insightful 16-minute interview with director Sollima, where he discussed the story’s themes and the film’s making, and a 16-page full-colour collectors’ booklet, written by me, which gives background to the film’s making and release.

Faccia a Faccia is also discussed in detail in Chapter 14: ‘All Men Must Die in Time’ of Once Upon a Time in the Italian West: The Filmgoers’ Guide to Spaghetti Westerns, published by I.B. Tauris

Faccia a Faccia DVD

Ennio Morricone’s Faccia a Faccia OST:

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