By Steve Vivona
One saving grace of Sylvester Stallone's high-profile remake of "Get Carter" (which flopped at the box office) was that it shed light on the original version which starred Michael Caine as a cockney gangster out to avenge his brother's murder. "Get Carter" is regarded as a classic of modern British cinema but it was absent for a long time until the Stallone remake.
Thankfully Warner has issued the film on DVD with a fresh new transfer and some exciting extras, including Michael Caine's first-ever audio commentary for one of his films.
Caine is Jack Carter, a cold-blooded London gangster who travels to his home town of Newcastle when he learns of his brother's death. Although his death is labeled as accidental Jack believes his brother was murdered and begins snooping around the local underworld, attracting the ire of many of his old cronies.
The powers that be "suggest" that Jack leave town but that only strengthens his resolve to learn the truth which is wrapped up in a complex web of deception and lies. Jack's steely gaze belies a streak of violence that asserts itself whenever hes not getting the answers he wants.
Caine is brilliant in this film and it ranks among his best efforts. While Jack Carter may not be the most multidimensional character he has ever played Caine infuses him with a sympathetic air, one almost of regret. It seems as though Jack wishes he had been there more for his brother and his family. He realizes his brother probably hated him and finding and punishing his killers will somehow make things right between them.
Jack's single-minded determination is the crux of his character. He's a brutal man who uses whatever means he can to obtain information. When Carter stumbles on the true reason behind his brothers murder he flies into a rage that sustains him for the rest of the film. He becomes more like a force of nature than a man, bent completely on revenge. It was a side of Caine he had yet to show until that point and added yet another layer to his already varied film roles.
Warner has served up another great DVD with their presentation of "Get Carter" (a recent acquisition from the MGM library). The matted widescreen image is clean with strong colors and very little grain.
Director Mike Hodges ("Flash Gordon"), Caine and the cinematographer all contribute to an excellent audio commentary. Also included are two trailers, one that shows the film's composer laying music down over scenes from the film, as well as a music-only track.