It’s brutal. It’s disturbing. It’s uncompromising. It’s grim (hell, it was filmed in Newcastle complete with its then Brutalist architecture) but above all, this seedy 1971 affair redefined the British gangster genre. GET CARTER has since advanced to cult status thanks to Michael Caine’s unforgiving and deeply flawed protagonist ‘Jack Carter’ – a professional killer who returns to his hometown for the funeral of his brother Frank…but did Frank really die in a car crash? Carter smells a rat from the outset and is adamant to find out the truth. Easier said than done, seeing how local kingpin Kinnear would rather see him gone: get Carter… before Carter gets you!

Newcastle-born gangster Jack Carter (in Ted Lewis’ novel ‘Jack’s Return Home the story is set ‘somewhere’ in the north-east of England) has been living in London for yonks and is in the ‘employ’ of Gerald and Sid Fletcher (Terence Rigby and John Bindon) – two organised crime bosses. Mind you, Carter has ambitions of his own: not only does he have an affair with Anna (Britt Ekland) who happens to be Gerald’s girlfriend but in order to spice things up, he entertains the idea of fleeing to South America with her. However, before Carter puts plans into action he needs to return to his native “craphole” for one last time – reason being the funeral of his brother Frank (who apparently died in a drunk-driving accident, or so the official version goes). Suffice to say Carter doesn’t believe the story but is warned by the Fletchers not to aggravate the local Newcastle mob, seeing how both sides are on ‘friendly’ terms. Carter does precisely the opposite and decides to dig a little deeper. Soon, the dirt keeps on piling sky-high! During Frank’s funeral Carter makes the acquaintance of his teenage niece Doreen (Petra Markham) and Margaret (Dorothy White) – his late brother’s mistress who knows more than she lets on.

Carter hooks up with Albert Swift (Glynn Edwards), an old acquaintance, in the hope to find out more. Unfortunately, Swift seems to believe in the proverb ‘Silence is golden’… Another former connection is Eric Paice (Ian Hendry) who currently works as a chauffeur. A sly rat, he won’t tell Carter who his boss is – prompting one of the film’s funniest lines when Carter wryly remarks: “You haven’t changed Eric, you’re still the same. So are your eyes – two piss-holes in the snow!” Ironically, there was some truth in this dialogue as actor Ian Hendry already battled with demon alcohol at the time of filming. Secretly following Eric, Carter soon finds himself confronted with local kingpin Cyril Kinnear (playwright John Osborne). No prices for guessing that he too prefers to remain silent. Then there’s Glenda (Geraldine Moffat) – a glamour puss with a drink problem. Later on, Carter finds out that Glenda, Margaret and his underage niece were all involved in a dirty porn film produced by Kinnear – the real reason for Frank’s murder and the reason why Carter is about to turn into a killing machine… Beforehand though, Eric warns Carter not to cause bad blood between the Fletcher gangsters and the local mobsters… total waste of breath of course! After a run-in with Kinnear’s henchmen Carter is told that a guy named Cliff Brumby (Bryan Mosley) wants Carter gone. Carter knows Brumby and initially believes the entrepreneur to be innocent. It’s only after more and more dodgy individuals enter the picture that Carter comes to realise his old acquaintance isn’t so innocent after all – resulting in his violent death when an enraged Carter pushes him from a multi-storey car-park (the Trinity Square car park, demolished in 2010 and with it one of the most iconic landmarks in the history of British cinema). We won’t reveal the ending and unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few decades you’ll know it anyway!

This is the real deal, forget about the 2000 remake starring Sly Stallone as the titular anti-hero. Caine and the rest of the cast are utterly convincing as characters we love to hate - each and every one driven by their own agenda and with no consideration for human life. Cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky perfectly captures the grittiness of the film’s setting whilst jazz composer Roy Budd delivers the suitably feverish soundtrack.

BFI have just released GET CARTER newly restored in 4K. The UHD 2-disc Blu-ray version is limited to only 10,000 copies while the 2-disc standard Blu-ray edition is limited to only 5,000 copies. The many Special Features include various audio commentaries, a 60-min conversation with director Mike Hodges, various other interviews with some of the cast and crew, Location report, trailers, gallery, plus a special message from Michael Caine to ‘Get Carter’ premiere attendees - filmed on London’s King’s Road in 1971. An 80-page booklet will accompany this release (first pressing only).