Saturday, May 22, 2010

Crimefest IV: How to make a classic movie for £7,000

Seven thousand pounds. That's how much money Mike Hodges made for writing and directing Get Carter, the classic 1971 hit-man movie starring Michael Caine, and not a penny more.

Hodges made that surprising statement during Friday's pre-screening conversation with Maxim Jakubowski at Bristol's Arnolfini cultural center. He also said the many humorous touches in the otherwise bleak tale encouraged him in the making of his 1972 follow-up, Pulp: "I really thought I would like to hear laughter."

Hodges said after a panel discussion today that yes, there had been pressure from producers and other heavies to have Michael Caine's title character walk away at the end of Get Carter. But Hodges resisted, and Carter gets— but you'll have to watch the movie to see what happens.

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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42 Comments:

Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I remember ads for it all over 'The Tube' the first time I was in London in 1971.
I didn't get to see it then, - and I think it was heavily cut when it came to Ireland, but I've seen it numerous times since and it remains, along with 'Performance' one of the great British crime movies.

I'm trying to think what £7,000 would have bought in 1971: I know I could get a pint of Guinness for less than 20p in 1973, before the Oil Crisis hit

May 23, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Mike Carter seemed long ago reconciled to any bitterness he once might have felt. I wonder if other directors of comparable films got royalties.

May 23, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Although its easy for me to say but I think Hodges would have sized up the value of the monetary reward to him from getting the gig, and the potential, non-quantifiable, benefit of making his reputation, and thus being in a stronger bargaining position, from having written and directed such a hit.

He always had the option of turning down the gig, on the grounds that the money offered was an insult, and perhaps settle for a job as a bank clerk

May 23, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hmm, his first professional training was as an accountant. A bank clerk's job could have been preparation for that career as well as the first step in a lucrative career in embezzlement, a good subject for crime movies.

May 23, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

speaking as somebody with the same professional qualification as Mike Hodges, its fair to say that I've encountered more than my fair share of crooks in my day, which makes me eminently qualified to write on the topic.

Incidentally Peter, if you click on my own still-sparse blog you might be interested to know that the writer of the book that is the subject of my 'maiden' post was my late father.
He wrote a whole bunch of crime novels and Westerns under both his own and various pen-names, and I was more than somewhat amused to learn, while recently 'googling', that at least one of them was banned in Ireland!!!

May 23, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I wonder that the most common central crime in fiction and movies is after murder. Financial misdeeds probably rank high.

Your father iwas Sven Nykvist?

Oh, I have to scroll lower. That's a fetching cover. And may the banning in Ireland be a source of pride!

May 24, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Funnily enough I look a bit like Von Sydow: at least height, and shape of the head-wise.
And my surname isn't Vogel: another 'blogger' was able to give me a fascinating insight into the use of the name, 'back in the day'.

'Dames Are No Dice' was the title of the banned book
(there may have been others but thats the only one I could confirm online)
And he looked a bit like James Joyce, too
(and John Ford, funnily enough!)

May 24, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"Dames Are No Dice" is a fine title. I suppose the church had that one banned based on the suspicion that some of the dames were engaging in relations without the benefit of clergy.

May 24, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I've been on the look-out for it ever since I learned of its banning:I was alerted to online bookseller co-operative, AbeBooks, by a friend recently, and was able to buy up a few of his books at a relatively cheap price.

I suspect you're right about the reason for it being banned: after all RTE Radio banned Bing Crosby,...(although I'm not sure was it before or after he played the priest, or, indeed, whether him playing a priest resulted in his immediate 'unbanning').

I wasn't even aware that was a pen-name of his until my sister told me after his death; although I had laid claim to it when I saw it in our bookcase at home, I only read it for the first time, a couple of months ago.
I had to smile reading his hard-boiled prose: its definitely not how I remember him!
(I never asked my mother did she read any of them!!)
I don't think I ever saw any of his 'Slim Vincent' penned novels lying around the house, only his Westerns

May 24, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Criminy, what did Bing Crosby do to get himself banned?

May 26, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I can't remember, Peter: I remember seeing it in an exhibition about 30 years ago.
It might have been for 'sexually suggestive' lyrics, but then it might have been for 'cultural' reasons

May 26, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Or maybe because he hung out in Hollywood, which is not known for the Christian virtues.

Or maybe he just told the world that Barry Fitzgerald was Protestant.

May 26, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

...or maybe because, as Ward Bond beseeched ,his flock at Innisfree, he was heard to cheer like Protestants!!!

May 26, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Criminy, a guy with a name like Ward Bond doesn't sound quite the beseeching type, does he?

May 26, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

do you remember the scene from 'The Quiet Man'?
I was over in Cong 3 Summers ago: hadn't changed much from the movie, although I believe they were looking to build a golf course over where Mary Kate Danaher 'gambolled' with her sheep!

May 26, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I am abashed to admit I have never seen "The Quiet Man," though I do have a printout of a small poster from the movie displayed over my desk at work.

May 27, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

The particular scene I'm referring to is near the end of the film; the reason Ward Bond's Catholic priest makes this request of his 'flock' is that he wants his Protestant counterpart's visiting superiors to believe that the latter has sufficiently large 'flock' that they shouldn't even consider moving him to another parish.

Many Irish people hate the film for its whimsy and stereotypting but I love it: its a beautifully judged piece of work with a great ensemble.
Scene-stealer Supreme, Barry Fitzgerald, utters one of my all-time fave movie lines: "Impetuous, Homeric!"
And the colour photography is gorgeous

May 27, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Speaking of John Ford, the Criterion Collection has just added "Stagecoach." That should mean lots of neat extras. Homeric maybe, but I'm not sure Ford was impetuous.

May 27, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I already have 'Stagecoach' on two separate DVDs: I think one of them may have a bunch of extras, also, so I'll probably pass on this one.

And I prefer it to the overrated 'The Searchers', and I think Orson Welles may have agreed with me.

Although I'd buy a new, enhanced, DVD of 'The Quiet Man' in a heartbeat, if they fine-tuned the colour to what the DP originally visualised: it really is that critical

May 27, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, it's been years since I've seen Stagecoach, but the reference to The Searchers as overrated piques my interest. And I read The Assassin a year or two ago, so perhaps I should read The Informer and see the movie based thereon.

May 27, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

piques your interest in what way, Peter?
I don't care for 'The Informer': I've always considered it too self-consciously arty; if he was influenced by contemporary French or German films in making it, I'd say he was ill-judged.

The source novel is a great one, though.
And O'Flaherty was a pretty decent short-story writer, too

May 27, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Piques my interest because I don't think I'd ever seen The Searchers called overrated. Maybe because its sometimes self-conscious artiness makes it easy for critics to praise.

The Assassin was hard-edged, more so than I'd expected for a book of its day. It was Declan Burke who told me about O'Flaherty, for which he has my thanks.

May 27, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I think it seems to be mainly critics/filmmakers who grew up post WWII who regard 'The Searchers' as Ford's greatest: for me, 'Wagonmaster' and 'The Quiet Man' aside, his (admittedly awesome) 'Golden Age' was the mid 30's through late 40's, and it was pretty much downhill after that, albeit a gently sloping one for the most part.

As regards 'The Searchers' itself, its ambition and epic reach was admirable but there were just too many jarring tones.

May 27, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, I took a quick glance at Ford's list of films, and I realize how little I kow of that vast output. 1942's "Sex Hygiene," for example, does not turn up on many critics' lists.

"Stagecoach" seems to be regarded as a high point, though I suspect that casual film-watchers could more readily identify the look of a John For movie than any particular film. But "The Searchers" must have captured imaginations frm the beginning -- Buddy Holly's, for instance.

May 28, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

1942's "Sex Hygiene," for example, does not turn up on many critics' lists.
Any truth in the rumour that, when asked would it be getting the 'full monty' DVD treatment, a Criterion spokesman is reported to have said: "that'll be the day!"

May 28, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And did that spokesman genially and condescendingly call the questioner "Pilgrim"?

I presume from the titla and the date that "Sex Hygiene" is a training film preaching the virtues of sexual continence to American soldiers abroad.

May 28, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

And did that spokesman genially and condescendingly call the questioner "Pilgrim"?
one of the 'heavy hitters' at criterionforum.org, recommended an early Ford to me, called 'Pilgrimage', - when I posted my list of favourite Fords: unlike that individual I wouldn't rank it in my top three Fords, but its certainly in my Top Ten: I reckon it must have been unusual in its structure, for its time.

Far and away the worst Ford I've seen is 'Born Reckless' although he can probably blame his co-director, Andrew Bennison for everything thats bad about it(
(mostly the incredibly lame and stilted dialogue)

May 28, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

In re good and bad Fords, my glimpse at his list of credits reminded me how long and varied Ford's career was, reaching from the silent era well into my own lifetime. Maybe he hadn't hit his stride when he made Born Reckless.

May 29, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I think that may have been his first 'talkie': I believe his co-director's duties were handling the dialogue, and possibly some action scenes also.

I saw one of Ford's silent films, -'Four Sons', - which has a very strong Murnau influence, and you can pretty much 'see the joins' in 'Born Reckless'.

Interesting only as a curio in the career of arguably America's finest ever film director

May 29, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

So it dates from before Ford was Ford.

I have mentioned that Hitchcock's celebrated 1927 silent "The Lodger" is especially fascinating because even at that date, Hitchcock was recognizably Hitchcockian.

May 29, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Peter, somewhat off-topic, but which film director do you think was the best at interpreting/adapting 3rd party novels for the screen?
And give examples

May 29, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hitchcock deserves mention for his creative adaptations, such as "Rear Window" and "The Thirty-Nine Steps," and because he thought carefully about adaptations. He said he preferred popular literature for screen adaptations because classic literature was too much the author's own. He did adapt Joseph Conrad, though.

May 29, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I was thinking of John Huston

May 29, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

He adapted Moby Dick, didn't he? He obviously did not share Hitchcock's reticence about adapting classic literature for the screen,

May 29, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I first saw it when I was about 7 or 8, and I had nightmares, afterwards.
From Gregory Peck's 'Ahab', and the closing scene.
Ever afterwards I'll defend Peck's performance against anybody who claims he was 'wooden'
(peg-leg aside, of course).
I'm currently reading Flannery O'Connor's 'Wise Blood', and I'm recalling his wonderful adaptation of that: I'm already thinking I want to read more of her stuff; and I'm reading from the 'Library of America' volume

There's 'The Maltese Falcon', of course; Joyce's 'The Dead'.
I haven't read the source novel for 'Prizzi's Honor', but I strongly suspect he would have got that spot on, too

May 29, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

My attitude toward John Huston may have been poisoned by Andrew Sarris' negative assessment in "The American Cinema." (Howard Hawks and Hitchcock are in his pantheon, as they are in mine.)

May 30, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Just finished 'Wise Blood': wonderful book; wonderful characterisations, and detail, and I didn't think she was too cruelly funny
(I think the casting of Brad Dourif, Harry Dean Stanton and even Ned Beatty was perfect; probably the 'unknowns', also)
I'll probably read another O'Connor next.

I've never read any Sarris, apart from brief quotes in 'Halliwells'.
I don't believe I've ever read any critic who took Huston to his bosom, unlike, say, Hawks and Ray.

But for a man in his twilight years to produce such quality work as 'Fat City'; 'Wise Blood'; 'The Dead' and 'Prizzi's Honor' is something to be admired

May 30, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I read some Flannery O'Connor stories years ago and thought highly of them. I found them stingingly funny, if not cruelly so.

I'm not sure how well Sarris articulated his thesis that the director is a film's controlling creatice personality, but his taste was good, and he had provocative things to say.

May 31, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

ot: my brother who used to live and work in Philly in the early to mid 90s says "everybody knows Fergie"; so, do you happen to know an Irish-born owner of a Philly bar or two, named Fergie?

May 31, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Here are two posts about a crime-fiction reading I hosted at Fergie’s first pub. He now owns three or four or five bars and restaurants, and I knew him back when he was a bartender who dreamed of opening a place of his own. We used to talk about Roddy Doyle, and Fergie called us Doylean Scholars.

A colleague and I were talking about him not twenty minutes before I read your comment.

May 31, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I guess it must be true, then: tell Fergie that Pat, and big bro' Jim, said hello!
(although he mightn't remember me)

I always said he'd go far, though!

May 31, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I shall print that out as a reminder and take it with me the next time I am out and about of an evening.

Fergie is a fixture in Philadelphia, all right.

May 31, 2010  

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