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Get Carter (1971) Poster

(1971)

Trivia

The Pelaw Hussars were a 'juvenile jazz band' from Pelaw, an area that is part of Gateshead, near Newcastle. Such jazz bands were organized groups of children, usually girls, who present uniformed marching displays. They played simple instruments such as kazoos, glockenspiel, and drums, and played old time jazz standards, such as "The Saints".
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Originally rated X for violence and female nudity, Get Carter (1971) was reclassified as an R after subsequent crime films became more bloodthirsty.
Attempts to demolish the multi-storey car-park, used several times as a meeting place, were met with protests. "Get Carter" made it one of the few famous buildings in the Gateshead, the borough across the River from Newcastle.
In the first shot in the long bar, the second local man to stare at Jack Carter actually has five fingers and a thumb. This was a genuine abnormality of the 'extra' who played the part. It can be seen as he raises his glass of beer to drink.
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Mike Hodges described Michael Caine as "a complete dream to work with". Caine only lost his temper once on set, during the very tense and emotional day filming in Glenda's flat, when the focus puller ruined his first take. Caine apologised immediately.
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The stock of the shotgun carried by Michael Caine for the majority of the movie has the initials "JC" (Jack Carter, Caine's character) and "FC" (Frank Carter) scratched into it.
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The feature debut of director Mike Hodges.
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Not long after the film was released, Michael Caine was in the West End and came across the gangster whose life the film was based upon. He was highly critical of the film, saying there is no gangster in the world like Jack Carter. He didn't have a wife, children or responsibilities of any kind. Rather than start an incident, Caine agreed with everything he said.
When Carter (Michael Caine) enters Cyril Kinnear's house, there is a Zulu shield and assegais on the wall. This is an in-joke about Michael Caine's first screen success in Zulu (1964).
The scene featuring Jack Carter and Eric Paice at the horse race was shot in one take.
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In 2004 this was selected as the #1 British movie of all time by the British magazine Total Film.
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There are two sound tracks for the US and UK releases of the film. At the start of the movie, Carter is with some Cockney gangsters watching a porn film. The voices of the Cockney gangsters were re-dubbed for the US market as the US distributor believed the accents would be too heavy for the American audience to understand.
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First cinema film of Alun Armstrong.
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Britt Ekland was reluctant to be in the film, as she was was afraid of becoming typecast, having already played two gangster's molls before and she did not want to take her clothes off. However, she had financial problems at the time as a result of bad investment decisions by her accountant. She was later happy that she had been involved with the project.
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The book which is being read by Michael Caine in the initial scenes of the movie is 'Farewell, My Lovely', a crime novel written by Raymond Chandler in 1940. The book was adapted for screen thrice: The Falcon Takes Over (1942), Murder, My Sweet (1944), and Farewell, My Lovely (1975).
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Despite being a Newcastle native, Jack Carter has no trace of the accent. Michael Caine explained that having lived in London for so long, he lost the accent, hence why he used his regular accent.
Mike Hodges had Ian Hendry in mind for the part of Jack Carter. According to Hodges, Hendry never forgave Caine for usurping him in the role and this caused resentment between the two stars on the set, resulting in the undisguised friction seen on the screen.
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Filmed in 40 days.
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The club singer (Denea Wilde) seen flirting and fighting, was in reality a larger than life character and made her local estate in Newcastle what it was/is - a great place to live. She apparently walked with the aid of a walking stick and was renowned for her liberal use of the F word - no matter who she was talking to or where she was. Everyone knew her simply as "Dene".
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The studio wanted Telly Savalas to play Cliff Brumby.
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The white Cadillac in the film was Michael Klinger's (producer) own car.
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John Osborne had never played card games before the film and practised poker before the shoot to lend realism to the gambling scene.
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At one point Michael Klinger and Michael Caine asked if Mike Hodges might work in a "chase sequence" but he persuaded them that it would draw too many comparisons with Bullitt (1968). A chase sequence between Carter and the London gangsters is mentioned in the shooting script.
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The studio considered Joan Collins for a role.
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Petra Markham filmed her role in two weeks.
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The nightclub which features so prominently in La Dolce Vita (1960), had been the site of a real-life gangland killing in the 1960s. Director Mike Hodges incorporated several aspects of the murder, which he derived from news reports of the killing, and several actual locations into the film.
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In 2000, a British Film Institute poll ranked this as the 16th greatest British film of all time.
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The film was shot in "Metrocolor", which was MGM's trade name for films processed at its Eastmancolor laboratory. This lab processed Kodak's Eastman Colour Negative, so it is most likely the film was shot on this stock.
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Mike Hodges influenced in his writing by the works of Raymond Chandler and Hollywood B-movies such as Kiss Me Deadly (1955), as they showed "how to use the crime story as an autopsy on society's ills".
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This film influenced Quentin Tarantino to become a filmmaker.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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The production also utilised a large number of extras, most of whom were locals who just happened to be on scene when filming was happening. Others were sourced from local casting company Beverley Artistes, which sent everyone registered with it for audition, one of these being Denea Wilde, who was cast as the pub singer. Several of the company's actors were also in background shots in the film including the casino, streets, bars and the police raid scene.
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Mike Hodges was surprised that a star of Michael Caine's stature would want to play such a thoroughly unlikeable person as Carter. Giving his reasons for wanting to be involved with the film the actor said "One of the reasons I wanted to make that picture was my background. In English movies, gangsters were either stupid or funny. I wanted to show that they're neither. Gangsters are not stupid, and they're certainly not very funny". He identified with Carter as a memory of his working class upbringing, having friends and family members who were involved in crime and felt Carter represented a path his life might have taken under different circumstances: "Carter is the dead-end product of my own environment, my childhood; I know him well. He is the ghost of Michael Caine".
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Michael Caine made subtle changes to Mike Hodges' depiction of Carter in the script, cut out pleasantries and gave him a cold, hard edge; closer to Ted Lewis's original envisioning of the character
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Although he is not credited as such in the film, Michael Caine has been acknowledged in retrospect as a co-producer.
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Mike Hodges' agent suggested John Osborne for the role of Cyril Kinnear. Osborne relished the role and saw it as a way to erase the image in the public's mind of him as an angry young man.
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John Osborne's portrayal of Cyril Kinnear was a contrast to the description in Lewis's novel of Kinnear as an uncultured spiv, giving him an urbane and laid-back demeanour, his delivery being so relaxed and quiet that it was difficult for the sound recordist to pick up, but Mike Hodges liked the "menace in that quietness".
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Michael Klinger had previously worked with Ian Hendry in Repulsion (1965).
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Bryan Mosley got the role of Cliff Brumby after MGM executives were impressed by his performance in fight scenes in Far from the Madding Crowd (1967).
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A devout Roman Catholic, Bryan Mosley was concerned about taking part in such a violent film with depictions of criminal behaviour, consulting his priest over the moral implications.
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Ted Lewis depicted Peter the Dutchman as a misogynistic homosexual in his novel, but these elements were not emphasised in the film, although the character is flamboyant and "camp".
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Michael Caine and Tony Beckley had previously worked together in The Italian Job (1969). Beckley's role is similar.
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Michael Caine and Glynn Edwards had previously worked together in Zulu (1964) and The Ipcress File (1965).
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This was Alun Armstrong's film debut. He wrote a letter to MGM when he learned it was making the film in Newcastle, and he was invited to meet Mike Hodges, who wanted to cast local actors.
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Geraldine Moffat attracted Mike Hodges' attention not just for her good looks but for her work on television plays such as Half Hour Story: Stella (1968) and Plays of Today: The Ladies: Doreen (1969).
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Following the film's release, barmen in Newcastle got sick of being asked for drinks "In a thin glass!".
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Carl Howard's character of the assassin, "J", is only identified by the initial on his ring, in his only film role, and an appropriate mystery surrounds his real identity. His name does not appear on the credits of some prints. Mike Hodges explained that Howard was an extra on his TV film, ITV Playhouse: Rumour (1970), and the director gave him a line to say, but another extra was wrongly credited. Hodges promised he would make it up to him and cast him in this film, but his name was missed off some of the original prints. When the film credits were printed in the Radio Times and TV Times Howard was also trimmed. Hodges said in 2002 "Carl and credits don't seem destined for each other".
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Newcastle was as the setting selected after Mike Hodge's first choice of Hull proved to be unsuitable.
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The location for Cyril Kinnear's house, Dryderdale Hall, near Hamsterley, Bishop Auckland, provided a real-life connection with organised crime. It was the recently vacated country house of North East fruit machine businessman Vince Landa, who had fled the country in 1969 after the murder of his right hand man Angus Sibbett, the so-called One-armed bandit murder. Many believed the crime was part of a failed attempt by the Kray twins to gain control of the Newcastle underworld. Michael Klinger and the MGM publicity spokesman dismissed the use of the location as mere coincidence; however Hodges was aware of the significance of the house and chose it deliberately. The Landa case also is referenced at the start of the film with a shot of a newspaper bearing the headline "Gaming Wars".
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The Fletcher Brothers were clearly modelled on The Kray Twins.
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As a young man John Bindon (Sid Fletcher) had been in and out of borstal, and spent most of his adult life associating with criminals, so he was ideally suited to play a gangland boss, despite being young, having intimate knowledge of that world. In the late 1970s his career suffered as he became entangled in accusations of protection racketeering in Fulham and was acquitted of murder at the Old Bailey.
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Mike Hodges cast Terence Rigby as Gerald Fletcher from his familiarity in television police drama.
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Mike Hodges favoured the use of long-distance lenses (as he had used previously on ITV Playhouse: Rumour (1970)) in many scenes to create a naturalistic documentary feel, especially in crowd scenes.
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Asked to comment on what he was aiming for in the look of the film, cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky said "The camera work on it... it was very influenced by Mike Hodges who has a very good eye for setups and he of course conferred with his operator and myself, but he influenced all of us, and much of the good look is due to him, I confess. My main task was lighting on location, very moderately, and waiting for the right daylight and setting the exposure on the lens".
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In the first week of shooting in Newcastle, the ACTT called the crew out on one day strike. At the advice of Richard Lester, Mike Hodges and his assistant director stayed at a separate hotel to the rest of the cast and crew, which enabled him to have some respite from the production after the shooting day was done.
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Mike Hodges tried to rehearse the racecourse scene between Michael Caine and Ian Hendry in their hotel the night before but Hendry's drunken and resentful state forced Hodges to abandon the attempt.
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The most complicated scene to shoot was Kinnear's game of cards. There are four simultaneous conversations, with a lot of plot exposition and the introduction of two important characters, Kinnear and Glenda. The technical complexity was compounded by the variation in light coming through the windows and John Osborne's whispered delivery, which made microphone placement difficult. Mike Hodges moved the camera and the boom closer to Osborne as the scene progressed. Hodges regretted not rehearsing the scene more thoroughly.
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In shooting the scene in which Carter throws Brumby to his death from the multi-storey car park, Mike Hodges used four shots: one of the pair struggling high up on the stairs; one from the lowest level of the stairwell where Michael Caine actually threw Bryan Mosley over the side onto mattresses; one shot of a dummy falling; and one of the body of Brumby on top of a crushed car.
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Carter's climactic pursuit of Eric used an amalgamation of two locations spaced 35 miles (56 km) apart: Blyth staithes and Blackhall Beach near Blackhall Colliery.
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The climactic chase scene was shot in reverse, with Mike Hodges filming Eric's death scene first because of Ian Hendry's poor condition, Hodges being worried that he would be too out of breath to play the death scene after running.
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Mike Hodges chose the beach as the setting for the climax for its bleak, dark atmosphere but when he returned to shoot the scene he found it bathed in bright sunshine, unsuitable for the sombre conclusion he was hoping for. He waited hours until the sun began setting to capture the overcast shadowy lighting seen in the film
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The film shows the beach black with coal spoilings, dumped there by the mine's conveyor system. The conveyor system, a common sight on the East Durham coast, was known locally as 'The Flight'. In the early 2000s, £10 million was spent removing these conveyors and the concrete towers, and cleaning tons of coal waste from the beaches of East Durham. The cleaning programme was known as 'Turning the Tide'.
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Michael Klinger suggested that Mike Hodges use John Trumper as editor. Hodges said that he and Trumper argued and disagreed constantly, but he still thought he was a "brilliant, brilliant editor" and was "very grateful to him for ...how much he contributed".
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Sound editing and dubbing was done by James Atkinson, who Mike Hodges described as "so obsessive about the job". He gave Hodges multiple possibilities of how the sound could be dubbed and explored every angle. Michael Klinger was worried that the debut director may be overwhelmed with too many options, but Hodges said he and Atkinson got on very well.
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The theme music was recorded on a budget of £450.
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The musicians recorded the soundtrack live, direct to picture, playing along with the film.
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To save time and money, composer Roy Budd did not use overdubs, simultaneously playing a real harpsichord, a Wurlitzer electric piano and a grand piano. Budd described the experience as "uncomfortable, but it sounded pleasant".
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As Ted Lewis had not specified where his novel was set, Mike Hodges felt free to relocate the story to a place he was familiar with, considering Grimsby, Lowestoft, Hull and North Shields before deciding on Newcastle Upon Tyne.
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Jack's shotgun has more significance in the novel, as it symbolises family ties and Carter's memories of more innocent times hunting with his brother.
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The film went from concept to finished film in just 10 months.
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In 1969, Michael Klinger devised plans for a gangster film to capitalise on public interest in the British criminal underworld after the Kray Twins' convictions. Klinger was invited to view a first print of Peter Walker's Man of Violence (1971) and was unimpressed, telling the director "I'm going to make a gangster film, but it's going to cost a lot more than this and it's going to be better".
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Mike Hodges thoroughly researched the local Newcastle crime scene, adapting the script to make use of settings and incorporating elements of his research into the story. His background at World in Action (1963) had made him accustomed to making films based on hard investigation and this informed his approach to
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This was Dorothy White's first credited cinematic role. She had previously worked with Mike Hodges on the television play ITV Playhouse: Suspect (1969).
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Michael Caine was determined to show a more minimalistic and realistic, less "pornographic" form of violence than was generally depicted on screen. Carter's violent actions are restrained, business-like and sudden, never using 30 punches when one would do.
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Michael Klinger was involved in promotion of the film in the UK, using the experience from his background as a distributor to conduct a strong advertising campaign. Teaser posters for the film appeared on the front of every London bus, with the tag-line 'Caine is Carter'
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MGM sold distribution rights to the film in the U.S.A. to future subsidiary United Artists, which promoted it poorly, amidst worries the cockney dialogue in the opening scene would be unintelligible to US audiences. The film's release was delayed while parts of the film were redubbed (with no great improvement). In the process of redubbing the opening, the version of the film with the original dialogue was lost. For years the version shown on British television was the redubbed American cut. UA placed the film on the declining drive-in movie circuit, where it played at the bottom of a double bill with Dirty Dingus Magee (1970). In 1974 ,Michael Klinger complained to president of UA Eric Pleskow about the lacklustre promotion of Carter and tried to get him to relinquish the US rights to the film, so Klinger could find a better distributor.
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In South Africa, the censor cut out Britt Ekland's phone sex scene, shortening her already brief role; her name was still left on the poster, leaving filmgoers to wonder why she was advertised as appearing
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Michael Caine was unable to attend the premiere, as he was busy with X, Y and Zee (1972).
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Michael Klinger was a very hands-on producer and was present on set for much of the film shoot. However Mike Hodges said he encountered very little interference by the producer.
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Petra Markham's appearance in only four scenes in the film meant she could balance the film work with appearing at The Royal Court and her role in the television series Albert and Victoria (1970).
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Anna was named Audrey in the book.
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The working titles of this film were Bent, Carter, Here Comes Carter and Carter's the Name.
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The scenes at the top of the multi story car park were in what was due to be a restaurant but it was never completed because the local fire brigade refused to grant it a fire certificate on the grounds that if a fire had broken out in it they wouldn't have been able to get the fire engines up the top due to the steep ramps and low ceilings.
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Michael Caine revealed on the DVD commentary that he named his dog Carter. A friend of his who had never heard of the film assumed he named it after Jimmy Carter.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The sniper who kills Jack Carter can be seen sitting in the train carriage across from Jack during the opening credits. He is a foreshadow of Death, according to the director commentary.
The shotgun that Carter wields is never fired during the film.
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Mike Hodges (Director, Writer) always intended for Carter to die in the film. This is foreshadowed multiple times, including the very first scene of the film where curtains are drawn across Jack Carter looking down "from heaven" as he's standing in the window.
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MGM executives protested Mike Hodges' decision to kill Carter at the end, as they were hoping to make a sequel to the film, but Hodges insisted that Carter should pay for his crimes.
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The film is mostly faithful to Ted Lewis novel, with some exceptions, such as the fact that in the book, Carter does not kill Cliff Brumby and mails the pornographic film featuring Doreen Carter to a journalist, rather than to Scotland Yard. At the end of the book, Carter is wounded, presumably mortally, by a knife thrust from Eric Paice, rather than being shot by an assassin hired by "Cyril Kinnear." Also, Eric is killed when he attempts to shoot Carter with Carter's own rifle, but the old weapon backfires and explodes. The book also contains numerous flashbacks detailing Carter's relationship with his brother Frank, including an encounter in which Frank tells Carter that he no longer wishes to see him after learning from his ex-wife that Carter May be Doreen's father. The book also delves into the backstory of Carter and Eric as rival gangsters in London and Albert Swift as a juvenile gang leader. Also, part of the reason Jack hates Eric so much is because of his abusive treatment of Anna. Following the success of "Jack's Return Home", the novel on which the film is based, Lewis wrote other novels featuring Carter, including "Jack Carter's Law" and "Jack Carter and the Mafia Pigeon".
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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