Sadly Mike Hodges passed away this week at the age 90.
Mike Hodges was a British filmmaker who has created some of the most iconic and influential films of the last five decades. Through his unique vision and artistic flair, Hodges was able to capture the essence of British culture and turn it into entertaining and thought-provoking films. In this week's notes, we will explore the career of Mike Hodges and his impact on British cinema, as well as look at some of his most popular films.
Mike Hodges’ first feature film, Get Carter, was a huge success and established him as one of the most talented directors and writers in British film. The film, which stars Michael Caine, follows a gangster as he seeks revenge for his brother’s death. The film was praised for its gritty style and tense atmosphere, and it is still considered one of the best British crime films of all time. It's depiction of violence and the underbelly of crime was unique at the time and went onto inspire many British directors.
After the success of Get Carter In 1974 he directed the limited released film Terminal man. The director Terrence Malick wrote to Hodges expressing how much he loved watching The Terminal Man, saying "I have just come from seeing The Terminal Man and want you to know what a magnificent, overwhelming picture it is. You achieve moods that I’ve never experienced in the movies before, though it’s only in hope of finding them that I keep going. Your images make me understand what an image is, not a pretty picture but something that should pierce one through like an arrow and speak in a language all its own."
Stanley Kubrick called it excellent, I really need to see this one! The story centers on the danger of mind control and the power of computers.
One of the most important collaborations of Mike Hodges’ career was with Michael Caine. The two worked together on two films: Get Carter and Pulp.
Caine and Hodges had a strong working relationship and were able to bring out the best in each other. Caine’s performance in Get Carter is widely considered to be one of the best of his career. Caine is on fire and excellent as the tough uncompromising Jack Carter.
Pulp is a crime drama from 1972. The film follows a writer, played by Michael Caine, as he is lured into a deadly criminal underworld. The film is filled with dark comedy and Caine at his deadpan best. Mickey King (Michael Caine) is a trashy genre novelist with no desire to become a legitimate writer. Preston Gilbert (Mickey Rooney), an ex-actor known for having ties to the mob, is murdered at a party after hiring Mickey as a ghostwriter for his biography. Inspired by his noir detectives, Mickey investigates Preston's death and meets a transvestite hit man, a beautiful princess (Lizabeth Scott), and a mysterious clairvoyant.
In spite of Mickey King being our lead, he’s very much not the typical hero and is actually a bit of a dopey loser. 70s Caine is a bit hit and miss but in Get Carter and in the tongue in cheek pulp under Mike Hodges he is great. Jarvis Cocker was inspired by this movie pulp, so much he named the iconic 90s britpop band after it. Thick rimmed glasses and over-sexualised pop songs were the speciality of Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, but they are characteristics found in this Caine-led piece from director Mike Hodges. He has definitely taken inspiration from Michael Caine's persona in the movie for his own look.
Then we come to Flash Gordon.....
Flash Gordon is a sci-fi classic from 1980. The film follows an intergalactic hero as he battles the evil forces of Ming the Merciless.
Although NASA scientists are claiming the unexpected eclipse and strange "hot hail" are nothing to worry about, Dr. Hans Zarkov (Topol) knows better, and takes football star Flash Gordon (Sam Jones) and travel agent Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) with him into space to rectify things. They land on planet Mongo, where the despot Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydow) is attacking Earth out of pure boredom. With the help of a race of Hawkmen, Flash and the gang struggle to save their home planet.
A bonkers camp film, full of striking visuals, uneven effects, actors having a blast and chewing the scenery and one mess of a film. It's now become a cult movie and has entered the public subconscious with the soundtrack by Queen, and Brian Blessed's performance as Prince Vultan lodged the veteran stage and screen actor into the United Kingdom's collective consciousness for the utterance of a single line – "Gordon's alive?!"
Production behind the scenes was chaotic with the star Sam Jones having disagreements with De Laurentiis of some kind and departed prior to post-production, which resulted in a substantial portion of his dialogue being dubbed by professional voice and dramatic actor Peter Marinker. It's definitely a case of laughing at it rather than with it.
Through his unique vision and creative storytelling, Mike Hodges was able to capture the essence of British culture and turn it into entertaining and thought-provoking films. His work has been an inspiration to many filmmakers, and his influence can be seen in the work of some of the most successful directors in the world and fans include such names as Malik and Kubrick.
He leaves an important legacy in British cinema.
This weeks Sketch...