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The Iprcress File and Get Carter


sewhite2000
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Made my first foray into SUTS this year (the baseball playoffs race is really heating up - this is not the time of year I do a lot of TCM viewing), skipping HANNAH & HER SISTERS this time around and having my own little Michael Caine double feature with THE IPCRESS FILE, which I had never seen before, and GET CARTER, which I had partially viewed before. I only made it about 50 minutes into GET CARTER, absolutely having to go to bed. It was further than I got into the movie the first time I watched it, but I still need to make it all the way through one of these days.

 

Despite being a Michael Caine fan, I was somehow prior to last night completely unaware of the Harry Palmer franchise and its influence on Mike Myers and his Austin Powers series, Myers ultimately going so far as to cast Caine as Powers' father, and I see now that Caine was essentially playing Palmer in that movie. Ben Mankiewicz' intro and outro were very informative, though I noticed he described Palmer as "bespeckled", which I'm pretty sure is not a word. I'm sure he meant to say "bespectacled", and it appears no one in the TCM set crew caught the mistake.

 

I thought IPCRESS was well made, a more down-to-Earth, day-by-day minutiae version of James Bond with a healthy dash of '70s cinema cynicism a few years ahead of its time. Like James Bond meets MARATHON MAN. I loved the scene where Palmer's two bosses are strolling off to lunch at the club with their bowlers and trench coats and umbrellas, so very stiff-upper-lip British, while casually deciding they will do nothing to prevent him from being killed or captured if that's how it happens to go down. I also liked that in 1965, an African-American got to play a CIA agent. Seems unlikely this ever would have happened in an American movie made in the same year, unless Sidney Poitier got the role.

 

If you watch TCM long enough, you slowly make connections between actors and films. This time around, I recognized Gordon Jackson as Palmer's doomed office mate, whom I previously only knew as Mr. Lowther in THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE.

 

The protracted attempts at brainwashing that comprise much of the final third of the film was its weakest part, I thought, but overall, I thought the film was pretty strong. I'm reading online that the two sequels moved more into Matt Helm/In Like Flint parody territory, so I'm unsure how interested I am in seeing them.

 

My first exposure to GET CARTER was the 2000 Sylvester Stallone remake which, despite what you may think of its star, was not terrible, as I recall. In a clever bit of casting, Caine turns up as the villain in that one. I am curious to see how the original ends and if the niece ends up figuring as prominently in the plot the original as she does in the sequel. Caine, who often brings humor to his roles, is really good at conveying menace in this one.

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In his outro for "Hannah and Her Sisters," Mankiewicz surprised me by saying that Caine "didn't bother" to pick up his Oscar for the movie. The way I always heard it, Caine couldn't attend the Academy Awards ceremony in 1987 because he was stuck in the Bahamas filming "Jaws: The Revenge." 

 

Does Mankiewicz know something that we don't?

 

By the way, Caine WAS present and delivered a gracious acceptance speech when he won his second Oscar in 2000 for "The Cider House Rules." 

 

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It just occurred to me Caine starred with Pierce Brosnan in a 1987 movie called 'THE FOURTH PROTOCOL' (about Russian spy stuff, I think) which is supposed to be a decent flick from what I've read about it.  I'll have to check it out sometime.

 

     (Silly trivia:  There was a 1986 adult production called "Hannah Does Her Sisters".  I wonder if Woody Allen ever saw it . . . :P ).

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I'm old enough to remember this firsthand. Yes, Caine was unable to accept his industry's highest honor because he was on the other side of the world filming JAWS 4: THE REVENGE! Ha ha ha. Mr. Caine hasn't always made the most discriminating choices as an actor. I would say Ben's statement "he didn't bother to show up" couldn't possibly be more wrong. He wanted to be there.

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For many, many years 'Get Carter' was my favorite Michael Caine movie.

 

He is a very hard case in this - and he gets more and more vengeful as the movie progresses. The coldness he brought to the role of Jack is perfect. When he made this in 1971, it was somewhat surprising to see him playing such a part. But it impressed the hell out of me.

 

I remember the trailer for the movie playing the week before it hit the neighborhood theatre. It went something like "When you've got a problem like this, who do you get to hit the best hit-man in the business?". That alone got me pretty interested in seeing the movie - hit men were still relatively scarce as main characters back then. I was not disappointed by the movie. I've seen it about 12 times now.

 

It's unusual for Caine, but he's genuinely frightening in 'Get Carter'. It wouldn't be until he played the part of Joseph Stalin in 'When Lions Roar' (1994) that I would feel him inducing that kind of fear from the screen again.

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Mr. Caine hasn't always made the most discriminating choices as an actor. 

 

I guess he's always been practical about the business side of the motion picture industry. He said he made "Jaws: The Revenge" because he was well compensated for it. It was the same thing with a 1978 horror film that TCM aired during its SUTS tribute to Caine.

 

"It’s like when people ask me why I made 'The Swarm' – I made 'The Swarm' because my mother needed a house to live in," he told the online magazine Sabotage Times in 2013. "Then I made 'Jaws 4' because she was lonely and I needed to buy her a bigger house which she could live in with all of her friends. It’s that simple."

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"It’s like when people ask me why I made 'The Swarm' – I made 'The Swarm' because my mother needed a house to live in," he told the online magazine Sabotage Times in 2013. "Then I made 'Jaws 4' because she was lonely and I needed to buy her a bigger house which she could live in with all of her friends. It’s that simple."

 

There's no way to not like Michael Caine, as an actor or as a person. He's too natural as both.

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