Mike Hodges, director of Get Carter and Flash Gordon, dies at 90

Mike Hodges, the British director known for films such as Get Carter, Croupier, The Terminal Man and Flash Gordon, has died at the age of 90.

Mike Kaplan, a longtime friend and producer on Hodges’ latest film I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, confirmed his death to The Guardian. Hodges died at his home in Dorset on Saturday. The cause of death was not mentioned.

Hodges’ career was booked with British gangster films: Get Carter (1971) and Pulp (1972), then Croupier (1998) and his last film I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (2003). He was also known for his cult classic Flash Gordon.

Born in Bristol in 1932, Hodges first worked as a chartered accountant, then spent two years serving on a Royal Navy minesweeper around the fishing ports of northern England. There was a witness[ed] abject poverty and deprivation of which I had been previously unacquainted”, an experience he later said informed Get Carter. “.

Hodges got into show business as a televangelist on British television, where he could observe how television was made. He began writing screenplays and soon his talents saw him move into producing and directing news and documentaries. He wrote, directed and produced two suspense films for ITV Playhouse, Rumor and Suspect, in 1969 and 1970, which led to him being approached to adapt Ted Lewis’ novel Get Carter.

Hodges on the set of the 1971 movie Get Carter, with Michael Caine and Ian Hendry. Photo: Metro/Allstar

Set against a working-class backdrop in the north of England, Michael Caine plays a London gangster who seeks his own form of justice after his brother is murdered in Newcastle. Released in 1971, Get Carter was a huge success and was soon seen as England’s answer to The Godfather. The following year, Hodges and Caine reunited for their next film, Pulp, which saw Caine play an author who is asked to write a memoir of an aging actor best known for playing gangsters (Mickey Rooney), and suspects he has real connections. gangsters. When the actor is murdered, Kane’s character goes in search of the killer.

Hodges’ 1974 film The Terminal Man was a loose adaptation of the Michael Crichton novel, in which a computer scientist goes rogue after electrodes are placed in his brain. The film did poorly in the United States due to distribution problems, but won Hodges the admiration of Stanley Kubrick, who called the film “brilliant”, and Terrence Malick, who wrote to Hodges, “I have just come from seeing The Terminal Man and want you to know what it is.” Brilliant and wonderful picture.Your pictures make me understand what a picture is He is. Malik’s speech was later used in an advertisement for the film.

Hodges co-wrote the 1978 horror film Damien: Omen 2 and was slated to direct it, but left the project three weeks after it was placed. Hodges claimed that a producer pulled out a loaded gun and placed it on the table during a heated conversation about budgets. “I found it very scary, I have to admit. The whole movie was very dangerous,” he told The Guardian in 2003. “I shouldn’t have seen this movie in the first place. I needed money, and the whole thing was a disaster. The gun was accidental.”

Hodges then made the space opera Flash Gordon in 1980, after director Nicolas Roeg left the project. He told The Guardian in 2020: “I had no idea what I was going to do when I took over. I think that’s part of the film’s success. It’s like a soufflé. We’ve managed to put in all the right ingredients and it just kind of pops up, in a mysterious way.”

Mike Hodges on the set of Flash Gordon with actor Sam Jones.
Mike Hodges on the set of Flash Gordon with actor Sam Jones. Photo: Ronald Grant

It was around this time that Hodges “rejected materialism in any excessive form”, having gone through a divorce he said “came in part from a struggle to maintain a family lifestyle”.

“I found myself doing all the things I swore I would never do,” he said in 2003. “The kids used to go to a private school, we had a townhouse, a city apartment, two cars, and God knows how many TVs there were in each room… Once you remove all the stress and financial worries, you immediately feel a lot freer. And then you can start making movies that you like.” You really want to make it.”

He directed Mickey Rourke’s 1987 film A Prayer for the Dying, but later disavowed it, saying he had no control over the adaptation. His 1989 film The Black Rainbow, starring Rosanna Arquette as a mysterious medium who catches a journalist’s attention when she appears to predict a violent murder, fails to make much impact when its distributors fall into financial difficulty. Hodges told The Guardian in 2020: “By the time I made Black Rainbow, I kind of got used to it. I was very angry, of course, but here we go. One of those things.”

His 1998 film Croupier, starring Clive Owen, played a dealer in a gambling den who is then robbed and bombed in the UK. Hodges assumed his career was over and decided to retire. But the film was shown in the US to the rave reviews and its success there earned it a second release in the UK. “You think your film goes down the toilet, then it gets stuck. Then it comes back up again,” he told The Guardian in 2003.

Hodges came out of semi-retirement to reunite with Owen for his final film in 2003’s I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, in which Owens plays a criminal hungry for revenge after his younger brother (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) rapes a London gangster (Malcolm McDowell). The Guardian called the film “stunningly bleak; a no-frills, existential gangster tale that, at its best, exudes the same creepy menace.” [Hodges] Featured on Get Carter. It certainly touches on similar themes: honor, revenge, and male violence.”

Hodges experienced a flurry of belated recognition over the last two decades of his life, as his films affected by the distribution problems of the 1970s and 1980s were restored and re-released. “He’s a rare bird in British cinema, and I’m glad he’s got some recognition,” MacDowell, a longtime friend of Hodges’, told The Guardian in 2003. typical in England. We never realize what we have until it’s almost too late.”

But Hodges had no intention of returning to filmmaking, and said in 2020 he was happy growing vegetables at his home in Dorset and writing noir novels. He published a novel, Watching The Wheels Come Off, in 2010, and a collection of novels, Bait, Grist and Security, in 2018.

He is survived by his wife, Carol Laws, two sons, Ben and Jake, and five grandchildren, Marlon, Honey, Orson Welles, Michael, and Gabriel.

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