Iconic North East gangster film Get Carter turns 50

Get Carter was shot entirely in the North East Credit: DPA/DPA/PA Images

It was a movie that set the tone for a generation of gangster films to come.

The moment Michael Caine stepped off that train in Newcastle, the spotlight brought the North East and its many wonderful locations into sharp focus.

The story of a desperate man out to avenge his brother, who died in mysterious circumstances. The tone of the film dark, menacing and direct.

Sir Michael Caine spoke to ITV Tyne Tees during production about the film and how he compares to the character he plays in Get Cater.

It wasn't the first film to shoot and be set in our region, but it was certainly one of the grittiest, earning it its cult status and an army of fans in the process.

Stuart Davis is from Wolverhampton and runs a Get Carter fan website. He says he fell in love with the film after watching it for the first time 15-years-ago.

Michael Caine starred opposite North East actor Alun Armstrong in Get Carter Credit: DPA/DPA/PA Images

Why the North East for Get Carter director Mike Hodges?

Get Carter director Mike Hodges Credit: Myung Jung Kim/PA Archive/PA Images

Get Carter centres on Michael Caine's character Jack Carter, a gangster, who returns to his hometown of Newcastle to investigate the death of his brother.

 For Mike Hodges, Get Carter was his first time directing a feature film after starting his career in television in the 1960s.

After the rights were purchased to Ted Lewis' book 'Jack's Return Home', producer Michael Klinger approached Hodges to adapt and direct Get Carter.

For Mike Hodges, setting his picture in the North East was his only choice after visiting the region in 1950 while doing his National Service aboard a Royal Navy minesweeper.


Undoubtedly the other big star of Get Carter is the Tyne Tees region itself.

While some of the film landmarks still stand today, many of them are now long gone, including the Wallsend to Hebburn ferry route, the Oxford Galleries in Newcastle and the now infamous Get Carter car park in Gateshead.

Trinity Square car park in Gateshead, made famous by Get Carter, was demolished in 2010. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Archive/PA Images

Another location that found fame was the Durham home of Stuart Walker's in-laws. The house doubled as Cliff Brumby's home. As part of the deal to film in the house, Stuart and his friend Anthony were both cast as extras in the scene which sees Michael Caine's character confront Cliff Brumby for the first time.

Five decades on, the films surviving unique locations are still popular with tourists, with Get Carter location tours being operated by Tyne Idols.

Ray Laidlaw is one of the owners of Tyne Idols and says people come from far and wide to glimpse the settings across the region where key scenes were shot.


Could we ever see a movie of the scale of Get Carter shot and set in the North East again?

There have been films set and shot in the North East since Get Carter.

Stormy Monday, Billy Elliot and Goal are all examples. But whilst Stormy Monday had the cast, it was not well-received critically or well thought of since. Billy Elliot had some of the stardom but not the budget while Goal had the budget but not the stars or critical success. It does still hold a place in the hearts of Newcastle United fans.

There have been other films that have set specific scenes in the North East or used locations in the region to double as somewhere else. The Harry Potter film series is an example of this.

Northern Film + Media is the North East of England’s creative industries development agency. Gayle Woodruffe is the Operations Director and feels the North East is in a prime position to be used as a setting for another film in the future.


It is hoped it won't be another five decades until another cult classic is set here.

Until then though, Get Carter remains firmly in the hearts and minds of people here in the North East.