January 2, 2017


Mike Hodges (1932-) b. Bristol, England.

Mike Hodges

British director of extraordinarily varied experience. Hodges looked set for a solid career in urban drama after the success of his first film Get Carter (1971). But his moves further afield both in terms of subject and location have not led to the full realisation of his potential. Hodges originally qualified as an accountant, but work for an American TV company’s British offices prompted him to try his hand at writing. Five years editing and writing TV series followed, after which Hodges ventured into the documentary field as producer and director of the long-running TV news series World in Action. He moved closer to films with profiles of movie directors for TV arts series, and the successful direction of the TV thrillers Suspect encouraged him to try for the big screen. The result is still considered by many to be his best film: Get Carter (1971) was typical of the new gritty realism in British crime films of the 1970s and its Newcastle background, splendidly captured in steely colour photography, gave the harsh crime drama, with few if any likeable characters, an extra edge. Hodges stayed with its star, Michael Caine, for an uneven scattershot comedy Pulp (1972), which attracted few people to cinemas, although more than the next, The Terminal Man (1974). Flash Gordon (1980) was Hodges’ contribution to the big-budget film: like all Hodges’ work, it was well-paced and never boring, but so far over the top as to be largely ineffective in a field whose output needs to take itself with at least a modicum of seriousness. Morons from Outer Space (1985) proved that Hodges’ forte was definitely not lunatic farce. The dramas that surrounded it were all of interest, but small beer at the box office, and Hodges came to a grinding halt for several years after the last of them, Black Rainbow (1989), well-acted and directed, but only moderately written thriller about a medium who starts seeing deaths. Noirish thriller Croupier (1999), a compelling character study of a casino dealer starring Clive Owen, was panned on release in the UK but proved to be a sleeper hit. Hodges followed the slow-burning success of Croupier (1998) with another crime thriller that evoked memories of his classic Get Carter (1971); the muddled and uneventful revenger I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (2003,) which reunited Hodges with Clive Owen.

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