Clive Owen,

Return of the Outsider: The Films of Mike Hodges Retrospective at The BFI & Special Screening of All at Sea

Tuesday, May 17, 2022 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

Return of the Outsider: The Films of Mike Hodges Retrospective at The BFI & Special Screening of All at Sea
Return of the Outsider: The Films of Mike Hodges Retrospective at The BFI & Special Screening of All at Sea

I have a particular fascination with the films of Mike Hodges. Below I discuss my relationship with some of his films - in no great depth as I fully intend to re-watch his film and hopefully do deep dives on them here including the ones I don't mention.

I first saw his 1971 Get Carter in the late 80s and really didn’t like its stifling, dark and subversive tone or its eerily haunting soundtrack. Get Carter is based on a novel by British author Ted Lewis called Jack's Return Home and if you are a fan you may be interested in the two follow up novels Lewis wrote featuring Jack Carter - Jack Carter's Law and Jack Carter and the Mafia Pigeon.

I did however like his 1980 Flash Gordon which I managed to catch on the big screen at a Grindhouse repertory cinema. Initially lured in by Richard Amsel’s phenomenal poster art (which eventually ended up in my collection), and despite some dodgy special FX (state of the art for the time) I was swept away by it’s boldness, Queen’s loud thumping soundtrack and the thrilling science fantasy adventure as it rolled out, all while not taking its self too seriously.

Furthermore I could also appreciate Flash Gordon and the references to its comic & serial film history and how the film bridged its origins in a post Star Wars world. It was the “Marvel Superhero” film of it’s day and Flash Gordon’s vast output, still in regular print inspired many of the popular tropes we see in Science fiction and film today.

By the time Hodges’ very anticipated 1987 Mickey Rourke, Bob Hoskins & Alan Bates starrer A Prayer for the Dying was released I was a Hodges fan and was coming around to the greatness of Get Carter, particularly Michael Caine’s iconic performance bringing Carter to the screen like a velvet covered cosh.

Fast forward nearly a decade later to 1998 and Clive Owen TV's Chancer delved into the London underworld in Hodges’ Croupier. I struggled with some bits of it, particularly the seediness that seeps from it, but this along with other elements of Croupier epitomises what makes a classic Brit film noir. Coincidentally similar themes explored in Croupier pervade Christopher Nolan’s first feature film Following that came out the same year.

In 2003 I'll Sleep When I'm Dead was released re-uniting Hodges with Clive Owen and bringing along Malcolm McDowell & the one and only Charlotte Rampling and Jonathan Rhys Meyers by the time I saw it I was living in London and Hodges’ I'll Sleep When I'm Dead was a notably different viewing experience for me - I was in the same place as most of the film is set, some of the locations were minutes walking distance for me and it was immersive but it explored similar themes to Get Carter and it's bleakness stirred up the same feelings in me as Get Carter did when I first viewed it.

Around this time period, I had lived in the UK for a while and had started to acclimatise and could fully appreciate Get Carter for the masterpiece it is - one of the greatest crime films ever made and the sync between music, cinematography and performances under Hodges direction are sublime, elevating Get Carter to an experience rather than a narrative projected on to a screen.

To this day Roy Budd’s Get Carter score is one of my favourite soundtracks of all time with its instantly recognisable and unmistakable opening chords. It’s unbelievable for me to ponder on how Get Carter was Mike Hodges' debut film and Roy Budd was just 23 when he wrote the score.

Back in 2013, I was invited along to the Derby Film Festival where Mike Hodges was attending as a guest I regretted not going along and missing the opportunity to chat with Hodges about some of his films, so you could appreciate how excited I was when I heard that the BFI was hosting a Mike Hodges retrospective - Return of the Outsider: The Films of Mike Hodges running throughout May with a presentation of the restored 4K version of Get Carter. As well as all of Hodges' films the retrospective includes some of his earlier hard to find TV work, which will be interesting to see and gain insight into Hodges' broader style and growth as a storyteller. 

I am due a re-watch and reassessment of Mike Hodges’ films especially; of course, Get CarterCroupier, Pulp & I'll Sleep When I'm Dead which I can’t wait to see again through slightly maturer eyes and see if they have aged like a fine wine. Hopefully, I’ll get some in-depth reviews up of Mike Hodges' oeuvre work up in the near future including his 1974 adaptation of Michael Crichton’s (yes the guy who wrote Jurassic Park and West World) high concept The Terminal Man.

Sadly my excitement was short-lived as since the original schedule for the Return of the Outsider: The Films of Mike Hodges retrospective was posted jam-packed with QA sessions and Introductions there were a number of dramatic changes, probably brought on by hosting the retrospective too soon after the pandemic.

However, there is a silver lining to this cloud as the BFI is now hosting an exciting Mike Hodges’ screening -  a Work in progress or rough Cut presentation of his autobiographical documentary All At Sea and you can get tickets for free right now.

Thursday 26 May 2022 18:10
WORK IN PROGRESS: ALL AT SEA
A rough cut of Get Carter director Mike Hodges’s new documentary about his life and career.

Concept poster for acclaimed British film director, Mike Hodges' autobiographical ‘All at Sea’ by Patrick Fowler 

Featuring archive footage and narration by the director himself, Mike Hodges takes us through his upbringing, the stormy seas of his National Service in the merchant navy, his ground-breaking career in the golden age of television documentaries and eventually his successful directing career, when he created classic British and Hollywood cult movies.

Please note that this is a rough cut and is presented to support the Mike Hodges season.

Tickets for this screening are free and limited to 2 per person. Bookable from Wed 27 April to BFI Patrons and Champions from 11:30 to BFI Members from 12:30 and to the general public from 16:00

More information and tickets can be found here: Work in Progress Preview: All at Sea


The full and remaining schedule for the BFI Mike Hodges retrospective - Return of the Outsider: The Films of Mike Hodges is as follows:

Sunday 1 May 14:20
SUSPECT + RUMOUR

SUSPECT
This was the first of two feature-length films written, produced and directed by Mike Hodges that led directly to Get Carter. Shot on location in a Buckingham village, Suspect interweaves the disappearance of a young girl with the breakdown of a marriage. Its theme is murder – both physical and psychological.

Rachel Kempson, Bryan Marshall, George Sewell, Michael Coles

RUMOUR
Hodges wrote, produced and directed this thriller, a very different creature from Suspect. Embracing the freewheeling style of the nouvelle vague, Rumour follows a sleazy, national newspaper gossip columnist as he pursues an unsubstantiated scandal. This autopsy of the gutter press is as relevant today as it was in 1969.

Michael Coles, Ronald Clarke, Mary Baxter, Joyce Blair


Monday 2 May 14:50
THE TERMINAL MAN (DIRECTOR’S CUT)
A computer scientist who suffers from violent seizures agrees to a procedure to have electrodes surgically implanted in his brain to trigger electrical impulses when a seizure is about to happen. Made 48 years ago, and based on Michael Crichton’s novel, The Terminal Man is a warning about the dangers of mind control and of surrendering too much power to computers.

George Segal, Joan Hackett, Richard Dysart, Donald Moffat


    Video: The Terminal Man (1974)                


Tuesday 3 May 18:15
MIKE HODGES IN CONVERSATION
With a career that spans film and TV – including highlights such as Get Carter, Flash Gordon, Croupier, Tempo and World in Action – Mike Hodges is an auteur filmmaker who has proved himself adept at making quality films across many genres. Tonight, Samira Ahmed hosts this conversation with Hodges as he reflects on his career to date and looks forward to his next film, an autobiographical documentary.


Tuesday 3 May 20:40
BLACK RAINBOW + INTRO BY MIKE HODGES
Martha Travis (Arquette), a medium who connects spirit voices with the living, finds her life in danger after she has a vision of a murder taking place and realises that it’s a premonition. Yet despite being able to identify the victim and killer, she doesn’t know when it will happen. Although it garnered a positive critical response, Black Rainbow received only a modest release (due to external circumstances), and so remains ripe for discovery.

Rosanna Arquette, Jason Robards, Tom Hulce, Mark Joy


    Video: Black Rainbow - Official Trailer HD                


Wednesday 4 May 18:15
PULP
‘Mickey King writes pulp, lives pulp and very soon could be pulp’ – so ran the tagline for this comedy-drama about a seedy writer (Caine) who is lured by a large sum of money to a remote island where he’s to ghost-write the autobiography of a mysterious celebrity. He soon finds himself at the centre of a real-life murder mystery. Hodges excels at maintaining the balance between comedy and drama in this rarely seen treat

Michael Caine, Mickey Rooney, Lionel Stander, Lizabeth Scott


    Video: Pulp Original Trailer (Mike Hodges, 1972)                


Monday 4 May 2022 18:05
CROUPIER + EXTENDED INTRO BY CLIVE OWEN & MIKE HODGES, PAUL MAYERSBERG
Hodges’ neo-noir thriller features Clive Owen at his best as the croupier drawn into a criminal enterprise. Clive Owen plays Jack Manford, an aspiring writer with creative block who takes a job as a croupier and, despite attempts to retain a professional detachment, soon finds himself immersed in the casino world. Deterred from gambling due to his father’s own addiction, Jack begins risking it all when it comes to life decisions. Hodges’ compelling, character-driven neo-noir boasts a great performance from Owen and a skilful script by Paul Mayersberg (The Man Who Fell to Earth, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence).

Clive Owen, Nick Reding, Nicholas Ball, Gina McKee


    Video: Croupier (1999) | Film4 Trailer                


Thursday 5 May 18:00
I’LL SLEEP WHEN I’M DEAD + Q&A WITH MIKE HODGES
Having left his criminal past behind him, Will Graham (Owen) returns to London, when he discovers that his brother has died having supposedly taken his own life. Unconvinced, Will begins his own investigation and discovers an unspeakably terrible chain of events that led to his sibling’s death. With more than a passing nod to Get Carter, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead reunites Hodges with Owen to create a sleek, disturbing revenge thriller.

Clive Owen, Charlotte Rampling, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Malcolm McDowell


    Video: I'll Sleep When I'm Dead                


Friday 6 May 18:05
MORONS FROM OUTER SPACE + Q&A WITH MIKE HODGES & GRIFF RHYS JONES + WORLD IN ACTION: THE FLIPSIDE

MORONS FROM OUTER SPACE Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones’ premise that aliens entering our galaxy might actually be moronic immediately appealed to Hodges. If the current state of our civilisation is projected into the future it’s a 50/50 chance they would be. Originally panned by UK critics (not so in other countries), the film has since been reappraised (and has a book devoted to it).

Griff Rhys Jones, Mel Smith, Joanne Pearce

    Video: Morons from Outer Space (1985)                


WORLD IN ACTION: THE FLIPSIDE
World in Action was a hard-nosed investigative programme. This episode takes a look at the dodgy practices of the 1960s pop-music world, with a cast of characters worthy of Dickens.


Saturday 7 May 12:00
FLASH GORDON + Q&A WITH MIKE HODGES + THE TYRANT KING: EPISODE 1: SCARFACE

FLASH GORDON
Alex Raymond’s popular comic-strip character bounds on to the screen to heroically save the earth from Ming the Merciless, ruthless ruler of the planet Mongo. Hodges directs with verve and wit, Queen provide the memorable score and Fellini’s frequent collaborator Danilo Donati provides ravishing costume and set designs. Packed full of quotable lines, massive cult appeal and an incredibly recognisable cast, Flash Gordon has to be seen to be believed.

Sam J Jones, Melody Anderson, Max von Sydow, Timothy Dalton

    Video: Flash Gordon | Official Trailer [4K]                


THE TYRANT KING: EPISODE 1: SCARFACE
This children’s TV serial saw Hodges working with actors for the first time, and his use of rock music anticipates his collaboration with Queen 12 years later in Flash Gordon. Written by Hodges’ friend Trevor Preston, the story follows three young people on the trail of a baddie, which takes them all over 1960s London.

Philip Madoc, Murray Melvin, Candy Glendenning


Sunday 8 May 11:50
SQUARING THE CIRCLE + WORLD IN ACTION: GOLDWATER FOR PRESIDENT? OR HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE

SQUARING THE CIRCLE
Tom Stoppard’s brilliant script – a satire about Lech Walensa and Solidarity’s confrontation with the Communist dictatorship in Poland – demanded numerous locations which made it a difficult film to realise. Hodges wasn’t the first director to be approached but, together with his production designer, Voytek, he was the one who solved the problem. They invented a studio structure as flexible as a Meccano set that would accommodate all the scenes.

WORLD IN ACTION: GOLDWATER FOR PRESIDENT? OR HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE
As a director on World in Action in 1964-66, Hodges gained insight into American politics and its obsession with Communism. He filmed Barry Goldwater in Dallas (a year after President Kennedy’s assassination), interviewed Governor George Wallace and the Reuther brothers of the United Auto Workers. Shortly afterwards he was sent to Vietnam. Hodges’ use of 16mm film (here with the Maysles brothers) was to play an increasingly important role as his career progressed.


Sunday 8 May 2022 18:10
A PRAYER FOR THE DYING
Mickey Rourke plays an ex-IRA member who tries to leave his past behind after moving to London. He agrees to help a gangster (Bates) with one last ‘job’, but as past sins catch up with him he finds his fate intertwined with that of a local Catholic Priest (Hoskins). Based on the novel by Jack Higgins, the film ran into controversy over its subject matter, and the fact that Hodges was prevented from releasing his preferred version.

Mickey Rourke, Bob Hoskins, Alan Bates, Liam Neeson


    Video: A Prayer for the Dying                


Wednesday 11 May 20:50
PULP


Sunday 15 May 2022 14:00
CROUPIER
Hodges’ neo-noir thriller features Clive Owen at his best as the croupier drawn into a criminal enterprise. Clive Owen plays Jack Manford, an aspiring writer with creative block who takes a job as a croupier and, despite attempts to retain a professional detachment, soon finds himself immersed in the casino world. Deterred from gambling due to his father’s own addiction, Jack begins risking it all when it comes to life decisions. Hodges’ compelling, character-driven neo-noir boasts a great performance from Owen and a skilful script by Paul Mayersberg (The Man Who Fell to Earth, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence).

Clive Owen, Nick Reding, Nicholas Ball, Gina McKee


Sunday 15 May 2022 18:10
A PRAYER FOR THE DYING


Monday 16 May 2022 18:05
CROUPIER


Mon 16 May 20:40
THE TERMINAL MAN (DIRECTOR’S CUT)


Tuesday 17 May 2022 18:00
TEMPO
Hodges succeeded Kenneth Tynan as producer of Tempo, ITV’s arts programme. He switched its largely studio-based output to 16mm film and launched three series: Tempo Profiles; Tempo Entertainers; Tempo International.

Samples from each are included in this programme, which features Orson Welles, Jacques Tati and Ornette Coleman (International); Buskers (Entertainers); Harold Pinter and Jean-Luc Godard (Profiles) and more.


Wednesday 18 May 2022 20:50
MORONS FROM OUTER SPACE + WORLD IN ACTION: THE FLIPSIDE


Thursday 19 May 2022 18:30
MURDER BY NUMBERS + THE HITCHHIKER: W.G.O.D.

MURDER BY NUMBERS
Not a fan of serial-killer films, Hodges was reluctant to make this documentary, but changed his mind when realising the extent of their popularity in America – confirming his long-held suspicion that this appetite for screen violence nurtured a near-constant state of panic and paranoia.

Contributors include directors David Fincher (Seven), John McNaughton (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer), Richard Fleischer (Boston Strangler) and Ridley Scott (Hannibal), and actor Brian Cox (Manhunter).

THE HITCHHIKER: W.G.O.D.
Hodges’ interest in the dubious antics of televangelists was appeased when he was asked to contribute to anthology horror series The Hitchhiker.

Gary Busey, Geraldine Page, Ian Forsyth


Thursday 19 May 2022 20:20
FLASH GORDON + THE TYRANT KING: EPISODE 1: SCARFACE


Saturday 21 May 2022 13:10
DANDELION DEAD
Hodges’ BAFTA-winning true-crime story set in the 1920s tells of Major Herbert Rowse Armstrong, a provincial solicitor from Hay-on-Wye with an overbearing wife and a troublesome business rival. Armstrong found himself a murder suspect and participated in one of the most notorious trials of the period. With an authentic feel, an impressive ensemble cast and a darkly comic undertone, Dandelion Dead is a rewarding TV treat.

Michael Kitchen, Sarah Miles, David Thewlis


    Video: Dandelion Dead                


Sun 22 May 18:10
BLACK RAINBOW


Saturday 28 May 17:45
GET CARTER + THE FRIGHTENERS: THE MANIPULATORS

GET CARTER
This gritty 1970s gangster classic has become acknowledged as one of the greats of British cinema. Jack Carter (Caine), a London gangster, travels to Newcastle after his brother is killed in a supposed accident but Carter suspects that things may not be as they seem. Using his documentary, realist aesthetic, Hodges’ first feature is a violent, uncompromising classic of the genre, featuring outstanding performances from Caine and Hendry, not to mention Newcastle itself, and is also notable for the extraordinarily quick turnaround from the book being published and the film being made (eight months). This gritty British classic has finally been restored and is available in 4K for the first time.

Michael Caine, Ian Hendry, Britt Ekland, John Osborne

    Video: Get Carter Official Trailer (2022) BFI 4K Restoration        


THE FRIGHTENERS: THE MANIPULATORS
Hodges wrote and directed this short immediately after completing Get Carter, asking if we’re being dehumanised in order to survive in an increasingly ruthless world.


Sunday 29 May 2022 11:50
NEW TEMPO
Delve into theories behind technology and communication in three innovative episodes of the arts show.

In 1967 Marshall McLuhan published The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects, which explored how each new medium of technology and communication ‘massages’ human behaviour. In this arts series for ITV, Hodges attempted to capture McLuhan’s abstract ideas on film.

Here, we screen Information Explosion; Noise (John Cage and Roland Kirk), Heroes (various) and Stimulants (RD Laing); films that caused quite a stir! Poet Adrian Mitchell wrote to Hodges exclaiming: ‘I don’t know how you survive without having your head chopped off!


Monday 30 May 2022 17:50
I’LL SLEEP WHEN I’M DEAD


Monday 30 May 2022 18:00
GET CARTER + INTRO BY DOUGLAS WEIR
This gritty 1970s gangster classic has become acknowledged as one of the greats of British cinema. Jack Carter (Caine), a London gangster, travels to Newcastle after his brother is killed in a supposed accident but Carter suspects that things may not be as they seem. Using his documentary, realist aesthetic, Hodges’ first feature is a violent, uncompromising classic of the genre, featuring outstanding performances from Caine and Hendry, not to mention Newcastle itself, and is also notable for the extraordinarily quick turnaround from the book being published and the film being made (eight months). This gritty British classic has finally been restored and is available in 4K for the first time.

Michael Caine, Ian Hendry, Britt Ekland, John Osborne


There seem to be additional screenings of Get Carter running from 27 May through to 09 June, more information can be found here: Get Carter

Return of the Outsider: The Films of Mike Hodges at The BFI

More information and tickets are available here: whatson.bfi


THE ESTABLISHING SHOT: RETURN OF THE OUTSIDER: THE FILMS OF MIKE HODGES RETROSPECTIVE AT THE BFI & SPECIAL SCREENING OF ALL AT SEA

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