Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1971: Michael Caine in Get Carter

Michael Caine did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Jack Carter in Get Carter.

Get Carter is a bleak but effective thriller about an English gangster seeking revenge for the death of his brother.

Michael Caine is an actor I will not say is the first who comes to mind when would say tough guy. In fact Caine does not seem to usually come off as a psychically imposing individual in films, even if he is a taller man. This is not the case though in his performance as gangster Jack Carter. In this film even when he is not, he seems to be the tallest man in the room. The way he carries himself in this film as Carter makes Caine absolutely dominate every scene he is in. He has an incredible strength that permeates through that makes him always the man in charge. Caine has always been able to carry a film but here he literally controls it.

Caine is great in the role because he never tries to make Carter anything but what Carter is. He does not try to add some sort of faking the character or doing a wink at the audience to say look this is good old Michael Caine still. Caine never for once breaks his mold for his character here which does not once ask for sympathy or understanding. Nevertheless Caine is so good in this film he brings us right into this character for the entire film. Even though it is hard to say that this character is really likable Caine still has a charisma in his performance that is unmistakable for sure. He simply owns the screen in this film and you really can't help but watch him here.

Caine creates a facinating portrait of the gangster Carter, as he has a incredible dynamic between the outside of Carter and the inside feelings of him. Caine on the outside shows Carter to be the perfect sort of gangster when it comes to doing dirty work that is commonly required such as killing. There is an incredible coldness and well professionalism to his performance that shows that Carter knows exactly what he is doing and has been doing this sort of work for a long time making him absolutely comfortable with all of it. He is so cold at times it seems like maybe he does not have heart period, but Carter does deep inside after all his whole journey in the film is completely personal.

For much of the film Caine does show Carter as pretty much a business man doing his job that is probably just done a little too efficiently. Caine though makes us completely believe in Carter's abilities throughout the film as Carter wades through all the muck and the double crosses to find out what exactly did happen to his brother. Caine always makes it clear that Carter is absolutely sure of himself, and confidant in his abilities always. There is never even a hint of weakness in Caine's  portrayal he always portrays the part with a mastery of efficiency, and effectiveness that brings to life Carter's skill and abilities marvelously.

The greatest and most powerful moments of Caine's performance and the film itself are when we see the more emotional side of Carter that Caine brilliantly portrays because he only shows them in the most pivotal of moments. His single greatest scene might be when Carter finally really gets set off by finding out exactly why his brother died. It is a single silent scene where Carter watches a pornographic film featuring the woman he just had sexual intercourse with. At first Caine shows Carter reacting with a bit of a disinterest as well as bemusement as something just to pass the time. When Carter sees his niece is as well featured in the film. Caine is incredible as Carter's soul is crushed, and Caine shows how much this truly does weigh on Carter.

After this scene Caine is just one brutal uncompromising force of revenge for both his borther's death and the use of his own niece and perhaps daughter. Caine is outstanding in these scenes are Carter brutally kills many of the people involved with his brother's death, or even partially involved with it. Caine is especially terrific in the role because of the degree of emotions Carter puts in the killings he commits himself or the one's that occur around him. His coldest scenes come in when for example two women are killed that were partially involved with the death of his brother, his reactions to these scenes are ice cold and truly memorable.

Caine shows Carter cares nothing for their deaths, he finds they deserve to die, but their offenses in his view do not earn them emotions from him. These moments are in stark contrast to when Carter's violent anger appears that especially piercing. Caine makes Carter's rage truly fierce and absolutely uncompromising. The combination of these outstanding scene creates one unforgettable picture of revenge that has never been matched since. This is a powerful performance by Caine that never pulls a single punch in his performance. Caine with his performance as Jack Carter creates a brilliant portrait of this cold calculating killer, who becomes even more vicious when he makes it personal.


RatedRStar said...

A really great film, I always thought this was better than the Italian Job and a lot of Caines earlier work.

Oscargrouching said...

My fav from him .