It is lauded as the greatest British gangster film of all time and has counted prodigious directors, such as Stanley Kubrick and Quentin Tarantino, among its biggest fans.
Now the archives belonging to the iconic Get Carter’s producer Michael Klinger – and those of his son, filmmaker Tony Klinger - are to be housed at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).
Michael Caine on set filming for Get Carter
Get Carter, released 51 years ago, was widely criticised at the time for its brutal depiction of the criminal underworld, but has since been recognised as a cinema masterpiece, being named by the British Film Institute (BFI) as one of the 20 best films of the 20th century.
Fans are aware of the contribution lead actor Michael Caine and director Mike Hodges played in bringing a hard-to-watch realism to the screen in 1970's Newcastle.
But Michael Klinger’s role, as the producing talent that made Get Carter possible, has never really received equal billing. This is despite his other numerous independent producing accomplishments such as two Roman Polanski films, Repulsion and Cul-de-Sac, the award winning The Penthouse and commercial hits like Gold and Shout at the Devil.
With all the materials relating to Klinger’s career now being held at DMU, it means the university’s film students and academics can inform future research into the producer’s life and times as well as the role finance has to play in cinema in the future.
DMU was chosen to be the new custodian of this priceless insight into the world of production by Michael’s son Tony, himself a writer, producer and director of some repute.
To celebrate the acquisition of these extensive archives of the two Klinger’s work, a special screening of a new 4K restoration of Get Carter will be shown at The Phoenix cinema in Leicester on Monday night at 6.30pm, alongside a showing of Tony’s documentary about his father, called ‘The Man Who Got Carter’.
The audience will also have the opportunity to hear first-hand the stories behind production in a Q&A with Tony. It will be hosted by DMU expert Steve Chibnall, who has published the influential book Get Carter – A British Film Guide. Tickets are available here.
Michael Caine in Newcastle with (left) his agent Dennis Sellinger and (right) Ian Hendry and producer Michael Klinger
Tony, who worked with Justin Smith, Professor of Cinema and Television History at DMU, to bring the archives to the university, said: “The idea of what producers do, and what my father achieved, has been lost in the mists of time. The ability to understand the process of film making through research and education is how we can learn more.
“The UK is known throughout the world for its artistic talent (eg cinematographers, costume designers, directors, set builders, script writers) but not very much is known about producers.
“These archives are an insight into commercial credibility as well as artistic credibility. There are not a lot of British producers you can refer to – my father and David Puttnam perhaps – and a lot of British producers made their name in America, which is understandable because you can get a lot more production money.
“My father used his own money, his own businesses and got money from many other countries, but he never had any investment from the UK.
“The film world continually moves forward and we have to move forward with it. The revisionism that happens as time marches on is part of the process and these archives will contribute to that.
“I first met Justin during the making of my documentary The Man Who Got Carter and so I was fully aware of John’s interest and in-depth knowledge of both my father’s work and mine.
“I have to do something with all of this material after all and the BFI turned it down in the past, before we originally housed it at the University of the West of England! The BFI has since said ‘why didn’t you offer it to us?’ But I did and, at the time they weren’t interested!”
The BFI’s loss is most definitely DMU’s gain. For the 1960’s and 70’s Klinger was Britain’s most successful independent film producer.
Tony Klinger will be at The Phoenix on Monday night for a Q&A
Son Tony’s work, which will also make its way to the archives, includes the seminal documentary film The Kids are Alright about supergroup The Who and rockumentary Deep Purple Rises Over Japan (Made in Japan). He has also created The Festival Game, Extremes, Full Circle and more recently The Man Who Got Carter and Sisters, which are both going into distribution presently. Solo2Darwin and Dirty Sexy and Totally Iconic are both in post-production, and Tony’s next work, called She’s So Lucky, is to be filmed in the US.
All of the material relating to these and other past, present and future films will find its way to The Klinger Archive to be curated and studied at DMU.
Tony will also be working in his capacity as a writer, director and documentary film maker on the board of The DocHub@DMU based within the university’s Cinema and Television History Research Institute (CATHI.
DocHub@DMU brings together industry professionals, students and academics to participate in the creative growth of the documentary genre
Professor Smith said: “CATHI at DMU is one of the primary archives in the UK for British and world cinema.
“We have a great reputation as custodians of archives but also as promoters of research around them, so it is both a responsibility and an honour to look after this archive of Tony’s and his father’s work.”
And what would Tony’s father make of this attention about his work
Michael Caine's iconic pose from Get Carter in a film poster promoting a 1999 re-release
“Someone once said my father had ‘an appropriate ego’,” Tony laughs. “He was not an egomaniac but he was also fully aware of what he had achieved.
“Funnily enough, there was more recognition of his achievements in the US than there was in the UK. In fact he was offered two studio headships there and turned them down!
“He was certainly not shy and I think he would have enjoyed this. I kind of hear him cheering me on.”
The archive was originally with the University of the West of England in Bristol and the institution’s Professor Andrew Spicer was instrumental in handing it on to DMU with Tony’s involvement.
Professor Spicer is also being appointed as a Visiting Professor for Cinema and Television History to offer further expertise to students and researchers.
Click here to read more about the CATHI archives
Posted on Thursday 24th November 2022