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Tonight, Sir Michael Caine stars in the 1971 classic Get Carter, which airs on ITV4 from 9pm. The gritty gangster flick follows Caine’s character Jack Carter, who travels to the North East of England to unearth the bizarre circumstances surrounding his brother’s death. As the mystery unravels, Carter realises that a huge conspiracy involving knock-off adult films, local villains and others are all involved in a terrible plot regarding Carter’s brother.
Get Carter is one of Caine’s most heralded roles, though when initially released critics were unimpressed with the bleak thriller.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the reviews aggregator, Get Carter has an approval rating of 86 percent, adding: “Darkly entertaining and tightly wound, Get Carter is a gritty revenge story done right.”
The film has gone on to gain cult status, and in the 1989 obituary for Derek Malcolm, who starred in the film, it was described by The Guardian as “one of the most formidable British thrillers of its time”.
Caine was already a huge box office success by the time Get Carter was released, with the likes of classics Alfie, Zulu, The Ipcress File and The Italian Job securing his status among Hollywood’s elite.
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Get Carter aired in 1971
In the decades that followed, Caine’s legacy endured and he would go on to collect the Academy Awards his career deserved.
The Oscars were for Best Supporting Actor and were won for Hannah and Her Sisters, and The Cider House Rules in 1986 and 1999 respectively.
His later career also saw a rebirth in his stardom, with younger film fans enjoying his later credits on Harry Brown and Christopher Nolan’s Batman series.
But while discussing his later career with The Guardian two years ago, Caine noted how he had begun growing increasingly concerned about his future, and what it might hold.
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Michael Caine as Jack Carter
He was particularly worried about his memory.
The 89-year-old said: “I mean, I’m fine, I’m well. But I can’t walk and I can’t stand for very long and now I don’t know whether my bloody memory’s going.
“And I’ve worked with people like that.
“I worked with one actor who had all his bloody lines written on the wall because he never remembered any of them.”
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Michael Caine recently
He added: “And there are others who wear earphones and have the assistant director read the next line to them. Johnny Depp – he does that [Depp, for his part, has suggested otherwise].
“I can’t remember who the other bloke was. Older American actor. It was a long time ago now.”
Earlier this year Caine, who also won the hearts of children for his portrayal of Scrooge in The Muppets’ Christmas Carol, sparked a wave of concern when he was pictured using a walking frame while in London.
The Londoner had been using a walking stick after breaking his ankle when he slipped on ice, but after surgery on his back had been forced to switch to a new walking frame.
Speaking to the Daily Mail this year, Caine said: “I have a spine problem which affects my leg, so I can’t walk very well.”
Filming locations in UK
Shakira, Caine’s 75-year-old wife, who has been with the legend since 1973. added: “He had a back operation quite recently.
“He had spinal stenosis.”
Despite being a Conservative Party voter, Caine has discussed his pride at his working class roots, which saw him given the chance to rub shoulders with some of the world’s most famous people.
He once described how he managed to “play football with Pele, for God’s sake”, while adding that he had become close friends with Beatles legend John Lennon.
In 2015, he told The Telegraph: “With John and I it was a case of bonding because we were both working class and we shared a sense of humour.
“We were pretending we weren’t who people thought we were.”
Get Carter airs from 9pm on ITV4.