Get Carter | 1971
It was definitely grim up north when Jack Carter (Michael Caine) took the train to Newcastle-on-Tyne to sort out the murder of his brother. But no longer. The city has perked up no end since the dismal seventies and many of the locations are either gone or have been smartly renovated.
Arriving at Newcastle Central Station, Jack heads for – almost – the nearest pub for a pint (‘in a thin glass’), but the bar is no more. Baron House, on Neville Street at Grainger Street, now stands on the site of the pub – which once boasted the longest bar in Europe.
The nearest pub to the station is O’Neill’s, 38 Neville Street, a branch of the ubiquitous chain of Oirish theme pubs, which used to be the Vick and Comet, the bar where Keith (Alun Armstrong) tends bar. Just to the left of O’Neill’s is tiny, crooked Pink Lane, where you’ll find the Gotham Town Club, which was once Bower’s Cafe, in which Jack gives his niece some advice.
Another lost location is the demolished Frank Street, where Jack’s brother lived, in Benwell, to the west of the city centre.
Unchanged filming sites include West Road Crematorium, Silverhill Drive, off West Road, where the funeral of Jack’s brother is held, and Newcastle Racecourse in High Gosforth Park, north of the city, where Jack meets devious chauffeur Eric (Ian Hendry).
South of the Tyne, dominating Gateshead town centre, stood the huge concrete bulk of Gateshead Car Park, Trinity Square, the highrise atop which Cliff Brumby had plans to open a restaurant. Odd as it may seem, that’s indeed what was intended for this unloved concrete monster. Constantly threatened with demolition, it hung on for years, which is more than Brumby did, as Jack hurled him from the top level to splat on a car roof in Trinity Square. Finally, though, the car park succumbed, and disappeared in early 2010.
Further along West Street brings you to Coburg Street. On the right, 25 Coburg Street was the ‘Las Vegas Boarding House’ (far smarter than it appears on screen.), where Jack stays, and famously shocks the neighbours by seeing off a brace of hitmen with nothing more than his proudly brandished weapon.
It’s outside the Coburg Street house that Jack is attacked by the snivelly Thorpe, who somehow manages to sprint through Gateshead town centre, across the High Level Bridge, through Newcastle city centre, to scuttle into the Oxford Galleries club – where he’s cornered in the gents. The nightclub still thrives, in its new incarnation as Klub Ikon, 49 Newbridge Street at Oxford Street, in front of the Holiday Inn.
Jack crosses the river to Hebburn, where the betting shop behind which he knifes Albert, once stood. On his return, he shoots it out with the boys from London, at the defunct Wallsend Ferry terminal.
Newcastle’s famed bridges are of course featured: Carter meets Margaret on the gloomy walkway of the High Level Bridge, gets chased down the steps at Queen’s Lane and under the Swing Bridge, to Watergate, where he’s met by his fairy godmother.
He later buys heroin, which he uses to kill Margaret, on the Swing Bridge, catching up with her at the bingo hall on St James Street. The site is now occupied by St James metro station, but you can recognise the Strawberry pub in the background (nuns once brewed strawberry wine from fruit they grew here – honestly) which still stands in the shadow of St James’ Park football club.
Outside the city centre is the house of Cliff Brumby (“You’re a big man, but you’re out of shape”), in Carrville, way to the south; and the home of villain Cyril Kinnear (playwright John Osborne), the real-life house of a local fruit machine king, who was involved in a slot-machine scam linked to a local murder. It’s Dryderdale Hall, Hamsterley in County Durham. The Grade II listed hall, set in 20 acres of land and built in 1872 for the Backhouse family, a Darlington banking family, used to be a hotel but was sold in 2008 to become a private home.
The bleak ending is at Blackhall Colliery on Blackhall Rocks Beach between Seaham and Hartlepool – near the location used for Alien 3. The mine machinery and coal waste has gone and the location is now barely recognisable.
A 1972 blaxploitation remake called Hit Man, with Bernie Casey and Pam Grier, was made around Los Angeles, featuring the astonishing Watts Towers, 1765 107th Street, Watts, in South Central, and the Milbank and McFie Residence, 3340 Country Club Drive at Arlington Avenue (also seen in the 1975 Farewell My Lovely). The latest remake, with Sylvester Stallone, was shot around Seattle, Vancouver and Las Vegas.