London-based gangster Jack Carter (played by Michael Caine) travels to Newcastle to try and unravel the circumstances surrounding the recent death of his brother, Frank, in an apparent drink-driving accident.
In doing so, he becomes embroiled in the shady goings-on of the Tyneside underworld. Sublime direction, superb acting, excellent script, a finely-crafted score… and more BMC>Rover cars than you can shake a double-barrelled hunting gun at. What more do you want?
Straight off the train from London, Carter crosses the road in front of an early Mini as he heads to a bar for a drink and a pre-arranged meeting with his brother’s widow, Margaret. Later on, another Mini plays an incidental role in the film’s most crucial scene, when it appears in the crudely-shot soft-porn movie that tells Carter exactly who he needs to wreak his revenge on.
This Land Rover is there from the moment Carter arrives at his late brother’s house on Tyneside, and turns up again at the funeral. Someone is clearly keeping tabs on Carter, but is it the local Newcastle mob, members of Carter’s own London firm (the Fletcher brothers) or the police?
|Waiting for the crusher
Carter inspects the Austin A50 in which his brother met his end, which now sits in a scrapyard having been recovered from the Tyne. He learns from the scrapyard owner that there was nothing wrong with the steering or the brakes. So how did the accident happen? That’s what Carter means to find out…
After learning that arcade-owning local bigwig Cliff Brumby wants him out of town, Carter turns up at Brumby’s house, The Pantiles, to find out why. As it happens, there is a party in full swing as he arrives, and here the camera catches a glimpse of a party-goer’s Herald convertible parked on the drive.
|Red means danger
Carter’s been ruffling feathers, so Con and Peter, who also work for the Fletcher brothers, arrive from London with orders to bring him back. Carter has other ideas, however: after one of the film’s more memorable scenes, he makes his escape in a Ford Cortina – and in doing so will take the passenger door of Peter’s MkII Jaguar off its hinges as he drives past.
Con and Peter catch up with Carter on the Iron Bridge, and aren’t best pleased that he’d given them the slip, not to mention the damage to the Jaguar. So, as Carter makes an athletic leap from the bridge onto the roof of a ramshackle shed, he clearly hasn’t got time to stop and admire the Daimler Sovereign parked below.
Carter now knows that local crime boss Cyril Kinnear is behind the “accident” that caused his brother’s death, so he sets up a police raid on Kinnear’s home – and vice den – The Heights, planting a piece of evidence that should see Kinnear put away for good. Here we see a Rover P6 police car about to arrive at the house, following a phone call from Carter.
A second police P6 sweeps up to the house, making the forecourt of The Heights look a bit like a BLMC dealership, with an MGBGT on the left and a Mk2 Triumph 2000 on the right. Moments later, they will be joined by yet another P6 and a Land Rover.
|A fair cop?
As the police haul away Kinnear’s dubious guests following the raid on the house, it looks like this Triumph Spitfire will be staying put for a while. And perhaps it’s time to wonder why so many of these seedy characters arrived at the house in Triumphs. What on earth does that say about the company’s client profile…
This page was contributed by Declan Berridge
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