Mike Hodges, the director of “Get Carter” (1971) and “Flash Gordon” (1980), has died. He was 90.
Hodges died at his home in Dorset, England, on Dec. 17, according to ET. His friend Mike Kaplan, who produced Hodges’ 2003 film “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead,” confirmed his death and called Hodges “a great friend and a great filmmaker.”
“For a part of his career, he was underappreciated, and he is not anymore,” Kaplan told ET. “‘Get Carter’ was a huge success all over the world. He had a great sense of humor. All of his movies were entrenched with humor and personality.”
Born in Bristol in 1932, Hodges worked as an accountant before mandatory military service aboard a Royal Navy minesweeper. Hodges wrote in The Guardian earlier this year that his travels to impoverished islands like Hull irrevocably radicalized him.
“For two years, my middle-class eyes were forced to witness horrendous poverty and deprivation that I was previously unaware of,” wrote Hodges. “I went into the navy as a newly qualified chartered accountant and complacent young Tory, and came out an angry, radical young man.”
Hodges later worked a teleprompter for ABC Weekend TV’s “Armchair Theatre,” and began to direct and produce shows of his own throughout the 1960s. He adapted the Ted Lewis crime novel “Get Carter” into a seminal 1971 film starring Michael Caine.
“When I was asked to adapt Ted Lewis’s great book, I recognized that world [of horrendous poverty and deprivation] and attached my own experiences to it,” Hodges wrote in The Guardian. The adjectives describing the “Get Carter” world — sleazy, slimy, nasty — “could equally apply to ... Britain,” he wrote.
“Get Carter” was hailed as Britain’s response to “The Godfather” and led the pair to reunite for “Pulp” in 1972, according to The Guardian. Hodges’ adaptation of Michael Crichton’s “The Terminal Man” in 1974 left luminaries like Stanley Kubrick and Terrence Malick in awe.
“I have just come from seeing The Terminal Man and want you to know what a magnificent, overwhelming picture it is,” Malick wrote to Hodges. “Your images make me understand what an image is.”
Hodges managed to steer from the bleak nihilism of “Get Carter” and “Pulp” to the pulpy and campy pop art of “Flash Gordon.” The 1980 space opera has since become a classic, with constant speculation about a remake.
Hodges returned to the crime genre with “A Prayer for the Dying” (1987) and “Black Rainbow” (1989), but neither fared well. His 1998 film “Croupier,” starring Clive Owen, however, became the highest-grossing independent film that year in the U.S., according to Variety.
Hodges teamed up with Owen one more time for “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” in 2003. The film — another bleak exploration of Britain’s criminal underworld — starred Malcolm McDowell as the villain.
Later, Hodges stopped making movies and focused on gardening.
“He’s a rare bird in British cinema, and I’m just pleased he’s getting some recognition,” McDowell told The Guardian in 2003. “I’m pissed off that it’s taken 35 years, but that’s typical of England. We never realize what we’ve got until it’s almost too bloody late.”
Hodges is survived by his wife Carol Laws, his sons Ben and Jake, and five grandchildren.