Mike Hodges, ‘Flash Gordon’ and ‘Get Carter’ Director, Dies at 90

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 December 17, according to ET. His friend Mike Kaplan, who produced Hodges’ 2003 film “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead,” confirmed his death, calling Hodges “a great friend and a great filmmaker.”

“For a part of his career, he was underrated and he’s not anymore,” Kaplan told ET. “’Get Carter’ was a huge success around the world. He had a great sense of humor. All of his films were infused with humor and personality.”

Born in Bristol in 1932, Hodges worked as an accountant before conscription aboard a Royal Navy minesweeper. Hodges wrote in The Guardian earlier this year that his trips to impoverished islands like Hull irrevocably radicalized him.

“For two years, my middle-class eyes were forced to witness horrendous poverty and deprivation of which I was previously unaware,” Hodges wrote. “I went into the navy as a newly qualified chartered accountant and a complacent young Tory, and came out as an angry and radical young man.”

Hodges died at his home in Dorset, England, on December 17.

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Hodges later worked as a teleprompter for ABC Weekend TV’s “Armchair Theatre” and began directing and producing his own shows throughout the 1960s. He adapted Ted Lewis’s crime novel “Get Carter” into a seminal film. from 1971 starring Michael Caine.

“When I was asked to adapt the great book by Ted Lewis, I recognized that the world [of horrendous poverty and deprivation] and attached my own experiences to it,” Hodges wrote in The Guardian. The adjectives that describe the world of “Get Carter” (sleazy, slimy, nasty) “might just as well apply to…Britain,” she wrote.

“Get Carter” was hailed as Britain’s answer to “The Godfather” and led to the pair reuniting 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 stunned.

“I just saw The Terminal Man and I want you to know what a magnificent and overwhelming movie it is,” Malick wrote to Hodges. “Your images make me understand what an image is.”

Hodges managed to transition from the grim nihilism of “Get Carter” and “Pulp” to the pulpy, cheesy art pop of “Flash Gordon.” The 1980 space opera has since become a classic, with constant speculation about a new version.

Hodges' adaptation of
Hodges’ adaptation of “Get Carter” (1971) made Michael Caine (left) a movie star.

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Hodges returned to the crime genre with “A Prayer for the Dying” (1987) and “Black Rainbow” (1989), but neither fared well. However, his 1998 film “Croupier,” starring Clive Owen, became the highest-grossing independent film of that year in the United States, according to Variety.

Hodges teamed up with Owen once again for “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” in 2003. Another grim exploration of Britain’s criminal underworld, the film starred Malcolm McDowell as the villain.

Hodges later stopped making movies and focused on gardening.

“It’s a rare bird in British cinema, and I’m glad it’s getting some recognition,” McDowell told The Guardian in 2003. “I’m angry that it’s taken 35 years, but that’s typical of England. We never realize what we have until it’s almost too late.”

Hodges is survived by his wife Carol Laws, sons Ben and Jake, and five grandchildren.

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