British director Mike Hodges passed away at 90 on December 20, 2022. Hodges made his directorial debut in some British television productions in the late sixties. Throughout his career, Hodges directed some movies that have turned into cult classics, Get Carter and Flash Gordon above others. Hodges’ last long feature dates back to 2003 when he directed I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead.
Here’s the list of some of the best Mike Hodges movies.
Get Carter (1971)
The British director’s long-feature debut is also one of the best Mike Hodges movies. The story follows a London gangster who looks to avenge the supposedly accidental death of his brother. Get Carter marked the first collaboration between Hodges and Michael Caine before joining forces again in 1972’s Pulp. Get Carter was well-received by critics and audiences at the time of his release, becoming a financial success for a British movie. It also became a cult movie over time thanks to its clever mix of abrupt violence and British humor. The Get Carter cast included Ian Hendry, John Osborne, and Britt Ekland, among others. A Hollywood remake starring Sylvester Stallone was made in 2000, with Caine enrolled in a supporting role.
Flash Gordon (1980)
Much has been said and written about Flash Gordon, mainly because this movie is the main reason fans got Star Wars. George Lucas approached Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis — who had the rights to adapt the adventures of the King Features comic character created by Alex Raymond — to direct the movie, so Lucas came up with his own space opera story. Ultimately, Hodges helmed the film featuring Sam J. Jones as the titular blonde hero. Flash Gordon was a discrete box-office success, resulting in Hodges’ highest gross in his career. Fans are still very affectionate to the former New York Jets football star, who was referenced in different movies and TV shows over the years. Interestingly, Flash Gordon featured music by Queen.
A Prayer for the Dying (1987)
Undoubtedly, Hodges shot his best movies at the beginning and at the end of his career. In between, the British artist attempted some experimental works — see his take on “bilocation” in Black Rainbow — that often left critics and audiences puzzled. A Prayer for the Dying is a little pearl that deserves to be rediscovered from those experimental years. It follows Martin Fallon (Mickey Rourke), an IRA member who mistakenly blows up a school bus instead of his British Army target, killing the children. He then looks for redemption, even though its past haunts him day and night. A Prayer for the Dying is generally remembered for Rourke’s solid performance. The cast included Bob Hoskins and Alan Bates, among others.
It took nearly twenty years for Hodges to score another critically acclaimed film, but Croupier was worth the wait. The Paul Mayersberg-penned story sees an unsuccessful writer named Jack Manfred (Clive Owen) working as a croupier who gets involved in some shady business against his better judgment. Croupier was particularly appreciated for its atmosphere and characterization, and it accelerated Clive Owen’s breakout into stardom. The movie also almost had an Academy Awards run, but it was disqualified — after previously obtaining a waiver — since it had once aired on Dutch TV in November 1998.
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (2003)
Hodges’ collaboration with Owen went on until the British director’s last movie, a noir written by Trevor Preston. The story follows a former gangster who investigates the suspicious suicide of his brother after the latter was raped. I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead isn’t the best Mike Hodges movie, but it’s not as bad as some critics made it sound when it hit theaters. That said, the film was a box-office bomb that fell short of grossing half a million dollars during its theatrical run. I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead also starred Charlotte Rampling, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, and Malcolm McDowell.