Monday, 12 May 2008

From Scun to Stallone

Jack's Return Home, the book that became Get Carter (a superb Britflick starring Michael Caine and John Osborne) was set not in Newcastle, but in Scunthorpe. The film-makers changed it because, I guess, Scunny was just too sleazy and obscure. The gripping climax at the end of GC was also originally set at the mudflats close to the Humber Bridge in Barton, and Ted Lewis, the writer, lived there when he wasn't penning episodes of Z-Cars. If you pick up a copy of Jack's Return Home, you can see that Scunny hasn't changed much since 1970. Rows of terrace streets still improbably close to the town centre. The smell of steel. I took some pictures.
The Mancunian-born writer Ted Lewis, who lived in nearby Barton-upon-Humber, featured the town in some of his novels about low-life 1960s gangster Jack Carter. The most famous of these books, Jack's Return Home saw the main character return from London to his home-town of Scunthorpe to avenge his brother's death. The story itself was based on the background to the real-life murder of Newcastle businessman Angus Sibbet in 1967, in what was known as the Fruit Machine Murder.
The film rights to this book where purchased by
MGM who ironically transferred the setting from Scunthorpe to Newcastle-upon-Tyne and released the film in 1971 as the cult British crime thriller Get Carter, starring Michael Caine in the lead role. However none of the production was shot in the area, it being filmed entirely on location on Tyneside.

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