Watching: Classics of British Neo-Noir

Starring Michael Caine and Clive Owen.

By The Watching Team

Dear Watchers,

We know your watching time is limited. And the amount of things available to watch … is not. Looking for a movie? Nearly any movie ever made? It’s probably streaming somewhere. That’s a lot of movies.

Below, we’re suggesting two of them, the latest of our weekly double-feature recommendations. We think the movies will pair well — with each other and with you.

Your weekly double feature: Mike Hodges

Michael Caine in scene from “Get Carter.”Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer British Studios, via HBO Max

‘Croupier’ and ‘Get Carter’

“A wave of elation came over him. He was hooked again, watching people lose.”

This is how the writer Jack Manfred (Clive Owen) describes himself in the deliciously blackhearted neo-noir “Croupier” (1998), not long after he gets a job at a London casino. Now streaming on Netflix, the film was a surprise indie hit and a star-making turn for Owen, who plays Jack as a slick, above-it-all pulp hero who nonetheless gets taken for a ride. While Jack chips away at a novel in which some version of himself serves as narrator, he immediately breaks casino rules by getting involved with a fellow dealer (Kate Hardie) and a gambler (Alex Kingston), and then agrees to take part in a heist. It says everything about Jack that he doesn’t really need the money. He’s mostly just looking for trouble.


While “Croupier” represented a late start to Owen’s career, it was a comeback for the director Mike Hodges, a British genre specialist who hadn’t made a feature since “Flash Gordon” 18 years earlier. Hodges’s terrific debut, “Get Carter” (1971), gave Michael Caine one of his signature roles, casting him as a ruthless antihero who suspects foul play after his brother’s death in a supposed drunk-driving accident. Carter (Caine) has worked for London gangsters for years, but it doesn’t stop him from heading north to Newcastle and sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong. As he did with “Croupier,” Hodges operates with a cheeky self-awareness of genre tradition — at one point, Carter is thumbing through a copy of “Farewell, My Lovely” — but “Get Carter” is distinguished by its grimy local color and Caine’s brutal candor. SCOTT TOBIAS

Stream “Croupier” on Netflix. Rent it on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play and Vudu.

Stream “Get Carter” on HBO Max. Rent it on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube.

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