As a jazz-infused night of movie magic plays out tomorrow, the creator of the Get Carter soundtrack will be given a starring role. BARBARA HODGSON reports
IT’S a memorable scene: Michael Caine’s Cockney gangster Jack Carter sitting in the carriage of that clattering train en route to Newcastle with a soundtrack of jangly, jittery jazz.
Get Carter, Mike Hodges’ gritty 1971 crime thriller, saw its star walk a knife-edge of tension and violence and the music matched him every step of the way.
Pretty much every film buff will recognise it but not everyone could name the composer.
Roy Budd, who died from a brain haemorrhage in 1993 at the age of just 46, was paid £450 for his seminal work.
With this year marking the 20th anniversary of his death, local media historian Chris Phipps will be paying him a special tribute at The Sage Gateshead tomorrow as part of a chill-out night celebrating the use of jazz in films and on TV.
Chris will be including extracts of soundtracks from a wide range of films but Budd, he says, is the main inspiration behind the event.
As well as composing the Get Carter theme and score, the composer, whose other works include The Wild Geese, played electric harpsichord on the often eerie-sounding soundtrack which also featured a bass player and “no percussion, only the Indian tabla” says Chris.
He adds: “It was odd. It had an almost mid-European feel to it, quite like the zither music in The Third Man theme.”
He often listens to it in his car as he drives into Newcastle and says its power is such that “you listen to it and immediately you see the film in your mind’s eye. You can see Michael Caine travelling first class in that railway carriage, shot in natural light, coming up to the North”.
The same, he feels, can be said of his other film choices for the night, featuring the 50s and 60s, whose dramatic, often confrontational, subjects seem to find their perfect match in jazz.
“The music conjures up the film images in people’s minds,” he says.
“My aim is to prove that a lot of this music stands on its own ground – it doesn’t need visuals.”
In his selection is a film which was an early source of inspiration for him: The Pawnbroker, which starred Rod Steiger and was scored by Quincy Jones who is most associated with the Thriller album but composed for both film and TV (including Ironside).
Then there’s John Barry’s score in the “appalling” Adam Faith film Beat Girl, which Chris says was an “an attempt to emulate American exploitation films”.