Just to continue with late 60s-early 70s soundtracks, another one of my favourites is the soundtrack to 1971’s Get Carter, starring Michael Caine as the titular Carter, a London mob enforcer come to Newcastle to investigate the death of his brother. In addition to the spare, yet striking soundtrack by Roy Budd, this film is one of the grimmest gangster movies you’re ever likely to see, with Carter as little more than a revenge machine, not driven by love or passion in the end, or even by anger, but just driven by an instinct to protect his family honour by seeking vengence on those who have harmed his kin.
Here’s a link of film composer Roy Budd playing the theme to the film, with some of the opening scenes included.
Note the use of the tabla along with the jazz instruments; the tabla takes the place of the drum kit, which leaves some great spaces in the overall sound. Yet, the percussion line is distinctive, insistent. That harpsichord-like instrument is a celesta; a really ghostly sound, ominous, yet delicate at the same time. And that warm, relentless bass line; magic.
The theme remains to be well-known in Britain, as is the film as a whole, with Caine’s take on the character having become established as a national icon. The groans of displeasure across the Atlantic when word of the Sylvester Stallone version hit their shores were deafening. Stallone plays him as a tough guy, not a bad guy. Caine’s take on him is decidedly amoral, a true British anti-hero; for him, “it’s a full-time job”.