Mike Hodges

Mike Hodges

Born in Bristol, Hodges originally trained as an accountant but after a requisite stint in the Royal Navy found employment as a teleprompter writer. Exposed to the workings of television, Hodges tried his hand and crafting scripts and sold one. He made the transition to director and producer overseeing segments of the English newsmagazine "World of Action" in the early 1960s. A stint on the arts-themed "Tempo" followed, where he prepared profiles of such notable film personalities as Jean-Luc Godard and Orson Welles. Further honing his craft, Hodges wrote and directed episodes of two thrillers that aired on Thames Television, "Suspect" and "Rumour." "Get Carter" marked his first feature work and announced a director of impeccable style and a writer capable of conjuring homages to Chandler and Cain. (A measure of the film's influence is its Americanized remake with an all-black cast, "Hit Man" the following year.) Hodges' second film was the loopy comedy "Pulp" (1972), again starring Caine, this time playing a hack writer hired to ghost the memoirs of a Hollywood star (Mickey Rooney). Stylish and off-beat, the film proved a disappointment at the USA boxoffice but it landed its hyphenate a deal in Hollywood. "The Terminal Man" (1974), adapted from Michael Crichton's novel, marked Hodges' debut in the sci-fi/horror genre and was a well-acted thriller about a computer scientist who develops violent characteristics. After penning the second installment of the devil-as-human trilogy, "Damien - Omen II" (1978), he segued to the campy "Flash Gordon" (1980), an eye-popping romp based on the comic strip and movie serials of the 30s and 40s that was better than its advertising campaign would lead one to believe. While it set no records and racked up any awards, "Flash Gordon" proved a cult hit, a guilty pleasure made palatable by its production design and the presence of such actors as Max von Sydow (as Ming the Merciless), Brian Blessed and Timothy Dalton, and the allure of Melody Anderson and Ornella Muti. Returning to England, Hodges shifted gears considerably to oversee the earnest TV-movie "Squaring the Circle" (1983). Working from Tom Stoppard's above average script, he fashioned a cogent look at the rise of the Solidarity movement in Poland. "Squaring the Circle" received a limited theatrical release in the USA and showed the director at his peak. Hodges was invited to direct the English-language version of Fellini's "And the Ship Sailed On" (also 1983). He stumbled with the laughable "Morons From Outer Space" (1985) and attempted to have his name removed from "A Prayer for the Dying" (1987) after studio interference. A last minute replacement for Franc Roddam, Hodges had worked with star Mickey Rourke in trying to fashion a character study of a resident Northern Ireland conflicted over the violence surrounding him, but ultimately it was an uneven script and hammy acting by the co-stars as well as the editing that sank the picture. Hodges fared much better with the intriguing if overlooked "Black Rainbow" (1989) which cast Rosanna Arquette as a medium who foretells the events of a murder. Disenchanted with features, Hodges resumed his small screen career, helming and/or scripting a variety of projects over the next decade. In 1998, he made a triumphant return to the big screen with the film noir "Croupier," featuring a star-making lead turn by Clive Owen. Many critics favorably compared "Croupier" with "Get Carter," particularly as both centered on "meticulous" characters. The director reteamed with Owen for the highly anticipated "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" (2004), a noirish tale of a Brit gangster who has retired to the countryside but comes out of hiding to investigate the death of his brother.