By JILL LAWLESS
LONDON (AP) — British filmmaker Mike Hodges, who directed gangland thriller “Get Carter” and sci-fi cult classic “Flash Gordon,” has died. He was 90.
Hodges died at his home in the county of Dorset in southwest England on Saturday, his friend and former producer Mike Kaplan told British media on Wednesday. No cause of death was given.
Born in the English port city of Bristol in 1932, Hodges trained as an accountant and did two years of compulsory military service aboard a Royal Navy minesweeper, visiting poor coastal communities around England.
“For two years, my middle-class eyes were forced to witness horrendous poverty and deprivation that I was previously unaware of,” he wrote in a letter to The Guardian earlier this year.
The experience influenced his feature debut, 1971 thriller “Get Carter,” which he wrote and directed. It starred Michael Caine as a gangster who returns to his home city of Newcastle on the trail of his brother’s killers. Remembered for its unflinching violence, vividly gritty northeast England locations and jazz score, it’s considered a British classic.
Caine also starred in Hodges’ 1972 crime comedy “Pulp.” Hodges went on to direct 1974 sci-fi thriller “The Terminal Man,” starring George Segal as a scientist who turns violent after electrodes are implanted in his brain.
“Flash Gordon,” made amid the science fiction deluge unleashed by the success of “Star Wars,” was released in 1980. A campy romp inspired by 1930s adventure comics, pop music videos and expressionist cinema, it was a hit in Britain and gained an international cult following.
Hodges’ 1985 sci-fi comedy “Morons from Outer Space” was less successful. His 1980s films also included “A Prayer for the Dying,” starring Mickey Rourke as a former IRA militant, and “Black Rainbow” with Rosanna Arquette as a psychic medium targeted by a killer.
Hodges had a late-career success with 1998 drama “Croupier,” which gave Clive Owen his international breakout role as a dealer in a London casino. The film initially flopped in the U.K. but got rave reviews in the U.S. and became a hit.
Owen also starred in Hodges’ final film “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead,” released in 2003.
Actor Brian Blessed, who starred in “Flash Gordon,” told the BBC that Hodges had “a very powerful personality and a joyful, cheerful, brilliant imagination.”
Hodges is survived by his wife, Carol Laws, his sons Ben and Jake, and several grandchildren.