Mike Hodges, probably best known for directing Flash Gordon, has passed away at the age of 90. He had heart failure at his home in Dorset, England, on Saturday night.
Hodges was born in Bristol, England and originally studied to be an accountant, but ended up in the Royal Navy, spending two years on a minesweeper. He then served as a technician on the Associated British anthology series Armchair Theatre.
He then worked in Granada Television, where he shot documentaries in places like Vietnam and Detroit before moving to a show called Tempo, where he would profile people like Harold Pinter, Orsen Welles, Jean-Luc Godard, and Lee Strasberg.
After he started directing teleplays on the ITV Playhouse, this lead to him directing all-time great gangster movie Get Carter (1971), starring Michael Caine.
Get Carter was shot in around 45 days as Hodges was used to working quickly on TV shows. Sight and Sound magazine ranked it 16th in their list of the Top 100 British Movies. He then went on to director Pulp (1972), where he teamed up with Caine again, and The Terminal Man (1974), based on a Michael Crichton novel, starred George Segal.
In 1978 he was hired to direct The Omen II, only to be fired and replaced by Don Taylor only three weeks into shooting. He is listed as ‘uncredited’ on the IMDb for the movie.
He was then hired by producer Dino De Laurentis to direct Flash Gordon, after Nicholas Roeg dropped out due to “creative differences”. Speaking to The Guardian in 2020 about directing Flash Gordon, Hodges had this to say:
“I had no idea what I was going to do when I took over.
I think that’s part of the success of the film. It’s like a souffle. We managed to put all the right ingredients in, and it sort of rose in some mysterious way.”
Hodges asked De Laurentis why he chose him to direct Flash:
“I thought he’d say, ‘Hey, Mike, I liked Get Carter, I liked Terminal Man, [you’re a] great filmmaker. Instead, he said, ‘Hey, Mike, I liked your face.’”
He had a great career after that, directing music videos for Queen, and movies like Morons from Outer Space, The Croupier, Black Rainbow, and I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead.
RIP Mike Hodges, our thoughts are with your family and friends.
“I really want to take the audience by the hand and take them somewhere they haven’t been before.”
If you haven’t seen it already, Drunken Yoda made an excellent video about Flash Gordon: