In East Los

Downtown L.A. as Seen from East Los Angeles

Today, I drove Martine to her ophthalmologist in East Los Angeles. As she is on MediCal, her doctors are not always conveniently located. I don’t mind, however, partly because I find East L.A. (colloquially: East Los) to be a fascinating neighborhood. And the Adventist Health Care Center on Cesar Chavez Avenue seems to be well run. (It is a far cry from the Budapest Hospital I visited in 1977, where patients and staff smoked incessantly and dogs roamed the corridors.)

First I took Martine out for lunch at Philippe’s French Dip Sandwiches on Alameda, just at the fringe of Chinatown. The place has been in business since 1908 and is still very much a going concern. In fact, we had to wait in a 30-minute line to place our order. But my beef stew and Martine’s French dip beef sandwich were both winners.

It turned out to be a hot afternoon: 93º Fahrenheit, 34º Celsius. I set in the Adventist Health Center’s ground floor waiting room, enjoying the air conditioning while waiting for Martine’s tests to be performed. In the meantime, I read Ted Lewis’s British noir classic Jack’s Return Home, on which the 1971 film by Mike Hodges called Get Carter was based.

Favorite Films: Get Carter (1971)

Production Still of Michael Caine Killing the Man Responsible for His Brother’s Death

I am rather new to Get Carter, which I saw for the first time last year. It is a tale of revenge by a London mobster on the Newcastle hoods who killed his brother and cast his teenage niece in a pornographic film. Once Caine has seen the film, he goes on a killing spree of unabated fury and brutality against the Newcastle mob. There was a remake shot in 2000, but the Michael Caine film directed by Mike Hodges is the version to see.

Interestingly, the role of Newcastle mob boss, Cyril Kinnear, is acted by playwright John Osborne of Angry Young Men fame (Look Back in Anger, The Entertainer, the screenplay for Tom Jones).

Particularly gruesome were the murders of two women who worked with Kinnear. Caine sleeps with one of them, locks her in the trunk of a sports car, and essentially shrugs his shoulders when his adversaries push the car into the harbor. Another one, who recruited the niece for the porno film, was told to strip, injected with drugs, and pushed into a pond. Caine left a trail of her clothes for police to follow to point to the location of her body.

This is a fairly violent picture, but it is well made and definitely worth seeing.