Cyril Kinnear is the secondary antagonist of the 1971 British crime-thriller film Get Carter.
He is a crime boss with influence throughout Newcastle, he is the employer of Eric Paice, Jack Carter's rival and nemesis. For this reason, he has less screentime than Paice and takes a more indirect role in the events of the film.
He was portrayed by playwright John Osborne.
One of the most powerful crime lords in Newcastle, Cyril Kinnear has interests all over the city, drawing substantial profits from softcore gambling and hardcore pornography. He also has connections with London gangsters Sid and Gerald Fletcher, the bosses of Jack Carter.
It is revealed that his profitable interests in amusement arcades and black-market pornography eventually led to the death of Carter's brother, Frank. Some time prior to the events of the film, Kinnear's chauffeur and right-hand man Eric Paice helped secure girls for the porn films he commissioned: one of the girls he "pulled" was Frank's daughter, Doreen, heavily implied to be an unwilling participant in the film. It's suggested that Eric chose her as an act of petty revenge against his rival, Jack Carter (Doreen being implied to be Carter's illegitimate daughter, secretly raised as his niece).
However, a local businessman by the name of Cliff Brumby discovered the film. The owner of countless amusement arcades throughout Newcastle, Brumby was facing financial ruin thanks to Kinnear's aggressive takeovers, and showed the film to Frank in the hope that he'd take it to the police and have the crime lord arrested. Instead, Frank flew into a rage and attempted to confront the porn directors. Under orders from Kinnear, Eric and two other men captured Frank, forcing an entire bottle of whiskey down his throat before putting him in a car and sending it on a fatal crash - passing off the death as a simple drink-driving accident.
However, Jack Carter correctly suspects that the accident was a murder, prompting the events of the film. Under the guise of attending the funeral, he travels from London to Newcastle to investigate further. After trying and failing to make contact with one of his old associates, Albert Swift (secretly one of the participants of the porn film), he eventually meets up with Eric Paice and follows him back to Kinnear's country house. Evading the guards and breaking in, he and the crime lord enjoy a relatively civil meeting, during which Carter is served a drink by Kinnear's girlfriend Glenda (another of the porn actors), while Kinnear himself wins decisively at poker with other crime bosses. Despite the gangster's affability, Eric later informs Carter that Kinnear did not take to kindly to the intrusion, and warns him to keep away.
After being attacked several times by Kinnear's henchmen over the next few days, Carter is rescued from another encounter by Glenda, who delivers him to Brumby. Over the course of their meeting, the businessman explains Kinnear's role in Frank's death - carefully omitting the reason why - and offers Carter £50000 to assassinate him, which Carter refuses. Afterwards, Glenda takes Carter back to her flat for sex, where he unexpectedly discovers the film: enraged, he almost drowns Glenda in the bath before forcing her into the boot of her car at gunpoint (where she remains until Eric and his henchmen shove it into the river).
Over the course of the next few hours, Carter takes brutal revenge on Frank's murderers and the participants of the film: stabbing Albert Swift in the stomach and leaving him to bleed out, Carter then beats Brumby into unconsciousness and throws him off the roof of a multi-story carpark. Then, he turns his attention to Kinnear.
First, Carter posts the porn film to the Vice Squad at London. Then, shortly after capturing Margaret (Frank's ex-mistress and another one of the film's participants), he phones Kinnear during a wild party at his house, claiming to have the film and enough evidence to put the crime lord behind bars for a long time. In exchange for his silence, Carter asks that Kinnear send Eric to him at six o'clock the following morning; Kinnear agrees to send Eric to his death, but as a precaution, he also phones a hitman named 'J' (earlier seen following Jack on the train from London to Newcastle) and orders him to dispose of Carter.
During the night, Carter gives Margaret a fatal overdose of heroin, leaving her to die in a pond on Kinnear's property. Next morning, he makes a call to the police, inciting a raid on the country house: with an overdosed corpse discovered on the grounds and a large quantity of drugs found in the aftermath of the party, Kinnear is immediately arrested; combined with the film sent to the Vice Squad, Kinnear will likely be serving a lengthy prison sentence for drug and pornography-related offenses.
However, the hit put out on Carter remains intact: shortly after exacting his revenge on Eric, Carter is shot dead by the assassin.
- John Osborne had never played poker before, and practiced it extensively in preparation for his introductory scene.
- In sharp contrast to the novel's version of Kinnear, Osborne portrayed the crime boss as urbane and soft-spoken; indeed, his performance was so quiet and understated that the sound recorders struggled to pick it up.