PULP (1972)

Pulp - 1972 At the tail end of 2017, Arrow Video released a brand-new version of Pulp, Directed by Mike Hodges, and Starring Michael Caine, Mickey Rooney, and Lionel Stander. This new version has been digitally re-mastered and includes a number of complementary interviews about the film itself. Want to know more? If so, then please check it out today. It's only 95 minutes long and well worth the watch.

Pulp (Special Edition) - Out Now

For over thirty years Preston Gilbert (Mickey Rooney) has played a gangster on the silver screen. This included him playing such legendary figures as Bugsy Siegel and Al Capone, to name but a few, until he eventually decided to quit show business and live the rest of his life in Italy.

Now though, well, now he’s dead. Or to be more precise about it, murdered, shot through the heart by a lone gunman on the anniversary of his father’s death. What I want to know, however, is who would want to do such a thing? Kill him I mean! He was nothing more than a diminutive old actor, for crying out loud, way past his prime, and living with his elderly mother in a remote part of Italy

Perhaps his girlfriend is involved, Liz Adams (Nadia Cassini)? Or dare I say it, Ben Dinuccio (Lionel Stander), his second in command? On second thoughts, could it be someone connected to that American gentleman who was also murdered during my coach trip over here? What was his name again? Oh yes. Miller (Al Lettieri) I think it was.

Come on man, think! Use that brain of yours! I know you can do it. I know you can figure out who’s behind this mess! After all, you are Mickey King (Michael Caine), the elusive ghostwriter, and you were hired to write Preston's biography just before he bit the biscuit. But then again, that’s most probably why what next transpires begins when an author turns into a detective. As a gangster starts to frown; a suspect goes to town; an adjective morphs into a noun; and at the end of the day, a writer ultimately puts his pen down.

'Pulp' was made by the same creative team who were behind the now classic British gangster flick, 'Get Carter', with those people being Mike Hodges the director, Michael Caine the actor, and Michael Klinger the producer, otherwise known as the three Mike's. Having said that, though, please don’t expect more of the same with this film!  If anything, it tries its best to distance itself in both style and substance, doing so by establishing a pretext that poke’s fun out of the gangster genre, the literary elite, as well as the whole notion that what we see in the media isn’t always real, true, or to be taken at face value.

Pulp - Movie Poster
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to say that I didn’t like this film, or agree with what it was trying to accomplish. In fact, I liked it, I liked it a lot, but only once I managed to get past any previous misconceptions that 'Pulp' was similar to 'Carter', that's when I was able to really enjoy it for what it was, rather than what it wasn't. The jokes were funny, really funny, and the story was simple to follow, even though in places it did meander a bit. Plus, on top of that, everyone who starred did a pretty good job at playing their respective parts.

My own personal favorite would have to be the main man himself, Michael Caine, who played a frisky author who ends up getting himself into a situation that’s way beyond his control. Mickey Rooney and Lionel Stander are equally as enjoyable, and I did get a kick out of their cartoonish performances, with Mickey playing a not so tough guy actor, while Lionel played a pseudo-lieutenant who ate more than he punched. A notable mention should also go out to the three main principle female actors, namely, Cettina Borg Olivier, who was very funny as Gilbert's mumbling old mother; Lizabeth Scott, who was hilarious playing his sex-starved ex;  as well as Nadia Cassini, who has a lovely arse. 

Ironically enough, this point now brings me quite nicely onto the style of this film. A style, I hasten to add, that kind of reminded me of those placid-comedy’s made by Wes Anderson. From start to finish the screen was carefully painted with a brown and beige tone, judicially placed, which gave it a very artistic flair. Admittedly, just like the very nature of this story, this subtle nuance did take a little bit of time to get used to. But once I did, I was able to appreciate the effort, particularly when it was enhanced by well composed camera angles, dynamic framing, and panoramic views of a country that’s one half rustic, one half quaint. 

Pulp - Michael Caine and Mickey Rooney

Pulp - DVD Case
Anyway. That's enough of that for the time being. If I may, please allow me to take a side-step, review-wise, and divulge the following filmic facts: (1) This movie was first released in London on the same day Emily Robison from the 'Dixie Chicks' was born. It was on the 16th of August, 1972. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'Cloak' in Bulgaria; 'Step's to the Unknown' in Greece, and 'To See and Die in Malta', in Hungary. (3) While I'm on the subject of what this movie was called, originally it was given the working title, 'Memoirs of a Ghostwriter', but ultimately the name was dropped because of marketing purposes. (4) Mike Hodges was inspired to write the screenplay for this flick because of George Raft, the Hollywood actor who thought he was a gangster; Mickey Spillane, the American author who lived in his work; as well as a murder conspiracy involving members of a Roman political party. (5) Contrary to what we see on the screen, the majority of this movie was shot on location throughout the Mediterranean island of Malta. (6) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, states: 'Write it. Live it. But try not to be it'. (7) Unfortunately this was the last time Lizabeth Scott would ever appear on the silver screen. Despite her obvious beauty she didn't like the way she looked, so she quickly retired from the business nigh on straight away. (8) After this picture got a tan, Michael Caine co-starred with Laurence Olivier in the now classic murder-mystery, 'Sleuth'; Mickey Rooney made a guest appearance on the American TV Show, 'Night Gallery'; and Lionel Stander starred in the spaghetti-western, 'Hallelujah to Vera Cruz'.

Pulp -  Michael Caine and Lionel Stander

In closing I would just like to mention two notable flaws I found with 'Pulp'. Firstly, the overall adventure didn't have any real edge to it, tonally at least, and despite the story being well acted and well staged, unfortunately it wasn’t very memorable in terms of a stand-out scene you may be able to recollect afterwards. And secondly, it took some time for the main brunt of the story to finally take off, and I felt that the unveiling of Mickey Rooney’s character took too long in the making. Apart from that though, all in all this was a pretty decent film and well worth the watch, especially if you’re a fan of Michael Caine, Mickey Rooney, silly humor, stories about delusional authors, and artistic pieces which have something to say.


PULP (1972) PULP (1972) Reviewed by David Andrews on January 03, 2018 Rating: 5

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