Pulp

Pulp
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Write it. Live it. But try not to be it.
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6.6/10 by 7 users
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A seedy writer of sleazy pulp novels is recruited by a quirky, reclusive ex-actor to help him write his biography at his house in Malta.

Title:Pulp
Release Date:November 1, 1972
Runtime:
Genres:Comedy, Crime, Drama, Foreign, Mystery, Thriller
Production Co.:Three Michaels Film Productions
Director:Mike Hodges
Writers:
Casts:, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Plot Keywords:funeral, clairvoyance, suspense, author, writer

Pulp Reviews

  • An unregarded gem.
    by (j.pasteur@btinternet.com) on 13 February 2003

    35 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

    "Can you walk a little faster?" said the whiting to the snail. "There's a porpoise right behind me, and he's treading on my tail..."

    Michael Caine had a pretty good year in 1972. GET CARTER was one of his best-ever films, but he was also nominated, along with Laurence Olivier, for an Academy Award for his rôle in the film adaptation of Anthony Shaffer's stage play SLEUTH (neither of them got it, though - that year it went to Marlon Brando in THE GODFATHER).

    More an off-beat comedy than a drama, PULP is a nice little blend of Alfie and Harry Palmer, and is a sadly unregarded gem that has nevertheless become a bit of a cult film loaded with many inside jokes. The 'three Michaels' - Mike Hodges, Michael Caine and Mike Klinger - may not have hit similar paydirt as with their GET CARTER, but the sheer knowing coolness of pulp writer Mickey King's (Caine) Chandleresque voiceover dialogue is carried off with caustic wit, panache and style ("The day started quietly enough, then I got up."); in fact, there are four Michaels if one adds Mickey Rooney - and a fifth if one includes the main character, Mickey King. Fearing possible stereotyping as a Hard Man, PULP was intended to be the opposite of Caine's hard-hitting Jack Carter character: affecting the relaxed raffish air of the self-satisfied ex-pat (he left London and his lucrative job as a funeral-director, and elbowed the wife and three kids), Mickey King glides about the Mediterranean in a dapper white corduroy suit, churning out cheap gangster fiction paperbacks under ludicrous aliases (Guy Strange, Gary Rough, Dan Wilde, Les Behan, newly-discovered Indian writer Dr. O.R. Gann, and struggling Nigerian author S. Ódomi) and hard-boiled titles (Kill Me Gently, The Kneetrembler and My Gun Is Long). In fact, his voiceover dialogue of heroic action is the opposite of his real-life reaction when confronted with dangerous situations - starting with a succession of taxis completely ignoring his hails!

    Neatly filmed on Malta, G.C., the film is an odd joy from beginning to end, with little pastiches that are hommages to John Huston (the FBI agent who appears to be Bogart enquiring from whom appears to be Peter Lorre after what turns out to be a Maltese falcon ...) and wonderful quirky characters. King's publisher, Markovic, is "a Greco-Albanian born in Budapest" with a bladder problem. Obviously vegetarian, the Mysterious Englishman, Mr. Balmoral (Dennis Price), is reading Alice In Wonderland for the 118th time, and so well able to insult steak-eatin' folks from steak-lovin' Texas from it; could he be part of the developing mystery? Lionel Stander puts in a nice turn as a laid-back, ageing wiseguy ("His name was Ben Dinuccio. It was the nicest thing about him."). Starting at the Temples of Zonq, leggy Nadia Cassini (Liz Adams) shows why hotpants were - and still are! - great [Cassini went on to become a 1970s and 1980s starlet in Italian erotica and Trash flics]. Swarthy and moustachioed, Al Lettieri (Ben Miller) plays ... well, Al Lettieri, the stereotyped rôle he can never get away from: the 'heavy' - as he did in The Getaway and Mr. Majestyk - who dons the priest's garb and eventually meets with an undignified (for a heavy, that is) end. One of Gilbert's ex-wives, sexy-voiced Lizabeth Scott (Princess Betty Cippola) shmoozes suggestion as she knows The Establishment are really In Control of events (she calls her husband Dago).

    But the real treat is Mickey Rooney as the faded film star, Preston Gilbert, ejected from Hollywood for his Mob associations. In a villa on a private island, with his deaf mother, companion Liz and his PR-man Dinuccio, semi-reclusive Gilbert lives the life of the wealthy idler reliving past glories by playing old 78s and corny soundbites from his Cagneyesque old gangster films, and inflicting practical jokes on unsuspecting tourists. Delightfully hamming it up, his poncing around in his skivvies [I creased-up at the double-mirror bit] and applying his toupée is a marvellous send-up of himself! With the Big Sleep approachin' Gilbert hires King to ghostwrite his lifestory plus a few revelations - "a death-rattle in paperpack, eh?" according to a sceptical King. Preston insists the book come with an opening quote from Samuel Goldwyn, "We all passed a lot of water since then."

    Hodge's cutaway scenes show a nice eye for detail. Elections are due, so throughout there are street marches by elderly and not-very-impressive hangers-on of the New Front party of creepy law-and-order politician Prince Frank Cippola - a comment on then-topical real-life Prince Borghese and the quasi-establishment, certainly neo-Fascist, Spada movement. "The wizard ringing in," the dignified pain of ashamed former Partisan Signor Lepri, and the "retired gunman who drew too late - twice" supping cola at the 42nd Street Bar (King sits under a plaque saying Ave Maria) add to the quirky mystery.

    Poignant are the closing scenes. Whilst King feverishly hammers out the imagined ending to his own ordeal (in which he re-uses passages from previous novels), Cippola's shooting-party have hounded a wild boar toward his shooting platform (in a scene that would be unacceptable today). Trapped, the wretched beast has nowhere to go. Safe from the boar's frantic attempts to charge the wire, it's an easy shot, no real competition. Having bagged his kill, unassailable aristocrat Cippola raises a glass of champagne to the camera. "I'll get you, you bastards ..." wails King, unable to scratch an itch ...

    Yup, a gem.

  • A Comedy Treat
    by ms015g6428 on 19 April 2005

    23 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

    This film confounded those who were expecting a performance from Caine that echoed the 'hard man of few words' character which he mastered in Get Carter only one year before Pulp. Some saw it as playing his recent success for laughs, but when viewed separate from Get Carter, the jokes still stand up. The sense of farce builds and the sinister setting and plot twists move the story along without breaking the essential flow. Much of the comedy comes from well delivered one liners parodying the pulp novelist, so often seen today but done well for the first time in this film, but the understated "black slapstick" and the stoic character portrayed by Caine have much comedic value. The main reason this film is little known now is that it never quite fit into a genre very well. The only advice I can offer is to watch the film without Caine preconceptions and let the laughs come.

  • A quirky movie which deserves a wider audience.
    by david-697 on 5 September 2004

    22 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

    While Hodges and Caine's 'Get Carter' has long since become a classic movie, it's follow up, 'Pulp' has been largely forgotten about. This is a shame, as, on it's on its own terms, and 'Pulp' is as rich a film. Like the previous movie, 'Pulp' is influenced by such noir writers as Chandler, Hammett and MacDonald (all three are referenced during the film), however, the big difference lies is the amount of comedy used. The first half is full of comic moments and (even though it does turn darker) comedy is ever-present.

    Most obviously, it's in the way the movie parodies such clichés as voice overs (people who complain of it's over use are, I think, missing the point, as the tension between King's voice over and the actual events help give the movie it's kick).

    Michael Caine's 'Micky King', is light-years away from his role as the vengeful 'Jack Carter', slightly pathetic, constantly trying to keep up with the plot, is an enjoyable performance, as is Mickey Rooney's over the hill movie star.

    The 'Loaded' generation who took 'Carter' into their hearts are never, ever going to understand this movie, but in its own quirky way, it's up there with such key 'seventies movies as 'The Long Goodbye' or 'Chinatown'.

  • Memories of the film being made
    by Marie Richaud on 3 September 2008

    15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

    I was an extra in this film.. We had an hilarious time in Malta and the whole cast was great fun.. (I'm the blonde girl - tallest of them all - in the scene when they check in at the hotel..

    The whole film team was living at a hotel called the PRELUNA in Malta - fantastic place still. and someone managed to use a euro-plug in the British style sockets and short-circuited the whole hotel.. Everyone pretended not to know who!!

    The plot is weak but Rooney was great and Michael Caine is and will always be just Michael Caine.. He is good.. It's a pity you can't see this film on TV any more.. I have a real OLD video copy,.,,

  • Cult Classic
    by ...and I'd have gotten away with too, if it hadn't been for you on 10 June 2000

    13 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

    Pulp is Michael Caine/ Mike Hodges' BEAT THE DEVIL. In that film, Huston and Bogart re-teamed to satirise the films that had made their names and to have some fun at the same time. In PULP, the two Mikes do the same thing.

    In its own way, it's as good as Get Carter. Just don't go into it thinking you're going to get the same sort of thing. Mike Hodges looks on it as the flip side to Carter and he's right. In the first film, Caine was as hard as nails. In this, he's as camp as christmas. In his Safari suits and cigarette holder he is clearly Jarvis Cocker's role model.

    It's not for everyone. It's not for those that demand their films take themeselves seriously. It's a rather silly film, but it knows this and plays this quality up. Quite rare, but good fun.

  • Brilliant Film
    by ninfilms on 31 December 2005

    10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

    After making the greatest gangster film Get Carter, it was probably was going to be hard for Mike Hodges and the team behind Get Carter, to accomplished a film better than Get Carter.

    Wisely Hodges decided to make a film that wasn't gangster flick. Pulp is a quirky eccentric film. Caine is great as the pulp writer, along with Mickey Rooney as an ex actor. One things I like to mention is the music by George Martin, producer of all the brilliant Beatles songs, creates a memorable soundtrack.

    Pulp remained me of Hodges later film Croupier which deals with a struggling writer, I would recommend Pulp to anyone whose a Mike Hodges fan.

  • Enterprising mix of thrills, intrigue and black comedy
    by Peter Hayes on 4 September 2003

    12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

    A pulp novelist (Michael Caine) goes to Italy to ghost the autobiography of an old time Hollywood film gangster (Mickey Rooney), but maybe not everyone wants to see the book written?

    One of these films that was under regarded upon release, but has more going for it than you might imagine. The real Italian locations and Caine's dry understated voice-over play well against the gags and situations. Rooney sends himself up something rotten as a George Raft style figure; and we keep on watching wanting to know how it all turns out.

    While far short of a classic, I got dragged in and was very well entertained during its 90 minutes. However it's slow nature and lack of pyrotechnics might alienate the modern audience. Worth giving a go with if it is playing on late night TV, especially if you like a bit of black humour.

  • I like it better than GET CARTER and here is why
    by jacegaffney on 1 January 2011

    6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

    Mike Hodges' GET CARTER (1971) is, supposedly, a realistic gangster flick about a hit man, played by Michael Caine, who murders without demur and, indiscriminately, screws every bird in sight; yet, wells up at the thought that - is it his niece? - has been snatched up by a porno-movie ring. He systematically knocks off mob kingpins and we are invited to watch him do it - with cold-blooded relish.

    PULP is gangster related too, but pure Lewis Carroll in narrative plausibility; nevertheless, Caine's Mickey King is amusingly credible in the manner in which he drinks in the dream world that happens to him.

    PULP pulls off something that few films (including SUNSET BLVD., with the marvelous William Holden) are able to do. It makes an author its central character and you believe, from start to finish, that he is, in fact, a man of curiosity and invention, who makes his living by the employment of words.

    Among Hodges' other films, CROUPIER (1998) is closer to PULP than GET CARTER is because its protagonist's literary pretensions resemble King's habit of describing a shady milieu which operates in moral twilight. Both pictures suffer from direction too tightly melded to intriguing fictional conceits. However, the phlegmatic understatement of Caine's voice-over commentary (written by Hodges) is maintained impressively, the Malta locations and surprising russet colors - not to mention the freak-show supporting cast of Mickey Rooney, Lionel Stander, Lizabeth Scott, Dennis Price, Nadia Cassini's mile-long legs and, Bogart look-a-like, Robert Sacchi make it a must for connoisseurs of the truly offbeat.

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  • A nice easy going comedy.
    by Vincent on 1 November 2007

    4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

    This starts of with quite a few good laughs some visual, some slapstick and a few situation based but gets a little more serious as it progresses.

    The acting is good with Rooney as the slightly mad client being especially good and Caine is his usual self in the lead.

    The one liners are delivered well and the occasional difference between what is narrated and what is acted out is amusing.

    The plot is a little thin and when it gets serious it doesn't do it too well.

    It's a watchable film with no bad bits and a few good ones but it's nothing special.

  • Caine puts on a clinic
    by A_Different_Drummer on 9 April 2015

    3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

    For many IMDb members, the 70s may just as well be the 1870s, the disconnect is so large.

    Comedy? No it isn't.

    It was a 70s movie with hints of satire but not a comedy. There are no punchlines. There are no pauses for laughs.

    Caine at his peak shows how pleasant surroundings and a tight voice-over can engage the audience to a degree we seldom see today.

    This is pure entertainment. Ferris Bueller eat your heart out.

    One lead actor (Caine) one supporting actor (Rooney) and a bunch of people you never heard of.

    And it works.

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