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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Comedy > Writing > Mystery > Detective > Publishing > Gangster > Pulp (1972/MGM DVD)

Pulp (1972/MGM)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Film: C+



Mike Hodges is best-known of late in the U.S. for his 1980 cult version of Flash Gordon that was a moderate hit at the time, but no Star Wars as expected.  However, his original Get Carter got some recognition after the lame remake and his other cult film Pulp (1972) has finally arrived on DVD after years of being available in the U.K. and beyond.  The film is about Mickey King (Michael Caine, playing a character with a wacky variation on his name) who has spent years writing under all kinds of names cheap fiction.


He is so good at this that he has survived making a living at it, inspired by the money and freedom of it all.  Filled with sex and violence in the old way, he is living off of fiction that has just about peaked, which makes for an interesting contrast when a vicious old gangster (Mickey Rooney, in one of his few great roles) who works in films (or thinks he does) wants to hire him to ghost write his life story.


Unfortunately, the man and his world are still involved in “bad things” and some of them might affect Mickey.  Caine does extensive narration like a writer or one of his characters.  This might be too much for many, but it does make sense in context to the script Hodges has ambitiously concocted.  Fans of such writing are bound to enjoy this romp best and Caine is one of the only actors who could keep all this voice over interesting.  Lionel Stander is here (pre-Hart To Hart Max) in another gangster role like the kind he would get until the first Godfather changed everything and Lizabeth Scott is good as the closest thing this film has to a female lead.


There are some twists and turns that are meant to be ironic, sometimes working, sometimes not.  However, it works enough even today to understand its appeal, but it also shows its age in odd ways.  Either way, Hodges’s films are always distinctively different without being outrageously so and if you like his other work or anyone’s in the cast, you should see this at least one.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is obviously an older analog transfer of a likely letterboxed composite NTSC (or PAL?) digital master from a while ago.  The result is flatness in depth, detail, Video Black and composition not intended by the underrated cinematographer Ousama Rawi, whose work current on The Tudors is making that show a surprise hit.  Rawi also lensed underrated and interesting films like The Human Factor (Edward Dmytryk impressive thriller finally out on DVD too), Peter Hunt’s Gold, Don Siegel’s The Black Windmill (all 1974) and Zulu Dawn (1979).  John Glen’s editing is good too.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is a little better than the Mono version and is the preferred soundtrack, featuring a score by no less than George Martin a year before his amazing work on the James Bond film Live & Let Die (1973, reviewed elsewhere on this site) and is the Beatles producer often known as “the 5th Beatle”.  His score is a good one and makes the film even better.  There are no extras, but maybe a special edition for cult fans will surface one of these days.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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