Blu-ray Review: Pulp

Strange to think there’s a generation that only know Michael Caine as Alfred the Butler. But in the late ’60s and ’70s, Caine was a badass without having to be the domestic help to an avenging guy in a mask. In 1971, he teamed up with director Mike Hedges to make Get Carter. This was an intense cinematic experience as Caine played a gangster returning home for revenge. The movie was a smash and the actor and director immediately teamed up for another film. But instead of another gritty crime drama, they went to Italy for a little light comedy and a few gun shots.

Mickey King (Caine) is the author of dozens of cheap pulp novels full of gangsters, violence and carnality. He’s not a writer since he dictates his books and lets others type them up. He can crank out more books this way. The pay isn’t great and doesn’t get to use his real name on the covers. But it allows him to live in Italy. One day he gets an unexpected offer by Ben Dinuccio (Lionel Stander) to ghostwrite an autobiography by a dying mobster. They want King because the mobster thinks he understands the world. King goes along with the offer to meet the mysterious man. He goes on a journey down to Malta which quickly lets him know this is a dangerous venture as his connection turns up dead in a bathroom. Who is the mobster waiting for him? Will this be his last book?

Pulp is one of the few movies where the voiceover is natural instead of a way to save a floundering film. This is how King would tell his story of this big job since he wouldn’t be typing his words. Caine is pure Caine with the glib approach to life and his awkward smooth charms. This is the man who doesn’t wait on small rich kids. Mickey Rooney’s unexpected role is hilarious. He nearly steals the film including appearing in just a pair of underwear in a bedroom scene. Hodges and Caine made a fine second film to pair with Get Carter without repeating characters or tone. Pulp is a fine hard boiled adventure in a sunny climate.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The image brings out the glow found in Malta. You can get lost in the clearness of Michael Caine’s glasses. The audio is LPCM 2.0 Mono. The mix works well for the dialogue and Caine’s voiceover of the action. The movie is subtitled.

Interview with Mike Hodges (17:36) lets him remember how he wanted to work with Caine and wanted to work with his own script. He goes into the events that inspired Pulp including the fascists being elected into power in Italy. He recounts how Jarvis Cocker of the band Pulp swears he’d never seen the film even though he looks like King with the glasses.

Interview with Ousama Rawi (9:15) sits down with the director of photography. He had shot commercials for Hodges so they had a history. Rawi recently was DP for both The Tudors and Borgias.

Interview with John Glen (4:59) allows him to recount coming in during post production and re-editing the film at the last minute. A coal miner strike made things rather iffy when it came to electricity in the editing room. Glen would play a major role in the James Bond films including directing five (Octopussy).

Interview with Tony Klinger (6:07) is the son of producer Michael Klinger. He explains how his father teamed up for Pulp with Caine and Hodges after their success with Get Carter. He points out that the film never found an audience when it was released, but has maintained a cult.

Galleries contains artwork, promotional photos and location shots.

Theatrical Trailer (2:04) has Lionel Stander (Hart to Hart) address the audience directly to come see Pulp. It does also feature Mickey Rooney in his underwear.

Arrow Video presents Pulp. Directed by: Mike Hodges. Written by: Mike Hodges. Starring: Michael Caine, Mickey Rooney, Lionel Stander, Lizabeth Scott, Al Lettieri. Rated: PG. Running Time: 94 minutes. Released: December 12, 2017.

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