Pulp

  • 1972
  • Movie
  • PG
  • Comedy, Crime

An underrated crime satire made with obvious love for all the old movies, PULP is filled with cinema inside jokes and will surely be appreciated more by someone who has a knowledge of film. Hack writer Caine publishes books under various names because no publisher would buy such a prodigious output if he knew the work was coming from one mind. A former...read more

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An underrated crime satire made with obvious love for all the old movies, PULP is filled with cinema inside jokes and will surely be appreciated more by someone who has a knowledge of film. Hack writer Caine publishes books under various names because no publisher would buy such a

prodigious output if he knew the work was coming from one mind. A former funeral director, Caine now lives in Rome, having abandoned his family, and spends every waking hour pounding out cheap detective novels. Stander appears and asks Caine if he would be willing to ghostwrite the autobiography

of a mysterious celebrity. Stander is a gangster type, but Caine is a prostitute when it comes to his work, so he agrees to take the job when the offer is for far more than he usually gets. The means by which Caine is to make contact with his subject is equally mysterious, and he gets aboard a

tourist bus, meets Lettieri, and supposes that he is the man who will take him to the person he is to write about. But Lettieri is drowned in a hotel bathtub and his body suddenly vanishes. Enter Cassini, a sweet-looking babe who takes Caine to a remote island to meet Rooney, who is a onetime

movie star noted for playing gangsters and also famed for his real-life friendship with crooks (and if you see a parallel between this character and George Raft's life, that appears to have been intended). When Rooney learns that Lettieri is dead, he sighs happily, as it may have been that

Lettieri was tailing Caine to find Rooney. It turns out that Rooney has terminal cancer and wants to get his memories down on paper before being claimed by the Grim Reaper. For the next reel or so Rooney tells Caine the story of his rise to fame, his pals, his loves, etc., as Caine dutifully takes

notes. Rooney is getting to the good parts of the story when they decide to take a break and go ashore, where Rooney tosses an annual bash in honor of his late father. Rooney's ex-wife is Scott, who is now married to an Italian prince, Mercieca, a reformer running for office on a conservative

platform that decries violence and the coddling of criminals. Caine takes up with Scott at the party, and they enjoy talking with each other until gunshots shatter the laughter and tinkling of glasses. Rooney is shot by an assassin wearing the garb of a priest. It would seem that this puts an end

to Caine's labors, but he is dogged and wants to finish the story, so he continues his investigation and learns that Rooney, Lettieri, and Mercieca had been friends some years ago, and, while out on a hunting expedition, they met a young woman, raped her, and killed her. All three had this

blackmail information on the others, and all feared that one of the others would crack. Caine goes out looking for the dead woman's grave on a lonely strip of shore, and a rifle bullet smashes into his leg. He's hurt but he manages to get to his vehicle and race after the sniper. The ambusher is

run over by the ambushee, and when Caine sees that it's a priest, it doesn't make sense. Upon closer inspection, he notes that it's Lettieri, who had faked his own drowning death (a la DIABOLIQUE) in the bathtub. When Caine goes to Scott's house to rest his weary leg and allow the bullet wound to

heal, the solution comes to him. It must be that Lettieri and Mercieca conspired to kill Rooney, as the publication of Rooney's memoirs would have put an end to Mercieca's political aspirations. Caine is now determined to write the truth, but a bent secret agent tells Caine that his life will be

over if he writes anything that will put Mercieca in jeopardy. Caine sighs, knowing on which side his royalties are buttered, and turns the whole story into fiction and hopes that, perhaps, this one will put him into the ranks of Robert Ludlum. The film has lots of laughs; some excellent dialog

with sharp observations; superb photography of the Italian and Maltese locations (the only thing missing is the Falcon); outrageous situations (such as when a group of legitimate Italian priests have to line up for identification by the guests); the inspired casting of Stander and Scott (who

played the hood and the moll in so many pictures before); and the short, but wonderful performance of Rooney as Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney, Raft, Muni, and himself. This picture was not a hit when it came out but will probably take its place as a cult classic next to BEAT THE DEVIL and other

delicious satires. Hodges, Caine, and Klinger (Michaels all) had previously collaborated on GET CARTER, a more straightforward detective picture. Hodges went downhill in his next picture, the all-chrome and no-heart THE TERMINAL MAN.

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  • Released: 1972
  • Rating: PG
  • Review: An underrated crime satire made with obvious love for all the old movies, PULP is filled with cinema inside jokes and will surely be appreciated more by someone who has a knowledge of film. Hack writer Caine publishes books under various names because no p… (more)

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