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Pulp (1972) March 29, 2012

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1970s, Movies.
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The idea of Michael Caine as a jaded hack writer of pulp detective fiction getting mixed up in murders related to his ghosting an autobio of ex-Hollywood actor/mobster Mickey Rooney sounded intriguing, but this movie was very hit-and-miss.

One of the problems with the movie is that much of the dark humor falls flat due to its total joylessness – clearly the silliness of the story and the continuing sense of irreverence make the movie a comedy, but when none of the characters ever acknowledge the humor, or even consider themselves funny (I don’t think Caine smiles until at least an hour into the film), it all just felt as dead as the bodies that slowly piled up. Rooney stands out in the film for his manic energy, it was interesting to see Al “Salozzo” Lettieri in a different movie, Lisbeth Scott gives a creepy final film performance, and Nadia Cassini is babeoriffic. But overall, I kept thinking of how this formula (really started, I suppose, with John Huston’s Beat The Devil) has been improved upon over the years, even by its director Mike Hodges, who went on to make the terrific 1998 film Croupier as well as one of the best “old-school” comic book movies ever, 1980s’ Flash Gordon (a must see item!). But if you see Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, you’ll get the action/plot and humorous tone this movie paved the way for, only with the ante upped considerably.

So, only a marginal recommendation. I was hoping to like this a lot more than I did.

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