Sunday, December 4, 2011

Blame it on Caine

Pulp (1972) is sort of the opposite of Get Carter (1971), the first movie that director Mike Hodges made with Michael Caine. Get Carter is a tense revenge thriller. Pulp, on the other hand, is a goofy romp.

Caine plays a pulp fiction writer who is living on Malta, possibly hiding out from an ex-wife. His internal monologue supplies the unreliable narrative. He is approached by gravel-voiced thug Lionel Stander to ghost-write an autobiography for an unnamed personage. Quick digression - We last saw Lionel Stander in If Only You Could Cook. He makes a great thug/stooge - definitely worth the price of admission.

Caine goes on a Magical Mystery Bus tour to meet his patron, only knowing that one of his fellow travelers would contact him. One does, but may not be the right one. Especially when he ends up dead. At the beginning of the movie, Caine's narration gives the body count, so you can start counting now. Of course, it is unreliable.

His contact turns out to be a cute backpacker, Nadia Cassini. And the subject of the autobiography he will be writing is a retired film star with mob connections, played by Mickey Rooney. It may be that some of those connections don't want this book published. Or maybe the trouble is coming from the fascist-lite politician Cippola, who never appears in the flesh, but his wife (Lizabeth Scott, last seen in Dead Reckoning) is one of Rooney's character's ex-wives. Anyway, someone is trying to stop the book - if that is the reason people are dying.

This is not a tightly plotted thriller - or comedy. It mostly makes sense, but just barely. Someone compared it to Beat the Devil, and there is indeed a Bogart and a Lorre imitator on hand to drive the point home. I hope everyone enjoyed making this. I enjoyed watching it.

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