The Curator of Schlock #345 by Jeff Shuster


Another Michael Caine turd—I mean gem!

Edwige and I made it out that house of horror and into the cold, bitter wilderness. Some nights it went as low as 64 degrees. Cold and hungry with nowhere to turn, I stuck my thumb out, hoping for someone to pick us up. Then a burly man with a bushy beard called Tiny Todd pulled up with his refrigerator truck or “reefer” as they call it in the trucking business. Tiny Todd took pity on Edwige and I, buying us meals at the finest road stops and showing me the ropes of being a trucker. You believe me, don’t you?

This week’s Arrow Home Video release is 1972’s Pulp from director Mike Hodges. It stars Michael Caine as Mickey King, a writer of hardboiled detective fiction that dictates hundreds of novels a year to be transcribed by a team of hot and bothered typists because his writing is just that intense. Mickey gets offered a large sum of money to ghostwrite an autobiography for an unknown celebrity. We’re assured by the VoiceOver that this will result in many deaths, most likely tied to the Italian mafia. The movie takes place Italy which I forgot to mention, but I mention it now so that’s okay.

The mysterious celebrity turns out to be Preston Gilbert, a Hollywood actor famous for playing gangsters. Preston Gilbert is played by none other than Mickey Rooney. If you ever wanted to see Mickey Rooney flexing in front of a mirror wearing nothing, but briefs than this is the movie for you. Seriously, that is something that I never needed to see. And Mickey Rooney is particularly obnoxious in this movie like when he poses as a waiter at his own birthday dinner and spills wine and spaghetti all over an unsuspecting couple. Stupid. So Mickey Rooney can’t die fast enough, but he eventually catches an assassin’s bullet. I think the actor had actual mob connections and was going to expose them in the biography Caine’s character was about to ghostwrite. I don’t know.

I have to wonder if the people behind this particular production were snorting blow. This has to be the most incoherent and unfunny production I’ve seen since 1967’s Casino Royale. This is one of those movies where there’s a disconnect between the sense of humor of the writers of the time and me, a paragon of a modern man living in the 21st century. In others words, this comedy isn’t funny.

For instance, there’s a joke about some literary agent that can’t control his bladder so he gives a sincere plea to heaven that the restroom door will become unstuck. In actuality, the door isn’t stuck, but locked as Michael Caine is inside making it with the man’s secretary.

For those Pulp fans out there, the Arrow Blu-ray is about as good as it’s going to get. You get a few special features like an interview with director Mike Hodges. Apparently, this was the movie he made right after Get Carter. Hopefully, next week’s Arrow grab bag selection will yield better results. See you next time.

Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444, and episode 450) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.