Pulp (1972 film)

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original film poster
Directed by Mike Hodges
Produced by Michael Klinger
Written by Mike Hodges
Starring Michael Caine
Mickey Rooney
Lionel Stander
Lizabeth Scott
Music by George Martin
Cinematography Ousama Rawi
Edited by John Glen
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • 1972 (1972)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United Kingdom

Pulp is a 1972 British comedy thriller film, directed by Mike Hodges and starring Michael Caine as Mickey King, a writer of cheap paperback detective novels. The film features the final screen appearance of Lizabeth Scott.


King lives in Rome churning out a string of violent, sexually charged hardboiled novels with titles like My Gun Is Long under an array of pen names like "S. Odomy".

King is offered an abnormally large sum to ghostwrite the autobiography of a mystery celebrity. The intrigued King agrees and is transported to a remote island (Malta, where Pulp was shot), during which time he will make contact with a representative for the celebrity. King meets a man named Miller (Al Lettieri), who identifies himself as an English professor. King assumes Miller is the mysterious contact -- until discovering Miller dead in his bathtub after a hotel room mix-up.

Finally arriving on the island, King meets his subject: Preston Gilbert (Mickey Rooney). A retired movie star, Gilbert is known for portraying gangsters and notorious for hanging out with real-life mobsters off the set (à la actors George Raft and Frank Sinatra). Now suffering from cancer, the pompous, vain Gilbert wants King to immortalize his life story before he dies.

Gilbert is planning a fancy birthday celebration. Among the attendees is Princess Betty Cippola (Lizabeth Scott), a man-hungry social climber who seems to have a sordid history with Gilbert. However, after the party is underway and Gilbert has staged a practical joke, Miller returns, now dressed as a Catholic priest. Sensing danger, King flees as Miller opens fire, killing Gilbert. The partygoers assume it's another prank, and applaud as Gilbert dies.

Gilbert's death leaves King with no conclusion to his tale. Playing detective like the heroes of his stories, King pieces together the mystery. He learns that Gilbert's proposed autobiography has alarmed several of the actor's erstwhile associates, who worry their schemes and crimes might be exposed. As in many "noir" type films, it's about the journey, not the ending.


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