A year after they d created one of the defining British gangster pictures with Get Carter, three Michaels writer-director Mike Hodges, producer Michael Klinger and star Michael Caine reunited for another crime picture, albeit with a more oddball flavor...
Caine plays Mickey King, a successful pulp novelist responsible for such titles as My Gun Is Long and The Organ Grinder, who is invited to ghost-write the autobiography of a mystery celebrity. His client turns out to be a former actor, played by Mickey Rooney, well-known for his gangster roles and real-life gangster connections but death is around the corner, and King finds his commission to be a lot more complicated than he first imagined.
A favourite of J.B. Ballard, Pulp has long existed in the shadow of its predecessor. Tonally, it could not be more different Get Carter never had the time for sight gags and one-liners but it s a real gem in its own right and fully deserving of a wider audience. This brand-new restoration from Arrow Films aims to right than wrong.
Arrow Video presents Mike Hodges’ Pulp on Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on a dual-layer disc. The new 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation is sourced from a new 2K restoration scanned a 35mm interpositive.
Though the film doesn’t go for a look I would exactly call “pretty,” laced with a lot of brown and beige-y tones, what Arrow has pulled off for this film (which has really fallen by the wayside) is impressive. On the whole it has a wonderful film-like texture to it, a nice grainy look that serves the film’s style. It’s rendered well a good majority of the time, but a handful of scenes, like one laced with steam, look noisier. Still, this leads to some incredibly sharp details in both long shots and closep-ups, at least when the source allows.
And despite the overall, fairly dirty look of the film colour saturation is still very good, colours looking clean and natural. Flesh tones are especially spot on. Black levels are pretty strong, though there is some limited shadow detail at times. The restoration has covered just about everything with only a few minor marks remaining. There is one sequence, a more action-packed one, where it looks like there may have been some dirt on the lens, but outside of that the image is very clean materials-wise.
Again, Arrow goes above and beyond what I would have expected for the film. This is again why it’s a blessing when people who love movies actually work on these releases.
Nothing really stands out with the lossless PCM 1.0 mono track, good or bad. It’s certainly not all that dynamic but dialogue is clear, the music sounds fine, and the same can be said for effects. It also doesn’t present any noticeable damage. Ultimately it’s fine.
I wouldn’t have expected much in all honesty but Arrow has gone out of their way to provide a handful of interviews, the lengthiest of which is an 18-minute interview with director Mike Hodges. Though Get Carter is notably his most known and popular film, Hodges admits that Pulp has a very special place in his heart and talks fondly of the experience here. He can talk in circles sometimes but generally Hodges covers the inspirations behind the film (the Italian elections at the time playing largely into this one) and issues they ran into while filming (they apparently had to leave Italy, their original shooting location, because of the mafia) before talking about cutting the trailer.
It’s a fine enough interview covering the making of the film but we also get short interviews with director of photography Ousama Rawi, editor John Glen, and Tony Klinger, son of producer Michael Klinger. Klinger talks a bit about how the film just didn’t reach audiences, probably because it didn’t have the same impact as Get Carter, while the other two talk about their respective duties. Rawi goes into the look of the film and recalls some of his favourite sequences, while Glen recounts how he was called in (while on vacation) to pretty much fix the film, which other editors were having problems with (he also points out some of its short-comings).
The disc then closes with a group of galleries, four of them, all of which are non-navigable and play on their own. We also get the theatrical trailer that Hodge talked about in his interview.
First printings also include one of Arrow’s excellent booklets. This one features a nice little essay on the film’s charms and quirks by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, which is then followed by another by Hodges, where he includes a reprint of a letter J.G. Ballard had written to him, expressing his fondness of Pulp, followed by Hodges getting into a bit more detail about the creative process for the film.
In the end it’s not a large special edition but honestly I wouldn’t have been surprised if Arrow just released a movie-only edition so getting anything for the film is a wonderful surprise in the end. And as a nice bonus all of the material is good.
A really strong edition for the film. Not jam-packed with material, so those looking to pick it up may want to wait for a sale, but Arrow give the film a sharp looking, film-like presentation and some interesting bonus material.