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The working titles of the film were Memoirs of a Ghost Writer and Scandal. Before the opening credits, the words, "A Typing Pool somewhere in the Mediterranean," appear as several typists taking dictation through headphones are shown listening to the voice of Michael Caine, who portrays "Mickey" and narrates the story. Caine's narration continues throughout the rest of the film. Most of the opening credits, including the title, which is repeated several times, appear onscreen, letter by letter, as if being typed. The opening credit of Nadia Cassini, who made her American feature film debut in Pulp, reads: "And introducing Nadia Cassini." Mike Hodges' opening credit reads: "Written and directed by."
Instead of stating "The End," the penultimate end card reads: "The Enf." A final card, which shows a picture of a printed funeral announcement with the initials RIP written at the bottom, thanks the government and people of Malta for their help and cooperation. The card also provides a production company credit for Three Michaels Productions and states that the funeral theme heard during the funeral procession sequence was played by a local band in Malta.
Although the film was ultimately shot in Malta, a September 1971 Variety news item reported that Italy was originally considered for the shooting location. The part of Mickey was written for Caine by Hodges and the film reunited Caine, Hodges and producer Michael Klinger, who had made the successful 1971 film Get Carter (see entry above) together. Pulp marked the final film of Lizabeth Scott, who had not appeared in feature films since the 1957 production Loving You (see entry above), starring Elvis Presley.
Robert Sacchi, who marked his second feature film and American feature film debut in Pulp, resembles actor Humphrey Bogart and portrayed Bogart and Bogart-like characters throughout his career. Sacchi's character is called "The Bogeyman" in the onscreen credits, a pun alluding to his resemblance to the actor, as well as the threat he represented. In Filmfacts and some other reviews, the character name is listed as "Jim Norman," although, in the viewed print, he is never referred to by either name. In a scene near the end of the film, there is a humorous reference to the The Maltese Falcon, the 1941 film that starred Bogart (see entry above).
Several characters, who are not referred to by name in the film, are given different names in reviews than in onscreen credits. Reviews stated that the death of the girl buried on the beach was the result of a gang rape, but in the film it is not made clear whether she had been a willing participant or was attacked against her will.
Although Filmfacts and sources in the film's file at the AMPAS Library list six actresses portraying celebrities from a previous era-Mae West, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow, Shirley Temple and Gloria Swanson-a sequence depicting those characters did not appear in the viewed print.
There are several references to fascism and Communism in Pulp, and in an interview in The Times (London), Hodge stated that his script was "actually about the new fascism in Italy." Although the film played briefly in Los Angeles in late 1972, according to Filmfacts, mixed reviews and poor box office returns prompted United Artists to cancel the New York opening. Pulp eventually opened in New York in 1973 for a one-week booking at a venue showcasing "lost" films.