After reading @wastelandJD's Pulp Mindset, I got to thinking about two longtime favorite movies of mine, and and what does and doesn't constitute a pulp story: Walter Hill's Streets of Fire, and John Carpenter's Escape From New York.


1/9 ImageImage
Both movies feature a similar basic plot: Important person disappears into impenetrable place. One bad dude must go in and rescue them. This makes them an ideal case study for what Cowan says does and does not make a pulp story. And FWIW, I think he's right.

One on major difference is setting. Pulps were always deliberately vague, creating a sense of wonder by only hinting at the larger world. Streets of Fire opens by telling us it's "Another time, another place," and then showing us a world with a mashed up 50's/80's aesthetic.

You never know exactly when or where this movie is taking place, except that it's not here, and not now. Like Star Wars before it, Streets of Fire is set in some imaginary otherwhen. It's "A Rock and Roll Fable," as the poster says. It's supposed to be magic. And it works.

Escape From New York, on the other hand, is sketched out in rather specific detail. Specific dates are and events are given, detailing just how Manhattan became a maximum security prison. The world of Carpenter's film, while GOOD, is noticeably smaller.

The second, and FAR more important difference, is in the characters. Cowan argues that pulp fiction was primarily the fiction of the white hats, heroes that did right for the right reasons. Even the hardest of hard boiled detectives chased criminals for a sense of justice.

Snake Plissken, as much as I love him, only ever goes to rescue the president because he's forced to. Hauk has to literally implant explosives into him and threaten his life to drive him to action. Otherwise, he's content to watch the world burn.

Tom Cody, on the other hand, only appears to be acting out of mercenary self interest. In reality, he's working to rescue ex-flame Ellen Aim because he still loves her, no matter how much he's trying to convince himself otherwise.

Two heroes with similar personalities. Nearly identical missions. But what ultimately separates them is thier moral core. Tom Cody is a better man than Snake Plissken will ever be.

And THAT is why Streets of Fire is pulp. And Escape from New York isn't.


• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Daniel J Davis

Daniel J Davis Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @DanielJWrites

24 Mar
The book with the exciting cover is @JohnsonJeffro’s collection of literary criticism that helped kick off the #PulpRev movement.

The other one is an anthology of stories taken from Appendix N. Along with some personal additions the editor apparently felt like making.

1/11 ImageImage
As the Anthology is TradPub, I’m not going to lay blame for the title confusion on the editor’s feet. Fact is, you can’t copyright a title. They didn’t do anything legally wrong. Especially where the two books are in different categories.

But read the FULL titles again.

Someone involved in making this book took Jeffro’s full title, including the subtitle, and changed ONE WORD.

Again, not legally wrong. But you also can’t tell me it wasn’t deliberate. Especially given the niche nature of the subject.

Read 11 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!