Glamorous locales (from New York to Egypt, from Tibet to Paris), strange adventures (mummies, monsters, cannibal tribes) happening in the twenties and thirties, beautiful women and tough-guy heroes, this is what characterizes pulp fiction and why the genre is still hugely popular in books and movies (think Indiana Jones or The Mummy).

A short search on google delivers the following definition for Pulp fiction: “Novels written for the mass market, intended to be “a good read,”–often exciting, titillating, thrilling. Historically they have been very popular but critically sneered at as being of sub-literary quality. The earliest ones were the dime novels of the nineteenth century, printed on newsprint (hence “pulp” fiction) and sold for ten cents. Westerns, stories of adventure, even the Horatio Alger novels, all were forms of pulp fiction.” This definition is also true for the average Pulp movie as they tend to be B-level films at best (although so much fun).

Last night I saw on TV a prime example of this: a 1994 movie starring Alec Baldwin called The Shadow. It really had all the ingredients of a good Pulp story. I had never heard of The Shadow. After a bit of research, I found out that he was in fact a signature hero of the Pulp period who, all cloaked in black, fought mobsters, evil scientists, crazed old men and foreign invaders with two blazing automatics and a laugh that chilled the hearts of evil. He did this from the spring of 1931 until the summer of 1949. There were magazines, radio shows, serials and movies devoted to the character so he must have been quite popular. I really enjoyed the movie though. It had it all : the locales (Warlord China, fabulous Art Deco Jazz age New York, the Archaelogy museum), an evil descendant of Gengis Khan, the requisite beautiful blonde whose father is a distracted scientist , a cool hero.

The Shadow is a really fun B-movie that I watched with a big wide grin !