GONE WITH THE POPE is a weird, weird flick. Shot in 1976 by director/star Duke Mitchell, who died in 1981, hours and hours of the rough-cut footage sat unfinished in his son's garage for nearly 20 years. It's there that editor Bob Murawski (who scored an Oscar for editing The Hurt Locker) found the unpolished grindhouse gem and devoted 15 years of his life to editing Mitchell's mafia opus. The result: a wondrous exploitation hodgepodge that's just... well... it's very much a fascinating product of a time and place.
The plot centers around an ex-con (Mitchell) who kidnaps the pope from the Vatican in order to extract one dollar from every Catholic on the planet. But Pope is much more: Italian mafia picture, fashion slideshow, gauzy period montage, travelogue of 1970s Las Vegas and Southern California—also, aside from your freshly divorced uncle Cletus' Netflix queue, this is the most jovially racist and misogynistic film you're ever likely to watch. Seeing how Mitchell was a schlocky nightclub entertainer and Dean Martin wanna-be, it appears to be a slightly fictionalized day-in-the-life of a dude doing exactly what he wanted to do, which is mostly cruising Vegas, going to the dog track, banging black prostitutes and fat white ladies, and giving impassioned tirades about the horrors of the Holocaust. It's a bizarre, well-paced, and entertaining time capsule.