Vintage Pulp Sep 21 2014
OF RICE AND MEN
We gotta get out of this place if it’s the last thing we ever do.


This great poster was painted by Italian illustrator Dante Manno to promote Riso Amaro, aka Bitter Rice, one of the neorealist movies that came out of Italy during the post-World War II period. If you watch the movie you’ll find that some elements aren't very “real,” but remember that the term neorealism refers to a rejection of the phoniness of Fascist-era film production, rather than a broad description of cinematic properties. Basically, the movie is about two petty criminals, played by Vittorio Gassman and Doris Dowling, who hide from the cops by posing as lowly rice pickers. What’s real here isn’t the rice pickers (whose female ranks are uniformly beautiful and sexily clothed), nor some of the action (typified by a scene in which the workers break into perfect operatic harmony even though the tune they’re singing is being made up on the spot). No, the realism is in the themes and production values. Riso Amaro deals with weighty issues and was made on location by director Giuseppe De Santis in the rice fields of Italy’s Po Valley in crisp, documentary style black and white.

One of Riso Amaro’s rice pickers is the voluptuous Silvana Mangano, who catches Vittorio Gassman’s eye. Since he’s a criminal, he spies opportunity in his circumstances, and while chasing Mangano also plots to steal the entire rice crop while everyone is occupied during an end-of-season festival. Mangano, who has her choice between the slick Gassman and the honest rice picker Raf Vallone, is symbolically torn between American-style and traditional values. Doris Dowling has the same dilemma to a lesser degree. The choice both make will be crucial. Riso Amaro is a good movie, beautifully rendered, and consistently interesting. Tame today, it’s easy to see how provocative it must have been when first released. As with many films, certain elements resonate more over time, and here the secondary theme exploring tensions between legal and illegal workers fascinate. The legal workers resent the presumed loss of jobs, but the illegals must eat somehow and are willing to toil much harder than the legals. All the while the bosses reap the benefits. Sound familiar? Riso Amaro premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in early September and opened in Italy today in 1949.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 28 2014
DELINQUENT PAYMENT
The only debt she cares about is revenge.

Info abounds on the internet about Toei Studios' Zubekô banchô: zange no neuchi mo nai, aka Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless To Confess, but it’s a movie that falls into the our-website-isn’t-complete-without-it category, so we’re adding our two cents. The plot is complex, and really can’t be synopsized in just one sentence, but here we go: Reiko Oshida plays Rika, a recent parolee from reform school who through a series of encounters finds herself in conflict with local Yakuza thugs and eventually puts together a gang to wipe them out. She and her cohorts, with their matching red jumpsuits, may look like something from a j-pop video, but of course the coats are merely cover for their katanas, which they promptly draw and begin using to murderous effect. This final battle is elaborately staged, but getting five actresses and many extras to convincingly fight with swords is impossible, which means fans of realistic action may not be impressed. However there are some cool cinematographic moments that add drama and bring to mind Kill Bill, and indeed Quentin Tarantino is said to have been influenced by the sequence. Unlike many pinku flicks, this one is widely available, so at least you can see it for yourself and not have to take our word for anything. Love it or hate it, at the very least, Reiko Oshida is worth the time expenditure. Zubekô banchô: zange no neuchi mo nai premiered in Japan today in 1971.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 3 2014
CULTURAL EXCHANGE
Japanese cinema invades Eastern Europe.


You know we love Japanese movie posters. We’ve shared at least a hundred. Today, for something different, we have a set of posters made during the 1950s and 1960s to advertise Japanese movies that played in the now defunct country of Yugoslavia. It was a place that had one of the most distinct design aesthetics in vintage promo art, as you can see in these examples, as well in other pieces we’ve shared here, here, and here. Ex-Yu memorabilia goes for a pretty penny, and some of these posters would cost upwards of $400.00 to buy. The movie above is Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, and the ones below are Yasuzô Masumura’s A Wife Confesses, Umetsugu Inoue’s Man Who Causes a Storm, Haku Komori’s Soldiers’ Girls, and Oichi Beware of Samurai.

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Intl. Notebook Jan 24 2014
NOIR OF THE WORLD
San Francisco’s famed film festival goes international.

Living overseas is sometimes bittersweet. While the people, the food, the bars, the beaches, the lifestyle, and a hundred other aspects are wonderful, there are no film noir festivals (and no decent pizza, but that's another story). Anyway, today we’re sad not to still be living in the San Francisco Bay area because it’s the first day of the Noir City Film Festival. Ironically, this year’s version, the twelfth in the series, looks toward other countries and includes movies set in France, Britain, Mexico, Singapore, Macao, and more. The films, which screen at San Fran’s Castro Theatre, include The Third Man, Akira Kurosawa’s Yoidore tenshi, aka Drunken Angel, Jules Dassin’s Du rififi chez les homes, aka Rififi, and two dozen other films. All in all, a great collection. The photoillustrated poster art above (the first is the official promo and the second is the teaser that came out last year) is also pretty nice, though not up to the standard of previous years. But you can decide that for yourself—we’ve shared the entire run of Noir City posters and you can see those here.

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Modern Pulp Jan 21 2014
DEVIL'S ADVOCATE
Kim Ji-woon’s thriller is hard to take but beautiful to behold.


Thanks to the wonder of downloading—er, we mean the legal purchase of a DVD at a sanctioned commercial outlet—this weekend we were able to re-screen one of our favorite recent movies, the 2010 South Korean gutwrencher Angmareul boatda, aka I Saw the Devil. Last time we watched it we didn’t write about it, but we think it’s a good time to recommend the movie because today was its official American premiere date. Amazingly, that unveiling was at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Well, nobody felt like dancing by the time the movie ended, you can be sure. Often lumped in with horror or torture porn movies, in truth I Saw the Devil is an unflinching but high-gloss revenge thriller, beautifully shot, and carefully paced. The revenge in question is directed toward a serial killer and director Kim Ji-woon’s documentation of that person’s gory exploits is where much of the movie’s early mayhem occurs.

Unlike many American films, I Saw the Devil doesn’t soften the impact of violence by turning it into a technical showcase for an fx house—the movie tries its best to make those scenes frightening yet somehow banal. No heads explode, nobody is thrown in a tire shredder, and nobody is impaled by a pair of skis. The most proximate cause of nearly every human death in history—technically speaking—has been lack of oxygen to the brain. Oxygen very often stops going to the brain because the blood needed to carry it there has gone somewhere else—the floor, for example. I Saw the Devil explores that concept with vivid clarity. Above is one of the American posters, and below is the original South Korean promo.


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Femmes Fatales Oct 15 2013
SENTA OF A WOMAN
It probably should have been the Tail end of her career.

Another Italian movie that premiered today is Pasquale Festa Campanile’s prehistoric comedy Quando le donne avevano la coda, aka When Women Had Tails. The above promo shot shows Austrian star Senta Berger in full costume for her role as Filli, the cavewoman captured by a clan of seven men who have never seen a woman. They quickly learn that she doesn’t, in fact, have a tail, and shortly thereafter uncover other anatomical curiosities. The movie’s so bad it’s miraculous Berger ever worked again, but you have to love this ’70s glam rock look. And if not, she appears as a normal human below. 

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Intl. Notebook Sep 29 2013
CARAVAN'S END
The learning is in the journey.

Last night’s finale of Cinema Caravan was probably the best evening of the weeklong festival. Organizers screened several short films, then the excellent band Cro-Magnon turned the event into an outdoor dance party, playing in a corner of the plaza as bottles of sake offered up gratis by festival organizers were passed from hand to eager hand. Over the course of the week we learned that Cinema Caravan is well established in Japan, migrating from city to city like a moveable feast for the senses, but that this is the first time it has been held in another country. The Basque Country doesn’t have a very large Japanese community, which made the week a real novelty for many here—the food, the drink, and the excellent music were revelations, but it was watching the films that imparted at least a token understanding of Japanese cultural values. By watching movies people learned what a culture from the opposite side of the planet finds humorous, or erotic, or frightening, or thrilling. If Cinema Caravan were to visit the amazing city of San Sebastian again it would certainly be welcomed with open arms. Meanwhile, there’s another film festival going on right now—the San Sebastian Film Festival, or Zinemaldia, which ends tonight and will bring another crescendo of activity to this city by the sea. We didn’t attend any of that festival’s events, but who knows—maybe next year. Below are a few shots from the week.

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Modern Pulp Jun 26 2013
DIVE RIGHT IN
Lovely day for a swim, don’t you think?


Above is a poster for the Japanese comedy Shikijô ama: Fundoshi matsuri, which in English is known as Nympho Diver: G-String Festival. Yes, that’s right—Nympho Diver: G-String Festival. With a title that descriptive, it would be a disappointment if there weren’t nympho divers and a g-string festival, but the movie actually delivers what it preposterously seems to promise. It all comes about when the men of a backwater fishing village recruit five young women to serve as “amas,” which are basically topless divers that forage for pearls or abalone. The main goal is to attract tourists to the village, but if the locals’ bland sex lives receive a boost, well, that’s fine too. The girls dutifully arriveand commence their diving chores, but the expected hordes of tourists fail to materialize, whereupon one diver reads about an ancient g-string festival. The village fathers decide that such an event is just what’s needed to get the word out, and so there you have it—nympho divers and a g-string festival.

Shikijô ama: Fundoshi matsuri is packed with sex, albeit of the clumsy, boob groping, simulated type, but of course Japanese movies couldn’t show pubic hair back then, so everything had to be achieved with camera angles and physical acting. The script actually takes a moment to acknowledge this during a scene in which one diver cavorts about nude except for her hand covering her privates. As she bounces around the room, her panicked minder cries, “Stop! They haven’t lifted the ban on pubic hair yet!” Nicely done, that. The film has other, similarly clever moments, but its comic aspects derive primarily from the fact that nearly all the men of the village are goofy, middle-aged schlubs, which gives the sexual proceedings a slapstick air. We’re not big fans of badlysimulated sex or slapstick comedy, but that doesn’t mean Nympho Diver doesn’t work. It’s good-natured, moves fast, has an interesting romantic subplot, and what can’t be disputed is that lovely star Eri Anzai goes about her role with wit, vivacity and very little clothing, as you see in the below promo shots of her and co-stars Maria Mari and Kazuyo Ezaki. So, is the g-string festival a success? Does it draw those coveted tourists and their yen? You’ll just have to watch and find out for yourself. Shikijô ama: Fundoshi matsuri premiered today in 1981.
 
Today also seems like a good opportunity to mention that we have another little sabbatical coming up here up at Pulp Intl. as we head to the Greek Isles for about ten days. We don’t know if Greece will look anything like the g-string festival, but if it does, that won’t be bad, right? The Pulp girlfriends are coming too, since after Morocco they vowed never to let us out of their sight again. Can’t really blame them. Usually, when we go traveling we hope to find some pulp—this time we’re not even going to promise to search. However, rather than let the website go idle, we’ve pre-written a few things, so keep dropping by to see some great cover collections and a rare surprise involving Bettie Page.

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Mondo Bizarro | Swindles & Scams Apr 8 2013
JOY LOCH CLUB
Nessie enthusiasts and debunkers solve nothing at science symposium except perhaps who can hold their liquor.


Upcoming on Sunday is the eightieth anniversary of the first modern sighting of the Loch Ness monster, which occurred April 14, 1933 when a couple claimed to have seen what they described as an enormous animal in the loch. In honor of the occasion, yesterday at the Edinburgh International Science Festival in Scotland, Nessie scholars held a symposium debating the creature’s existence. The photo above, shot by Robert Wilson on April 19, 1934, remains arguably the most famous Nessie image, and for years was touted as proof something large lived in the loch, until 1984 when the British Journal of Photography published an analysis by Stewart Campbell concluding that the object in the water measured three feet—not nearly long enough to be the famed Nessie. Years later, a big game hunter named Marmaduke Wetherell, just below, was fingered as the brain behind an elaborate hoax resulting in the photo. But true believers have disputed the account.

Subsequent sightings and photos have all been inconclusive, which means of course that nothing was decided at the Edinburgh symposium. Those who believe in the creature have no hard evidence to prove their position, and those who disbelieve can’t prove it doesn’t exist. The latter isn’t a surprise, as it’s logically impossible to prove anything doesn’t exist, whether monsters and deities, Kang and Kodos of Rigel IV, or the chair you're sitting on right now. Doubtless those involved in the symposium knew that, which means the event was probably just a good excuse to shoot the shit for an afternoon then adjourn to the raucous Edinburgh bars. From there it’s just a few pints until someone drops his pants and screeches, “Watch out! The monster is out of the loch!” So be forewarned—the next Nessie photo you see will probably be someone’s pale cock, and if photo analysis proves it’s three feet long that’ll be one proud scientist.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 30 2013
TOP GUN
When you get on his wrong side, it’s the other side of a marksman’s scope.

A few days ago we mentioned the Noir City Film Festival and waxed nostalgic about San Francisco. The festival schedule reminded us of noirs we haven’t seen in a while, and revealed others we’ve never seen. On the Noir City bill this evening is a film from the latter category, Edward Dmytryk’s 1952 thriller The Sniper. We watched it last night and it more than deserves a slot in a prestigious festival like Noir City. The film was shot in San Francisco, and stars Arthur Franz as a former mental patient named Eddie Miller who is gripped by murderous impulses. Perching in windows and on rooftops, he uses a carbine and scope to target unsuspecting victims. As yet the gun isn’t loaded, but his sexual feelings for a female acquaintance catalyze his urges. The expert marksman begins killing, ultimately slaying four women (that’s not a spoiler, given the four scoped targets on the poster art). Eddie Miller treads similar ground as hundreds of other cinematic lost souls, but film historians say he was first—American film’s first serial killer. This one is worth it both for the movie and for its usage of San Francisco exteriors, which are so expertly and extensively intergrated into the production, we have a feeling Bay Area audiences will marvel over that more than the actual plot. But they should pay close attention to both. Dmytryk is the same director who gave the world Murder, My Sweet and Crossfire. This is top tier filmmaking. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 22
1926—Houdini Fatally Punched in Stomach
After a performance in Montreal, Hungarian-born magician and escape artist Harry Houdini is approached by a university student named J. Gordon Whitehead, who asks if it is true that Houdini can endure any blow to the stomach. Before Houdini is ready Whitehead strikes him several times, causing internal injuries that lead to the magician's death.
October 21
1973—Kidnappers Cut Off Getty's Ear
After holding Jean Paul Getty III for more than three months, kidnappers cut off his ear and mail it to a newspaper in Rome. Because of a postal strike it doesn't arrive until November 8. Along with the ear is a lock of hair and ransom note that says: "This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits." Getty's grandfather, billionaire oilman Jean Paul Getty, at first refused to pay the 3.2 million dollar ransom, then negotiated it down to 2.8 million, and finally agreed to pay as long as his grandson repaid the sum at 4% interest.
October 20
1947—HUAC Hearings Begin
The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation into Communist infiltration of Hollywood, resulting in a witch hunt that destroys lives, ruins careers, and makes Senator Joseph McCarthy the most feared politician of the era.
1968—Jackie Kennedy Marries
Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy marries Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. The marriage comes as a total surprise to the American public, and results in a terrible backlash against her and also makes her the number one target of paparazzi for years.

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