Vintage Pulp Sep 29 2014
ESOTIK DANCE
It’s exotic, erotic, and psychotic—but is it good?


When Radley Metzger’s softcore movie The Lickerish Quartet was released overseas, its Italian distributors rightly decided that was a stupidish title for a movie and changed it to Esotika Erotika Psicotika. Unfortunately, Esotika Erotika Psicotika sounds glossier and more sophisticated than what you ultimately receive here. What you get is a rich, jaded couple and their surly son who watch 16-millimeter porno loops in their castle for thrills. One night they go out and encounter a motorcycle stunt rider who resembles a woman in one of the loops. They invite her back for what they hope will be a night of debauchery, but which turns out to be less conventional fuck than extended mindfuck. It quickly becomes apparent why the movie opened with a Luigi Pirandello quote pondering the nature of reality, as time and space soon become malleable, leading toward an ending that questions the truth of everything that came before.

The movie received good reviews when released, but we suspect much of that owes to its novelty and Metzger’s previous successes with Camille 2000 and The Dirty Girls. In other words, it hasn’t aged well. It’s like that summer you wore an orange shirt and your friends lauded you for experimenting with your wardrobe, but later you saw a photo of that night and realized you looked like a traffic cone with shoes. Like that shirt, this movie was a bold experiment that made sense at the time but seems a bit silly now. On the plus side, it’s shot on location at Balsorano Castle in L’Aquila, Italy, so at least the audience was able to indulge its fantasies of running away to Abruzzo. Esotika Erotika Psicotika, with Silvana Venturelli, Erika Remberg, and others, premiered in Italy today in 1972. 

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Vintage Pulp Sep 24 2014
RIGHT NUMBER
Sommer isn’t over quite yet.

In June we shared a Japanese poster for Elke Sommer’s 1966 comedy Boy Did I Get a Wrong Number and talked about the movie a bit. Today we have an even better Italian promo for the same film. In Italy it was succinctly retitled Un bikini per Didi, and the art is by yet another Italian talent, this time Tino Avelli, who we haven’t featured before. Another version of the poster appears below, and we’ll have more from Avelli later.

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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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Femmes Fatales Sep 4 2014
BEBA FACE
There's nothing like a classic Lončar.

This 1970 photo shows the beautiful Serbian born actress Beba Lončar, who began acting for cinema in the former Yugoslavia and soon found international success in Italy. Her real first name is Desanka, but she began using her nickname Beba professionally in 1961, just a couple of years into her career. We’re pretty sure you can guess what it means, but if not, take another look at her and think about it. 
 
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Femmes Fatales Aug 24 2014
TOLO SOLO
Marilu, Italian style.

Above, a photo of Italian actress Marilù Tolo, who appeared in many movies between 1960 and 1985, including 1964’s Matrimonio all’italiana, aka Marriage Italian Style, and 1966’s Se tutte le donne del mondo, aka Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die. This shot is from a 1966 issue of the French magazine Ciné-Revue

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Vintage Pulp Aug 19 2014
VENUS GUYTRAP
Kill her and she’ll kill you back.


Jesus Franco’s Paroxismus was an Italian erotic mystery known in the English-speaking world as Venus in Furs. Basically, an American jazz musician in Istanbul goes to a party and there sees a woman involved in sadomasochistic sex. Later he finds the same woman’s body on a beach, and at that point flees to Rio de Janeiro. In Rio he plays with a jazz group, but one night sees the dead woman from Istanbul walk into the club where he’s performing. Or is it her? Whoever she is, she seems intent on exacting revenge against those who killed her. Or didn’t. Jesus Franco is a polarizing filmmaker, but if you’re ever going to like one of his films, this may be it. It’s dark and surreal, beautifully shot, has an interesting score, and a compelling cast that includes James Darren, Maria Rhome, and the always arresting Klaus Kinski. The late-1960s hepcat dialogue may amuse or repel, depending on one’s sensibilities, and those hoping for a linear plot or Hollywood ending should give up before even settling into their seats, but as a whole we thought it was quite entertaining.

In terms of understanding the film, it helped when we learned that a chance comment by the jazz trumpeter Chet Baker had been the inspiration for the script. We also discovered, on an unrelated note, that the lead as originally written was supposed to be a Miles Davis type guy, which is to say black, but Franco was shot down because American audiences were thought to be unready to see a black man and white woman in bed together. This led to the ethnic reversals of the lead role into a white jazzman and the character of Rita into his black girlfriend. Too bad for Franco he wasn’t allowed to make the film the way he wanted, but it’s impossible to be bummed with the casting of Barbara McNair as Rita, despite the circumstances. Impossible to be bummed about the art, either. The above promo poster was painted by the awesome Mario De Berardinis, who signed his work MOS, and we also have an ultra-rare alternate poster below, painted by unknown. Paroxismus premiered in Italy today in 1969.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 15 2014
MONROE ITALIAN STYLE
Non ci siamo già visti prima Marilyn mia cara?

Then French call it déjà vu, but in Italian it would be già visto. But while it may seem like you just saw this cover a few days ago, it’s actually entirely different. The Italian magazine Epoca loved Marilyn Monroe, and she was the star of many issues. The last one we shared was from the first anniversary of her death, give or take a few days. This one was published 15 August 1954, eleven years before she died, and again features an extensive set of rare photos. And just to show they weren’t giving short shrift to homegrown talent, Epoca editors also offer a very nice shot of Italian superstar Gina Lollobrigida. Scans below.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 11 2014
EPOCA HISTORY
Italian magazine marks end of Monroe era.

This otherwise unremarkable issue of the Italian magazine Epoca has two things going for it—a cover featuring Marilyn Monroe, and a six-page interior spread featuring some rare photos. It appeared as a tribute issue today in 1963, more or less a year after Monroe had died. The cover text boasts of having found her personal photo album. We can’t confirm that, but the photos are indeed ones we see less often than others of Monroe. That is, if “less often” even applies when talking about probably the most photographed woman in cinema history. Eight scans below.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 7 2014
WANDER LUST
Italian artist Mario De Berardinis finds a perfect Playmate.

Here’s a rarity—a western film for which we can’t find an official English translation, which of course means it likely never played on American or British screens. The film in question is the Italian sex comedy Giro girotondo... con il sesso è bello il mondo, which loosely means something like “wander wandering… with sex it’s a beautiful world.” Or something. Whatever it means, the unwieldy title surely would have been changed for a run Stateside, which is why we’re pretty sure that never happened. But the title isn’t the reason we’re sharing this poster. The reason is it’s by the Italian genius Mario De Berardinis, who we discussed last year. This effort is actually copied from a photo of 1973 Playboy centerfold Cyndi Wood, one of the magazine’s most popular models. And we’d show that image to you, but one thing we are sure of after working at that company is they’ll sue you in a second. So here’s a link to the shot. Did that make your day? Giro girotondo... con il sesso è bello il mondo premiered in Italy today in 1975.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 27 2014
WHO'S LE BOSSU?
All roads lead to Renato.

Today we have yet another excellent cover from Benedetto Caroselli—Anima e corpo, aka Body and Soul, written by Lucien Le Bossu for Edizioni Periodici Italiani’s I Capolavori della Serie KKK Classici dell’Orrore, 1965. Le Bossu, perhaps unsurprisingly, was one of about twenty literary pseudonyms belonging to Renato Carocci. In fact, Carocci even wrote under the name Tom Ewell, who was a well-known American actor of the period. How he got away with that we don’t know. Anyway, you can find out a bit more about Carocci here, and see more art from Caroselli by clicking his keywords below.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 01
1910—Los Angeles Times Bombed
A massive dynamite bomb destroys the Los Angeles Times building in downtown Los Angeles, California, killing 21 people. Police arrest James B. McNamara and his brother John J. McNamara. Though the brothers are represented by the era's most famous lawyer, Clarence Darrow, of Scopes Monkey Trial fame, they eventually plead guilty. James is convicted and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. His brother John is convicted of a separate bombing of the Llewellyn Iron Works and also sent to prison.
1975—Ali Defeats Frazier in Manila
In the Philippines, an epic heavyweight boxing match known as the Thrilla in Manila takes place between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. It is the third, final and most brutal match between the two, and Ali wins by TKO in the fourteenth round.
September 30
1955—James Dean Dies in Auto Accident
American actor James Dean, who appeared in the films Giant, East of Eden, and the iconic Rebel without a Cause, dies in an auto accident at age 24 when his Porsche 550 Spyder is hit head-on by a larger Ford coupe. The driver of the Ford had been trying to make a left turn across the rural highway U.S. Route 466 and never saw Dean's small sports car approaching.
1962—Chavez Founds UFW
Mexican-American farm worker César Chávez founds the United Farm Workers in California. His strikes, marches and boycotts eventually result in improved working conditions for manual farm laborers and today his birthday is celebrated as a holiday in eight U.S. states.
September 29
1916—Rockefeller Breaks the Billion Barrier
American industrialist John D. Rockefeller becomes America's first billionaire. His Standard Oil Company had gained near total control of the U.S. petroleum market until being broken up by anti-trust legislators in 1911. Afterward, Rockefeller used his fortune mainly for philanthropy, and had a major effect on medicine, education, and scientific research.

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