Frank McCarthy's hyper-detailed Bond painting requires a second glance.
Every James Bond movie has been exhaustively pored over online, which makes them not particularly discussion worthy for our website. But we're making an exception for You Only Live Twice for two reasons. First, because of the promo painting above. It's an amazing visual masterpiece created by the realist painter Frank McCarthy, and it was used in various types of promos, tilted to the left, as you see in the example just below. Looking at the painting oriented correctly, we see that Bond is actually defying gravity, and if you look super close you'll see he's wearing a pair of slippers and is managing to hang on using his strangely prehensile toes. The canvas is filled with intricacy, and within the whole there are various secondary set pieces. We've isolated a few areas below so you can see what we mean.
The second reason we decided to talk about this movie is because it has amas in it. Yes, we just talked about amas a couple of weeks ago when we shared a poster for Woman Diver's Beach: Red Pants. But if you missed that, we're referring to female Japanese skin divers who forage in shallow waters for pearls and aquatic delicacies. The entire concept of the ama was obscure at best in Western culture until they appeared onscreen in You Only Live Twice. They first appear in the film briefly when Bond looks at a surveillance photo, but later he goes undercover as a Japanese man (we know, we know) and has to pretend to marry an ama named Kissy Suzuki. The character is played by Mie Hama, who we've featured a couple of times. See here and here. Oh, and You Only Live Twice had its world premiere in London today in 1967. That's the third reason we decided to talk about it.
Kyoko Izumi goes off the deep end.
Last year we shared two posters for the Kyoko Izumi ama movie Zoku-zoku-Kindan no suna: Akai pantsu, aka Woman Diver's Beach: Red Pants, and today we have a third poster. You can see the others, and learn about the movie, at this link. And if you don't know what an ama is look here. Zoku-zoku-Kindan no suna: Akai pantsu premiered in Japan today in 1959.
In retrospect, I probably should have had a lawyer look over the paperwork before I signed it.
Roman porno movies tend to have very descriptive titles that leave little to the imagination. You see a poster above for one called in Japanese Dorei keiyakusho: muchi to highheels, which in English is known as Slave's Contract: Whip and High Heels. So what more do you really need to know? It stars Nami Matsukawa. It's a sequel to Dorei keiyakushu, which we talked about not long ago. It's a similar movie, with the exception that Matsukawa enters into her contract voluntarily. There's also some shoe fetish stuff, as indicated by the title. And of course there's the standard roman porno bondage and discipline. That's pretty much it. And it premiered in Japan today in 1982.
Seems like she gets tougher to work for every year.
The internet is all about change. When we first wrote about Miki Sugimoto’s 1973 pinku flick Sukeban–Kankain Dasso, aka Girl Boss: Escape from Reform School, we shared a rare tateken sized promo poster and mentioned that it was the first of its kind to appear online, while the standard sized promo could be found anywhere. Six years later it's the tateken poster that's everywhere online, while good scans of the standard promo seem to have disappeared. So here's a good scan of the standard promo. Sukeban–Kankain Dasso premiered in Japan today in 1973.
You have the right to remain dead.
We already showed you a rare hand-painted poster for the pinky violence actioner Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa, aka Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs. Today we're showing you the tateken poster, which is rare too, so much so that this may be the best scan you'll of it see online. The kind of washed out look is part of the design. If you haven't seen the movie, it's about a vigilante cop played by Miki Sugimoto who is released from prison by a government agency in order to take down the kidnappers of a powerful politician's daughter.
Like most pinku movies, there's some sexual violence, and many reviewers excoriate this admittedly overused plot device. We don't claim those reviewers are wrong, but it should be noted that rape in pinku is often symbolic, serving both to advance the immediate plot and implant a deeper message. In this case the main perpetrator in the sexual assault of a young Japanese woman is wearing U.S. Navy coveralls. The depth of negative feeling about the U.S. occupation of Japan is made clear. All that said, the constant use of sexual assault in Japanese film—if it was ever artistically justified at all—definitely jumped the shark with the arrival of Nikkatsu Studios' roman porno offerings. We've talked about that before.
One interesting part of assessing vintage art is that at the time it was created the artists often thought they were making a certain statement, but decades later their art is perceived as sending the exact opposite message. Such is the case with pinky violence movies, in which maverick male filmmakers—in this case Yukio Noda—showed Japanese women taking on and usually destroying an entrenched male power structure, but only after being driven to it through degradation and violence. Which in screen terms meant rape. Were there other ways to show women driven to the point where they would kill? No doubt, but in patriarchal 1970s Japan the shock of these films was not how women were driven to kill men, but that they did—and often got away with it.
Miki Sugimoto deals with with some very bad men in Zero Woman, but her focus never wavers. She's to rescue the kidnapped daughter and dispose of the abductors in such a way that no news coverage or police investigation points back toward the father. Wrapped in a crimson raincoat she dispatches villain after villain, but learns that not even the presumed good guys are redeemable—not the politician, not the cops, nobody. It's grim, cynical, nihilistic stuff—and a classic of the genre. Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa opened in Japan today in 1974.
When she's bad, she's really bad.
Above is a poster in tateken size for Nikkatsu Studios' pre-roman porno action flick Furyô shôjô Mako, aka Bad Girl Mako, a film for which we showed you a standard sized promo a while back. We didn't really talk about the movie back then, but we've seen it. There's lots of fighting, lots of music, and lots of guys in suits getting roughed up. Junko Natsu plays Mako, a tough party girl who meets a boy named Hideo, lets him stick his honeydripper in her jar of manuka, and decides she's in love. It's amazing that she reaches this conclusion after one quick throw in the back seat of a convertible, but whatever. Unfortunately, before their relationship progresses much farther loverboy is killed and Mako, like any good pinku revenant, gets stabby on the bad guys. There's nothing unexpected here, but in the end you still have a reasonably entertaining entry in the girl gang genre, and the many club scenes and nice exterior cinematography add extra value. Furyô shôjô Mako premiered in Japan today in 1971.
She's as cool as the other side of the pillow.
Last year we shared some promo photos from Mari Atsumi's pinku flick Denki kurage: kawaii akuma, aka Play It Cool, but we held this rarity back for a year because we wanted to give it solo billing. So here you go. The film premiered today in 1970, and the other promo photos are here.
I really don't know if I can survive another day of this.
Summer is coming just in the nick of time for Reiko Ike, who tends to wilt during the cold Japanese winter months, as you see her doing in this photo. It comes from an issue of the Japanese magazine Weekly Playboy and was published in January 1978 as part of a pin-up calendar. Reiko got the month of May, which is the commencement of new hope, the efflorescence of the natural world, and a good time to shop for bathing suits. Unless you prefer to go au naturel. Either way summer is the most fantabulous time of the year.
Mine grows faster than yours, but based on length I'd say we've been trapped down here at least three weeks.
We don't know who painted this promo poster but we think it's pretty nice. Looking around the internet we noticed that no good scans of it existed. Until now. Our pleasure. The poster was made for the roman porno flick Dan Oniroku ikenie shimai, aka Sisters To Be Sacrificed, which was based on a book by award winning erotic author Oniroku Dan and starred Minako Ogawa and Miyuki Matsumoto. The two play siblings who inherit their grandfather's inn but are held captive and tortured by the employees. Conveniently, the place has a torture pit underneath with—among other diabolical devices—a seesaw with dildos attached that... Well, just have a gander below. Dan Oniroku ikenie shimai premiered in Japan today in 1987.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1940—Smedley Butler Dies
American general Smedley Butler dies. Butler had served in the Philippines, China, Central America, the Caribbean and France, and earned sixteen medals, five of which were for heroism. In 1934 he was approached by a group of wealthy industrialists wanting his help with a coup against President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and in 1935 he wrote the book War Is a Racket, explaining that, based upon his many firsthand observations, warfare is always wholly about greed and profit, and all other ascribed motives are simply fiction designed to deceive the public.
1967—Muhammad Ali Sentenced for Draft Evasion
Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who was known as Cassius Clay before his conversion to Islam, is sentenced to five years in prison for refusing to serve in the military during the Vietnam War. In elucidating his opposition to serving, he uttered the now-famous phrase, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.”
1953—The Rosenbergs Are Executed
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted for conspiracy to commit espionage related to passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet spies, are executed at Sing Sing prison, in New York.
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