Sergio Martino’s look at the U.S. provides plenty of shock and aww.
Above, a Japanese poster for America Our Home, a movie that was made in Italy and originally called America così nuda così violenta, or "America so naked so violent." Hmm… how to describe this one. It’s a shockumentary about the U.S. by Sergio Martino of Scorpion’s Tail fame, some of which is spot-on, and very sad, and some of which is way wide of the mark, and very weird. It premiered in Italy in mid-1970 and reached Japan today the same year. Proceed with caution.
Some say being a big fish in a small pond is better than being a small fish anywhere. They may be wrong.
Hakkin nikubuton, aka Banned Book: Flesh Futon, for which you see a poster above, has one of those strange titles you come across occasionally in Japanese cinema. “Banned book” seems straightforward enough. But “flesh futon”? Hmm… Based on an erotic novel by Chinese writer Li Yu and starring Hajime Tanimoto, Maya Hiromi, Terumi Azuma, and Rei Okamoto, the movie tells the story of a poor writer named Mio who unexpectedly authors a bestselling erotic novel called—and this will clear up the title weirdness—Flesh Futon. See? Mio takes to fame quite easily, living in the fast lane and generally having a good time.
But his wonderful life begins to fall apart due to various unexpected misfortunes. These run the gamut from having a prostitute spread a rumor that his penis is “like a guppy,” to having to his house robbed and (now that we understand the title, we know this next part is coming) his book banned. When Mio later encounters the house thief this dodgy character reveals that it’s possible to have one’s penis enlarged. How? Let’s just say it’s a pretty ruff procedure. Mio opts for the surgery, but alas, quickly learns that being a big fish isn’t everything, as his previous misfortunes turn out to be only a taste of what is to come. Hakkin nikubuton premiered in Japan today in 1975.
, Hakkin nikubuton
, Banned Book: Flesh Futon
, Hajime Tanimoto
, Terumi Azuma
, Maya Hiromi
, Rei Okamoto
, roman porno
, pinky violence
, poster art
, movie review
You don’t want to get on her bad side.
She’s six-one-plus without heels, works as a special agent to the president, will go chopsocky on fools in a split second, and never loses her cool—or even her swanky red hat. The first Cleopatra Jones movie thrilled audiences in 1973, and the sequel Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold ups the ante by piling on production value and a big Hong Kong backdrop. Other blaxploitation films did more with less, but then a lot of them did less with less. This one is visually powerful and well worth a viewing, especially to see Tamara Dobson as the devilish dervish Jones, Ni Tien as the smart alecky but lethal sidekick Mi Ling Fong, and ex-centerfold Stella Stevens as the evil Bianca Javin the Dragon Lady. The nice double-sided poster above was made to promote the movie’s run in Japan, which began today in 1975.
, Hong Kong
, Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold
, Cleopatra Jones
, Tamara Dobson
, Stella Stevens
, Ni Tien
, poster art
, movie review
Survival of the scariest.
It’s appropriate The Thing is about a monster that constantly evolves, because it’s another of those ’80s sci-fi movies, like Blade Runner, where most reviews of the day were unflattering, but have since evolved to acknowledge the high quality of the film. The Thing isn’t just great—it’s visionary. The cold, the vastness, the silence, the bone weariness of a bunch of working class scientists pitted against an interstellar horror right out of Lovecraft—a movie of this type could never be made today, as the less effective 2011 prequel proved. The ’80s Thing took the ’50s original and gave it grit and terror. The 2011 version lost the grit and, with its abundant CGI, managed only a few scares. You know, here’s the thing about CGI—producers always want the cutting edge of possibility, but those effects never look real. They’d be better off asking CGI techs to do only what they’ve truly mastered. Just because you can get the computers to render it doesn’t mean it looks good, or that it’s good storytelling. But don’t get us started. The above poster and promo pamphlet were made for the premiere of the second version of The Thing in Japan today in 1982.
Just when you thought it was safe.
We already shared the two-piece panel length poster for Sukeban berûsu: mesubachi no chosen, aka Girl Boss Blues: Queen Bee’s Challenge, but today we have two alternate versions. At top you see the standard poster, and below is the bo-ekibari, or horizontal two-piece. We already told you everything you need to know about the movie—in short, it has Reiko Ike, Miki Sugimoto, and strategic soap foam. A perfect night’s entertainment.
The thing is you got to keep moving.
Esquire magazine called Two-Lane Blacktop the movie of the year and devoted a cover to it, and many other critics also lent their applause. It stars James Taylor, Dennis Wilson, Warren Oates and nineteen-year-old Laurie Bird in a story of two hot-rodders who bet their cars on the result of a head-to-head cross country race. A similar movie had hit American cinemas months earlier in the form of Richard C. Sarafian’s Vanishing Point, but Two-Lane Blacktop not only has the usual feeling of road movie nostalgia due to its celebration of a peculiarly fragile type of freedom, but because it features an actress, also peculiarly fragile, who later committed suicide. Her role—all twenty or so lines of it—is iconic, even eternal, in our opinion. She’s the only one in the film who is completely free.
While most of the acting is slightly flat, as might be expected with two pop stars and a novice in three of the four main roles, these are not people who are supposed to be showing extravagant emotion. They’re nomadic, their attachments transitory, their stories made of small moments dwarfed by a big, desolate American landscape where only the cars are truly real. Detractors say nothing happens in the film, but that isn’t true—it’s just as plotted and dramatic as Shakespeare if you listen through the roar of engines and peer through the smoke. We consider it one of our favorite movies, and to quote Warren Oates, "Those satisfactions are permanent." Two-Lane Blacktop premiered in the U.S. during the summer of 1971, and raced into Japan beginning today in 1972.
Hourly rates, always open, friendly service.
Poster for Tokyo Himitsu Hotel: Kemono no Tawamure, aka Hotel Tokyo: Beast Play, with Junko Miyashita and Naomi Oka. Hotel cum brothel serves as backdrop for standard roman porno exercise, which is to say, spiced with bdsm, but in this case with the addition of murder. Tokyo Himitsu Hotel: Kemono no Tawamure premiered in Japan today in 1976.
, Tokyo Himitsu Hotel: Kemono no Tawamure
, 東京秘密ホテル けものの戯れ
, Hotel Tokyo: Beast Play
, Junko Myashita
, Naomi Oka
, roman porno
, poster art
Doris Day finds herself hunted around the clock by a demented killer.
In the thriller Julie Doris Day finds out her second husband is a murderer. Who did he murder? Her first husband. No spoiler there. Day learns this within the first fifteen minutes, leaving the plot to revolve around her efforts to escape being permanently silenced for her discovery. By the end of this romp set in and around the wilds of Carmel, Monterrey, and finishing in San Francisco, she’s probably developed a fear of flying, a fear of driving, a fear of piano music, a fear of the dark, and of course a fear of ever having a third husband. It’s psychological warfare at its cruelest, and Day, along with co-stars Louis Jourdan and Barry Sullivan, do a nice job of making it all work. We don’t have a Japanese premier date to match the nice Japanese poster above, but Julie opened in the U.S. today in 1956.
, San Francisco
, Doris Day
, Louis Jourdan
, Barry Sullivan
, poster art
, movie review
Yet another attempt to constrain a woman’s sexuality ends in disaster.
Kôshoku: Genroku (maruhi) monogatari, aka Story of a Nymphomaniac is the tale of a free-spirited woman living during Genroku era Japan who wants to be happy but can’t seem to find the right guy. Natsu, played by the lovely Yuriko Hishimi, who you see in a promo shot below, is always horny (she believes semen nourishes her), and always conniving (at one point she pretends to be pregnant—complete with a pillow under her kimono), but her troubles don’t stem from her sexual urges. No, they stem largely from male assumptions that she’s available to any of them. Indeed, the fictional character of Natsu may live in the 1600s, but her problems are very real-world 2015. Yet she isn’t blameless. She digs a kimono merchant and won’t leave him alone even though he’s married. Bad things are bound to happen. Turns out matrimonial vows are elastic to him too. Bad things are really bound to happen. While all this is done with utter seriousness, there are also bizarre comedic bits here. What can you say about a movie in which a snake crawls in a woman’s pussy and she thinks it’s her lover getting frisky? And what can you say about a movie that features vaginal squirting so copious people nearby grab umbrellas for protection? Words fail us. A direct translation of the movie’s Japanese title would be “Amorous Genroku (secret) story.” Well, there’s no secret here—Natsu is a nympho. But despite all her ups and downs she comes away feeling just fine about herself. And so do we. Kôshoku: Genroku (maruhi) monogatari premiered in Japan today in 1975.
Justice is blind, but it can still shoot straight.
This nice poster was made for the 1971 spaghetti western Blindman, a forgotten classic in an inherently cheesy genre. Tony Anthony plays a nameless blind gunman out to rescue fifty European women promised as brides to a group of miners in Lost Creek, Texas, but who were instead kidnapped to Mexico by a gang of bandits. Anthony channels Clint Eastwood, but we don’t mind because he does determined menace passably well, helped in his portrayal by a pair of creepy blind guy contact lenses from the prop department. How he can successfully aim at his quarries in order to aerate them is never addressed, but really, why bother to question it? It’s all good fun, especially because one of the main villians is Ringo Starr, and some of the fifty brides include Agneta Eckemyr, Krista Nell, Janine Reynaud, and Solvi Stubing, who’s certainly worth killing for. Shootouts, fistfights, explosions, and a double-cross or two equal spaghetti western gold. Blindman premiered in Japan today in 1971. Japan
, Tony Anthony
, Ringo Starr
, Agneta Eckemyr
, Magda Konopka
, Krista Nell
, Janine Reynaud
, Solvi Stubing
, poster art
, movie review
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1922—Egyptologists Enter Tut's Tomb
British Egyptologists Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon become the first people to enter the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in over 3000 years. Though sometimes characterized as scholars, Carter and Carnarvon were primarily interested in riches, and cut up Tut's mummy to more easily obtain the jewels and gold affixed to him.
1947—Hollywood Blacklist Instituted
The day after ten Hollywood writers and directors are cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to give testimony to the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the group, known as the "Hollywood Ten," are blacklisted by Hollywood movie studios.
1963—Ruby Shoots Oswald
Nightclub owner and mafia associate Jack Ruby fatally shoots alleged JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of Dallas police department headquarters. The shooting is broadcast live on television and silences the only person known for certain to have had some connection to the Kennedy killing.
1971—D.B. Cooper Escapes from Airplane
In the U.S., during a thunderstorm over Washington state, a hijacker calling himself Dan Cooper, aka D. B. Cooper, parachutes from a Northwest Orient Airlines flight with $200,000 in ransom money. Neither he nor the money are ever found.
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