Starting the day out right.
Japanese actress Mimi Sugihara had a short stint in film during the early 1970s. How short? We can find only one film credit for her—1973's Sex rider: kizudarake no yokujo, which was known in English as Sex Rider: Wet Highway. Sounds fun, if a little treacherous. We'll see if we can locate the movie, but we don't hold out much hope for something so obscure. At least we'll always have shared this quiet moment with her.
The shot heard 'round Japan.
This unusual poster was made to promote a film called Teppôdama no bigaku, known in English by the cool title Aesthetics of a Bullet. The movie came from Art Theatre Guild, or ATG, producers of films in the loose category known as Japanese New Wave, meaning to take a new approach to filmmaking by rejecting traditional ideas and techniques. This one was directed by Sadao Nakajima and stars Tsunehiko Watase as a hot-headed two-bit hustler named Kiyoshi who tries numerous schemes to get ahead, including being a chef, gambling, and breeding rabbits. He fails at all of them, and he's desperate for a break.
When he's given a job by a local yakuza cartel known as Tenyu Group, he quickly learns about the power of a gun. With it he can command others, make them fear and respect him, make them literally kneel. With this gun his sense of self worth is first restored, then inflated. He caresses it, brandishes it, polishes it, treats it better than even the women he lusts for, and the gun confirms that he's superior to others. And once he feels superior he becomes—not to put too fine a point on it—a total asshole. He's actually an abusive chump even before the gun, but the weapon fully unleashes his destructive, hyper-masculine impulses.
The things he does are too ridiculously stupid to get into. Suffice it to say that even for a regular guy these would lead to trouble, but he's Tenyu Group's thug-at-large, which means his erratic behavior and explosive anger offends the other crime bosses. Pretty soon he discovers that he's torn a dangerous rift in the yakuza network. But what Kiyoshi doesn't know—which the audience does from the beginning—is that Tenyu Group hired him in the first place precisely because he's a disruptive fuck-up. Their theory was always that he would spark a gang war. All he has to do is fire that beloved gun once and Tenyu Group will have the excuse it needs.
Aesthetics of a Bullet is obscure, so we knew nothing about it, but we liked it. It's concise, has a strong point of view, and a good supporting cast that includes Miki Sugimoto and Mitsuru Mori. Its only flaw—perhaps unavoidable—is that the lead character is such a misanthropic troublemaker that we could barely tolerate watching him. But we guess that's where the whole rejecting traditional filmmaking comes in. Who needs a likeable or even sympathetic lead? Real life is more complicated than that, and Kiyoshi's fictional life gets plenty complicated too. Even if you can't root for him, at least he won't bore you, and neither will the movie. Aesthetics of a Bullet premiered in Japan today in 1973.
She's the boss of her gang, but not of her panties, apparently.
Above are two similar but not identical high kicking posters for Document porno: Sukeban, aka Dokyumento poruno: Sukeban, known in English as Porn Document: Sukeban. At some point the original panty shot must have been deemed inappropriate, because as you can see it was covered with black paint. It's like her crotch went into mourning. And we did too, a little, when we saw it. Was the retouch effort supposed to look like tights? We suppose so, but it's a pretty ham-handed effort. We'd love to know if the second poster is an official promo from Purima Kikaku, the studio that made the film, or a one-off from an individual cinema. We'll never know, we're sure. Document porno: Sukeban premiered in Japan today in 1973. It was the prequel to Dokyumento poruno: zoku sukeban, aka Porn Document: Sukeban 2. You can see that poster here. Also, you can see another high kicking Japanese poster here.
Meet the new boss, nothing like the old boss.
Above, a poster for the Japanese actioner Kapone no shatei yamato damashi, aka A Boss with a Samurai Spirit, aka Capone's Younger Brother: Heart and Speculation, starring the prolific Tomisaburô Wakayama. The movie deals with a hired killer whose latest contract turns out to have wide-ranging consequences, making him turn against his employer. We shared the original poster for this as part of a group post back in 2013. This is a re-issue poster. We don't know exactly when it came out, but the film originally premiered in Japan today in 1971.
If you invite one into your house it's your own fault what happens.
Here's yet another wonderful Japanese poster for an English language film, this time for Mylène Demongeot's lightweight comedy Upstairs and Downstairs, or “above and below,” as the poster calls it. We enjoyed this one. In London a newlywed couple run into problems when they decide to hire domestic help. After the likes of Claudia Cardinale, Joan Sims, and Joan Hickson bring chaos to the household (sharp-eyed viewers may also recognize nude model Marie Devereux), Demongeot is finally summoned to restore order. While she's an efficient domestic, she's a complication in other areas. Which ones? Those that provide blood flow to male loins.
This is Bardotesque/Monroesque screwball craziness fueled by double entendre and pratfalls, rather than the types of films we usually feature on Pulp Intl., but we couldn't resist this brilliant Japanese promo. Nor Demongeot, for that matter, who's one of our favorite French stars. She does good work here in a genre we've come to think of as oops-I-didn't-mean-to-turn-you-on. Below are some promo photos from the film, including an interesting shot of James Robertson in the Messerschmitt KR200 he drives in one scene. Upstairs and Downstairs opened in the west in late 1959 and premiered in Japan today in 1960.
Prepare yourself for a Sykes-a-delic experience.
Above is a rare image of U.S. actress Brenda Sykes, who appeared in cinema and on television during a relatively brief ten year acting career from 1968 to 1978. She's pretty well remembered for someone who had such a short run. Some of this is due to her being one of the era's most beautiful performers, but she was also in cult classics like Cleopatra Jones and Mandingo, as well as on television shows like Police Woman. This shot is from a 1975 issue of Playboy Japan. We've cropped it above, and uploaded the full image below.
Nobody knows who'll win the game of Thorne's.
Yes, she's back. These posters were made for the 1977 naziploitation flick Ilsa the Tigress of Siberia, starring the inimitable Dyanne Thorne dealing out discomfort and death in the icy wastes of Gulag 14. In 1975's Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS she was a member of the Third Reich, but here, only eight years after the Reich cratered, she's somehow employed by the Nazis' mortal enemies the Soviets. She must have nailed the interview.
Interviewer: “What's your greatest strength, professionally?”
Ilsa: “Creatively making people suffer. Like the electrified dildo I invented at a previous gig. That's standard gear for torture now. Stress positions, beatings. I mean, I love it all.”
Interviewer: “What would you say is your biggest weakness?”
Ilsa: “I sometimes work too hard. I'm a perfectionist. In a way, I'm harder on myself than I am on the people I torture.”
Interviewer: “Tell me about a challenge in a work situation, and how you dealt with it.”
Ilsa: “I had a prisoner who was problematic. His positivity was bringing hope to the camp. I had him castrated.”
Interviewer: “And did this solution work?”
Ilsa: “Yes, he became very negative.”
Interviewer: “I think I've heard enough. When can you start?”
Ilsa: “I already did. I took the initiative and killed the other applicants in the waiting room."
It's amazing that the first Ilsa flick generated two sequels, considering how bad it was. This third entry in the series actually played at the Sitges Film Festival in October 2018, which just goes to show that interest in terrible vintage sexploitation films runs beyond the fringe. We think this movie is almost as bad as the original, but you can decide for yourself. After opening in Canada in 1977, Ilsa the Tigress of Siberia premiered in Japan today in 1978.
Kanô and company are still Crazy after all these years.
Today's deep dive into the pinku pile has produced this two panel promo for Sukeban: Tamatsuki asobi, aka Girl Boss: Crazy Ball Game, which starred Yûko Kanô and premiered today in 1974. Not every pinku movie had these types of posters but we've acquired quite a few. We'd upload others, but we don't know what films some of them are for. We'll get around to sharing them anyway, though.
Looking below, you'll see we've grabbed some promo photos. These came from an online auction. The last panel shows Yûko Kanô's co-stars Ritsuko Fujiyama, Emi Jô, Harumi Tajima, Rie Saotome, and Ryôko Ema having some wild and watery fun. Sukeban: Tamatsuki asobi has it all—violence, sex, violence, Yakuza, violence, and more. You can read a bit more about it at our write-up from some years ago, located at this link.
When Meiko comes 'round trouble is sure to follow.
We're in Japan again today with another Meiko Kaji poster. Above you see an incredibly rare circular promo for the pinku film Joshû sasori: Dai-41 zakkyo-bô, aka Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41, along with the standard promo. It premiered in Japan today in 1972. Meiko's paid her debt to society for now, so we'll let her go, but don't worry. She's a career criminal—she'll be back.
Maximum security, maximum thrills.
Japanese manga artist Toru Shinohara painted two posters for Meiko Kaji's classic Female Convict series. We shared the first, for Joshuu sasori: Dai-41 zakkyo-bô, aka Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41, back in 2014. Here's the second, for Joshû sasori: 701-gô urami-bushi, aka Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701's Grudge Song. It premiered in Japan today in 1973. We'll get back to Shinohara a bit later.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1927—Mae West Sentenced to Jail
American actress and playwright Mae West is sentenced to ten days in jail for obscenity for the content of her play Sex. The trial occurred even though the play had run for a year and had been seen by 325,000 people. However West's considerable popularity, already based on her risque image, only increased due to the controversy.
1971—Manson Sentenced to Death
In the U.S, cult leader Charles Manson is sentenced to death for inciting the murders of Sharon Tate and several other people. Three accomplices, who had actually done the killing, were also sentenced to death, but the state of California abolished capital punishment in 1972 and neither they nor Manson were ever actually executed.
1923—Yankee Stadium Opens
In New York City, Yankee Stadium, home of Major League Baseball's New York Yankees, opens with the Yankees beating their eternal rivals the Boston Red Sox 4 to 1. The stadium, which is nicknamed The House that Ruth Built, sees the Yankees become the most successful franchise in baseball history. It is eventually replaced by a new Yankee Stadium and closes in September 2008.
1961—Bay of Pigs Invasion Is Launched
A group of CIA financed and trained Cuban refugees lands at the Bay of Pigs in southern Cuba with the aim of ousting Fidel Castro. However, the invasion fails badly and the result is embarrassment for U.S. president John F. Kennedy and a major boost in popularity for Fidel Castro, and also has the effect of pushing him toward the Soviet Union for protection.
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