Tempest and Co. Show their skills in Japan.
A few days back we shared a poster for the burlesque documentary Japanese Nights. You seemed to enjoy that, so today we're back with another rare and beautiful promo. The text ピンクショウ translates to “Pink Show,” and since Tempest Storm's name appears at top, we're guessing she was the featured dancer. We suppose theoretically this could be a Japanese poster for her U.S. documentary Teaserama, but we doubt it. We think this was put together later exclusively for Japan. Too bad we can't watch it to confirm that theory, but at least we'll always have the art. Speaking of which, check out more Japanese burlesque posters here, here, here, and here.
When the lights go down the stars come out.
This beautiful poster with a statuesque dancer front and center was made to promote a documentary on burlesque, a Japan-only release with no western distribution or title, called 日本の夜, which basically would translate as “Japanese Nights.” The central figure is Gypsy Rose Lee, and the movie was filmed in 1962 by Keiji Oono—not in Japan, but rather largely at Le Lido de Paris, home of the legendary Bluebell Girls. Le Lido still exists, though it's moved from its original 1946 location. If it's anything like the poster, with singers and geishas and glittering comet trails, we'll be visiting on our next trip to Paris.
Pink and yellow are normally so cheery.
Zûmu in: Bôkô danchi, for which you see a poster above, is another Nikkatsu roman porno movie, with a serial killer/rapist on the loose dispatching women in baroque and horrible ways. The star of the movie, Erina Miyai, falls victim to a rapist early on but is not killed. When the murders start she wonders if it's the same man. That question is answered quickly, but mystery is not really the point here. The goal seems to be making a mash-up of Japanese pinku (pink film) and Italian giallo (yellow film).
For example, during one of the killings a woman is pursued past an apartment block, but in filmmaking terms she's running in place, which lends the scene the nightmarish quality characteristic of giallo. All the windows beyond her are illuminated, but as she screams for help the lights go out one by one. As far as mixing filmmaking palettes goes, it's nice work. As far as the message, was director Naosuke Kurosawa also trying to tell viewers Japan was becoming inured to violent crime? Perhaps.
Based on the existence of roman porno Japan was for sure becoming inured to violent movies. Zûmu in: Bôkô danchi is more violent than most, but with its deliberate attempt to transcend—however slightly—the requisites of roman porno, it's also better than most. Does that mean it's actually good? Not as such, but for serious film buffs it's worth a glance and a discussion. It premiered today in 1980.
That moment when you realize your neighbors have known all along you've been watching them.
Above, a poster for Danchizuma: Kanki no yoru, aka Apartment Wife: Night of Pleasure, starring Junko Miyashita, Tatsuya Hamaguchi, and Masumi Jun. This is of course another Nikkatsu roman porno romp, with all that the label suggests. This entry was seventh in a franchise that eventually totaled twenty-one films. It premiered in Japan today in 1973.
A step by step guide to being a total badass.
This incredibly cool collectible poster was made to promote Wakai kizoku-tachi: 13-kaidan no Maki, aka 13 Steps of Maki: The Young Aristocrats, which is more girl gang goodness from the schlockmeisters at Toei Company. Etsuko Shihomi (sometimes spelled Shiomi) plays Maki of the 13 Steps, leader of the Stray Cats, a group of very tough, martial arts trained femi-delinquents. Maki and the gang bury an arrogant one percenter up to her neck on a beach in retaliation for a traffic related insult, which is all good fun, but the victim is Takako, daughter of the powerful, yakuza connected owner of Ebihara Tourism. Once she digs herself out of the sand she retaliates. This in turn brings re-retaliation from the Cats, which brings re-re-retaliation from Takako, and pretty soon things are well out of control.
The movie is based on an Ikki Kajiwara/Masaaki Satô comic, and director Makoto Naitô uses some amazing comic book style, multi-character framing, as seen in our screen grabs below. This is top notch work from Toei's pinky violence line, about as fun as a Japanese actioner gets. And in supporting roles you'll encounter Sonny Chiba, Meika Seri, and Yûko Kanô. Watching movies like this almost makes up for all the Nikkatsu roman porno misfires we slog through. Almost. Etsuko Shihomi is considered a bit of a film icon in Asia because her martial arts skills were real, and she appeared in so many movies. We have numerous posters of hers to share later and they're even more amazing than this one. Wakai kizoku-tachi: 13-kaidan no Maki premiered in Japan today in 1975.
Step one is here, on the bottom of my platform boot. Have a close look.
Step two is don't put your face where people tell you. We'll get to step three after you heal.
The winds of war blow hard and cruel over man and woman alike.
This striking pink poster was made to promote Shunpu den, known in English as Story of a Prostitute. Based on a novel by Taijiro Tamura, this is another of director Seijun Suzuki's envelope pushing dramas. He made a habit of disobeying the directives of his studio Nikkatsu and here he crafts a tale that refuses to simply extol the virtues and glories of the Japanese military. Plotwise, a woman falls in love with a lieutenant's lowly aide, and as the superior officer torments her, she and the subordinate embark on a forbidden affair. This occurs during the Sino-Japanese War circa 1935, and when the Chinese attack, the question of honor versus survival comes to the fore.
A lot of reviews call the lead character here, played by Yumiko Nogawa, a prostitute, but that's a simplification. She plays an ianfu or comfort woman, which was a form of sexual bondage usually reserved for foreigners. Ianfu were sent around to military garrisons to have sex with soldiers, and sometimes the ratio of women to men was very lopsided. We've seen 1:1000 cited, but can't confirm that independently. Lawsuits about this are still crawling through international courts. Japan's oldest English language newspaper The Japan Times recently was called out for acquiescing to Prime Minster Shinzō Abe's insistence that ianfu be referred to by terminology less embarrassing to Japan.
Westerners generally won't have all this history in mind when watching Shunpu den, but it's useful to consider. Nogawa's character Harumi is Japanese and a volunteer, so in both respects she's atypical compared to the reality of Korean, Indonesian, and Filipino women abducted by the tens of thousands. With this type of subtext to the backstory, and a foreground occupied by men indoctrinated into a military corps bound by an intractable and sometimes suicidal code of conduct, a happy ending seems like an impossibility. But you never know. However it turns out, the worth of dramatic cinema is in the trying. Shunpu den premiered in Japan today in 1965
Shima's education costs become too much to bear.
Above is a poster for Dan Oniroku hebi no ana, also known as Snake Hole, starring Izumi Shima. We wish she had made a few movies in the mainstream, but she was a roman porno star, and that means some of her output can be hard to watch. We make no judgments. Well, no, we do make judgments, but we try to be open minded about these crazy flicks. Japanese filmmakers were exploding old taboos and on the balance that was a good thing, but where Toei's pinky violence usually empowered women, Nikkatsu's roman pornos recast them as victims. In this film, for example, Shima is forced to participate in bdsm fantasies. She's shaved, hung from ropes, walked with a dog collar, and is erotically vacuumed (don't ask). This was Shima's last starring role, and it came near the end of Nikkatsu's roman porno obsession. But of course that was just a marketing label. The studio continued its explorations of taboo subject matter. As far as this one goes, we don't recommend it, but we've seen worse films. If it sounds like something that'd interest you—so pee it. Dan Oniroku hebi no ana premiered in Japan today in 1983.
Ahh-ahh! He'll save every one of us!
Back to the Japan bin today with a colorful poster painted by Renato Casaro for Flash Gordon—’80s version—with Sam J. Jones as Flash, Max von Sydow as Ming, Ornella Muti as Princess Aura, and Queen on the theme music. Flash! Ahhh-ahhh! He's a miracle! We liked Muti so much we featured her in costume not once, but twice. Muti! Ahh-ahh! She's even more miraculous than Flash! Often the Japanese titles of western flicks are wild digressions from the originals but this one seems to be literal—Furasshu gōdon. After opening in the U.S. at the end of 1980 it landed in Japan today in 1981.
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 headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1936—First Helicopter Flight
In Berlin, Germany, in a sports stadium, Ewald Rohlfs takes the Focke-Wulf Fw 61 on its first flight. It is the first fully-controllable helicopter, featuring two counter rotating rotors mounted on the chassis of a training aircraft. Only two are ever produced, and neither survive today.
1963—John F. Kennedy Visits Berlin
22 months after East Germany erects the Berlin Wall as a barrier to prevent movement between East and West Berlin, John F. Kennedy visits West Berlin and speaks the famous words "Ich bin ein Berliner." Suggestions that Kennedy misspoke and in reality called himself a jelly donut are untrue.
2009—Farrah Fawcett Dies
American actress Farrah Fawcett, who started as a model but became famous after one season playing detective Jill Munroe on the television show Charlie's Angels
after a long battle with cancer.
1938—Chicora Meteor Lands
In the U.S., above Chicora, Pennsylvania, a meteor estimated to have weighed 450 metric tons explodes in the upper atmosphere and scatters fragments across the sky. Only four small pieces are ever discovered, but scientists estimate that the meteor, with an explosive power of about three kilotons of TNT, would have killed everyone for miles around if it had detonated in the city.
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