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 light years ahead of her time.
Pretty much every promo poster for Barbarella has been uploaded to the internet at this point, but this one is at least a bit rare. We aren't saying you haven't seen this shot of Jane Fonda in a fur coat before, but we sure hadn't. No need to write more about a movie that has been thoroughly covered by everyone and their nephew, so we'll just let the image speak for itself. And what the hell—we'll even add a few more below for good measure, with Fonda trying out a different ray gun in each. Barbarella, the best sex adventure ever set in the 41st century, opened in the U.S. today in 1968.
If anyone can get these people whipped into shape it's her.
Above is a cool cover for Jak Delay's 1953 thriller Mission “microbienne”, a title that would translate as “microbial mission.” He wrote it for Éditions Le Trotteur and the art is by Mik, aka Jacques Thibésart, someone we've talked about extensively. We particularly like his femme fatale here. She's carrying a whip, the indispensable accessory for any modern woman, perfect for keeping male subordinates in line, and good for getting the attention of bartenders and waiters. The microbienne aspect of the story has to do with chemical warfare. The heroine Isabel Didier is tasked with retrieving French bacteriological weapons stolen by East German spies. As usual in these types of tales, Isabel is a real hotty and that's basically her main advantage dealing with various hapless commies. Or put another way, the Cold War warms up quickly thanks to Isabel. Mission “microbienne” could be the first in a series. We aren't sure. But maybe we'll check into that and report back. In the meantime, more Mik covers here and here.
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.
Okay! Please, enough! How about we just admit we're both wrong and leave it at that!
So, after all these years the consensus among experts finally is that cover artist Jacques Thibésart's stylized signature should be read Mik instead of Nik, so we've shared this cover today to call attention to the change we've made to all his previous mentions on Pulp Intl. The man has caused no end of trouble. But he's worth it, because just look at this piece above, with a femme fatale Harveying the living daylights out of a problematic male. This fronts Bevis Winter's Quand elles se mettent à cogner... which was published by Éditions Le Trotteur in 1953 for its series Le Roman de Choc, or Shock Novel. Winter was an English author active during the 1950s who published as Hyman Zoré, Al Bocca, Gordon Shayne, Peter Cagney, and other pseudonyms. It's possible—but not certain—that Quand elles se mettent à cogner... is actually a translation of Larry O'Brien's 1950 thriller Angels Bruise Easy. But don't quote us on that, because French mid-century popular literature is a constant mystery and not even the experts seem able to unravel it.
Need a little help around the house?
Above is a poster for Dorei keiyakushu, yet another entry in Nikkatsu's roman porno pantheon, and one that gets viewers to the usual place by a slightly different route. The film opens with Nami Matsukawa having her pubic hair shaved off by a man. She isn't too thrilled about it. Then he gives her an enema, and it's us who aren't too thrilled. Then he binds her in rope kinbaku-bi style, basically wrapping her like a gift, carefully places her in a crate with some packing material, closes it up and has some delivery guys take the container away. The parcel ends up in the house of Hidekazu Mikami, who's surprised as hell when he opens it, as is his wife, played by Izumi Shima. Imagine explaining that. A sheaf of legal documents around Nami's neck says that she's a slave and will serve as payment of a debt. And just like that it's straight to the kinky sex and domination. You can always count on Nikkatsu—they never fail to get you to bondage land, if indeed that's where you want to go. Us, we can take or leave it. Even though we have many more roman porno posters we'd like to share, we may shift more toward Toei's pinky violence action movies for a while. They're harder to find, but worth the effort—and we can only watch so many enemas. Dorei keiyakushu premiered in Japan today in 1982.
It says she'll do anything you ask. Laundry, dishes, handjobs, whatever.
Baby, I swear I didn't order a slave.
But as long as we have one...
If you think this is painful wait until I tell you all the kinky things I did with your husband.
T'as triché marquise was written by the pseudonymous author George Maxwell and published in 1953 as part of Editions le Condor's collection La Môme Double-Shot. This is of the more violent entries in the series and the cover art reflects that. What we like best about it is how effortless the blonde makes her submission hold on the brunette look. Not a single golden hair has moved. Many of these Double Shot covers were painted by Jean Salvetti, but this one is by Jacques Thibésart, also known as Nik, or more likely Mik (we're still avoiding changing all those old posts but we'll get around to it). In any case, fine work.
She may be a bald mouse but you're about to be a dead rat, buster.
This beautiful cover was painted for Éditions le Trotteur's popular collection Espions et Agents Secrets by Nik, aka Jacques Thibésart, and illustrates Yannick Williams', aka Jacques-Henri Juillet's 1953 thriller Mademoiselle “Chauve Souris”, aka Miss “Bat”. That's a lot of aka's, and here comes one more. In French souris means “mouse,” chauve means bald, and the two words together mean “bat”—literally “bald mouse.” French paperback titles can get a little slangy, though. Souris by itself—a mouse—is also a word for a pretty woman. So there could be another aka happening here in the form of a pun. We don't know. Jo, where are you? We need you on this one.
Oh, and there's one more thing, also aka related. Thibésart has an unusual signature—not visible on this cover but viewable here—in which the “N” could be read as a stylized “M.” Just lately, online experts are beginning to wonder if his signature should be read “Mik” instead of “Nik.” Thibésart is still around, but in classic French fashion refuses to discuss any of this despite several queries being floated his way. So for now we'll stick with Nik. Also, we don't want to change all our previous posts on this guy. We will update later if needed.
Update: it was needed.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1933—Blaine Act Passes
The Blaine Act, a congressional bill sponsored by Wisconsin senator John J. Blaine, is passed by the U.S. Senate and officially repeals the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution, aka the Volstead Act, aka Prohibition. The repeal is formally adopted as the 21st Amendment to the Constitution on December 5, 1933.
1947—Voice of America Begins Broadcasting into U.S.S.R.
The state radio channel known as Voice of America and controlled by the U.S. State Department, begins broadcasting into the Soviet Union in Russian with the intent of countering Soviet radio programming directed against American leaders and policies. The Soviet Union responds by initiating electronic jamming of VOA broadcasts.
1937—Carothers Patents Nylon
Wallace H. Carothers, an American chemist, inventor and the leader of organic chemistry at DuPont Corporation, receives a patent for a silk substitute fabric called nylon. Carothers was a depressive who for years carried a cyanide capsule on a watch chain in case he wanted to commit suicide, but his genius helped produce other polymers such as neoprene and polyester. He eventually did take cyanide—not in pill form, but dissolved in lemon juice—resulting in his death in late 1937.
1933—Franklin Roosevelt Survives Assassination Attempt
In Miami, Florida, Giuseppe Zangara attempts to shoot President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt, but is restrained by a crowd and, in the course of firing five wild shots, hits five people, including Chicago, Illinois Mayor Anton J. Cermak, who dies of his wounds three weeks later. Zangara is quickly tried and sentenced to eighty years in jail for attempted murder, but is later convicted of murder when Cermak dies. Zangara is sentenced to death and executed in Florida's electric chair.
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