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.
Sugimoto heats up summer in Tokyo.
We like to keep an eye out for these cinema flyers advertising vintage pinku flicks because they usually feature imaginative reworkings of iconic imagery. In this case, Miki Sugimoto appears front and center on a flyer produced for a film festival at the Jinbōchō Theater, an arts complex comprising a theatre, cinema, and performance space opened in 2007 by Shogakukan publishers in the Jinbōchō neighborhood of Chiyoda, Tokyo. The shot of Sugimoto comes from her 1974 pinku actioner Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa, aka Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs, which plays from today through the end of July on a slate with fifteen other films of the non-pinku variety.
The nicely designed text in the bubbles at the center of the poster says something like, “Films born from summer vacation special project cartoons,” or put another way, it's a summer festival of films whose source material were all mangas—i.e. Japanese comic books. Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa was based on a manga by Tōru Shinohara, who also wrote the manga that inspired the hit Meiko Kaji series Female Prisoner Scorpion.
As a side note, the Jinbōchō Theater is an amazing structure designed by acclaimed architects Nikken Sekkei, and we uploaded a shot of it so you could have a look. It's an intimate space—99 seats, which means it was made specifically for film revivals. Generally we're all about vintage stuff and preserving history, particularly fantastic old cinemas, but nothing significant was torn down to build the Jinbōchō Theater, and in a city as modern as Tokyo a structure like this fits right in. If you're a film buff and you happen to be in that region of the globe you now have something to do in July.
Idle handcuffs are the Devil’s playthings.
We’re into the Japanese pile again today, but for a different type of poster, and a different type of movie. This rare promo is for Yukio Noda’s Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa, aka Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs, starring Miki Sugimoto. It’s a limited edition piece painted by the famed manga artist Toru Shinohara. We watched this movie recently, and we’d tell you all about it, but do you really need another blog review, even an extraordinarily (ahem) witty and erudite one? Thought not. It’s widely available, so search it out, queue it up, and enjoy it. Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa premiered in Japan today in 1974.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1986—Otto Preminger Dies
Austro–Hungarian film director Otto Preminger, who directed such eternal classics as Laura, Anatomy of a Murder
, Carmen Jones
, The Man with the Golden Arm
, and Stalag 17
, and for his efforts earned a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, dies in New York City, aged 80, from cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
1998—James Earl Ray Dies
The convicted assassin of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., petty criminal James Earl Ray, dies in prison of hepatitis aged 70, protesting his innocence as he had for decades. Members of the King family who supported Ray's fight to clear his name believed the U.S. Government had been involved in Dr. King's killing, but with Ray's death such questions became moot.
1912—Pravda Is Founded
The newspaper Pravda, or Truth, known as the voice of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, begins publication in Saint Petersburg. It is one of the country's leading newspapers until 1991, when it is closed down by decree of then-President Boris Yeltsin. A number of other Pravdas appear afterward, including an internet site and a tabloid.
1983—Hitler's Diaries Found
The German magazine Der Stern claims that Adolf Hitler's diaries had been found in wreckage in East Germany. The magazine had paid 10 million German marks for the sixty small books, plus a volume about Rudolf Hess's flight to the United Kingdom, covering the period from 1932 to 1945. But the diaries are subsequently revealed to be fakes written by Konrad Kujau, a notorious Stuttgart forger. Both he and Stern journalist Gerd Heidemann go to trial in 1985 and are each sentenced to 42 months in prison.
1918—The Red Baron Is Shot Down
German WWI fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, better known as The Red Baron, sustains a fatal wound while flying over Vaux sur Somme in France. Von Richthofen, shot through the heart, manages a hasty emergency landing before dying in the cockpit of his plane. His last word, according to one witness, is "Kaputt." The Red Baron was the most successful flying ace during the war, having shot down at least 80 enemy airplanes.
1964—Satellite Spreads Radioactivity
An American-made Transit satellite, which had been designed to track submarines, fails to reach orbit after launch and disperses its highly radioactive two pound plutonium power source over a wide area as it breaks up re-entering the atmosphere.
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