Vintage Pulp Jul 9 2014
STIRRING IT UP
Rub-a-dub-dub, a girl and her tub…

By now you know we’re really into these promos for Japanese ama movies, so here’s one for Kuikomi ama: Midare-gai, aka Marked Ama: Stirred Up Shell. The poster is instructive because it’s the only one we’ve seen that offers a good look at one of the ama’s most important tools. No, not that, silly. We mean her wooden tub, which floats on the water's surface attached to its owner by a rope. Typically they’re a bit larger than the one pictured, and are used to hold whatever she finds. One source said they were used as buoys that she clung to in order to rest between dives, but we’re not too sure on that. By chance we ran across some black and white ama photographs from the 1950s and we’ll put those up soon. But getting back to the movie, basically you get the standard plot here of illicit sex in a small fishing village triggering jealousy and revenge, and upsetting the delicate local equilibrium. The movie stars Ryoko Watanabe and was directed for Nikkatsu Corporation by Atsushi Fujiura. It premiered in Japan today in 1982.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 1 2014
AFTER THE FALLS
Monroe may wobble but she won’t fall down.


Marilyn Monroe shows up just about everywhere, and here she is yet again where we didn’t expect to see her—fronting a Malaysian film publication that appeared today in 1953. The magazine, called Filmalaya, is in English, which marks it as aimed at the British colonial community that occupied the upper stratum of society in Malaysia and Singapore. The cover photo is from a publicity series made when Monroe filmed the movie Niagara in Ontario, Canada in late 1952, and let’s just assume her perch is not as precarious as it seems and there’s a handy ledge or lawn behind her in case she goes heels up. But if she does, there are other stars in the magazine, such as Joan Collins, Betty Grable, Rhonda Fleming, Ava Gardner, and Nat King Cole.

Filmalaya represents an interesting snapshot into colonial society, as in the article about Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in London, which describes the thrills and excitement in Malaysia during the event. Doubtless, the mood around the Commonwealth probably seemed festive when viewed from inside the colonial bubble, but we doubt actual Malaysians were particularly moved. Needless to say, this magazine is rare, but luckily items from Asia are often a bargain, so this cost a mere six U.S. dollars. While the inside is nothing special visually speaking, that doesn’t matter when the magazine has this great cover and is such an informative slice of history. We’ve uploaded a few of the best pages below. Enjoy. 

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Vintage Pulp Jul 1 2014
MEDIUM COOL
Is there a Breeze in here?


A little while ago we shared an image of American actress Judy Pace, and that got us thinking about some of her blaxploitation flicks. One we hadn’t seen was Cool Breeze, a reworking of the classic 1950s crime drama The Asphalt Jungle, which was in turn based on W.R. Burnett’s novel. We watched it last night and enjoyed it, though like many movies of the genre it’s the grittiness and other intangibles that make it good, as opposed to the acting and directing, which aren’t great.

But one bonus was the brief appearance of Pam Grier, who you see below in a totally nude still image you won’t find on any other website (at least not yet). We found it interesting that the scene in question did not actually show Grier nude. Instead, her entire torso was blocked by a character in the foreground. But obviously there was another camera and the still was taken from the alternate angle cinemagoers never got to see. You’re welcome internetgoers. Grier was once described by fellow actress Margaret Markov as fearless, basically up for anything, and here’s proof.

Moving on to the poster, it was made for the movie’s Italian run as I diamanti sono pericolosi, which means “diamonds are dangerous.” This piece of art is rare not just in the real world, but on the internet, which means that, like the Grier photo, you probably won’t find it on any other website (at least not an unwatermarked version). Cool Breeze premiered in the U.S. in 1972. No info on when it debuted in Italy.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 28 2014
THE NOT SO GREAT ESCAPE
There is no escape from Hell thanks to the internet.


This amazing Italian poster is for a cuddly little piece of nazisploitation called Perversion, which was originally made in France as Nathalie rescapée de l'enfer, and known in the English speaking world as Nathalie: Escape from Hell. A poster like this cries out for us to watch the film, and luckily we were able to track it down and screen it. The art pretty much nails it. A French farmer’s daughter is captured by the Nazis and sent to a castle brothel, where she endures the usual sexploitation degradations—gropings, whippings, and uninvited advances from a domineering, leather-clad queen bee named Helga Hortz. A love connection develops between Nathalie and a German officer, and when the affair comes to light Helga decides it’s time to hortz poor Nathalie. This is a really bad movie. It’s the type of flick that includes lengthy sequences of the villains going Mwah hah hah hah hah hah! All it needed was Monty Burns rubbing his gnarled hands together and intoning, “Smithers, release the hounds.” On the plus side, star Patrizia Gori gives it her all, and the supporting cast includes Barbara Moose and Brigitte Lahaie. Perversion aka Nathalie rescapée de l'enfer premiered in France today in 1978.

Sigh. How on Earth did I end up in this clusterfuck of a movie?
 
I once did Molière at the Comédie-Française. That was a great summer.
 
Oh God, who am I kidding? That was the best summer of my life.
 
This is my agent’s fault. I’m going to push him off the top of the Sacré-Cœur.
 
Shit—did I remember to put cat food in the bowl this morning?
 
Well, it’ll have a short, deeply embarrassing run in cinemas, and then maybe I’ll spend a few years in Canada, and when I get back this abomination will have been forgotten forever.
 

Wait—so this internet thing you’re talking about will be globally available and filled with every shitty old movie ever made?


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Femmes Fatales Jun 27 2014
ANNY SUNSHINE
Take her for a test dive and you’ll see—there’s nothing like a Chevalier.

Not only is Anny Duperey an actress, author, and activist, but she’s a Chevalier of the Ordre National de la Légion d’honneur, an order established in 1802 by Napoleon. Not sure if that comes with a sword or some armor or a fancy crest, but it’s impressive nonetheless, as is the fact that she’s been directed by cinema greats like Jean Luc Godard, Roger Vadim, Alain Resnais, and Sydney Pollack. Still, we’re even more impressed by this photo that pretty much encapsulates the concept of summer. It was shot in 1964, in the waters off Cannes, France.
 
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Femmes Fatales Jun 24 2014
PROW MARY
Each day presents an ocean of possibilities.

Texas-born actress Mary Martin enjoys some time on the water in this Paramount publicity photo. Though she had no idea at this moment, her film, stage and radio career would profit her two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Yes, you can receive two. Hers are for film and radio, and we assume that puts her in rare company. This shot is from 1940.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 23 2014
MONA RIZA MYSTERY
Like the mysterious Da Vinci painting we can’t figure out this piece of art.


Above and below are two posters for Iwataro Ishii’s Mona Riza okyo, which was based on the graphic novel of the same name by Teruo Tanashita, and stars Mari Atsumi as a pickpocket trying to get her hands on a valuable but elusive diamond pin called the Star of the Sea. Strangely, the word “Kyoto” clearly appears in the poster titles—it’s the last symbol on both—but all the sources we checked said the film is called Mona Riza okyo. It’s a mystery too deep for us to solve, but if any of you can shed some light on it please drop us a line. Mona Riza okyo premiered in Japan today in 1971.

Update: David W. writes in and tells us: Indeed the last word on each poster is Okyo, not Kyoto.

Mystery solved. Thanks David for your help.

Update 2: NelC offers a more detailed explanation of the title. Here's what he wrote: The transliteration of the subject line is indeed Mona Lisa O-Kyō. The proper name for Kyōto is 京都市, "Kyōto-shi" or "Kyoto City" in English. 京都 is "Kyōto." 京 is "Kyō." 京 by itself means "capital" as in "capital city," and お is an honorific, so お京 might be read as "the capital." (モナリサ is, of course, "Mona Lisa.")

So the title might be read as "The Capital Mona Lisa." The significance of this is beyond my meagre abilities in Japanese, though. A colloquialism for "the great," maybe, as in Wodehouse-era British English? I don't know.

Thank you NelC. Your excellent explanation is more than we could have reasonably hoped for. Mystery solved, again.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 23 2014
ALL'S WELLES
What is authorship, after all?


This striking paperback cover for Mr. Arkadin was put together for Britain’s WDL Books by R. W. Smethurst, a well-known illustrator of comic books during the 1950s and 1960s. The Smethurst signature you see is not an autograph, but rather part of the art, something many of his covers contained. But the fact that he claims credit at all is rather interesting, because the art isn’t completely his. He seems to have borrowed his red-skirted femme fatale from Robert Maguire, who painted her for John D. MacDonald’s April Evil, below. It’s quite possible the other figures are borrowed as well. How strange.  

Or is it? Maybe Smethurst was simply following Orson Welles’ lead. Though Welles is credited as author of Mr. Arkadin, he never wrote it. He developed a story for the film version, and wrote the script for it, but after the film he farmed out the novelization to a French film critic named Maurice Bessy. That screenplay adaptation was published in French in 1955, then translated from French into English a year later and released as what you see above. So in the end we have Welles taking credit for another’s writing, and Smethurst borrowing another’s art. And to think, all this derived from a film Welles never finished.
 
Yet, it’s fitting. Welles was consumed by the question of fakery. His documentary F for Fake discusses the subject in absorbing detail, even focusing on his own work. In short, he suggests that authenticity is a chimerical concept because it is subject to human error and fraud. While Welles slyly avoided explicitly claiming authorship of the Mr. Arkadin novelization, Maurice Bessy’s role, if it was ever widely known, was reconfirmed only in 2007. It’s easy to suspect that Welles knew the role of his ghostwriter would be forgotten. We’re talking about a man, after all, whose career caught fire thanks to one of history’s ultimate fakes—his panic inducing War of the Worlds broadcast.

We’re pretty sure, Smethurst, however, is not actually playing with the concept of fakery. John D. MacDonald was not obscure and neither was artist Robert Maguire, so there was no attempt at theft when Smethurst painted a close duplicate of Maguire’s femme. His cover falls into the category of pastiche—work in the style of another. What we’d really enjoy is if someone out there identified the other figures on the cover. But if those are Smethurst’s that would prove interesting too. In the meantime, if you want to know about Welles’ F for Fake and learn more about his attitudes toward authenticity, go here.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 22 2014
MARLENE'S EYES
Paris gives Dietrich first class treatment.

Above are scans from Paris Magazine, one of the more elegant celeb and art publications of the 1930s. Marlene Dietrich popped up quite a bit in its pages (with eyes famously enhanced by Max Factor), and you also get images of Joan Walsh, photography from Rémy Duval, Roger Schall, Jablonowsky, and Fred Wallentin, all from 1934. We have more scans from an issue containing a couple of nice shots of Josephine Baker that we’ll get up soonish. Until then you can see more from Paris Magazine here.

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Hollywoodland Jun 20 2014
A GREAT ESCAPE
Steve McQueen enjoys a moment of reflection.

Above, a rare photo of American actor Steve McQueen lounging poolside at his home in Palm Springs, California, 1963. That would have been around the time his movie The Great Escape was released, making him the top box office draw in the world. But in Palm Springs he spent a lot of time escaping Hollywood by riding motorcycles and shooting pistols in the desert, two favorite pursuits. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 27
1975—Haile Selassie I Dies
Haile Selassie I, former Emperor of the Kingdom of Ethiopia, dies of respiratory failure. Selassie was most famous for his landmark speech before the League of Nations in 1936, in which he pleaded for help against an Italian invasion, but to no avail. He warned that fascist aggression would not end with Ethiopia. His words, "It is us today; it will be you tomorrow," turn out to be prophetic when Germany's fascists later spark World War II.
August 26
1939—First Baseball Telecast
The first televised baseball game, a doubleheader between the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers, takes place at New York City's Ebbets Field.
August 25
1944—Vive la France
With the surrender of the last occupying German garrison, Paris is liberated from Nazi occupation by Allied troops after six days of fighting. The city had been administered by Nazi Germany since the Second Compiègne armistice in June 1940 when Germany occupied the north and west of France and when the Vichy regime was created in the city of Vichy in central France.

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