Vintage Pulp Jul 4 2015
SUMMER MOON
Shine on you crazy diamond.


There’s some confusion online about whether this promo poster for Moon over Miami was painted by Alberto Vargas. Jan-Christopher Horak’s book Saul Bass: Anatomy of Film Design states: “Virtually all movie poster design work remained anonymous, although a few well-known designers received contracts, including Alberto Vargas for Moon over Miami.” On the other hand, several auction sites claim Vargas only worked on the print ads, and that the artist who painted the poster was charged with emulating the Vargas style. So there you go—cleared that right up, no? Well, we tend to believe Vargas would not have received a contract simply for print ads. What would the point of that be? So we think this piece is his.

In any case, we’ve always loved the poster and it prompted us to finally watch the film. Guess what? It’s just what you’d expect from looking at the art—goofy, gooey, and terminally good-natured. None of that is particularly pulp, but hey, crazy as it sounds, some filmmakers actually prefer to downplay death and mayhem. Betty Grable stars here as a woman determined to marry a millionaire. She sets up at a Miami hotel with her sister and aunt, and pretends to be rich herself, with the aim attracting the proper suitors. Confusion ensues, enlivened by musical numbers. Grable proves in this movie why she was a star, as does the object of her destiny Don Ameche, and excellent support comes from Carole Landis and Charlotte Greenwood. We don’t generally go for this sort of film, but we liked this one, as did our girlfriends. Now back to death and mayhem. Moon over Miami premiered in the U.S. today in 1941.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 2 2015
DRIVING TEST
Scenes from the class struggle in film noir.

This nice piece was painted by French artist Emmanuel Gaillard for Une femme dangereuse, which was originally released in 1940 as They Drive by Night. The movie, which is adapted from A. I. Bezzerides’ 1938 novel Long Haul, deals with two wildcat truckers caught in the American class struggle—you know, that thing all the millionaire pundits on television tell you doesn’t exist? The drivers want to rise above their station, but find many obstacles in their way, including leasing companies, fruit buyers, competing truckers, road accidents, injuries, fatigue, and eventually, murder. While the world-against-the-working-man aspect is interesting, the best part is watching George Raft and Humphrey Bogart play the two hard luck drivers. The movie also boasts the excellent Ann Sheridan, as well as film noir icon Ida Lupino in full-on crazy mode. But like the several trucks onscreen that veer off the road, the movie itself lurches into melodrama at the end. Une femme dangereuse had its French premiere today in 1947.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 29 2015
CROWN JEWEL
An Affair to beat all affairs.


These two posters for The Thomas Crown Affair are among the more visually pleasing Japanese promos for Western films we’ve come across, both versions managing to capture the style and mood of the movie quite nicely. Directed by Norman Jewison, The Thomas Crown Affair was his follow-up feature to the bravura Oscar winner In the Heat of the Night and showed him in masterful command of his already razor sharp craft. And Faye Dunaway and Steve McQueen aren’t too shabby either, as what begins as enmity between a career thief and a genius investigator quickly becomes one of cinema history's most enjoyable mating dances.

Even if you’ve seen 1999’s redundant though palatable remake with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo, Jewison’s radiant original is still a must see, and it’s different in enough details to keep viewers guessing. Direction, cinematography, editing, music, production design, wardrobe, and script all combine self-consciously and expertly as if in an irresistibly decadent multi-layer cake baked by a top pastry chef. Good through and through, The Thomas Crown Affair opened in Japan today in 1968.


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Vintage Pulp Jun 29 2015
SPARE THE RODS
It isn’t really a racing movie, but it is a bit of a drag.


Hot Rod Gang falls into that category of movies that are better known for their poster art than for the actual film. And the poster art is definitely brilliant—no dispute there—but the movie? Not so much. John Ashley plays a hepcat who gets in trouble for reckless driving and, due to the pursuit of the local strongarm cop, has to adopt a new identity. Thrown onstage by happenstance, this new identity—Jackson Dalrymple—becomes a rock and roll star. Where’s the hot rodding, you wonder? The movie is really a musical comedy with a bit of racing wrapped around, while uniformly atrocious acting bogs down the whole enterprise. The main attraction is watching early rocker Gene Vincent play himself and put on a couple of numbers. The film also features other, less adept, probably dubbed performances, including several by Ashley, who you may remember for his run of Mystery Science Theatre-worthy 1970s horror/action epics shot in the Philippines. In the end Hot Rod Gang all comes together in a rumble and a chase. We can't recommended it, but it’s amusing if you’re in the right frame of mind. Oh, and we almost forgot—our copy kicked off with the ad you see below. Hot rods indeed.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 20 2015
OFFER OF A BRIBE
As far as we’re concerned the answer is still no.

We already wrote about 1949’s The Bribe and thought the movie was so-so. What isn’t so-so is the Belgian poster, which features text in both French and Dutch, and was used for the movie’s run as L'ile au complot. It’s so good it almost makes us want to watch the movie again. Almost… See our original write-up and some nice production photos here. 
 
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Vintage Pulp May 31 2015
LOW-YIELD BOND
Italian thriller offers viewers an entertaining world of trouble.


It’s probably fair to say Duello dans le monde, aka Ring Around the World has been pretty much forgotten in filmdom, but maybe it shouldn’t be. With a good premise, groovy-jazzy soundtrack, and location shooting in global hotspots like Bangkok, London, Hong Kong, and Rio de Janeiro, this was better than we had any right to expect. Richard Harrison investigates a series of seemingly natural deaths only to find that they were murders—in reality an assassin has shot the victims with pellets made of a frozen concoction that induces heart attacks. The pellets of course then melt and leave no trace behind.

We were drawn to this film by the excellent French language promo poster above painted by Giuliano Nistri, but were surprised to find a semi-competent thriller in the vein of James Bond. Interestingly, there’s a skydiving stunt here that predated the famous Moonraker opening sequence by more than a decade. The stunt isn’t exactly the same, but the idea is close, done low budget. The movie is probably too goofy and cheap to be called good, but on the whole it’s worth a look, and as a bonus it co-stars the wonderful Dominique Boschero. Originally released in Italy in 1966 and called Duello nel mondo, it opened in France as Duel dans le monde today in 1967. 
 
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Vintage Pulp May 27 2015
RUBBING ONE OUT
When Evelyn Keyes comes out of a lamp, is there really any need to wish for more?

The unusually beautiful French language poster above was made for the Belgian run of Aladin et la lampe merveilleuse, which was originally produced in the U.S. as A Thousand and One Nights. Some of the other posters for this set-in-Baghdad musical adventure are excellent too, such as the one you see at right (presumably made for the French run), but the version at top is the best—and rarest.

The art also manages to convey the mood of the movie quite accurately—it’s ninety minutes of cheeseball songs, Vaudevillian slapstick, and Cornel Wilde caught in the world’s silliest love triangle. All of this is slightly marred by the unfortunate sight of white actors hamming it up with brown shoe polish on their faces, but that's to be expected in a Middle-Eastern themed movie made during an era when actors of color were more-or-less barred from cinematic roles.

On balance, the movie is a real mood lifter, but the whole effort is just a little too stupidly sweet for us to truly call good, with a bit too much syrupy baritone crooning from Cornel Wilde (or more likely his voice double), and too much of the various love interests making cow-eyes at each other. But Evelyn Keyes as the troublemaking genie is a fun touch. She makes the movie worth it. Aladin et la lampe merveilleuse premiered in the U.S. in 1945, and played for the first time in France/Belgium today in 1949.

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Vintage Pulp May 26 2015
A CROSS TO BEAR
Crucifixion, death, and insurrection.


Last night we asked the Pulp Intl. girlfriends if they wanted to watch a movie and they said no because the movies we pick are always bad. That obvious slur against our taste aside, we explained yet again that we choose poster art, not movies. Which is to say, we merely react to interesting vintage movie promos by following where we’re asked to go—to the sofa for a screening. The above poster for Hiroku Nagasaki onna-ro, aka Nagasaki Women’s Prison is about as successful as Japanese promo art gets. With its graphics, colors, and weird-ass content it demands that you watch the movie. The fact that it’s a quasi-sequel to 1970’s successful Onna-ro hizu, aka Island of Horrors gave us hope it would be good.
 
So we watched and what we got was Akane Kawasaki, Tomoko Mayama, and others in a women-behind-bars flick set in the seventeenth century that starts with a crucifixion, ends with a crucifixion, and has lots of scheming, catfighting, and mayhem between. The only English review we found online said the crucifixions were a framing device—i.e. we see the same woman up there both times and the film explains how she got there. That isn’t true. We see two different women crucified. The first serves mainly as an example of what happens to unruly prisoners, which of course is what Kawasaki and company quickly become. Escape may not be in the cards, but at least they exact some measure of revenge against their male tormentors before all is said and done.

These crucifixions, we should mention, are not like what you see on the poster. That image is designed to trick you into watching something a bit more screamy, stabby, and bloody than you’d expect, so proceed with caution. In the end, we didn’t like the movie very much, and we got to thinking maybe our girlfriends are right. Maybe we do watch a lot of bad movies. Maybe they’re smart to avoid them. But no worries—we don’t need no icky old girls watching movies with us anyway. Hiroku Nagasaki onna-ro premiered in Japan today in 1971.


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Vintage Pulp May 25 2015
WEB OF DECEIT
Was it self-defense or murder? That’s always the question.

Do embezzlers even exist anymore, or is all that legal now? That’s the first question we had about The Web. The second was whether it’s believable for a lawyer to accept a gig moonlighting as a bodyguard for a wealthy and arrogant businessman. Well, maybe, if he wants mainly to get close to his new employer’s hot secretary Ella Raines. And his plan seems to be working, too, but just when things are heating up between them he has to shift into bodyguard mode and ends up killing an intruder bent on ventilating the businessman. But was the shooting legit or was it all a set-up to eliminate a rival? The lawyer starts to have suspicions when the dead man’s daughter appears and accuses him of being a hired murderer. From her perspective, what else could he appear to be? Raines, Edmund O’Brien, William Bendix, Vincent Price, John Abbott, and Maria Palmer do tolerable work here, but director Michael Gordon hits a few snags. For example, he shoots a restaurant scene between O’Brien and Bendix on two different sets and splices the halves together. Did one set burn down? Did the budget not include provisions for continuity? You can spot that gaffe at about 45:00. There are others. If you don’t mind such details there’s enjoyment to be had here, but if you like technical proficiency in your cinema, perhaps steer clear. The Web premiered in the U.S. today in 1947.
 

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Vintage Pulp May 10 2015
SHOCKING PINK
The only real shock is how bad the movie is.


1977’s Porno Shock was originally released in West Germany as Der Ruf der blonden Göttin, but was also known as Porno gola profonda, The Call of the Blonde Goddess, and Voodoo Passion. Indeed, there’s voodoo involved, as the film was shot in Haiti, and every film shot there involves voodoo. The movie was directed by Jesús Franco under his Manfred Gregor pseudonym, and starred Vicky Adams, better known as Nanda Van Bergen or sometimes Muriel Montosse. Supporting her were Ada Tauler, aka Annie Sand, Karine Gambier, Siegrid Sellier, Jack Taylor, and others.

Basically, a woman arrives on Haiti to visit her husband who works there, uncovers what seems to be an incestuous relationship between hubby and his sister, has some detailed erotic nightmares, and begins to believe she’s fallen under the influence of a voodoo curse. Probably the only thing you’ll fall under the influence of in this mostly atrocious softcore production is the dancing of Vicky Adams, who as a white voodoo priestess spends long stretches of screen time gyrating naked in the woods. Even the fact that she has to share these scenes with sundry male dancers and their stubby penises doesn't detract from her extreme, er, watchability. You can see for yourself right here at about minute 24:00, minute 38:00, and minute 103:00. Not that we kept track.

But lest we forget, Pulp Intl. is mainly dedicated to art, and the only reason we’re talking about Porno Shock is because the two English language posters above—and obviously the Italian one at right—were painted by Mafé, an Italian master illustrator who five years after we first learned about him remains a total mystery. We have no full name on him, no biography, nothing. But what we do have is more of his work, and you can see that here, here, and here. We also have more of his posters in our hard drive and we’ll get those up in a bit. Meanwhile, help us out Italian friends—who is this guy?

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 06
1962—William Faulkner Dies
American author William Faulkner, who wrote acclaimed novels such as Intruder in the Dust and The Sound and the Fury, dies of a heart attack in Wright's Sanitorium in Byhalia, Mississippi.
July 05
1942—Spy Novelist Graduates from Spy School
Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels, graduates from Camp X, a training school for spies located in Canada. The character of Bond has been said to have been based upon Camp X's Sir William Stephenson and what Fleming learned from him, though there are several other men who are also said to be the basis for Bond.
1989—Oliver North Avoids Prison
Colonel Oliver North, an aide to U.S. president Ronald Reagan, avoids jail during the sentencing phase of the Iran-Contra trials. North had been found guilty of falsifying and destroying documents, and obstructing Congress during their investigation of the massive drugs/arms/cash racket orchestrated by high-ranking members of the Reagan government.
July 04
1927—La Lollo Is Born
Gina Lollobrigida is born in Subiaco, Italy, and eventually becomes one of the world's most famous and desired actresses. Later she becomes a photojournalist, numbering among her subjects Salvador Dali, Paul Newman and Fidel Castro.

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