Vintage Pulp May 29 2018
A PHONE CALL AWAY
Hello, is this the murder helpline? I'd like help killing my cheating ass wife.


Most people who haven't seen the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Dial M for Murder jokingly ask, “How could anyone want to kill Grace Kelly?” Well, because she's cheating with another man. Not that infidelity justifies murder, but it certainly can be expected to provoke some sort of serious reaction. Probably Ray Milland, her husband, should have confronted her with the usual questions: “When did it start?” “Do you love him?” “Is his dick bigger than mine?” “Does he make you orgasm and if so how?”

But instead of being reasonable Milland decides his wife needs to be gone from the Earth, so he devises a foolproof murder plot. It goes wrong anyway and that's the fun of the movie—seeing how he cleverly improvises over and over only to have his scheme unravel anyway because of one tiny thing he neglects to consider. Dial M for Murder is another winner from Hitchcock, one you should see if you haven't. It went into general release in the U.S. today in 1954.


The famed poster for the movie was painted by Bill Gold, whose credits include everything from Casablanca to Unforgiven. Gold was active from 1941 to 2011, accumulating numerous awards along the way, and is now retired at age ninety-seven. If you want to learn more about him there's a website that discusses and showcases his seven decades of movie work which you can access at this link. It's well worth a visit.

Could he really be trying to kill me?
 
I guess it's possible, considering I cucked and humiliated him. 
 
Maybe I shouldn't have told him I'm multi-orgasmic now.
 
For the crime of murdering the male ego I sentence you to hang by the neck until dead, dead, dead.

What? Seriously? But I've only gotten a third of the way through 101 Sex Positions

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Vintage Pulp May 21 2018
OSAKA FIVE-O
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.

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Vintage Pulp May 19 2018
A GIANT AMONG MEN
It's a man's man's man's world. Until now.


It was inevitable. You can't have a pulp website and not talk about the iconic GGA-influenced poster for Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. This masterpiece came from the brush of Reynold Brown, who also painted promos for Creature from the Black Lagoon, Spartacus, Ben-Hur, and—ironically—The Incredible Shrinking Man. But 50 Foot Woman is the one people remember. It's the one that appears on t-shirts, lithographs, refrigerator magnets and spoof posters to this day. And for good reason. It's a perfect promo piece, from the execution, to the chaotic scene depicted, to the giant's straddle-legged pose that titillatingly suggests the world's most shocking upskirt shot. It also makes the film look far better than it is. You'd never think the 50 Foot Woman of the poster is, onscreen, mainly a big foam hand and some weak projection work.

The movie premiered today in 1958. It was directed by Nathan Juran under the pseudonym Nathan Hertz, and while it's mediocre it isn't close to being one of the worst films of the period. People remember it because of Allison Hayes' character, an unhappy wife whose growth into a giant gives her all the physical power she could ever want, but none of the emotional strength she needs to deal with her philandering husband Harry.

She's desperately in love with him, though he's a heel. When she eventually hunts him down the film becomes a feminist parable. We don't think that aspect was intentional, but it's definitely there by virtue of a male screenwriter creating a colossal feminine problem then determining how his male characters react to her. Guess what? She's fifty feet tall and still can't break through the glass ceiling.

The 50 Foot Woman has the power to deal with dirty Harry in a way he understands—dominance. Good. But she's also mad as hell and has busted out of her social niche. Bad. There's no attempt to reason with or negotiate with this newly empowered woman. Because she brings upheaval to the world elimination is the only solution. Yes, this movie has almost everything—an examination of gender roles as they relate to money, a discussion of emotional violence within marriage, and ruminations about male privilege. The one thing it doesn't have is a budget—for efx, good actors, multiple takes, or anything else. But that's why it's so endearing. Like the random growth spurt central to the plot, everything significant about Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is a total fluke. 

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Vintage Pulp May 18 2018
NATSU FAST
When she's bad, she's really bad.


Above is a poster in tateken size for Nikkatsu Studios' pre-roman porno action flick Furyô shôjô Mako, aka Bad Girl Mako, a film for which we showed you a standard sized promo a while back. We didn't really talk about the movie back then, but we've seen it. There's lots of fighting, lots of music, and lots of guys in suits getting roughed up. Junko Natsu plays Mako, a tough party girl who meets a boy named Hideo, lets him stick his honeydripper in her jar of manuka, and decides she's in love. It's amazing that she reaches this conclusion after one quick throw in the back seat of a convertible, but whatever. Unfortunately, before their relationship progresses much farther loverboy is killed and Mako, like any good pinku revenant, gets stabby on the bad guys. There's nothing unexpected here, but in the end you still have a reasonably entertaining entry in the girl gang genre, and the many club scenes and nice exterior cinematography add extra value. Furyô shôjô Mako premiered in Japan today in 1971.

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Vintage Pulp May 16 2018
A QUESTION OF HONOR
Hedy Lamarr finds the fashion industry intolerably cruel.


We can't think of Hedy Lamarr as any movie character except the native girl Tondeleyo from the cheeseball jungle classic White Cargo, but here she is in 1947's Dishonored Lady, which came five years after her famed tropical potboiler and presents a more mature Lamarr playing Madeleine Damien, take-no-shit Manhattan fashion editor by day, popular party girl by night. The movie presents a far less benign fashion industry than yesterday's Fashioned for Murder, as job pressures, difficult romances, and evil male colleagues drive Lamarr nearly out of her mind. She's finally pushed out of her job and leaves Manhattan to build a new life. Only her psychiatrist knows where she went. He tells a persistent interlocutor:

Miss Damien is living under a different name in a different world. She told me to tell you, if you inquired, that she was busy growing a new soul. Now would you please keep off the grass?

Lamarr is off in the country painting, relaxing, and finding true love. The past isn't that easy to avoid, though, and it finally catches up with her in the form of her awful ex-boyfriend, who ends up dead, leading to Lamarr being arrested for murder. Did she do it? Of course not. But she's too depressed to care what happens, so prison or worse looms. Madeleine Damien is no Tondeleyo, but Lamarr is good in the role. It's interesting how often we run across these meaty dramatic parts for women in mid-century cinema. Were high profile roles for serious actresses more common back then? Probably not, but sometimes it sure seems like it. Dishonored Lady premiered in the U.S. today in 1947.

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Vintage Pulp May 14 2018
THE SWEETEST TABOO
Gemser gets freaky on the island of brotherly love.


La spiaggia del desiderio is another Laura Gemser sexploitation epic, third in what would become a long series of Emanuelle movies, and the first to truly jump the shark. A bit of backstory: Author Emmanuelle Arsan wrote the original Emmanuelle character, based on herself, in 1967, and saw it become the erotic film Emmanuelle starring Sylvia Kristel. It premiered in France in June 1974 and was a worldwide smash by that autumn. But Italian production company Aquila Cinematografica had managed to film and rush release a knock-off entitled Amore libero that hit cinemas in Rome by August of 1974. The movie starred Gemser as a character named Emanuelle—with one 'm'. This film too was something of a success, in the sense that it made money while costing far less.

After the success of the French Emmanuelle its makers decided to cash in with a sequel. Trinacra Films and Orphée Productions kicked France to the curb and made Emmanuelle II with an eye toward the large U.S. market, where their sophomore entry eventually had its world premiere in December of 1975. While shooting this sequel they apparently figured the more Em(m)aunelles the better and cast Laura Gemser as a sexy masseuse in order to pair her up—naked—with Kristel. The spirit of cooperation is admirable, but certainly what this casting decision did was give Gemser's Emanuelle just as much legitimacy as Kristel's Emmanuelle.

At the time Gemser was enjoying this cameo appearance in Emmanuelle II she had already made or was about to make a sequel to her Amore libero. We use that uncertain terminology because the French Emmanuelle films were higher budget productions and took longer to film and post-produce, which means even though Gemser's sequel hit cinemas before Emmanuelle II, it's possible it was filmed after and rammed through post to get to audiences first. In any case, Gemser's sequel, already cynically thieving the original Emmanuelle concept, was titled to take advantage of the burgeoning blaxploitation wave. Emanuelle negra it was called—Black Emanuelle.

Gemser was off and running and would eventually make more than a dozen Emanuelle films, each more preposterous than the previous. Amore libero and Emanuelle negra featured Gemser playing an Emanuelle who, like the original character written by
Emmauelle Arsan, enjoyed sexual adventures in exotic tourist destinations. But La spiaggia del desiderio is a lost world flick that features her living on an isolated island with her father and brother in primitive bliss. We suspect the entire script was written to avoid high budget location work and unnecessary characters.

In any case, it's just Gemser, her dad, and her bro on this uncharted spit of tropical sand off the coast of Venezuela, until a shipwreck victim washes up and brings with him a host of problems. Because, you see, Gemser plays a game with her brother, a very pleasurable game that she—in her innocence—doesn't realize is known as incest in the civilized world. When she begins to play the game with the newcomer that's when things go terribly wrong. Think of it as The Blue Lagoon years before that movie appeared, but with brotherly love thrown in to provide an excuse to philosophize about cultural norms.

The main plot question becomes this: does the newcomer try to get Gemser to realize what she's doing is wrong, or is it really society that's wrong to judge true love? And secondarily, should he take her away to civilization, or would the real world destroy all that is innocent and wonderful about her? This is deep shit, folks. In our view, Gemser should leave the island—a few civilized cheeseburgers might actually do her good. She's 5' 7” and goes—maybe—115 soaking wet, so she really does look like she's been living on coconuts and crabs for years. But for her fans it's about her whole package, even if that package looks underfed.

We can't recommend La spiaggia del desiderio. There's just nothing much going on here. We suspect the film was toned down because of the (completely unneeded and distasteful) incest angle, a problem her production company might not have foreseen until it was too late. Like: “Uh, huddle up people—we just learned we can't show Laura boning her brother without being slapped with an injunction.” Thus with Gemser's nude frolicking reduced to a bare minimum, there's not much to sustain interest. If we were you we'd give this particular Emanuelle a pass. La spiaggia del desiderio premiered in Italy today in 1976.

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Vintage Pulp May 7 2018
SLYLY DONE
Rocky isn't exactly a heavyweight in this early sexploitation effort.


This Italian poster was made for the softcore flick Porno proibito, aka The Italian Stallion, which was Sylvester Stallone's youthful—and probably financially desperate—foray into erotic cinema. It's a plotless mess that actually got an X rating when released because of its explicit nudity, including Sly's twig and berries, and various women's honeypots. But there's no real sex—just a lot of rubbing, squirming, and boob sucking. The film had no Italian premiere date, but this poster shows that it played in Italy's cinemas sometime during the 1970s. The movie was too obscure and terrible to earn a foreign release when it was made in 1970, so our guess is it rose from obscurity after Stallone had made his mark with 1974's The Lords of Flatbush and 1975's Death Race 2000. It could even be post-Rocky. In fact, that seems likely. Stallone performed under his own name in the film, but on the promo is referred to as Italian Stallion—indicating a high level of fame. So let's say 1976 or 1977 for its Italian debut until someone pops up with better information. Sly probably wishes all the prints of the film had been incinerated, but don't feel sorry for him. The embarrassment of displaying his welterweight dick to all the world was surely mitigated by the money, mansions, and moviegoers' adoration he later earned. We hope.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 23 2018
BIG TROUBLES
Film noir with an Irish accent.


Odd Man Out, for which you see the promo poster above, is a beautifully shot thriller about a group of Irish political separatists who rob a mill in order to help finance their organization. The group is obviously based on the Irish Republican Army, whose actions helped fuel the Troubles—that period of violence that engulfed Ireland mainly during the 1960s The film takes no sides, at least not overtly, while presenting the separatists as fully realized, complex human beings. Needless to say, a movie of this depth and thoughtfulness would never be made today on the subject of terrorists. James Mason is the titular odd man out, the leader of the gang who's left behind after the robbery and must somehow survive alone, wounded and sick, as the police close in. The bad luck, deceptions and palpable sense of doom are standard for film noir, but what isn't is the location work in the backstreets of Belfast. The screen grabs below are all from around the forty minute mark, and their deep shadows, angular light, and inky blacks show how much planning and effort director Carol Reed and cinematographer Robert Krasker put into making the film visually perfect. We doubt it's the most exciting motion picture ever made, as claimed on the poster, but we recommend it. Odd Man Out premiered in the UK in January 1947 and opened in the U.S. today the same year.


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Vintage Pulp Apr 18 2018
UNORIGINAL GANGSTERS
Two bunglers cook up a kidnapping scheme that goes disastrously awry.


It's been a couple of years, so today we're getting back to one of Italy's greatest poster artists—the prolific and eclectic Sandro Symeoni. He painted movie posters, book covers, album sleeves, and ads, and was excellent at all of them. He painted the above poster for the comedy Noi gangster, which was originally made and released in France as Le grand chef, but based on the U.S. writer O. Henry's short story “The Ransom of Red Chief.” We took a look at the film and it's a screwball comedy starring Fernandel and Gino Servi as two bumbling gas station workers who concoct a kidnapping plot in hopes of escaping their poverty. Kidnapping schemes never work. Too many variables. They aren't clued in to this fact but quickly learn when they snatch a millionaire's young son and are dismayed to find that the little terror is too much for them to handle. He climbs onto a high rooftop, goes renegade on a hospital trolley, and generally drives them insane with his unpredictable behavior. Think Martin and Lewis in French with one of the Little Rascals on the side and you'll know what to expect.

This was Fernandel's and Cervi's second team-up after 1955's Don Camillo e l'on. Peppone, and this go-round is inferior to the previous film in every way, but even the dumbest screwball comedies have good moments. An extended gag involving a slippery block of ice works—or maybe we liked it because we too live in a building with a spiral staircase and no elevator, and the scene reminded us of the time we dropped a bottle of wine and it bobsledded all the way to the ground floor. The neighbors don't take kindly to that at 1 a.m., but that's the problem with wooden stairs—most anything you drop survives the entire downward journey. Consider Noi gangster a spiral stair—it sort of goes monotonously in a circle but once it ends you'll have a nice sense of accomplishment. It premiered in Italy today in 1959. Incidentally, are you wondering why there's a smiling woman on the poster? We suppose because Symeoni wanted her there. She sure isn't in the movie. You can see plenty more art from him by clicking here.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 16 2018
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Bonnie Parker and the vicious circle.


The above poster is the Japanese promo for The Bonnie Parker Story, which starred Dorothy Provine in a fictionalized yarn about the famous outlaw's fast life and early death. The movie premiered in 1958 in the U.S., and in Japan today in 1960. On the surface it's a teenybopper oriented b-cheapie, courtesy of American International Pictures, but there's more entertainment value than you'd expect, especially from a movie where history dictates the ending. Quentin Tarantino famously loves the film, but we wouldn't go so far as to call it an overlooked gem. It's more of a cult curiosity. Provine says, “We got ourselves a one way ticket. There's nothing you can do once you get on but ride right to the end of the line.” The end of the line is death in a hail of bullets, but the ride makes The Bonnie Parker Story worth a look. If you want to watch it, for the moment you can catch it on YouTube (with French subtitles). You can also see a cool promo from the film here.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 17
1955—Disneyland Begins Operations
The amusement park Disneyland opens in Orange County, California for 6,000 invitation-only guests, before opening to the general public the following day.
1959—Holiday Dies Broke
Legendary singer Billie Holiday, who possessed one of the most unique voices in the history of jazz, dies in the hospital of cirrhosis of the liver. She had lost her earnings to swindlers over the years, and upon her death her bank account contains seventy cents.
July 16
1941—DiMaggio Hit Streak Reaches 56
New York Yankees outfielder Joe DiMaggio gets a hit in his fifty-sixth consecutive game. The streak would end the next game, against the Cleveland Indians, but the mark DiMaggio set still stands, and in fact has never been seriously threatened. It is generally thought to be one of the few truly unbreakable baseball records.
July 15
1939—Adams Completes Around-the-World Air Journey
American Clara Adams becomes the first woman passenger to complete an around-the-world air journey. Her voyage began and ended in New York City, with stops in Lisbon, Marseilles, Leipzig, Athens, Basra, Jodhpur, Rangoon, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Wake Island, Honolulu, and San Francisco.
1955—Nobel Prize Winners Unite Against Nukes
Eighteen Nobel laureates sign the Mainau Declaration against nuclear weapons, which reads in part: We think it is a delusion if governments believe that they can avoid war for a long time through the fear of [nuclear] weapons. Fear and tension have often engendered wars. Similarly it seems to us a delusion to believe that small conflicts could in the future always be decided by traditional weapons. In extreme danger no nation will deny itself the use of any weapon that scientific technology can produce.
1997—Versace Murdered in Miami
Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace is shot dead on the steps of his Miami mansion as he returns from breakfast at a cafe. His killer is Andrew Cunanan, a man who had already murdered four other people across the country and was the focus of an FBI manhunt. The FBI never caught Cunanan—instead he committed suicide on the houseboat where he was living.
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