Getting into the place isn't the problem.
In Nikkatsu roman porno the question, as always, is exactly how the script will place the female lead under the control of men determined to use her. In Dan Oniroku kurokami nawa fujin, aka Black Hair Velvet Soul, it's alcoholism and debt. A gambling and philandering husband owes a pile to a slimy financier, so he puts up as collateral the restaurant he owns with his wife. Izumi Shima plays the wife. Because the place was founded by her father and succeeded because of his sweat and struggle, as she notes in a monologue, she sees no other choice but to agree to work off the debt in an S&M club run by the financier. She goes through the usual range of indignities, but in what has to be considered a bit of a twist, she at no point likes it, nor has some inner freak unleashed, nor somehow dies by ironic means. She does her bit, the restaurant is saved, and she leaves her shitty husband. Why watch the movie? Well, because Shima is a shimmering goddess and she's always worth watching. Sixty-six minutes including credits and you're done. Dan Oniroku kurokami nawa fujin premiered today in 1982.
When you gamble with her you're gambling with your life.
Hibotan bakuto: oryû sanjô, which in English was called Red Peony Gambler: Oryu's Return, is the sixth of eight films in the Red Peony Gambler series. Uploading its special round promo poster in one piece makes it kind of small, so we've also broken it into two pieces so you can pull them off the page and paste them together if you're inclined. It's an incredibly rare piece, so credit would be appreciated. The movie premiered today in 1970, and stars Junko Fuji, a prolific actress who made more than ninety films during a busy run between 1963 and 1972, and another dozen or so after that.
The plot here involves a greedy yakuza cartel and the downtrodden farmers who oppose the imposition of a new tax. The farmers are basically planning to strike in protest, which angers the yakuza because they stand to loose profits with the yearly village festival approaching. Drastic measures seem to be the only solution, but Junko stands in the way with guile, guts, gambling skill, and gunplay. And as a fallback position she's good with fists and sword. Hibotan bakuto: oryû sanjô isn't quite top tier pinky violence, but it's beautifully shot, the blood flies high and far, and ultimately the film is a winner.
If it was easy to steal anyone could do it.
We have some nice pinku posters lined up for this month, and above you see the first of those—the tateken and standard promos for Suke Yakuza, aka Female Yakuza Convict, aka Female Prisoner Yakuza, which premiered in Japan today in 1974 starring Yoko Horikoshi and Reiko Ike. Though we can't be sure, we don't think this movie has been released on DVD, because we couldn't find it—the first time that's happened with one of Ike's films. No copy means no firsthand rundown, but we can tell you what the Japanese websites say. It's about bank robbers who steal 30 million yen and try to elude the cops and escape with the cash. Of the three, only one manages to avoid capture. Horikoshi, a female accomplice, is tossed in a women's prison where she meets Reiko, and the two of them manage to escape. Their plan is meet up with the robber who avoided capture, get ahold of the cash, and get for away from the big city, but mishaps and twists follow. Basically, it's sounds like classic Toei pinky violence, but sadly we may not get to see this one unless we go to Japan. But the posters sure are pretty. We have bonus material below—production photos, a Horikoshi promo poster, and a Reiko promo shot from wherever.
She's a stone cold killer but there's another side to her.
This unusually glamorous shot of Japanese action star Meiko Kaji looking hair salon fresh is from the pages of the Japanese magazine Weekly Playboy. It's always strange to see her without a sword or a gun in her hands, but we dig it. The date is, we're thinking, around 1972. The actual image is timeless.
Erina Miyai's world is turned upside down.
Above is a poster for the Nikkatsu roman porno flick Hatachi no sei hakusho: Nokezoru, which premiered in Japan today in 1978. The literal translation of the Japanese title for this is so convoluted and crazy it's useless to even repeat it, but for its international release it was called Brute's Desire, which doesn't bode well. But we love the poster art, and we love Erina Miyai. If the concept of roman porno is new to you just click the keywords below to have all our posts on the subject at your fingertips. Hatachi no sei hakusho: Nokezoru premiered in Japan today in 1978.
If anybody can recover the ancestral farm it's Mari.
Zoku Imokinchaku*, for which you see the poster above and which premiered in Japan today in 1970, was the sequel to the previous year's Imokinchaku, but shot in color. Atsumi plays a high school girl named Hamako who tries to save enough money to buy her family's ancestral land. Her plan to obtain it through work seems sound enough, but trouble in finances and love, including the theft of her money and a doomed infatuation with a dreamboat who happens to be gay, present serious obstacles. Of course, if the previous film taught Mari anything it was to persevere, and she makes forays into nude modeling and singing in efforts to cobble together a sufficiently large nest egg to buy the land. Do any of these schemes actually work? You'll have to add this one to your queue if you want to find out.
On a related note, we learned that Daiei Co. released an Atsumi record in conjunction with this film, and that it also engineered the publication of a photo book. Cross promotion of pinku films was a common tactic back then. In fact, many stars performed live in cinemas between double features, either singing, dancing, or reenacting bits from the films. Japanese law was strict about nudity onscreen, but we've been told these live performances sometimes featured full nudity, which is interesting to contemplate. Atsumi made a lot of public appearances. Below, for example, she's in Shimizu Park in Chiba, where a gaggle of photographers shot pictures of her in her undies. We have images from another Atsumi public appearance we'll share later.
*We can't find a romanized title for this film anywhere, but Zoku Imokinchaku is probably right. It's at least close. If anyone wants to correct us feel free. The official title is 続・いそぎんちゃく.
Nikkatsu pushes the envelope of taste—and social responsibility—with Okasu!
Above, a poster for the roman porno flick Okasu!, which premiered in Japan today in 1976. The title here, in a rare occurrence and complete contrast to the above film, translates directly—Rape! Considering that hundreds of roman porno (short for “romantic porno”) movies were made by Nikkatsu Studios during the ’70s and ’80s we take them seriously and seek to understand them. So we watched this and... we don't understand. Starring Natsuko Yashiro, who you may remember from her female diver movies, and co-starring Naomi Tani and Yuri Yamashina, Okasu! is the story of a rape victim who develops an obsession for her attacker and searches the city for him, constantly exposing herself to similar dangers.
To be clear, we make no cultural judgments here—around the same time in the U.S. on the soap opera General Hospital, Luke raped Laura and became the number one hunk on daytime television. So we're not failing to understand Okasu! from a cultural vantage point, but from a generational vantage point. We don't find non-consensual anything sexy. From our perspective this dubious flick has only two plusses: there's a highly ironic, even grimly comical, ending; and Yashiro masturbates with a walnut, which we never knew was possible. Wanna try it? Follow her lead below. But when you're making your way through vintage Japanese movies give this one a pass.
Even in Japan payback is a bitch
Above, a nice but slightly damaged poster (it had a strip of tape across the top) for Joshigakuen Yabai Sotsugyô, aka Girls' School: Wild Graduation Song, starring Junko Natsu and Yoshiko Ikebo in a movie about students at two girls schools—White Rose Academy and Harbor Junior High—and how their rivalry turns into open conflict. There's a really funny scene in this where the two schools' volleyball teams get into a massive brawl after one of the girls is hit in the crotch. We knew serves could be underhanded, but that's just plain evil. Joshigakuen Yabai Sotsugyô premiered in Japan today in 1971.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
2011—Elizabeth Taylor Dies
American actress Elizabeth Taylor, whose career began at age 12 when she starred in National Velvet
, and who would eventually be nominated for five Academy Awards as best actress and win for Butterfield 8
and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles. During her life she had been hospitalized more than 70 times.
1963—Profumo Denies Affair
In England, the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, denies any impropriety with showgirl Christine Keeler and threatens to sue anyone repeating the allegations. The accusations involve not just infidelity, but the possibility acquaintances of Keeler might be trying to ply Profumo for nuclear secrets. In June, Profumo finally resigns from the government after confessing his sexual involvement with Keeler
and admitting he lied to parliament.
1978—Karl Wallenda Falls to His Death
World famous German daredevil and high-wire walker Karl Wallenda, founder of the acrobatic troupe The Flying Wallendas, falls to his death attempting to walk on a cable strung between the two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Wallenda is seventy-three years old at the time, but it is a 30 mph wind, rather than age, that is generally blamed for sending him from the wire.
2006—Swedish Spy Stig Wennerstrom Dies
Swedish air force colonel Stig Wennerström, who had been convicted in the 1970s of passing Swedish, U.S. and NATO secrets to the Soviet Union over the course of fifteen years, dies in an old age home at the age of ninety-nine. The Wennerström affair, as some called it, was at the time one of the biggest scandals
of the Cold War.
The federal penitentiary located on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay closes. The island had been home to a lighthouse, a military fortification, and a military prison over the years. In 1972, it would become a national recreation area open to tourists, and it would receive national landmark designations in 1976 and 1986.
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