Vintage Pulp Jul 21 2014
CLAMMY HANDS
Dive-in cinema at its best.

This poster is for Shiofuki ama, aka Clam-Diving Ama. You of course remember that an ama is a woman who dives for valuable undersea items, typically abalone or pearls. Like the other ama movies we’ve discussed, this one is from Nikkatsu, and it stars Akiko Hyûga as a neglected ama named Saki whose truck driver husband is inconveniently away for long periods. When he dies in an accident the men of Saki’s village turn their attention to her, and a resultant affair leads to trouble. This one has a secret pregnancy, a miscarriage, and betrayal, and while Hyûga is the lead it’s actually co-star Yûko Asuka who does most of the down and dirty. For those interested in viewing the movie, it will prove impossible to find, probably, but at least we can show you the poster. Oh, and the promo shot below. Shiofuki ama premiered in Japan today in 1979.

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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
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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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 17 2014
LA STRADA SYMEONI
Sandro Symeoni presents an Italian vision of Japan.

We often share Japanese movie posters, but today we thought we’d look at Japan through the eyes of Italian illustration master Sandro Symeoni. This poster is for La strada della vergogna, which was a Japanese movie made by Kenji Mizoguchi entitled Akasen chitai, aka Street of Shame. No shame in this art. 1956 on the original film, 1959 on this poster.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 15 2014
SOAP OPERA
Out of the bath and into the fire.

You can see this poster for the 1966 comedy Boy Did I Get a Wrong Number! around the internet, but we thought we’d share our scan anyway because we like the art and the graphics. Concerning the latter, that isn’t a big 70 in the middle of the poster—those are Japanese characters meaning “flow.” Combined with the rest of the text, the entire title reads “Queen of the Bath.” Maybe Lana Turner would have something to say about that, but in any case the title isn’t as random as you’d think. The movie is about an actress who is famous for her bath scenes but wants to be taken seriously. In a fit of pique she goes AWOL from her latest production and ends up hiding out in Oregon in the cabin of a married real estate agent, who spends the movie trying to keep his wife from finding out. It’s classic, 1960s style romantic slapstick, and the best thing about it is Elke Sommer in the starring role, though Bob Hope is always watchable. We uploaded many production stills below. Why all the imagery? Because Sommer is good for you. Boy Did I Get a Wrong Number! premiered in the U.S. this month in 1966. 

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Vintage Pulp May 21 2014
ZERO SUM GAME
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 artist Shindo, who we can’t find much about, but who presumably was pretty famous. We’ll look into that. Anyway, 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.

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Modern Pulp May 20 2014
HART EXHIBITION
A good time is in the cards.

We’ve dug into our collection of adult film posters again, and today you see online for the first time a Japanese promo for A Scent of Heather. It starred Veronica Hart in the story of a convent-raised rich girl whose arranged marriage goes wrong when, after the ceremony, she and her new spouse discover they’re siblings. Stuck in the marriage but unable to consummate the union, they seek sexual satisfaction with numerous other partners in interesting ways. The film helped launch Hart on a trajectory that quickly made her one of the most popular adult performers of the 1980s. In addition to porn, she later appeared in the mainstream films Boogie Nights and Magnolia. Promo photos of her from her early career are a bit rare, so this is not only an amazing poster, but also quite possibly the best image you’ll ever see of her. A Scent of Heather opened in the U.S. in 1980, and eventually premiered in Japan today in 1983. You can see more Japanese promos of this type by clicking here. 

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Vintage Pulp May 7 2014
CAT PEOPLE
It may be a classic but it’ll probably leave you wanting something more.


The Black Cat has been called one of the greatest horror films ever made. Taken in context it’s creepy, no doubt, and it stars spookmeister Bela Lugosi alongside Boris Karloff, he of the sinister widow’s peak and cinderblock head, so they alone make it somewhat unsettling. But it was produced in 1934, and much has changed since then in terms of what is truly terrifying. Plotwise, what you have here are two honeymooners in Hungary who encounter a mysterious traveler and who all end up stuck in the dreaded hilltop manse—not the gothic pile you would expect, but rather a linear, art deco box. The house is occupied by Karloff, a sort of war criminal, and it turns out Lugosi has traveled there with revenge in mind, for it seems Karloff had something to do with the deaths of Lugosi’s wife and daughter. The honeymooners are basically hapless bystanders to this situation, and their approach to the predicament doesn’t remotely resemble the approach you or I would take, but people had better manners back then. Eventually, though, manners are jettisoned and that’s when the movie gets interesting.

Watching two honeybaked hams like Karloff and Lugosi square off is rather entertaining, we gotta say, even if the plot doesn’t entirely hold together. But all that matters is the mood and the shadows and the evil glances and the fact that there can be only one winner—or none, considering the house is wired to self destruct. Of special note, by the way, is the music, which is almost continuous, and is comprised not of compositions made for the film, but rather a greatest hits assortment of Beethoven, Bach, Liszt, Schumann, and Tchaikovsky. It all gets a bit over the top, in our opinion, but you do get to enjoy probably the first movie usage of Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565” (if indeed Bach wrote it, something that is in dispute). You know the tune—it’s the gloomy, edifice shaking organ solo most people associate with the 1962 film Phantom of the Opera. Well, Karloff’s character plays it here. We won’t lie—even the most chilling piece of music ever written can’t make The Black Cat scary, but if you have sixty-five minutes and consider yourself a horror buff it’s still worth the time. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1934. 


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 25
1943—Mussolini Calls It Quits
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini steps down as head of the armed forces and the government. It soon becomes clear that Il Duce did not relinquish power voluntarily, but was forced to resign after former Fascist colleagues turned against him. He is later installed by Germany as leader of the Italian Social Republic in the north of the country, but is killed by partisans in 1945.
July 24
1915—Ship Capsizes on Lake Michigan
During an outing arranged by Western Electric Co. for its employees and their families, the passenger ship Eastland capsizes in Lake Michigan due to unequal weight distribution. 844 people die, including all the members of 22 different families.
1980—Peter Sellers Dies
British movie star Peter Sellers, whose roles in Dr. Strangelove, Being There and the Pink Panther films established him as the greatest comedic actor of his generation, dies of a heart attack at age fifty-four.
July 23
1984—Miss America Resigns
Vanessa Williams, who had been crowned Miss America and was the first African American woman to win the prize, resigns her title after Penthouse magazine purchases and slates for publication a series of lesbian-themed nudes Williams had posed for when she was younger. After resigning she files a $500 million lawsuit against Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione but later drops the suit.

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