Vintage Pulp Nov 17 2014
THE SCORPION'S STING
Someone’s going to pay for what happened—in full, plus interest.

This poster for Shin joshuu sasori: 701-gô, aka New Female Prisoner Scorpion: 701 promotes the first film in what today might be called a franchise reboot. Meiko Kaji established the character of Prisoner 701 in four hit films, and a few years after she left Toei Company decided to resurrect the series with Yumi Takigawa in the lead. Framed for murder, she ends up in a women’s prison where she’s harassed, sexually assaulted, and marked for death. A prison riot finally gives her the chance at revenge, and lets just say she takes full advantage.

She feels even less forgiving once she escapes, meaning she has a score to settle with the men who railroaded her in the first place. You know what to expect, so we don’t really need to go into detail. The poster above is an ekibari, which we gather means it was made for subway walls, and it’s in bo style, which seemingly means two pieces. Below we have the bo-ekibari in its separate, very cool sections, with Takigawa giving the stare of death that’s usually the last sight of her enemies’ lives. Shin joshuu sasori: 701-gô premiered in Japan today in 1976. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 16 2014
SING-SING ALONG
Raft tries to navigate dangerous waters.

This poster for Vägen från Sing Sing showcases the clean style and bold negative space we’ve become fans of in mid-century Swedish promo art, and it also captures star George Raft’s famous profile. This was originally a 1939 American production called Invisible Stripes starring Raft, Jane Bryan, William Holden, and Humphrey Bogart, and it deals with a Sing-Sing ex-con’s perhaps doomed efforts to go straight. Check out the Swedish aesthetic here, here, here, and here. Vägen från Sing Sing premiered in Sweden today in 1940.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 13 2014
JUNGLE HEAT
Documentary double feature takes Japanese viewers on a tour of Western vice.

This Japanese poster promotes a double feature of the English language productions West End Jungle and World of Flesh. Both are fake documentaries, the first set in London’s Soho district, the second in Hollywood. They take viewers on a trip through the underworld of burlesque shows, prostitution, clip joints, orgiastic private parties, and general illegal or barely legal tomfoolery, with stentorian voiceover and an air of dire warning. But only World of Flesh has Baby Bubbles, and this is an important fact. Bubbles, aka Corky Dunbar, aka Elaine Jones, can’t possibly be done justice by a photo, but if one can come close it’s the shot below showing her in the midst of her trademark gag—spinning her tasseled breasts in opposite directions. Bubbles danced before we were born, but World of Flesh has made us fans. Even our girlfriends loved her (although we must admit, they’d never seen the boob spinning trick before and it made them burst into hysterical laughter, which means maybe they loved the absurdity of the act more than its artistic merits). Anyway, Bubbles appears for an amazing three or four minutes early in World of Flesh, aka Hollywood’s World of Flesh, and she is a must for fans of mid-century burlesque. But if time is too precious to locate the movie, most of her segment is available on YouTube right here. And now we’ll stop, because after seeing her, you won’t care what we have to say.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 8 2014
BROWN IS THE NEW BLONDE
Diana Dors dirties her golden locks for another turn as a woman behind bars.


The excellent promo above for Le femme et le rôdeur, aka The Unholy Wife was created by Roger Soubie, one of the best French poster artists of the mid-century period. His art drew us to the movie, which we watched only to discover Diana Dors in identical grime mode as in her prison drama Yield to the Night. Not only do both productions feature Dors locked down with her blonde tresses gone brown due to lack of available dye, but both involve her being on death row for murder. Since The Unholy Wife was the next film she did after Yield to the Night we can only assume her initial foray into crime and incarceration was such a success it needed to be repeated. Like almost exactly. Unfortunately, two visions of a bruise-eyed Dors about to receive state-sponsored revenge were too much for audiences, and her repeat excursion was roundly panned.

And sadly, we must agree. Dors is living in California and is married to a Napa winery baron, but since she’s also sharing her affections with a hot young lover, she soon ponders murdering her unsuspecting hubby for his estate. When we lived in Berkeley, just south of the California wine country, we rarely pondered anything more than sunlit grapes and a nice Schug Syrah. But okay, The Unholy Wife is a film noir, which means Dors is no more happy with her heaven-on-Earth existence than a Wall Street stockbroker is with his untaxable Cayman Islands shadow fortune. Both inexplicably want more. Dors starts the film in prison and tells her story via flashback, so we already know her schemes backfired. If only the same were true for stockbrokers. The Unholy Wife premiered in England in the summer of 1957 and premiered in France today the same year.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 8 2014
BAD TECHNIQUE
Is it strange that of all the ways to seduce someone we never thought of this one?


Yes, we’re doubling up on the movies today, not because we think the internet needs more amateur reviews, but because we want to show the posters. As always, it’s about the art. We have it, and it’s pointless to have it and not share it. Behold the poster. Done? Great. Okay, regarding the movie, we can sum it up by telling you there’s a scene in which a male character sticks his head in a toilet—in a nightclub—sucks up a mouthful of liquid and spits it in a gentle stream upon the chest of the woman he’s in love with. More strange yet—it turns her on. This visceral horror is counterbalanced, just barely, by a weird yet very affecting fantasy sequence where the same character sprays the object of his affection with water from a garden hose while she’s in a jail cell. Have a look at the screen grabs below.  

 
That is a very provocative expression lead actress Mari Tanaka is wearing. Is it because the water is cold? No—it’s a male character’s fantasy, so that’s supposed to be arousal. Our girlfriends don’t make that face at us, but now we’re seriously considering ways to make it happen. At least, as long as they don’t involve spraying water all over our place. Anyway, you have the yin and yang here—two scenes involving a man drenching a woman with water, of both clean and not-so-clean varietals. Is it symbolic? Maaaaybe just a little.
 
The plot goes like this: Tanaka teaches at a college and several of her students collude to break up her engagement to a chemistry professor so one can have her to himself. But everything they try only seems to make the relationship between Tanaka and her chemist stronger. Finally in desperation the students rig a lab experiment to blow the chemist to constituent particles, but succeed only separating him from his prostate, leaving him impotent. Since a sizable amount of dialogue is devoted to his prodigious endowment his maiming is a tragedy not just for him, but all women (this from the character Oharu-san, who has encountered the fiancée in her brothel and is reduced to tears at the news of his injury).
 
Will Tanaka finally ditch her love now that he’s been turned into Jake Barnes (extra credit if you know that one), or is their relationship held together by something more than sex? We’d answer, but we swore off spoilers a while ago, which means only a viewing of this exceedingly strange movie will give you the answer. Meanwhile, below, Tanaka shows her technique for hiding her naughty bits, as required by Japanese law at the time. Kanno kyoshitsu: ai no technique, which was called Excitement Class: Love Techniques in the English speaking world, premiered in Japan today in 1972.


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Vintage Pulp Nov 5 2014
EEL FEELINGS
Only in Italian film can hard labor make you better looking.


If you’re thinking this West German poster for Sophia Loren’s 1954 drama Die Frau vom Fluss, aka La donna del fiume, aka The River Girl looks a bit like this promo for Riso Amaro, you're right—and the actual films are quite similar too. During the 1950s Italian filmmakers produced at least a few movies with identical blueprints—i.e. improbably hot peasant girls performing hard labor somewhere in the Po Valley while wearing bodyhugging clothing. Generally, the girls dream of better circumstances but possess little means to achieve such an end—until into their lives tumble dudes with big plans.

Sounds like light fare, but sultry summer settings and sexy attire notwithstanding, these were serious films—usually tragedies. Where the staple food in Riso Amaro (and Elsa Martinelli’s 1956 drama La risaia) was rice, here it’s eels. Loren works in an eel cannery by day, dances a mean mambo during her spare hours and, like Silvana Mangano in Riso Amaro, finds herself torn between a decent bore and a thrilling criminal. The choice she makes opens up a whole different can of eels and she spends the rest of the film having to manage the consequences. That’s about all we’ll say, except that we watched the flick last night and more or less enjoyed it. As for Loren, she’s 100% more and 0% less, a big personality whose stardom was a matter of destiny. The movie is worth seeing just because of her.


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Vintage Pulp Nov 2 2014
OFFICER SMITH
The cops and robbers go coast to coast in Undercover Girl.

Above, a promo poster for Undercover Girl. The depiction of star Alexis Smith at upper left is modeled directly after the image of her we shared a couple of weeks ago, minus the pistol she was holding. Undercover Girl is about a rookie NYC policewoman detached to L.A. to pose as a Chicago drug buyer, and who joined the force to avenge her cop father’s death. Lucky, then, one of the drug dealers she’s going after was coincidentally responsible. We probably don’t have to tell you her cover is blown later in the film—it’s a standard feature of these deep cover dramas even today. It’s still worth a glance, though, and we’re glad we mixed it into the slate of five horror movies we watched this weekend. Undercover Girl premiered in the U.S. today in 1950. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 1 2014
ONE COOL CAT
No helmet, no jacket, no problem.

The above poster is the original promo Kôyû Ohara’s motorcycle gang roman porno Shiroi mesuneko: mahiru no ecstasy, aka White Female Cat: Ecstasy at High Noon, and as you can see star Hitomi Kozue is completely flouting the mandatory helmet ordinance. Well, the point of riding a motorcycle is to feel the wind blow through your… er, hair. We haven’t screened this one, but we love the poster so we thought we’d show it to you anyway on its premier date, which was today in 1975.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 31 2014
HELL AND BACK
Amid medieval Japan’s manners and restraint, how can a person tell the difference between love, honor, and duty?


Above is a poster for Teinosuke Kinugasa’s masterwork samurai drama Jigokumon, which was known in English as Gate of Hell. It was the first Japanese film shot in color, via the process Eastmancolor, which was a leap beyond three-strip Technicolor, and one that makes Jigokumon blaze like a supernova. The story, from a play by Kan Kikuchi, concerns a Heian-era samurai named Moritoh whose bravery during a battle is rewarded by his lord granting him anything he desires. What he desires is the Lady Kesa. Problem is she’s married to another samurai. The lord mistakenly grants Moritoh’s wish, which is soon revealed to be impossible, but Moritoh resolves to have Kesa anyway, by any means necessary—trickery, bribery, even all-out murder. What develops is not just a thriller about entitlement and lust, but a meditation on honor, love and, especially, social strictures.

Jigokumon was a sensation. A hit in Japan, it was a revelation to foreign audiences. It took home the Palme d’Or from the 1954 Cannes Film Festival, a 1955 special Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, an Oscar for Best Costume Design in a color film, and more prestigious nods. Along with Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, Kimisaburo Yoshimura’s Genji Monogatari, Kenji Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu Monogatari, and other films from the early 1950s, it marked the emergence of Japanese cinema onto the international scene. We’ve posted a large group of screen grabs below—perhaps overkill, considering how many—but the film just looks so damn good and the shots are so spectacular that we couldn’t help ourselves. Jigokumon premiered in Japan today in 1953.


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Vintage Pulp Oct 24 2014
MANINA AT SEVENTEEN
A young Bardot perfects her precocious style in Manina, la fille san voiles.

Brigitte Bardot took a while, like Marilyn Monroe, to morph into a bleached blonde, internationally famous sex symbol. The Girl in the Bikini, aka Manina, la fille sans voiles, presents a chance to see her just as she had begun to embark on that road. It was her second film and it opened when she was eighteen, but was shot while she was seventeen. The U.S. poster above doesn’t offer much in the way of style, but the film is another matter entirely.

Bardot plays a lighthouse keeper’s daughter who meets two men determined to find a treasure myth says was lost at sea after the Peloponnesian War. She appears about halfway through the film, sun spangled and filled with energy, frolicking on a rocky shore while almost—but never quite—losing her bikini. One of the treasure huntersmakes time for romance, while the other schemes to steal the loot. Bardot seems oblivious to the effect she has on men, and this innocent sexiness would be a style she’d hone to razor sharpness in later movies. It’s high on style and light on substance (and acting ability), ultimately quite watchable (and in true egalitarian French fashion, the guys also spend much of the movie barely clothed).
 
Just above you see two production stills, one of which was the basis for the American poster, followed by a very famous promo photo from the film showing a nude Bardot at the seaside. And below we have a few more posters—first, the original French promo by Guy Ferard Noël, followed by an alternate version by Clément Hurel. Below those are two more, including a French-language Belgian poster. Manina, la fille sans voiles premiered in France in December 1952, and in the U.S. today in 1958.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
December 21
1958—de Gaulle Elected President of France
World War II hero General Charles de Gaulle is elected President of France by an overwhelming majority. During his time he leads France to develop nuclear weapons, ends the French presence in Algeria, and survives several assassination attempts. He eventually retires to Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, in north-east France, and dies from a heart attack on 9 November 1970.
December 20
1989—U.S. Invades Panama
The United States invades Panama with the goal of overthrowing the dictatorship of Manuel Noriega. Noriega had been a CIA agent for many years, and because of this special status, U.S. drug authorities had turned a blind eye toward his activities, which included helping to create a crack cocaine epidemic in American inner cities. In 1988, Senator John Kerry's Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations concluded that the Noriega saga represented one of the most serious foreign policy failures in U.S. history.
December 19
1984—Britain Agrees to Cede Hong Kong
Great Britain signs over Hong Kong to China in an agreement stipulating that the colony be returned to the Chinese in 1997. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher signs the Joint Sino-British Declaration with her Chinese counterpart Zhao Ziyang, while political groups in Hong Kong push futilely for independence.

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