Mario de Berardinis makes the Mos of his considerable talent.
We’ve shared the work of Italian poster illustrator Mario de Berardinis several times and thought today would be a good day to revisit him. De Berardinis began painting movie posters in the late 1940s, but most of his output seems to have occurred during the 1960s and 1970s, when he created scores of brilliant promos, including the iconic Barbarella poster you see above. He usually signed his work Mos, or sometimes Almos, but some pieces bear his full name. He worked until his death in 1977, and his posters today are collectible and expensive. You can see three of our previous posts on De Berardinis here, here, and here.
You know, in my country they’re clear-cutting forests at an alarming rate.
Above, Sucked into Sin, written by Curt Aldrich and published by Greenleaf Classics in 1968 for their Companion Books set. Typical sleaze here, with a story revolving around a woman whose husband leaves for Germany on a business trip for three weeks, prompting the horny neighbors to use the time to corrupt her. It doesn’t take much, and within days wifey's letting the whole neighborhood get on it. But what will she tell her husband? The cover artist for this is Ed Smith.
Jean de la Hire’s truth is stranger than fiction.
The French sci-fi novel L’Invisible was written by Jean de La Hire, aka Espié Adolphem, for Éditions Jaeger et Hauteville’s Fantastic series in 1953. The set-up is ingenious here—basically, H.G. Wells’ famous novel The Invisible Man was a disguised factual account, and this book reveals the truth about the man Wells fictionalized. He develops an invisibility potion, uses it to make a fortune, and later faces a choice between continuing on his path or giving it up for love. The cool cover art is by René Brantonne.
When all around him are losing their heads—it’s because he’s the one cutting them off.
The above poster was made to promote the Taiwanese wuxia flick Du bi quan wang da po xue di zi, aka The One Armed Boxer vs. The Flying Guillotine, aka Master of the Flying Guillotine. Wuxia movies deal with honor, oaths, redressing wrongs, etc. In this one the Flying Guillotine is determined to avenge the deaths of his two disciples (which occurred in the prequel One Armed Boxer). His weapon isn’t so much a guillotine as it is a flying helmet with a circular saw attached. The workings of the device are obscure, but using it he can snatch peoples’ heads clean off. Quite a sight. His mission of revenge takes him over hill and dale, through town and hollow, but he has such trouble locating the One Armed Boxer he decides it's more efficient to simply kill every one-armed peasant he comes across. Though from his perspective he’s righting a wrong he isn’t actually the good guy here. How could he be? Snatching innocent folks’ heads off isn’t exactly honorable. Eventually he locates his quarry and we get a climactic showdown. Why, what's that inside the One Armed Boxer's shirt? It's his other arm, of course. We're not supposed to notice. In addition to the two stars you get a supporting cast with their own baroque brands of martial arts, including an Indian yoga master who can extend his arms double length like a pair of fire truck ladders. This is classic schlock, highly recommended.
Love and the single robot.
This National Star Chronicle published today in 1965 doesn’t stand up well against the more colorful Keyhole (above), but it does have Julie Newmar, which is something. The photo that editors opt to use is just a handout, and it’s actually several years older than the issue, having appeared in glamour magazines as far back as 1961. When Newmar says she’s no robot, she’s referring to her role in the television series My Living Doll, in which she played an android named AF 709. In the show she’s created as a blank slate, which prompts her maker to partner her with a psychiatrist played by Bob Cummings, whose job is to program her to behave like an actual woman. We know. We know. The job should probably be given to… erm… a woman, but where’s the fun in that? Anyway, AF 709 is redubbed Rhoda Miller, given over to Cummings, and he tries to teach her things like obedience to males, and to not talk back—yes, really—but she of course develops a few quirks independent of her programming, and hilarity ensues. The show didn’t last long, shockingly, but it did contribute an enduring catchphrase to the American lexicon: “Does not compute.”
But he wasn’t all bad. Before him I had a pimp named Cletus and he was really terrible.
Cough, cough, hack, wheeze. We’re back from oblivion. Above you see the cover of Joe Castro’s Satan Was My Pimp, 1964, from Playtime, with cover art by Robert Bonfils. This is of course one of the great sleaze titles ever.
Hah! That was your last bullet! You’re out! You’re utterly screwed! Now what are you gonna—
On this amusing cover from Graphic Books a surprised P.I. narrowly avoids a serious beaning from a woman who definitely doesn’t want to be his valentine. 1953’s Post-Mark Homicide originally appeared as The Widow Gay in 1950 with the same art, painted by unknown on both editions, sadly. The novel is these days published with the author credited as Arthur A. Marcus. So what happens here? A crooked D.A. needs to recover a set of incriminating letters, hires a studly P.I. to do it, who in turn has to deal with a recently widowed—like, earlier that day—but not exactly grieving gangster’s moll. This pistol-slinging move never worked in the movies, and it doesn’t work here either, but we always love to see it.
Actually, my husband already came home. But don’t worry. Except for getting fresh beers he might as well be in Mongolia until WWE Raw is over.
Above, a nice Tom Miller cover for Suburban Lovers, Jay Carr’s tale of various married suburbanites bedding their neighbors, published 1962, for Monarch. Carr, who was in actuality James P. Duff, must have done okay with this theme, because he also published Crack-Up in Suburbia for Monarch, also in 1962.
When life gives you lemons make a roman porno movie.
We’ve been holding onto this poster for a few years. We were told when we got it that it’s for a movie called in English A Clockwork Lemon—an intriguing title. But we looked everywhere and the name didn’t appear in a single film database. The poster text doesn’t say anything about clocks or lemons, by the way, but it’s often true that Japanese titles are changed completely for films’ Western runs. When we finally located info on this one—looking for the Japanese rather than English name—it turned out it was made in 1968, which eliminates “A Clockwork Lemon” as the English title, since Kubrick’s dystopian citrus epic didn’t appear until ’71. Unless, of course, he stole his title from this film. We doubt that, so, let's assume we were led astray on the English title, but whatever, that happens sometimes. Wanna know what the movie is called in Japanese? The text reads something like “same hole again.” So, there you go. Not much we can add to that.
Um, except to mention as we always do, that these aren’t porn films, despite the titles. They’re about on the level of late night cable softcore. Softer, actually, because no naughty bits could legally appear onscreen in vintage Japanese cinema. “Same Hole Again” was directed by… actually, wait—that sounds so wrong. Maybe we’ll just go with Japanese here. 穴じかけ was directed by Hajime Sasaki, stars Kazuko Shirakawa, and appeared in 1968. Shirakawa is an important cinematic figure—she headlined the first roman porno (again, not porn) production Nikkatsu Studios ever made—Danchizuma: hirusagari no jôji, aka Apartment Wife: Affair in the Afternoon. She made a series of films in the genre, later moved into mainstream flicks, and was still acting as of 2011. Sorry we don’t have more info. But you gotta love the poster, right? To make up for our lack of data, below is a shot of Shirakawa looking lemony fresh.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1917—First Jazz Record Is Made
In New Orleans, The Original Dixieland Jass Band records the first ever jazz record for the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York. The band was frequently billed as the "Creators of Jazz", but in reality all the members had previously played in the Papa Jack Laine bands, a group of racially mixed performers who helped form the basis of Dixieland while playing under bandleader George Laine.
1947—Prussia Ceases To Exist
The centuries-old state of Prussia, which had been a great European power under the reign of Frederick the Great during the 1800s, and a major influence on German culture, ceases to exist when it is dissolved by the post-WWII Allied Control Council comprised of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union.
1964—Clay Beats Liston
Heavyweight boxer Cassius Clay, aged 22, becomes champion of the world after beating Sonny Liston, aka the Dark Destroyer, in one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. It would be the beginning of a storied and controversial career for Clay, who would announce to the world shortly after the fight that he had changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
1920—The Nazi Party Is Founded
The small German Workers' Party, or DAP, which was under the direction of Adolf Hitler, changes its name to the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Though Hitler adopted the socialist label to attract working class Germans, his party in fact embraced mainly anti-socialist ideas. The group became known in English as the Nazi Party, and within the next fifteen years expanded to become the most powerful force in German politics.
1942—Battle of Los Angeles Takes Place
A object flying over wartime Los Angeles triggers a massive anti-aircraft barrage
, ultimately killing 3 civilians. Initially the target of the aerial barrage is thought to be an attacking force from Japan, but it is later suggested to be imaginary and a case of "war nerves", a lost weather balloon, a blimp, a Japanese fire balloon, or even an extraterrestrial craft. The true nature of the object or objects remains unknown to this day, but the event is known as the Battle of Los Angeles.
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