Welch makes world's most unwieldy laundry technique look like a good idea.
This piece of art has two things going for it—it was painted by Italian genius Enzo Nistri, and his painting is of Raquel Welch. We know—we had you already at Enzo. Consider Welch a bonus. El Verdugo is Spanish for “the executioner,” and this is a Spanish poster, despite the artist being Italian. The film is better known as 100 Rifles, a 1969 western about a revolutionary who knocks off a bank to fund the purchase of guns. It's counterculture all the way—Burt Reynolds plays a half-Native American named Yaqui Joe, Jim Brown co-stars as a lawman sent to recover the cash, Welch is also supposed to be Indian, and the subtext of revolution was meant to mirror the social unrest in the U.S. We wrote about it in detail here. Welch takes a shower in the middle of the film, and you see below we have some promo images of that. A clothed shower? It's silly. Welch did not do nudity*, so the filmmakers should have simply left the scene out. Within the script the shower is an ambush so she can get some Mexican soldiers' guards down then ventilate them, but just set up the ambush a different way. Don't know about you, but if we came across someone showering clothed, whatever the circumstances, we'd immediately start looking over our shoulders because it's strange. That said, the photos are fun. They show what a huge sex symbol Welch was. Douse her with water and men got hot and bothered seeing hardly any skin at all. El Verdugo opened in Spain today in 1969. *Regarding Welch nude scenes, there's a nude photo of a woman who resembles Welch and is believed by some to have been taken on a movie set. It's plausible in the sense that back then actors got naked for scenes that were nude in scripts but not meant to be shown nude or fully nude onscreen—such as here and here—but we doubt Welch did it.
And they thought cellblocks 1 through 6 were bad.
Diario segreto da un carcere femminile, for which you see a nice poster above, was released in English as Women in Cellblock 7. Jenny Tamburi is thrown in prison as an accessory to a drug trafficking doublecross that led to the disappearance of twenty kilos of heroin. Interpol agent Anita Strindberg wants to prove her father, also an Interpol agent, had nothing to do with the heist, and has herself and her amazing hair placed in prison in order to ply Tamburi for exonerating evidence. Outside parties think Tamburi knows where the missing heroin is, including her lawyer and the mafia, but she claims to have no idea.
So you have an innocent woman in prison, under threat from convicts connected to the mafia, and into this arrives an undercover agent who soon becomes her protector. The cast, which besides Tamburi and Strindberg includes Eva Czemerys, Olga Bisera, Cristina Gaioni, and Valeria Fabrizi, get to rubbing on each other in beds and showers in cinematic approximations of lesbian sex, which means you've got yourself a classic women in prison sexploitation flick. There's also a plot thread external to the prison involving the mafia trafficantes, and some of this features effective action, but it's the ladies on lockdown that are the draw here.
Do they make the movie worth watching? We wouldn't go that far, but they're certainly scenic, and they work hard to hold together a ridiculous script. The conundrum of movie acting is that you have to give it your all or be judged unfit for further roles. At eighty-one minutes in length, at least the film lets the cast out early for good behavior even if the warden doesn't. Diario segreto da un carcere femminile premiered in Italy today in 1973, and the poster was painted by Enzo Nistri. You can see more of his work here and here.
Vice and virtue in Vienna.
So, quite by coincidence there’s another movie we watched recently that also premiered today, though thirty years later than The Shanghai Gesture (see below). The movie is Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh, which would translate as “The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh,” but was released in the U.S. as Blade of the Ripper. This flick is considered one of the best gialli ever made, and it’s tough to argue the point. It’s intricate, absorbing, unpredictable, colorful, and shot in an array of amazing external locations and inside one of the greatest mid-century modern apartments ever conceived. It also has Edwige Fenech, whose gifts are well known. Taking place mainly in Vienna and climaxing in Sitges, Spain (which happens to be one of our favorite towns in Europe)Signora Wardh is a tale of obssession and infidelity wrapped in a murder mystery. Mrs. Wardh does indeed have a strange vice, but that’s just window dressing. It’s her that’s being hunted throughout the movie—either by a serial killer, a demented ex-lover, or both. Or neither. They say that the only way to keep a secret is if no more than two people know it and one of them is dead. But the only way to commit murder is if the killer has an iron clad alibi, and for that he often needs help. Rule one conflicts with rule two, and that’s the fun of Signora Wardh. Above you see a rare and wonderful Italian promo poster painted by Giuliano Nistri, the younger brother of equally talented Enzo Nistri. We'll get back to both Nistri brothers a little later. Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh opened in Italy today in 1971.
The movie isn’t perfect, but the Japanese promo poster is.
Something a bit different today. We saw this poster and loved its colors and vibrancy. It’s for the 1968 counterculture movie Joanna, which was about a young woman in swinging 1960s London. Think of it as a distaff version of Alfie, but with the added taboo of interracial romance. The star is Geneviève Waïte, and Donald Sutherland also puts in an appearance. Like a lot of movies that tried to capture the spirit of the ’60s, Joanna has not aged particularly well, but it’s beloved by many who were in high school or college when it came out. The movie is well before our time, but we liked it anyway. It isn’t perfect, but it has some really great moments, including an interlude in Morocco. As a bonus, we’ve posted the English, Spanish and Italian promos below. You’ll note that the Italian version was painted by Enzo Nistri. He did quite a bit of nice work in the ’60s and ’70s. We’ll get back to him.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1919—Wilson Suffers Stroke
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson suffers a massive stroke, leaving him partially paralyzed. He is confined to bed for weeks, but eventually resumes his duties, though his participation is little more than perfunctory. Wilson remains disabled throughout the remainder of his term in office, and the rest of his life.
1968—Massacre in Mexico
Ten days before the opening of the 1968 Summer Olympics
in Mexico City, a peaceful student demonstration ends in the Tlatelolco Massacre. 200 to 300 students are gunned down, and to this day there is no consensus about how or why the shooting began.
1910—Los Angeles Times Bombed
A massive dynamite bomb destroys the Los Angeles Times building in downtown Los Angeles, California, killing 21 people. Police arrest James B. McNamara and his brother John J. McNamara. Though the brothers are represented by the era's most famous lawyer, Clarence Darrow, of Scopes Monkey Trial fame, they eventually plead guilty. James is convicted and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. His brother John is convicted of a separate bombing of the Llewellyn Iron Works and also sent to prison.
1975—Ali Defeats Frazier in Manila
In the Philippines, an epic heavyweight boxing match known as the Thrilla in Manila takes place between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. It is the third, final and most brutal match between the two, and Ali wins by TKO in the fourteenth round.
1955—James Dean Dies in Auto Accident
American actor James Dean, who appeared in the films Giant
, East of Eden
, and the iconic Rebel without a Cause
, dies in an auto accident
at age 24 when his Porsche 550 Spyder is hit head-on by a larger Ford coupe. The driver of the Ford had been trying to make a left turn across the rural highway U.S. Route 466 and never saw Dean's small sports car approaching.
1962—Chavez Founds UFW
Mexican-American farm worker César Chávez founds the United Farm Workers in California. His strikes, marches and boycotts eventually result in improved working conditions for manual farm laborers and today his birthday is celebrated as a holiday in eight U.S. states.
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