Intl. Notebook Sep 18 2019
DANCE HALL NIGHTS
Japanese brochures hearken back to a legendary venue.


It's been a while since we've done anything extensive on burlesque, so today we have something unique—the covers of Japanese brochures printed during the 1950s and 1960s to promote the famed burlesque show at Nichigeki Music Hall in Tokyo. The building that hosted those shows—the Nichigeki Theatre, below—was an architectural wonder located in Yurakucho district near Ginza. The multi-level structure welcomed music acts as well as burlesque, and had its concert stage graced by Ella Fitzgerald, Gene Krupa, and Oscar Peterson. But it is remembered, first and foremost, for its fifth floor burlesque hall.

Nichigeki Music Hall's burlesque shows began during Tokyo's grim postwar years in March 1952. It showcased both local dancers and foreign stars, often from the Folies Bergère. The program changed often, and always had evocative names like “Devil Vamp Missile Glamours” or “Aqua Girls Bottom-Up Mambo.” The clientele at these shows was international—largely U.S. soldiers from Japan's occupying forces, and tourists. Indeed the Hall advertised specifically to attract that crowd. Interestingly, the shows were produced by Toho Company, the movie studio behind the Godzilla franchise, as well as quite a few softcore movies.

Frontal nudity in entertainment was illegal in Japan, so Nichigeki's extravaganzas featured feather boas, fans, frilled mini skirts, g-strings, and the like, all designed to dazzle the audience and obscure thedancers' naughty bits. As time went by public tastes veered toward the explicit and attendance at the Hall began to decline. It closed in 1981 and the brilliant art deco influenced building was demolished, another sad architectural loss on a list so long it's pointless to even contemplate it.
 
But at least the brochures survive. They're amazing, front and rear, as you'll see below, with a mix of stunning paintings by Noboru Ochiai, and lovely photos. Make sure you note the titles of the shows. Our favorite: “The Lady was a Stallion,” but “A Snail's Rhapsody” is good too. On a related note, you may want to check out the post we did on archetecturally significant cinemas. You'll see some real beauties there, including another shot of the Nichigeki Theatre. We'll get back to Nichgeki Music Hall's amazing brochures a bit later.
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Vintage Pulp Sep 6 2019
HER OWN WOMAN
What was the must-have possession of 1971? Christina Lindberg.


Here you see a couple of French posters for the 1971 Swedish sexploitation movie Possédée, which means “possessed,” but which was originally titled Exponerad, and was known in the U.S. as Exposed and Diary of a Rape. There's no known release date for the movie in France, but it worked its way across Europe in 1972, so figure it opened in France sometime in the middle of the year. The top poster is one you see often online, but the second promo, in black and white and showing star Christina Lindberg clutched by a male hand, is rare.

We've posted a lot a material on Exponerad. Our continual focus on this is not because the movie is especially worthwhile, but because its promotional materials are great. As an example, below is a shot of Lindberg made to publicize the film, and which appeared in the Japanese magazine Young • Idol • Now. More photos from the session appeared in other Japanese magazines, but this rare shot is by far our favorite. Feel free to check out our other posts on this film by clicking keyword “Exponerad” at bottom.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 2 2019
'KAPI CATS
Schell, Mercouri, and Ustinov plan a field trip to the local museum.


This French promo poster was made for the big screen Technicolor thriller Topkapi, which was based on a novel by Eric Ambler, who was such a popular author that the book was optioned before it even hit bookstores. The sedateness of the poster, which was painted by Yves Thos and René Ferracci, belies how outlandish the movie is at points. It starred Greek actress Melina Mercouri, British actor Peter Ustinov, and Austrian actor Maximilian Schell, with American Jules Dassin in the director's chair, filming mainly in Istanbul and using the location to voyeuristic effect as he documents exotic aspects of Turkish life. Inside all the window dressing is a heist flick about a group intent on stealing a priceless jewel encrusted dagger from the Topkapi Palace Museum. Aspects of this will look familiar to fans of the Mission: Impossible films, but Dassin adds extravagances such as direct-to-audience narration by Mercouri, a touch of Hitchcockian vertigo, and some overly broad comedic digressions that make the final result thrilling and bizarre in equal parts. While we had issues with the movie, who are we to argue with the top critics of the day? They mostly liked it and audiences did too. Topkapi had its world premiere in France today in 1965.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 28 2019
CACCIA ON THE FLIPSIDE
Big screen Thief gets the job done but isn't quite the perfect crime.


This is a spectacular Italian poster for Caccia al ladro, aka To Catch a Thief, with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. The moviemakers opted for a photo-illustration rather than a painting, and it befits the star power of the movie. It was based on David Dodge's best seller of the same name, and in truth it's a pretty simple-minded adaptation of the book. You can just hear the studio execs saying: “We know it's in the novel, but we can't have the star in disguise half the movie, we can't have the romance go unacknowledged until the final reel, and we for damn sure can't have the secondary female lead be more beautiful than Grace Kelly.” Movies are a different medium than books, and changes always happen, but it's just interesting to observe what those changes are. The main change is this: Dodge's novel has suspense, while Hitchcock's adaptation does not. That probably wasn't intentional.

To Catch a Thief is a superstar vehicle, and with Grant and Kelly in the lead roles, and Hitchcock in the director's chair, it's pretty clear the studio considered the hard work done. Extensive French Riviera location shooting and VistaVision widescreen film processing are nice bonuses, but the honchos should have had screenwriter John Michael Hayes hammer the script out a little smoother. We're not being iconoclasts here. The movie received mixed reviews upon release, with some important critics calling it a failure. That's going too far—it isn't a failure. We don't think Grant, Kelly, and Hitchcock would have been capable of making anything but a good movie at this stage. But considering the source material it could have been a perfect movie. To Catch a Thief premiered in the U.S in early August 1955, and in Italy at the Venice Film Festival today the same year.

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Femmes Fatales | Musiquarium Aug 26 2019
UNMITIGATED GALL
Can you believe the verve of some people?


French singer France Gall, who was born Isabel Gall, canoodles with an inflatable something-or-other in this beachy photo made on the Côte d'Azur around 1970. Gall worked for years beginning in 1964 to become a top musical act, enduring disappointment after disappointment, until finally achieving stardom in 1974 with the hit single “La Déclaration d'amour.” Our déclaration is that we love this beautiful shot.

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Femmes Fatales Aug 18 2019
MARISA MAJOR
Finally a constellation you don't have to use your imagination to see.


We'll never look at the night sky quite the same way again, thanks to this otherworldy photo of U.S. actress and model Marisa Berenson. This is the second time we've featured her. The first time was equally striking. See here. This shot appeared in the French magazine Photo-Revue in 1977.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 7 2019
FINDING HER SOLEMATE
I love you, tiny shoe. I'm going to draw out the delicious anticipation before I put my foot inside you.


More from France today. Above you see Envoûtement sensuel, by Pierre Sénard for Éditions C.P.E., published in 1958. The title translates to “sensual enchantment,” and enchanting is a perfect word to describe this cover, which has a very romantic feel. The art wraps around onto the book's spine too, which makes it even nicer. We assume the cover figure is contemplating something other than her right shoe, but maybe not—we know a couple of women that get this way about footwear. The artist here is Jacques Leclerc, who signed his work as Jihel, and we think it's among his best.

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Hollywoodland Jul 5 2019
CINEFUL WOMAN
It was Elke's world. Everyone else just lived in it.


Below, another treasure from our France trip. Cinémonde magazine published today in 1960 with Elke Sommer in a summery cover shot and interior photos of Marie-José Nat, Roger Dumas, Deborah Kerr, Jeanne Moreau, and more.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 2 2019
COUNTING JACULA
Vampires never get old, in legend or in publishing.

Above you see a cover from the long running Elvifrance bande dessinée Jacula, with uncredited art. We picked this up from a Paris bouquiniste a few weeks ago. The backstory here is that a woman named Jacula Velenska is bitten by a vampire and, once turned, roams far and wide quenching her thirst for blood. She's accompanied by her vampire husband Charles Verdier, and his dog servant Wolf. This is in French but the series originated in Italy as a fumetti, or adult comic book, and ran from 1969 to 1982 for a total of 327 issues, which strikes us as quite a lot.

Our French reprint is from 1971 and is 14 in the series. We were anticipating some foundational Jacula vamp action, but were surprised to discover that it deals almost entirely with a loup garou, or werewolf, named Charles, and how he ends up eating his own child and wife. At the end of the tale he encounters Jacula, who he captures and plans to kill before thinking better of it, for reasons that are unclear. It could be this is the same Charles that later becomes her companion. We'll figure it out. One of the reasons we bought this was to practice French, which comes in handy where we live.

We said the cover art was uncredited, but generally they were painted by three guys—Leandro Biffi, Fernando Tacconi, and Carlo Jacono. Thanks to the powers of the internet we were able to determine that this one is by Biffi. The interior art by Alberto Giolitti is a bit more basic, which is usually true of comic books, but you're buying these for the story, 112 pages of it in this case, written by Giuseppe Pederiali. We have a few scans below, and if you want to see more from Elvifrance, start here.

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Femmes Fatales Jun 28 2019
GREEN ENERGY
The science is indisputable. She's causing a sharp rise in temperatures.


French actress Sylvia Sorrente has a pretty good femme fatale gaze. It's penetrating, and a bit secretive, and might make you feel warm in a funny place. Sorrente had a minor cinematic career but appeared in Taras Bulba il cosacco, aka Taras Bulba, Danza macabra, aka Castle of Blood, and Bikini Paradise. Based on the title alone we'll try to find Castle of Blood. Hah! You didn't buy that for a second, did you? Who wants to deal with a Castle of Blood when there's a Bikini Paradise? We'll report back after we cool down. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
September 20
1946—Cannes Launches Film Festival
The first Cannes Film Festival is held in 1946, in the old Casino of Cannes, financed by the French Foreign Affairs Ministry and the City of Cannes.
September 19
1934—Arrest Made in Lindbergh Baby Case
Bruno Hauptmann is arrested for the kidnap and murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr., son of the famous American aviator. The infant child had been abducted from the Lindbergh home in March 1932, and found decomposed two months later in the woods nearby. He had suffered a fatal skull fracture. Hauptmann was tried, convicted, sentenced to death, and finally executed by electric chair in April 1936. He proclaimed his innocence to the end
September 18
1919—Pollard Breaks the Color Barrier
Fritz Pollard becomes the first African-American to play professional football for a major team, the Akron Pros. Though Pollard is forgotten today, famed sportswriter Walter Camp ranked him as "one of the greatest runners these eyes have ever seen." In another barrier-breaking historical achievement, Pollard later became the co-head coach of the Pros, while still maintaining his roster position as running back.
1932—Entwistle Leaps from Hollywood Sign
Actress Peg Entwistle commits suicide by jumping from the letter "H" in the Hollywood sign. Her body lay in the ravine below for two days, until it was found by a detective and two radio car officers. She remained unidentified until her uncle connected the description and the initials "P.E." on the suicide note in the newspapers with his niece's two-day absence.
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