Vintage Pulp Dec 4 2019
IN THE MEAN TIME
Ex-footballer Fred Williamson finds hits in cinema a bit more elusive than hits on a gridiron.


Above is a poster for the blaxploitation movie Mr. Mean, which hit cinemas this month in 1977. First, the title. Mr. Mean. We don't like it. It doesn't project the dignity of Mr. Majestyk, the approachable earthiness of Mr. Ed, the dystopian oppressiveness of Mr. Robot, the humor of Mr. Bean, the cultural examination of Mr. Baseball, the weirdness of Mr. Meaty, the paternalism of Mr. Skeffington, the righteousness of They Call Me Mr. Tibbs!, and, most importantly, the melodic promise of the forgotten ’80s pop band Mr. Mister. In short, Mr. Mean just sounds like a movie about a guy nobody wants to know.

It was written, produced, and directed by ex-NFL bonecrusher Fred Williamson, and long story short, directing a film is just a little more complicated than spearing wide receivers as a defensive back. He should have done better, since this was his fifth go-round of nearly twenty in the director's chair. Possibly the studio messed up his final cut. Or, considerably more likely, it was a disaster from the jump. Problem one: there's an unbelievable number of scenes of Williamson going from point A to B, either by car on on foot. If all the transit scenes were cut the movie would be ten minutes shorter. Problem two: every actor in the film is made of wood.

But we made it through this interminable slog across a fireswamp of first year film student errors for two reasons—Williamson himself, who has charisma and actually does mostly okay in the lead role, and his co-star Crippy Yocard. Both are great looking and many viewers will probably dig him, her, or both. Yocard in particular was one of the more free-spirited Italian stars, which she proved by posing for numerous extremely nude photos, including this one. Back yet? Now just imagine what the others are like. Maybe there's even a third point of interest with the movie—it feels a bit arthouse, which makes it a curiosity within the blaxploitation genre.

Notice we haven't discussed the plot? Fred didn't even know what it was, so how can we? Basically, he plays a fixer living in Rome who takes jobs come what may, but is asked to cross the bright white ethical line and kill a guy. He doesn't want to do it, but he needs the money, the target is supposedly a real asshole, and so forth. Despite the hackneyed premise, a decent movie could have resulted, but it feels as if an investor backed out halfway through and Williamson and crew found themselves stuck up the Tiber River with neither paddles nor budget.

So what's the upshot here? Williamson gets to strut and whip ass, Yocard gets naked, and arrogant white villains get obliterated. All good things. An unexpected aspect is that the legendary funk band Ohio Players get the soundtrack duties and close the movie with “Good Luck Charm,” which is a song so good it almost erases the memory of them opening the movie with a laughably bad theme song called—guess?—“Mr. Mean.” What can be said? Even musical geniuses will fumble when pressured. As for Williamson—he just dropped the ball. Which is why he was a defensive back in the first place.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 29 2019
FATAL VISION
Murder is in the eye of the beholder.


Above are three beautiful posters for L'occhio che uccide, or “the eye that kills,” which premiered in Italy today in 1961. The movie was originally called Peeping Tom when released in Britain in 1960. The second and third posters are signed by Renato Casaro, while the top one is unsigned. But it resembles his work, so what the heck—let's say he painted all three until someone corrects us. This movie was a career killer, a bizarre and confounding thriller that irreparably damaged the ambitions of director Michael Powell, but which today has ardent advocates. In the mood for a voyeur mass murderer who tries to turn his killings into art? See our write-up here, and check out a Japanese poster for the flick here

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Vintage Pulp Nov 26 2019
ANOTHER GO ROUND
Time for a fresh spin on the Caroselli.


It's been more than a year since we featured Benedetto Caroselli, the best paperback illustrator Italy ever had to offer, in our opinion. He painted hundreds of covers, all executed at the highest level. Below you see ten more.
 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 7 2019
THE WESTERN SIDE OF ITALY
Somewhere between Hollywood and Rome lay the wild frontier.


Above, numerous Italian posters for 1960s and 1970s westerns. Some of these movies were true spaghetti westerns (produced in Italy and shot in Europe, often Spain), while others are U.S. productions. All the imagery is beautiful. The artists responsible include Renato Casaro, Rodolfo Gasparri, Averardo Ciriello, Aller, aka Carlo Alessandrini, et al.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 2 2019
KEEP ON TRUCKING
Hayes hits Italy in high gear.


Above, two nice Italian posters for É tempo di uccidere detective Treck, better known as Truck Turner, starring music icon Isaac Hayes. Though the movie is pretty bad, honestly, it has high octane action and one of the funniest scenes from the genre. You can find out what that scene is at our previous write-up. You may be wondering why the Italian distributors changed the main character's name to Treck. We don't know. There's no exact Italian release date for this, but it premiered in most European countries during the summer of 1975. The artist is uncredited. 

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Vintage Pulp Oct 31 2019
BACK TO SCHOOL
Sex education class is now in session.


Above, two alternate posters for the Italian high school sex comedy La Liceale, known in English as The Teasers. But there's only one teaser that matters here—Gloria Guida, star of this and many similar movies. See more at this link. La Liceale premiered in Italy today in 1975.

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Femmes Fatales Oct 24 2019
CATCHING A COUPLE OF Z'S
Feeling sleepy? Here's a little eye opener for you.


This photo came from a 1974 issue of the Italian edition of Playboy. It had a header in a cool custom font and a blurb below that, but we cleaned those off the image so you could focus on its star—the unusually lovely Brazilian model and actress Zula, who was aka Vera Lucia, and was born Vera de Oliveira. The text we wiped suggested Zula would be the next Zeudi Araya, but it never quite happened. Even so, the careers of the two Z's were similar. Both were afro-immigrants who played exotic fruit in Italo b-movies. Many women were tapped for roles of that type, regardless of ethnicity, because the 1970s were the heyday of gratuitous everything in Italian cinema. A few flicks transcended their genres to become well regarded, but unfortunately neither Zula nor Zeudi were in any of them. Zula transcended the hell out of photography in this shot, though, didn't she? She also rocked Alain Delon's world for a while, and if you've seen the young version of him, that's no surprise at all. For a look at the other Z check here.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 18 2019
PIETA PRINCPLE
Pity the fool who has impossible expectations.


In Italian “pietà” means “pity,” which is just what you may feel in Pietà i giusti, aka Detective Story, for Kirk Douglas and his wife Eleanor Parker. Basically he learns she isn't the virginal creature he'd assumed. This movie must have frazzled many male nerves seventy years ago. It's the first film noir we ever wrote about on Pulp Intl., but our first time seeing this amazing Italian poster was just recently. It's a reminder that Detective Story is a pretty decent flick about a man who doesn't know his wife as well as he thinks. Imperfect but worth a watch. You can read what we wrote about it here, but be forewarned, it was before we were browbeaten into our no-spoilers pledge. After premiering in the U.S. in 1951, Detective Story opened in Italy today in 1952.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 2 2019
HEADLESS HYDRA
Sci-fi invasion film is a Missione impossible.


The hydra of myth had seven heads. The movie 2+5: Missione Hydra feels like there wasn't a single head involved. It originally premiered in Italy today in 1966, but was re-released in 1977 as Star Pilot, an opportunistic move inspired by the success of Star Wars. But where Star Wars made history, Star Pilot is historically awful. The plot involves aliens who crash land on Earth but need to go back to their home planet located somewhere in the constellation Hydra, and can only repair their ship with the help of a few human scientists. As a bonus they plan to abduct these accommodating people for intensive—possibly even invasive—study.

2+5: Missione Hydra is very nearly the worst science fiction film we've ever seen, perhaps second only to the infamous Star Crash. Its unique terribleness was brought about by a perfect storm of factors, including a budget completely inadequate for the film's ambitions, which resulted in cheap sets, shoestring special efx, ridiculous costumes, bad music and sound, and stunt work that looks as if it was performed by the guys who fight with wooden swords at medieval fairs.

Adding to these problems is a script that is not only inept, but filled with attempts at light-hearted humor that fall flatter than buckwheat crêpes. Leontine and Leonora Ruffo are dealt the worst characters, and must try to bring to life, respectively, a frisky sexpot and a cold alien space babe. But they're overmatched by the writing. The only positive with 2+5: Missione Hydra is the usual one when it comes to awful films—if you have a few quick-witted friends and some booze, this could turn into one of the most entertaining movie nights you've ever had.

Guys, was that our screenwriter back there on the side of the road? Maybe we should stop. We might need him.

We have come to Earth to fertilize your women. And your men. And possibly some trees. Our semen funnels can induce fertilization in anything.

Among our species, my funnel is considered enormous.

You had me at “fun,” space stud.

This is the fertilization chamber. To excite you we have installed mood lighting and will transmit the Chili Peppers', “Party on Your Pussy.”

We can't fertilize on this! It's barely big enough for a reverse cowgirl, let alone a standard missionary.

Heh. They have no idea we're recording the fertilizations. We should do quite well with these on the galactic candid porn market.

How did your fertilization go? Mine, all things considered, was better than expected.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 11 2019
THE ASTOUNDING SHE-MODEL
Her invasion didn't quite work out as planned.


The list of old publishing houses from around the world that borrowed photos of actresses for their covers continues to grow. Discovering these books decades later often means finding incredibly rare shots of women who weren't well known when their images were used, but who later became big stars. This cover for Albert Conroy's, aka Luigi Amerio's Fuga nel sangue from Edizioni Giumar in 1959 features Shirley Kilpatrick. She wasn't one of the ones who later became a big star. We have a feeling her title turn in 1957's sci-fi megabomb The Astounding She-Monster ruined that dream. It was her only credited film role, which just goes to show that no place is harder to conquer than Hollywood. But we love Kilpatrick anyway, and this is a great shot of her. See others here.

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Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
December 12
1968—Tallulah Bankhead Dies
American actress, talk show host, and party girl Tallulah Bankhead, who was fond of turning cartwheels in a dress without underwear and once made an entrance to a party without a stitch of clothing on, dies in St. Luke's Hospital in New York City of double pneumonia complicated by emphysema.
December 11
1962—Canada Has Last Execution
The last executions in Canada occur when Arthur Lucas and Ronald Turpin, both of whom are Americans who had been extradited north after committing separate murders in Canada, are hanged at Don Jail in Toronto. When Turpin is told that he and Lucas will probably be the last people hanged in Canada, he replies, “Some consolation.”
1964—Guevara Speaks at U.N.
Ernesto "Che" Guevara, representing the nation of Cuba, speaks at the 19th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City. His speech calls for wholesale changes in policies between rich nations and poor ones, as well as five demands of the United States, none of which are met.
2008—Legendary Pin-Up Bettie Page Dies
After suffering a heart attack several days before, erotic model Bettie Page, who in the 1950s became known as the Queen of Pin-ups, dies when she is removed from life support machinery. Thanks to the unique style she displayed in thousands of photos and film loops, Page is considered one of the most influential beauties who ever lived.
December 10
1935—Downtown Athletic Club Awards First Trophy
The Downtown Athletic Club in New York City awards its first trophy for athletic achievement to University of Chicago halfback Jay Berwanger. The prize is later renamed the Heisman Trophy, and becomes the most prestigious award in college athletics.
1968—Japan's Biggest Heist Occurs
300 million yen is stolen from four employees of the Nihon Shintaku Ginko bank in Tokyo when a man dressed as a police officer blocks traffic due to a bomb threat, makes them exit their bank car while he checks it for a bomb, and then drives away in it. Under Japanese statute of limitations laws, the thief could come forward today with no repercussions, but nobody has ever taken credit for the crime.
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