Is there anything sweeter than a beautiful movie palace?
You probably recognize Grauman's Chinese Theatre, in Los Angeles. These days it's called TCL Chinese Theatre, because it's owned and operated by TCL Corporation—based in China, ironically. Since we write so often about movies we thought it appropriate to discuss the beautiful buildings in which the films were exhibited. Back in the day these were usually purpose-built structures, though some did split duty for stage productions and concerts. While many of these old palaces survive, nearly all surviving vintage cinemas in the U.S. were under threat at some point. Generally, if they hadn't been given historic protection they wouldn't be upright today.
Other times, if a city was poor, real estate costs didn't rise and old buildings stood unthreatened, usually idle. This happened often in the American midwest, where movie houses were neglected for decades before some were resurrected amid downtown revitalizations. It sometimes happens in Latin America too, although occasionally the formula fails. For example, Cartagena's majestic and oft photographed landmark Teatro Colón, located in the historic section of Colombia's most popular coastal tourist city, was torn down fewer than six months ago to make way for a Four Seasons Hotel.
Some of the cinemas below are well known treasures, while others are more unassuming places. But even those lesser known cinemas show how much thought and work was put into making moviegoing a special experience. The last photo, which shows the Butterfly Theatre in Milwaukee, exemplifies that idea. The façade is distinguished by a terra cotta butterfly sculpture adorned with light bulbs. As you might guess, many of the most beautiful large cinemas were in Los Angeles, which means that city is well represented in the collection. Enjoy.
Paramount Theatre, Oakland (operational).
Cine Maya, Mérida (demolished).
The Albee Cinema, Cincinnati (demolished)
Cooper Theatre, Denver (demolished).
Paras Cinema, Jaipur (operational).
Cathay Cinema, Shanghai (operational).
Academy Theatre, Los Angeles (operational).
Charlottenburg Filmwerbung, Berlin (demolished).
Pacific's Cinerama Theatre, Los Angeles (operational).
York Theatre, Elmhurst (operational).
La Gaumont-Palace, Paris (demolished).
Essoldo Cinema, Newcastle (demolished).
Théâtre Scala, Strasbourg (operational).
Teatro Colón, Cartagena (demolished in 2018).
Teatro Coliseo Argentino, Buenos Aires (demolished).
Pavilion Theater, Adelaide (demolished).
El Molino Teatro, Barcelona (operational).
Fox Carthay Theatre, Los Angeles (demolished).
Kino Rossiya Teatr, Moscow (operational).
Nippon Gekijo, aka Nichigeki, Tokyo (demolished).
Cine Impala, Namibe (operational).
Cine Arenal, Havana (operational).
Teatro Mérida, Mérida (operational, renamed Teatro Armando Manzanero).
Ideal Theater, Manila (demolished).
Odeon Cinema, London (semi-demolished, converted to apartments).
Mayan Theatre, Los Angeles (operational).
Rex Cinema, Port au Prince (being restored).
Urania Kino, Vienna (operational).
Tampa Theatre, Tampa (operational).
The Butterfly Theater, Milwaukee (demolished).
When the Belle rings it's time for everyone to get it up.
Above is a Japanese poster and a pamphlet front for the French sexploitation flick Laure, aka Forever Emmanuelle, which premiered in Japan today in 1976 after opening in Italy nine months earlier. We watched it, and first of all the movie looks great. It's crisp, bright, and colorful—three things you really want when Annie Belle is the star. We gather that the palpably high budget was due to an infusion of big studio money from Twentieth Century Fox via Cinecittà Studios, as they tried to cash in on the 1970s sexploitation phenomenon. None of this means the movie is good.
Emmanuelle flicks are chaste and atmospheric, more romance than raunch, and Laure is no exception. Belle plays a highly sexed minister's daughter running wild in the Philippines, from Manila to the jungly outer reaches. There's a plot having to do with searching for the isolated Mara tribe, but the movie is more a series of swinger lifestyle lectures and sexualized vignettes, such as when Belle drops her skirt so she can walk around in public wearing nothing but a shirt that flashes her muff, and when she gets laid in a bamboo hut that's being dragged through the woods by a dozen Filipino workers. She's wanted by everyone whose path she crosses, but it's Al Cliver who piques her interest, thanks to his unwillingness to attempt caging her or cooling her hot blood. At one point he announces, “Jealousy is an obscenity.” It takes quite a man to watch the woman he loves have explosive orgasms with every stranger who happens along.
Of special note is a co-starring turn from Thai/French personality Emmanuelle Arsan, who in 1959 anonymously published the book Emmanuelle, source of the film franchise. Or at least she was thought for years to have been responsible for the book. Her husband Louis-Jacques Rollet-Andriane is now considered the author. Arsan was also credited with directing Laure, or at least co-directing it, but that was Rollet-Andriane again, whose name isn't on the film for reasons too involved to go into here. Well, it's definitely Arsan playing the role of Myrte, adding to the film's visual allure by looking great naked at age forty-four. She can't act, but she's good at giving wise looks and secretive smiles. She's easy to buy as the source—or at least inspiration—for Emmanuelle, because she's a very sexy woman. Despite all the film's beauty, we aren't going so far as to recommend it generally, but for lovers of globetrotting softcore or fans of Annie Belle it's mandatory.
A picture is worth a thousand words—and it also saves a thousand investigative man hours.
This story slipped by us in the aftermath of New Year’s, but we decided to post it today because it’s so strange it could be the stuff of pulp fiction. Saturday in the Phillipines, in the capital city of Manila, councilman Reynaldo Dagsa, from the Barangay district, was shot dead outside his home while taking a photograph of family members. But in a freak occurrence, he accidentally photographed the man who killed him. The gunman is visible at left in the photo, taking aim at Dagsa an instant before pulling the trigger. The photo led directly to the arrest of the suspected gunman Michael Rollon, as well as an accomplice identified as Frederick Sales, who appears at the upper right. Both men had prior criminal records, and both were out of prison on parole at the time of the killing. The photo was not given to the police immediately because it was not clear that Dagsa had photographed his killer, but during the investigation police asked the family for the camera Dagsa had used in hopes that it would reveal some evidence. Senior Superintendent Jude Santos, police chief of the Manila municipality of Caloocan City where the shooting occurred, admitted that if not for the photo his detectives would have had a difficult time identifying and apprehending the suspects. Both Rollon and his accomplice Sales are behind bars awaiting a hearing, and a third suspect identified as Ariel Buenaflor is being sought.
The Philippines can be dangerous and beautiful—sometimes in the same night.
We’re patting ourselves on the back today, because El Mono Blanco successfully moved our headquarters from San José City to Manila without missing a beat on Pulp Intl. Why did he move? Well, let’s just say MB wore out his welcome in the hinterlands. His first clue was when his nightly slumber was shattered by hysterical screaming. To his surprise and chagrin, the screaming was coming from his girlfriend, who was sitting bolt upright in bed next to him, having been awakened by rummaging thieves. The crooks managed to steal a camera before they fled, but in true pulp fashion MB stalked the dark streets of San José City, screaming that he would kill them if they dared show their faces again. Picture him in slippers, unleashing a torrent of profanity that would make George Carlin spin in his grave. A day or two later, in an unrelated incident, a man threatened MB with a painful and grisly death via machete. Discretion being the better part of valor, or something like that, MB pulled up stakes and beat it out of town. So add another weird chapter to Pulp’s short but rich history. We know what you’re thinking. Why not avoid these troubles by simply moving someplace safe, like Canada? Soundly reasoned, and thank you. But where would be the fun in that?
Known as the King of Philippine Movies, actor-director Fernando Poe, Jr. was such a popular figure in his home country that he ran for president in 2004. After a hotly contested election that he lost, his supporters accused the opposition of fraud. Seven months later he was killed by a coronary thrombosis, whereupon some people close to Poe blamed his enemies, but that’s a pulp story for another time. What we’re interested in today in his huge body of work—nearly 175 movies over more than five decades. You’d almost have to be two people to produce so much and, in a way, he was. He directed for years under the name Ronwaldo Reyes, and kept the identity secret until the night he walked onto stage at the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (or FAMAS) Awards to claim a statuette. The above film, the actioner Ang Padrino, may have low budget promo art, but it won three more FAMAS Awards for Poe, including best picture. It opened today in Manila in 1985.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1926—Houdini Fatally Punched in Stomach
After a performance in Montreal, Hungarian-born magician and escape artist Harry Houdini is approached by a university student named J. Gordon Whitehead, who asks if it is true that Houdini can endure any blow to the stomach. Before Houdini is ready Whitehead strikes him several times, causing internal injuries that lead to the magician's death.
1973—Kidnappers Cut Off Getty's Ear
After holding Jean Paul Getty III for more than three months, kidnappers cut off his ear and mail it to a newspaper in Rome. Because of a postal strike it doesn't arrive until November 8. Along with the ear is a lock of hair and ransom note that says: "This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits." Getty's grandfather, billionaire oilman Jean Paul Getty, at first refused to pay the 3.2 million dollar ransom, then negotiated it down to 2.8 million, and finally agreed to pay as long as his grandson repaid the sum at 4% interest.
1947—HUAC Hearings Begin
The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation into Communist infiltration of Hollywood, resulting in a witch hunt that destroys lives, ruins careers, and makes Senator Joseph McCarthy the most feared politician of the era.
1968—Jackie Kennedy Marries
Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy marries Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. The marriage comes as a total surprise to the American public, and results in a terrible backlash against her and also makes her the number one target of paparazzi for years.
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