Vintage Pulp Apr 27 2023
EXTREME HEAT
Is there really such a thing as too much?

Elke Sommer front and center on a vintage poster claiming she's “almost too hot”? Sign us up. Sweet Ecstasy was originally made in France as Douce Violence—“sweet violence”—and fits loosely into a cycle of films characterized as nouvelle vague, or the French new wave. Director Max Pécas, however wasn't a new wave director. He was better known for his work at the forefront of the cinéma Z style, also known as the nanar sub-genre, films loosely equivalent, we gather, to eroticized b-movies, meaning sex and stupidity. Pécas is also remembered for a trilogy of 1970s Saint-Tropez erotic comedies. But for Douce Violence he's an art director, trying to make a significant statement in the same broad category as La dolce vita or À bout de souffle, aka Breathless.

To that end, what you get here is a group of idle twenty-somethings for whom entitled boredom is the order of the day, as they rip around the French Riviera near and within Cannes, seeking thrills and not caring about the future. When Olivier (Christian Pezey) finds himself drawn into this clan of troublemakers living on their parents' money, their leader Maddy (Pierre Brice) enlists his own girlfriend to be the soft edge of the wedge in a scheme to corrupt the newcomer. It's for Olivier's own good, you see, because he's too bourgeois.

The girlfriend is Sommer, playing a character also named Elke, and she's in vamp mode here, which means cat-eyed make-up and cumulonimbus hair, as she taunts and teases poor Olivier in her efforts to make him into a fellow disaffected youth. Is she too hot? No. Elke is always just hot enough. She and her pals go water-skiing (really Elke in some of the shots), swimming, boating, driving, and most of all, partying. They question convention, conformity, society, mortality, and all the rest. Like other movies of this type, there isn't much plot. Also as in similar films, an event galvanizes and changes the group—or seems as though it might.

The main attraction in the film is Elke, and she delivers what early ’60s audiences wanted—an envelope pushing performance amidst a growing wave of censorship-destroying movies. Like Bardot and others, Sommer shows a lot of skin, and almost—almost—goes topless. Though it's supposed to be gauche to say so about a woman these days (but we don't care, because sex is why we're all here, and it's ultimately all that matters, despite modern attempts to obfuscate it, hide it, police it, and shame it), Elke's very stimulating. And she doesn't even look her best here, due to the crazy make-up and hair.
 
As a final note, we suspect the movie was censored in the U.S. to remove some revealing bikini scenes, some shots of Elke's asscrack, a bare breast caress by a male character, and (probably) some or all of a sweaty, open-shirted dance by a black character. The poster certainly was censored—no doubt about that. The word “ecstasy” was placed to cover the word “violence.” You can just see it if you squint. So the movie's title was set to be literally translated, but that was deemed too much for Americans—or at least some Americans (southerners, we suppose). Douce Violence opened in France and Belgium in early 1962, and reached the U.S. today the same year.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 27 2015
LUXURE SUITE
Sometimes having noisy neighbors is a good thing.

Above is a rare Japanese poster for the French film Luxure, which was known in the U.S. as Sweet Taste of Honey and in Britain by the curious title Everybodys, with no apostrophe. Basically, director Max Pécas tells the story of a jilted woman—played by Karine Gambier—who checks into a luxury hotel possibly planning to commit suicide, but whose desire to live is rekindled due to hearing the honeymooning couple in the next room constantly humping. From that basic premise Pecas manages to get Gambier into all sorts of situations, including the obligatory orgy, but done with style of course, because the French take their erotica very seriously. Luxure had its Japanese premiere—in edited form—today in 1976. Gambier appears unedited below. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 23
1984—Miss America Resigns
Vanessa Williams, who had been crowned Miss America and was the first African American woman to win the prize, resigns her title after Penthouse magazine purchases and slates for publication a series of lesbian-themed nudes Williams had posed for when she was younger. After resigning she files a $500 million lawsuit against Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione but later drops the suit.
July 22
1992—Cocaine Baron Escapes Prison
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria, imprisoned leader of the Medellin drug cartel, escapes from a posh Colombian jail known as La Catedral after he learns authorities intend to move him to a real prison. His taste of freedom doesn't last—he's killed in a shootout a year-and-a-half later.
July 21
1925—Jury Decides the Teaching of Evolution Is a Crime
In the famous Scopes Monkey Trial, American schoolteacher John Scopes is found guilty of violating the Butler Act, which forbids the teaching of evolution in schools. The sensational trial pits two great legal minds—William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow—against each other. Ultimately, Scopes and Darrow are destined to lose because the case rests on whether Scopes had violated the Act, not whether evolution is fact.
1969—First Humans Reach the Moon
Neil Armstrong and Eugene 'Buzz' Aldrin, Jr. become the first humans to walk on the moon. The third member of the mission, command module Pilot Michael Collins, remains in orbit in Apollo 11.
1972—Chaos in the Big Apple
In New York City, within a span of twenty-four hours, fifty-seven murders are committed.
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