It's ride or die on the streets of Kyoto.
Toei Company goes biker culture for Boso sekkusu-zoku, known in English as Hell Riders in Kyoto and Wild Sex Gang, which combines the typical Toei action film with aspects of American b-movies like Easy Rider and The Rebel Rousers. Takashi Shirai is a nihilistic and lawless twenty-something addicted to speed, and especially to motorcycles. When he's caught speeding by police his obsession goes into overdrive, and he decides to buy a 750cc bike that will enable him to outrun even the cops. Tsunehiko Watase is also obsessed with speed. He couldn't afford a bike to satiate his addiction, which is why he became a motorcycle cop. It allowed him to ride the 500cc bike he desired. Now Shirai is outrunning him. The rivalry between these two leads to one-upmanship that spills from the roadway and into other areas of their lives, but just when Shirai seems doomed the beautiful Miki Sugimoto arrives on the scene, and he starts to see that there's some value to life after all. But is it too late? Well, maybe.
Boso sekkusu-zoku is an interesting but not great entry from Toei that, like many crime movies from the ’70s, hinges on the presumption of redeemability. Shirai is lost, and is a danger to all those around him, but with luck and love he could become a good person. Needless to say, this is a retro concept today, in the age of non-forgiveness, and the belief that punishment must be decisive, vengeful, and usually permanent. For that reason it's interesting to watch the filmmakers here weigh Shirai's potential value. And it's also interesting to see how the cop Tsunehiko threatens to be corrupted by his hatred for Shirai. But these themes are not new, and exploring them as perfunctorily as Boso sekkusu-zoku does is a fatal flaw, in our view. More plot, more depth, more stuntwork, and more commitment across the board would have helped immensely. Still, though, it's worth a watch. It premiered in Japan today in 1973.
A gun and an attitude will take you far.
This is the rarest of the rare. We've shown you many movie posters foreign to the country in which the original film was made. The most common amongst those have been French, Italian, and Japanese posters for American films. We've also seen a few U.S. and British posters for Japanese films. But we've never seen a French poster for a Japanese film, and that's what you have here. And it isn't just any film. It's for the iconic 1973 Miki Sugimoto pinku actioner Sukeban–Kankain Dasso, known in English as Girl Boss: Escape from Reform School, and titled here Girl Boss - Les Étudiantes en cavale. That would translate: “girl boss - students on the run.”
This was painted using the original Japanese poster as inspiration by Constantin Belinsky, a talent we've discussed a couple of times before. He was born in Bratslav, Ukraine, learned his craft in art school in Chișinău, which was then in Romania but is now in Moldova, and worked professionally in Paris. He painted posters for classic dramas like Laura and Pickup on South Street, but later in his career specialized in genre films such as Creature from the Black Lagoon. He was born in 1904, so we suspect this poster was among his last pieces. But it won't be his last on Pulp Intl. We have more to show you later.
They don't make happy music but it'll stick with you for a long time.
Above, a Toei Company promo photo for Zenka onna: koroshi-bushi, aka Criminal Woman: Killing Melody, featuring one of the great girl gangs of pinku cinema—comprising, counterclockwise from upper right, Reiko Ike, Miki Sugimoto, Masami Soda, Chiyoko Kazama, and Yumiko Katayama. We have some beautiful material on this flick, here, here, and here. It premiered today in 1973.
Our boyfriends have no clue our slumber parties involve absolutely zero slumbering.
Above is an amazing photo published in the Japanese pop culture magazine Weekly Playboy in 1972. It's uncaptioned, as you can see. Two of the women pictured are pinku actresses Miki Sugimoto and Yuri Yamashina, next to each other at bottom, looking at you rightside up. We have plenty of material on both of them in the website. We can't identify the other models. Feel free to enlighten us.
That whole prison rehabilitation thing doesn't seem to be working.
Well, this completes the collection of posters we have for Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa, aka Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs, starring Miki Sugimoto as a vigilante cop released from prison to take on a gang of kidnappers. We've shown you the limited edition poster panted by Toru Shinohara, and the tateken sized promo. This is the standard sized poster and finishes up all the promo material we have on this iconic film. Don't worry, though. We have more on Sugimoto and even some rare promo images of her never before seen online. We'll get to those later.
Sometimes there's nothing to do but wait to be freed.
You've probably noticed that other than the post we made two days ago (a test, really), there hasn't been any new content on Pulp intl. for over a week. Don't blame us. Blame our server company—again. Different one than last time. Not Thorbjorn and the gang. But still, same bad service. Basically, they made an unannounced upgrade on their end that booted us off the internet. Partly it's our fault. We've been rebuilding the back end of the site for four years, which is way too long, yet at the same time, usually it's a good idea for a server company to send an e-mail blast to its clients warning of important changes. But we fell through the cracks somehow. Were you worried? Just a little? All good now. But you know who loved the fact that we got thrown offline? The Pulp Intl. girlfriends.
Anyway, once we noticed the outage we got the front end of the site back up quickly, but the back end that allows us to post material remained scrambled for longer. Call it an unplanned intermission. An unexpected vacation. An improvisational hiatus. But like we said, we're back to normal now, and on the bright side, at least it wasn't a guy with a machete that caused this interruption. Although interestingly, we're currently being stalked by three guys a friend of ours punched in the eye. So another interruption could occur if they catch either of us alone without our discourager (wooden club). Neither here nor there. We're getting back up to full pulp speed with this naked apology™ featuring a great photo of Japanese actress Miki Sugimoto that appeared in Pocket Punch magazine around 1972. We hope to have few—or even no—problems until at least 2072. Fingers and toes crossed.
The shot heard 'round Japan.
This unusual poster was made to promote a film called Teppôdama no bigaku, known in English by the cool title Aesthetics of a Bullet. The movie came from Art Theatre Guild, or ATG, producers of films in the loose category known as Japanese New Wave, meaning to take a new approach to filmmaking by rejecting traditional ideas and techniques. This one was directed by Sadao Nakajima and stars Tsunehiko Watase as a hot-headed two-bit hustler named Kiyoshi who tries numerous schemes to get ahead, including being a chef, gambling, and breeding rabbits. He fails at all of them, and he's desperate for a break.
When he's given a job by a local yakuza cartel known as Tenyu Group, he quickly learns about the power of a gun. With it he can command others, make them fear and respect him, make them literally kneel. With this gun his sense of self worth is first restored, then inflated. He caresses it, brandishes it, polishes it, treats it better than even the women he lusts for, and the gun confirms that he's superior to others. And once he feels superior he becomes—not to put too fine a point on it—a total asshole. He's actually an abusive chump even before the gun, but the weapon fully unleashes his destructive, hyper-masculine impulses.
The things he does are too ridiculously stupid to get into. Suffice it to say that even for a regular guy these would lead to trouble, but he's Tenyu Group's thug-at-large, which means his erratic behavior and explosive anger offends the other crime bosses. Pretty soon he discovers that he's torn a dangerous rift in the yakuza network. But what Kiyoshi doesn't know—which the audience does from the beginning—is that Tenyu Group hired him in the first place precisely because he's a disruptive fuck-up. Their theory was always that he would spark a gang war. All he has to do is fire that beloved gun once and Tenyu Group will have the excuse it needs.
Aesthetics of a Bullet is obscure, so we knew nothing about it, but we liked it. It's concise, has a strong point of view, and a good supporting cast that includes Miki Sugimoto and Mitsuru Mori. Its only flaw—perhaps unavoidable—is that the lead character is such a misanthropic troublemaker that we could barely tolerate watching him. But we guess that's where the whole rejecting traditional filmmaking comes in. Who needs a likeable or even sympathetic lead? Real life is more complicated than that, and Kiyoshi's fictional life gets plenty complicated too. Even if you can't root for him, at least he won't bore you, and neither will the movie. Aesthetics of a Bullet premiered in Japan today in 1973.
Seems like she gets tougher to work for every year.
The internet is all about change. When we first wrote about Miki Sugimoto’s 1973 pinku flick Sukeban–Kankain Dasso, aka Girl Boss: Escape from Reform School, we shared a rare tateken sized promo poster and mentioned that it was the first of its kind to appear online, while the standard sized promo could be found anywhere. Six years later it's the tateken poster that's everywhere online, while good scans of the standard promo seem to have disappeared. So here's a good scan of the standard promo. Sukeban–Kankain Dasso premiered in Japan today in 1973.
You have the right to remain dead.
We already showed you a rare hand-painted poster for the pinky violence actioner Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa, aka Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs. Today we're showing you the tateken poster, which is rare too, so much so that this may be the best scan you'll of it see online. The kind of washed out look is part of the design. If you haven't seen the movie, it's about a vigilante cop played by Miki Sugimoto who is released from prison by a government agency in order to take down the kidnappers of a powerful politician's daughter.
Like most pinku movies, there's some sexual violence, and many reviewers excoriate this admittedly overused plot device. We don't claim those reviewers are wrong, but it should be noted that rape in pinku is often symbolic, serving both to advance the immediate plot and implant a deeper message. In this case the main perpetrator in the sexual assault of a young Japanese woman is wearing U.S. Navy coveralls. The depth of negative feeling about the U.S. occupation of Japan is made clear. All that said, the constant use of sexual assault in Japanese film—if it was ever artistically justified at all—definitely jumped the shark with the arrival of Nikkatsu Studios' roman porno offerings. We've talked about that before.
One interesting part of assessing vintage art is that at the time it was created the artists often thought they were making a certain statement, but decades later their art is perceived as sending the exact opposite message. Such is the case with pinky violence movies, in which maverick male filmmakers—in this case Yukio Noda—showed Japanese women taking on and usually destroying an entrenched male power structure, but only after being driven to it through degradation and violence. Which in screen terms meant rape. Were there other ways to show women driven to the point where they would kill? No doubt, but in patriarchal 1970s Japan the shock of these films was not how women were driven to kill men, but that they did—and often got away with it.
Miki Sugimoto deals with with some very bad men in Zero Woman, but her focus never wavers. She's to rescue the kidnapped daughter and dispose of the abductors in such a way that no news coverage or police investigation points back toward the father. Wrapped in a crimson raincoat she dispatches villain after villain, but learns that not even the presumed good guys are redeemable—not the politician, not the cops, nobody. It's grim, cynical, nihilistic stuff—and a classic of the genre. Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa opened in Japan today in 1974.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1918—U.S. Congress Passes the Sedition Act
In the U.S., Congress passes a set of amendments to the Espionage Act called the Sedition Act, which makes "disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language" about the United States government, its flag, or its armed forces, as well as language that causes foreigners to view the American government or its institutions with contempt, an imprisonable offense. The Act specifically applies only during times of war, but later is pushed by politicians as a possible peacetime law, specifically to prevent political uprisings in African-American communities. But the Act is never extended and is repealed entirely in 1920.
1905—Las Vegas Is Founded
Las Vegas, Nevada is founded when 110 acres of barren desert land in what had once been part of Mexico are auctioned off to various buyers. The area sold is located in what later would become the downtown section of the city. From these humble beginnings Vegas becomes the most populous city in Nevada, an internationally renowned resort for gambling, shopping, fine dining and sporting events, as well as a symbol of American excess. Today Las Vegas remains one of the fastest growing municipalities in the United States.
1928—Mickey Mouse Premieres
The animated character Mickey Mouse, along with the female mouse Minnie, premiere in the cartoon Plane Crazy, a short co-directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. This first cartoon was poorly received, however Mickey would eventually go on to become a smash success, as well as the most recognized symbol of the Disney empire.
1939—Five-Year Old Girl Gives Birth
In Peru, five-year old Lina Medina becomes the world's youngest confirmed mother at the age of five when she gives birth to a boy via a caesarean section necessitated by her small pelvis. Six weeks earlier, Medina had been brought to the hospital because her parents were concerned about her increasing abdominal size. Doctors originally thought she had a tumor, but soon determined she was in her seventh month of pregnancy. Her son is born underweight but healthy, however the identity of the father and the circumstances of Medina's impregnation never become public.
1987—Rita Hayworth Dies
American film actress and dancer Margarita Carmen Cansino, aka Rita Hayworth, who became her era's greatest sex symbol and appeared in sixty-one films, including the iconic Gilda
, dies of Alzheimer's disease in her Manhattan apartment. Naturally shy, Hayworth was the antithesis of the characters she played. She married five times, but none lasted. In the end, she lived alone, cared for by her daughter who lived next door.
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