Vintage Pulp Apr 14 2021
JOB FROM HELL
She's overworked, underpaid, unappreciated, and has no backup plan. Also there's that whole curse thing.


Can a working girl find happiness à la Pretty Woman? That's the eternal question asked by (Maruhi) jorô seme jigoku, aka The Hell-Fated Courtesan. An Edo-era geisha-turned-prostitute played by Rie Nakagawa is believed by superstitious locals to be cursed because some of those who've had sex with her died. Her only sort-of-friend in this dark existence is a perverted artist, and her pimp is of course cruel and untrustworthy. But eventually she meets a puppeteer to whom she offers herself romantically only to be rebuffed. Surprised, she intones, “This is not an ordinary guy.” She's right. He refused her because he thinks he can only be turned on if a woman looks like one of his puppets, but when he finally samples some of that sweet Nakagawa he changes his mind about that and offers to take her with him to Osaka, where her problems and alleged curse will be behind her. Will she go? Will she be allowed to go? Will fate cut her a break? Pertinent questions all.

In 1973 Nikkatsu Studios' roman porno line had not yet jumped the shark, which means (Maruhi) jorô seme jigoku resembles a normal film in most ways. Its plot is basically linear, though it contains one framing segment; its sexual content is perverse, though not pointlessly misogynistic; and its humor generally works. In fact, there are some truly funny moments in this, such as when Nakagawa lets a carp suck her nipples. We won't even bother to describe what direction that scene goes. Later she slices off a dead man's finger and masturbates with it. Afterward she tells the finger that, though its former owner was a scoundrel and a snake, he will now go to heaven. That's some magical pussy. Maybe Nakagawa isn't cursed after all. Maybe she just embodies male insecurities and fears and they punish her as a result. And if that's true, maybe there is a Pretty Woman ending for her. But you never know. One character observes that a woman's heart is unpredictable and terrifying. (Maruhi) jorô seme jigoku tries to prove that adage true. It premiered in Japan today in 1973

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Intl. Notebook Jun 15 2016
RIE THINKING
Rie Nakagawa loses battle with cancer.


We talked just last week about Rie Nakagawa's film Danjo Seiji-gaku: Kojin jugyo, aka Man & Woman Sexology: Private Lessons, and we also wrote up her film Kaben no shizuku, aka Beads from a Petal back in February. News came that she died of cancer in Tokyo yesterday. Though known mainly for her roman porno films, she had continued working and had appeared on television as recently as last year. Japanese cinema is a bit less luminous today.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 8 2016
LESSONS LEARNED
Nakagawa demonstrates the benefits of one-on-one teaching.


Above, a promo poster for Danjo Seiji-gaku: Kojin jugyo, aka Man & Woman Sexology: Private Lessons. Haven't seen this one, but reviews exist online, if you can read Japanese or are inclined to use Google translate. Basically, it's about an impotent man who rescues a woman from an assault in a park, and her subsequent attempts to sexually rejuvenate him. Starring Rie Nakagawa, Danjo Seiji-gaku: Kojin jugyo premiered today in 1974.

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Vintage Pulp Feb 9 2016
PETAL POWERED
Tips for perking up a wilting flower.


This beautiful poster was made for the drama Kaben no shizuku, which was known in English as Beads from a Petal, as in beads of moisture. A lot of Japanese softcore movies have titles referencing beads of moisture, or dew, or the various parts of flowers, such as pistils and petals and whatnot. In this one Rie Nakagawa plays a married woman who is unfulfilled by sex. When her husband strays, the betrayal sends her seeking help, which she eventually gets from a psychiatrist (an ex of hers actually, which we're sure is unethical, but whatever) and he is able to determine that her aversion to sex has to do with the repressed memory of having seen her parents making love when she was young. Do you need to know more? We thought not. Kaben no shizuku premiered in Japan today in 1972.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 08
1985—Theodore Sturgeon Dies
American science fiction and pulp writer Theodore Sturgeon, who pioneered a technique known as rhythmic prose, in which his text would drop into a standard poetic meter, dies from lung fibrosis, which may have been caused by his smoking, but also might have been caused by his exposure to asbestos during his years as a Merchant Marine.
May 07
1945—World War II Ends
At Reims, France, German General Alfred Jodl signs unconditional surrender terms, thus ending Germany's participation in World War II. Jodl is then arrested and transferred to the German POW camp Flensburg, and later he is made to stand before the International Military Tribunal at the Nuremberg Trials. At the conclusion of the trial, Jodl is sentenced to death and hanged as a war criminal.
1954—French Are Defeated at Dien Bien Phu
In Vietnam, the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, which had begun two months earlier, ends in a French defeat. The United States, as per the Mutual Defense Assistance Act, gave material aid to the French, but were only minimally involved in the actual battle. By 1961, however, American troops would begin arriving in droves, and within several years the U.S. would be fully embroiled in war.
May 06
1937—The Hindenburg Explodes
In the U.S, at Lakehurst, New Jersey, the German zeppelin LZ 129 Hindenburg catches fire and is incinerated within a minute while attempting to dock in windy conditions after a trans-Atlantic crossing. The disaster, which kills thirty-six people, becomes the subject of spectacular newsreel coverage, photographs, and most famously, Herbert Morrison's recorded radio eyewitness report from the landing field. But for all the witnesses and speculation, the actual cause of the fire remains unknown.
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