|Intl. Notebook||May 17 2018|
|Vintage Pulp||Oct 7 2011|
Stephen Spielberg’s road thriller Duel was a made for television movie. Watching it, you’d think Hollywood would have immediately taken notice that this was a guy who was going places. But surprisingly, it took another three years for Spielberg to get his first shot at the big screen. He’s since made twenty-five films and become one of the most celebrated directors in history, having created iconic films like Jaws and Schindler’s List. But Duel remains, in our opinion, one of his best efforts. If you haven’t seen it, the Richard Matheson penned script tells the story of a lone driver menaced by a demonic Peterbuilt eighteen-wheeler guided by a trucker we never quite get to see. Dennis Weaver absolutely nails his performance as a terrified man who reaches the end of his wits, only to push through his own fear to fight back. With little dialogue, no real subplot, and a desolate desert setting, Duel is a brutally straightforward movie that has aged well. Highly recommended. The two-panel poster above was made for the film’s theatrical premiere in Japan in 1973.
|Vintage Pulp||Mar 17 2010|
You may not have heard of The Manhunt of Mystery Island, but this is one of the few Republic serials you can probably rent or buy. The legendary Republic Pictures made sixty-six serials, consisting of short chapters ending with cliffhangers resolved at the beginning of the next chapter, usually by means of an improbable escape. Each chapter would play at a theater for one week as a sort of opening act to the A-feature, the next chapter would run for seven days, and so on until the story was completed.
Watching a movie over the course of three months might not seem like the best way to attract customers to the cinema, but it actually worked quite well because some of the serial characters and actors were immensely popular. If you’ve never seen a serial, in complete form it would look a lot like Raiders of the Lost Ark, and there’s a reason for that—Steven Spielberg fell in love with serials when he was young and deliberately set about to make a modern version.
The plot of The Manhunt of Mystery Island is a bit convoluted to summarize here. Let’s just say it involves a scientist, a pirate, bodyshifting, and lots of fights. Or, by way of summation, consider its alternate title: Captain Mephisto and the Transformation Machine. Sounds good, right? The version we saw was back in the late 90s on VHS, but we remember it well and recommend it highly. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1945.
|Vintage Pulp||Jun 26 2009|
When we wrote in our Planet of the Apes posting that Charlton Heston was capable of creating compelling film moments, his sci-fi mystery Soylent Green was the other film we had in mind. You see the French promo art above, and you’ll notice this is another film that played at the Avoriaz Film Festival. The first screening was today in 1973, and though it was well-received, the film lost the Grand Prize to Steven Spielberg’s made-for-television thriller Duel. Soylent Green’s vision of the future may look a little retro now, but its depiction of smart business as bad morals remains relevant. It’s also notable for being the last screen appearance of the legendary Edward G. Robinson, who died of cancer just three weeks after shooting ended. We recommend you check this one out. At the very least, it’ll make you think twice next time you’re in a crowd and someone starts making those mooing sounds.
|Modern Pulp||May 11 2009|
Just because today seemed like a good day for it, we dug into the vault and posted two Polish posters for Steven Spielberg’s 1981 pulp blockbuster Raiders of the Lost Ark. Vintage Polish cinema art is hot right now, and the appeal stems mainly from the fact that their designers always rethought the material entirely. These are two of the best examples you'll find.