Sony Chiba battles the mob in a breakout performance.
How many movies did Sonny Chiba appear in? Like two-hundred? It must be close to that. These posters were made to promote his actioner Dasso yugi, known internationally as Escape Game, or alternatively as Jail Breakers. Chiba plays a career criminal who breaks out of the joint and ends up joining a cartel that specializes in prison breaks. They're “escape coordinators.” It's a great set-up for a flick. However, Chiba fans who haven't seen this should be forewarned that he's no martial arts master here. He's just a regular ex-con trying to make a fast yen in the face of long odds. It's a pretty good film, with nice twists, fun stunts, a cool soundtrack, and, in Chiba, one of the most bankable stars of ’70s Japanese cinema. And while the movie doesn't feature his trademark martial arts, it does feature Haruko Hanibuchi in a co-starring role, and she's an art form all her own. We'll show you what we mean a bit later. Dasso yugi premiered in Japan today in 1976.
A step by step guide to being a total badass.
This incredibly cool collectible poster was made to promote Wakai kizoku-tachi: 13-kaidan no Maki, aka 13 Steps of Maki: The Young Aristocrats, which is more girl gang goodness from the schlockmeisters at Toei Company. Etsuko Shihomi (sometimes spelled Shiomi) plays Maki of the 13 Steps, leader of the Stray Cats, a group of very tough, martial arts trained femi-delinquents. Maki and the gang bury an arrogant one percenter up to her neck on a beach in retaliation for a traffic related insult, which is all good fun, but the victim is Takako, daughter of the powerful, yakuza connected owner of Ebihara Tourism. Once she digs herself out of the sand she retaliates. This in turn brings re-retaliation from the Cats, which brings re-re-retaliation from Takako, and pretty soon things are well out of control.
The movie is based on an Ikki Kajiwara/Masaaki Satô comic, and director Makoto Naitô uses some amazing comic book style, multi-character framing, as seen in our screen grabs below. This is top notch work from Toei's pinky violence line, about as fun as a Japanese actioner gets. And in supporting roles you'll encounter Sonny Chiba, Meika Seri, and Yûko Kanô. Watching movies like this almost makes up for all the Nikkatsu roman porno misfires we slog through. Almost. Etsuko Shihomi is considered a bit of a film icon in Asia because her martial arts skills were real, and she appeared in so many movies. We have numerous posters of hers to share later and they're even more amazing than this one. Wakai kizoku-tachi: 13-kaidan no Maki premiered in Japan today in 1975.
Step one is here, on the bottom of my platform boot. Have a close look.
Step two is don't put your face where people tell you. We'll get to step three after you heal.
Meet the new boss, nothing like the old boss.
Above, a poster for the Japanese actioner Kapone no shatei yamato damashi, aka A Boss with a Samurai Spirit, aka Capone's Younger Brother: Heart and Speculation, starring the prolific Tomisaburô Wakayama. The movie deals with a hired killer whose latest contract turns out to have wide-ranging consequences, making him turn against his employer. We shared the original poster for this as part of a group post back in 2013. This is a re-issue poster. We don't know exactly when it came out, but the film originally premiered in Japan today in 1971.
When Meiko comes 'round trouble is sure to follow.
We're in Japan again today with another Meiko Kaji poster. Above you see an incredibly rare circular promo for the pinku film Joshû sasori: Dai-41 zakkyo-bô, aka Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41, along with the standard promo. It premiered in Japan today in 1972. Meiko's paid her debt to society for now, so we'll let her go, but don't worry. She's a career criminal—she'll be back.
Maximum security, maximum thrills.
Japanese manga artist Toru Shinohara painted two posters for Meiko Kaji's classic Female Convict series. We shared the first, for Joshuu sasori: Dai-41 zakkyo-bô, aka Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41, back in 2014. Here's the second, for Joshû sasori: 701-gô urami-bushi, aka Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701's Grudge Song. It premiered in Japan today in 1973. We'll get back to Shinohara a bit later.
We're gambling that you'll like this poster.
Some of our proudest shares on this website have been the rare posters we've shown you for Hijirimen bakuto, aka, Hidirimen bakuto, aka Red Silk Gambler. All of those amazing promos have now proliferated online and you'll often see them used whenever someone writes about the movie. Well, we have one more to add to the mix, which is the tateken sized promo featuring all the main cast members—Hiroko Fuji, Junko Matsudaira, Mitsue Horikoshi, Eiko Nakamura, Sanae Tsuchida, Reiichi Hatanaka, and Reiko Ike. This should pretty much cover it for this film. Click here and scroll to see the entire collection. Hijirimen bakuto premiered in Japan today in 1972.
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.
When you gamble with her you're gambling with your life.
Hibotan bakuto: oryû sanjô, which in English was called Red Peony Gambler: Oryu's Return, is the sixth of eight films in the Red Peony Gambler series. Uploading its special round promo poster in one piece makes it kind of small, so we've also broken it into two pieces so you can pull them off the page and paste them together if you're inclined. It's an incredibly rare piece, so credit would be appreciated. The movie premiered today in 1970, and stars Junko Fuji, a prolific actress who made more than ninety films during a busy run between 1963 and 1972, and another dozen or so after that.
The plot here involves a greedy yakuza cartel and the downtrodden farmers who oppose the imposition of a new tax. The farmers are basically planning to strike in protest, which angers the yakuza because they stand to loose profits with the yearly village festival approaching. Drastic measures seem to be the only solution, but Junko stands in the way with guile, guts, gambling skill, and gunplay. And as a fallback position she's good with fists and sword. Hibotan bakuto: oryû sanjô isn't quite top tier pinky violence, but it's beautifully shot, the blood flies high and far, and ultimately the film is a winner.
If it was easy to steal anyone could do it.
We have some nice pinku posters lined up for this month, and above you see the first of those—the tateken and standard promos for Suke Yakuza, aka Female Yakuza Convict, aka Female Prisoner Yakuza, which premiered in Japan today in 1974 starring Yoko Horikoshi and Reiko Ike. Though we can't be sure, we don't think this movie has been released on DVD, because we couldn't find it—the first time that's happened with one of Ike's films. No copy means no firsthand rundown, but we can tell you what the Japanese websites say. It's about bank robbers who steal 30 million yen and try to elude the cops and escape with the cash. Of the three, only one manages to avoid capture. Horikoshi, a female accomplice, is tossed in a women's prison where she meets Reiko, and the two of them manage to escape. Their plan is meet up with the robber who avoided capture, get ahold of the cash, and get for away from the big city, but mishaps and twists follow. Basically, it's sounds like classic Toei pinky violence, but sadly we may not get to see this one unless we go to Japan. But the posters sure are pretty. We have bonus material below—production photos, a Horikoshi promo poster, and a Reiko promo shot from wherever.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1950—Althea Gibson Breaks the Color Barrier
Althea Gibson becomes the first African-American woman to compete on the World Tennis Tour, and the first to earn a Grand Slam title when she wins the French Open in 1956. Later she becomes the first African-American woman to compete in the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
1952—Devil's Island Closed
Devil's Island, the penal colony located off the coast of French Guiana, is permanently closed. The prison is later made world famous by Henri Charrière's bestselling novel Papillon, and the subsequent film starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman.
1962—De Gaulle Survives Assassination Attempt
Jean Bastien-Thiry, a French air weaponry engineer, attempts to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle to prevent Algerian independence. Bastien-Thiry and others attack de Gaulle's armored limousine with machine guns, but after expending hundreds of rounds, they succeed only in puncturing two tires.
1911—Mona Lisa Disappears
Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, aka La Gioconda, is stolen from the Louvre. After many wild theories and false leads, it turns out the painting was snatched by museum employee Vincenzo Peruggia.
1940—Trotsky Iced in Mexico
In Mexico City exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky is fatally wounded with an ice axe
(not an ice pick) by Soviet agent Ramon Mercader. Trotsky dies the next day.
1968—Prague Spring Ends
200,000 Warsaw Pact troops backed by 5,000 tanks invade Czechoslovakia to end the Prague Spring political liberalization movement.
1986—Sherrill Goes Postal
In Edmond, Oklahoma, United States postal employee Patrick Sherrill shoots and kills fourteen of his co-workers and then commits suicide.
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