Vintage Pulp Jul 27 2020
CRAVING SEA FOOD
Count yourself lucky if your girlfriend only gets grumpy when she's hungry.


We never considered the possibility that the bizarre Girl Diver of Spook Mansion wasn't the only weird ama movie made, but we're fast learning that these films—an ama is basically female pearl diver—were used as templates for all sorts of bizarre plots. Above you see two posters for Hitokui ama, which is known in English as Cannibal Ama, or sometimes Underwater Murder, and occasionally Man-Eating Girl Diver. It starred Yoko Mihara, and like her earlier outing in Spook Mansion, is currently unavailable to us. In fact, we don't think the movie has been released on DVD anywhere outside Japan. It's too bad, because the whole cannibal idea has us greatly intrigued, but sadly this is one we'll have to wait for. Hitokui ama premiered in Japan today in 1958.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 19 2017
CRIME WAVES
The ocean is perfect for covering a multitude of sins.

Manatsu no joji, aka Midsummer Affair—Underwater Series Part 4, appeared in 1960 from Shochiku Company Limited, and above you see two nice promo posters for the movie. These epics are, of course, nothing without franchise star Kyoko Izumi, and here she plays a woman discovered adrift on the sea. She tells her rescuers that her husband, less lucky, drowned trying to save her. But some elements of her story don't add up—for instance she claims to be a poor swimmer, but soon it becomes clear that she's quite at home in the water. Suspicions arise that Izumi has committed foul play, a fact soon clear enough to the audience. Meanwhile a swimwear fashion show and a bitter rivalry between two female aquatic teams give her the cover she needs to try to eliminate the person most intent on proving she murdered her husband. All she has to do is point and shoot—with a poison filled syringe. Will she get away with this crazy scheme? We're not telling. This was the last film in this franchise, but she did act in one more ama film, 1963's Ama no kaishinju, which was made by a different production company. So it looks like this'll do it for the series, except for an alternate poster for part 3 we have hiding somewhere. We'll get that up at some point.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 8 2017
BABY AMA DRAMA
Currents and caves are bad enough, but lies can drag you into really dangerous waters.

Last week we talked about the 1959 drama Zoku-zoku-Kindan no suna: Akai pantsu, third film in the Shochiku Co. franchise sometimes referred to as the Underwater Series. You know we're sticklers for talking about movies on their premiere dates, which is why today we're looking at Zoku kindan no suna, which opened in Japan today in 1958. In the west the movie was known as Forbidden Sands or The Prohibited Man's Sand, and like the others in the series deals with the loves and troubles of an ama—a female skin diver. Two bank robbers steal seven million yen, which we think is like forty or fifty bucks, and hide out on an island peopled by amas and their families. The crooks pretend to be a marine biology professor and his assistant, and they don scuba gear and hide the cash in some underwater caves known as the Dragon's Caves—a name which just screams trouble. They're convinced the treasure is inaccessible, but these amas are really good, and one in particular has no trouble at all making especially long dives. One of the crooks takes a shine to her, and warns her to stay out of the caves because they're dangerous, but the shine is mutual, so surprise surprise, as a gift she decides to swim down there to find rare specimens for his phony marine research. Yes, theft is one thing, but lies are a whole other bucket of starfish. Zoku kindan no suna is a recommendable flick, but be forewarned that if you're in the States it might be even harder to find than that loot in the Dragon's Caves. But at least you can enjoy the posters. We aren't done with this series, so keep an eye out for another installment in a bit.

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Hollywoodland Jun 5 2010
PRIVATE EYES
The lives of others.

Today we have a new entry for our collection of mid-century tabloids—Private Lives, published forty-five years ago this month, with a strikingly bright cover starring Jane Russell, and an accompanying article about aquatic sex timed to take advantage of her role in Underwater. Every tabloid had its visual gimmicks, and Private Lives began with the motif you see here of a black and white face floating on a Technicolor background. By the end of 1955 it had abandoned this look for a fuller color palette, but this older design is much more appealing, in our view. We’ll keep hunting for more of these.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 17 2010
CARIBBEAN QUEEN
Jane Russell heats up the tropical waters in treasure hunting adventure.

Every once in a while we come across a piece of art so amazing we have to post it rotated in order to ensure that it’s viewable at the largest possible size. In this case, it’s a Japanese promo poster for Jane Russell’s widescreen adventure Underwater!, in which Jane dives in the Caribbean for lost bars of gold, tries on a Cuban accent (which doesn’t fit at all), but wears a red one-piece swimsuit (that conversely, fits quite nicely). The film was the brainchild of Howard Hughes, who specialized in thinking of ways to show off Russell’s breasts. We can only assume he shot bolt upright in bed late one night and cried, “Eureka! I’ll make them float!” He succeeded wildly, but in terms of time and treasure he may have gotten in deeper than he planned, since the film took three years and cost three million dollars. And for all that effort what you get is mostly pretty dull. But if you happen to love Jane Russell, or are particularly adept at suspension of disbelief, then by all means give this one a go. For all its flaws, we must confess we liked it. Underwater! premiered in Japan today in 1955.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 19
1962—Marilyn Monroe Sings to John F. Kennedy
A birthday salute to U.S. President John F. Kennedy takes place at Madison Square Garden, in New York City. The highlight is Marilyn Monroe's breathy rendition of "Happy Birthday," which does more to fuel speculation that the two were sexually involved than any actual evidence.
May 18
1926—Aimee Semple McPherson Disappears
In the U.S., Canadian born evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson disappears from Venice Beach, California in the middle of the afternoon. She is initially thought to have drowned, but on June 23, McPherson stumbles out of the desert in Agua Prieta, a Mexican town across the border from Douglas, Arizona, claiming to have been kidnapped, drugged, tortured and held for ransom in a shack by two people named Steve and Mexicali Rose. However, it soon becomes clear that McPherson's tale is fabricated, though to this day the reasons behind it remain unknown.
1964—Mods and Rockers Jailed After Riots
In Britain, scores of youths are jailed following a weekend of violent clashes between gangs of Mods and Rockers in Brighton and other south coast resorts. Mods listened to ska music and The Who, wore suits and rode Italian scooters, while Rockers listened to Elvis and Gene Vincent, and rode motorcycles. These differences triggered the violence.
May 17
1974—Police Raid SLA Headquarters
In the U.S., Los Angeles police raid the headquarters of the revolutionary group the Symbionese Liberation Army, resulting in the deaths of six members. The SLA had gained international notoriety by kidnapping nineteen-year old media heiress Patty Hearst from her Berkeley, California apartment, an act which precipitated her participation in an armed bank robbery.
1978—Charlie Chaplin's Missing Body Is Found
Eleven weeks after it was disinterred and stolen from a grave in Corsier near Lausanne, Switzerland, Charlie Chaplin's corpse is found by police. Two men—Roman Wardas, a 24-year-old Pole, and Gantscho Ganev, a 38-year-old Bulgarian—are convicted in December of stealing the coffin and trying to extort £400,000 from the Chaplin family.
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