Mysterious spiritualist can see everyone's future but his own.
For a moment Austrian born, Turkish descended actor Turhan Bey was a star, a status he achieved through a long, careful slog through numerous supporting film roles beginning in 1941. The Amazing Mr. X, aka The Spiritualist, is a movie that's his. He receives a rare top billing, and in playing a suave, mysterious seer of the future who hails from unknown shores, acts a part seemingly written for him.
Bey uses his psychic powers to warn rich widow Lynn Bari against remarrying. He's a phony, of course, but his performance is enough to hook Bari, who indeed begins to have second thoughts about tying the knot. When Bey claims he can contact her dead husband she jumps at the opportunity. A few cheap special effects convince her she's really contacted the netherworld. And of course we soon learn that Bey and his partner are doing all this to fleece Bari of her fortune.
If Bey were a real medium he'd know complications will arise. What kind? Serious and unexpected ones that snare him in a plot not of his own devising. Despite the twists, The Amazing Mr. X is murky and lacking in subtlety, and parts of it come across as comedy, so it's no surprise it wasn't the breakthrough hit Bey desired. Today it's a public domain movie available as a low quality television rip, and seems to be nearly forgotten.
It premiered in the U.S. today in 1948, and soon afterward Bey's career began slipping off the rails. He made only three movies in the next five years, then found himself back in Austria working as a photographer. His Hollywood moment had passed, though he'd return during the 1990s and score some television roles. But even if The Amazing Mr. X isn't great, in watching the cool and exotic Bey we understood why Hollywood wanted to make him a star.
She's an Angel but she knows all the tricks devils know.
This poster comes from our rather large collection of Japanese promos for x-rated U.S. movies, and was made to publicize The Pleasures of Innocence, starring all-time beauty Angel, aka Jennifer James. Porn copied successful mainstream films as a matter of course, and this is Flashdance influenced, with workout montages, sweat, and 100% earnest, specially made for the film, bass-popping, electro-drumming mid-’80s dance music. Angel plays a smalltown girl who ditches Des Moines and heads to NYC to catch a break. Other performers include Sharon Kane, Honey Wilder, real life former ballerina Terri Hall, and porn legend John Leslie as a slimy agent determined to gain entry to Angel's holy place.
Best line: “She always falls for those writer types. She was seeing a lawyer pretty regular back home.”
Second best line, as the writer is having sex with Angel: “You're a writer's dream.”
Well, Angel is anyone's dream. We won't get into the plot much more except to say that if you took all the sex out of the film the script would be more like a treatment you could read in nine minutes. We're mainly about the poster anyway, and as usual with Japanese promos, this one features a shot of the star that doesn't exist in any other form. That's no surprise—the photo that would have supplied Angel's likeness doubtless was either lost through carelessness, irreparably damaged through neglect, or was appropriated and will turn up on Ebay when the assistant graphic designer who swiped it dies and his kids find it in a box under his bed.
Obviously, we can't recommend this movie. It's dumb, despite professional film stock, good lighting, location work, split screen trickery, and serious performances. In its favor, the dancing is interesting to watch, a bit like revisiting MTV new wave videos, Kim Wilde maybe, or Pat Benatar. We know—that isn't great enticement, but there's also Angel, don't forget. She's an adult film industry legend for a reason. There's no known Japanese release date for The Pleasures of Innocence, but it premiered in the U.S. today in 1986. Bonus material: Angel dances below, and fronts three more posters here.
I know it's supposed to be a good luck symbol, but I'm seeing it in the mirror and it's kind of turning me off.
Above, an alternate poster for the Japanese melodrama Manji, aka All Mixed Up, which premiered today in 1964. And before any readers get all mixed up, it has nothing to do with Nazis. We already talked about the movie, and you can read what we wrote here.
She's bound and determined to put the bad guys out of business.
Uncensored secrets and sinister vice scandals? Sounded good to us, so we screened a copy of Slaves in Bondage, which is an envelope pushing 1930s crime drama featuring fast women, tough guys, heavy drinking, and late nights folded into a story about big city sex trafficking, or white slavery, as it was usually referred to back in the day. Specifically, the story follows the efforts of an organized crime game to install beautiful Lona Andre in one of their brothels. Head gangster Wheeler Oakman takes a special interest in Andre, but she starts to get wise and begins to turn the tables on him and his henchmen. The movie pretends to be a cautionary tale, but really it's an excuse to give squares a glimpse of raucous clubs and backstage dressing rooms. It's fairly racy, with women in lingerie, dialogue hinting at premarital sex, several sexy dance numbers, and an infamous scene where two negligee clad women roll around on a bed and smack each other's asses. We loved it. The acting, direction, and editing are clunky as hell, but the film is significant and worth a gander. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1937.
You know what vampires really like? Making more vampires.
When it comes to Japanese film, we tend to stick to crime and pinku productions, but a change of pace is often nice. Chi o suu bara, which is known in English as Evil of Dracula, or sometimes Bloodsucking Rose, is straight horror about a teacher who takes a job at a women's school which he soon comes to suspect is plagued by a vampire. For those who like turn-of-the-millennium horror movies such as 2002's Ju-on or 1998's Ringu, this will seem like a precursor in terms of how the monster effects are achieved by using makeup and lighting. The movie is a bit funny at times, too, because these makeup effects are perfectly obvious to the viewer, but for the most part nobody within the film notices:
“Teacher, I would like to talk to you more seriously, but not in here. Please, will you follow me (into the creepy-ass woods that surround the school)?
“Sure (because I don't notice your ghastly blue face or the way you keep staring at my neck).”
But the movie is pretty good. Its weird, cyanotic vampires are menacing enough to put the mood across, and Shin Kishida as the main bloodsucker projects a physical power and savage hunger we totally bought. At one point the hero Toshio Kurosawa is asked, “Are you seriously expecting that people will believe such a lurid tale?” Well, vampire movies are all about building a framework of believability despite the subject matter's innate impossibility. Chi o suu bara might make you believe vampires can really fry. It premiered in Japan today in 1974.
Shit. I think I left my lesson plan at home. Oh well. Guess I'll just wing it.
Thanks to my rigorous teacher training I desire none of you nubile young women sexually.
This old thing? It's been out here for as long as I can remember. I've never once been curious what's in it.
Centuries of *grunt* consuming blood have done nothing *gurgle* good for your breath!
That's so rude! Just for that comment I'm gonna suck you extra slow!
Teacher, can I talk to you about my mid-term? You gave me an a-minus and I think I deserve an a-positive—er, I mean an a-plus.
Master, check out this mask I got. This Halloween I'm going out dressed as a vampire. Totally meta, right?
I think I lost him. That soulless demon. That total asshole.
The first symptom will be blood gushing from the center of your chest.
This excellent promo image shows U.S. actress Dorothy Hart in a shot made for the red scare flick I Was a Communist for the F.B.I. Hart made only about fifteen other films, among them The Naked City, Take One False Step, Undertow, Loan Shark, and Outside the Wall. We've seen none, but they all sound like potential winners to us, so we'll report back. This photo is from 1952.
Ray Milland and Rosie Grier put their heads together.
Is it fair to describe The Thing with Two Heads as a legendary movie? We think so. It's The Wild Ones taken to its shark jumping extreme thanks to the blaxploitation maestros at American International Pictures. Instead of a white convict and a black convict handcuffed together after a prison escape, this flick features a racist white doctor whose head is grafted onto a black patient's body. These two really hate each other, which is a serious problem considering they spend 24/7 at kissing distance, but they're stuck.
Ray Milland, who once won a Best Actor Oscar, is trying to prolong his own life. Grier is a convict on death row who donates his body to science. He has no idea what the science he's donated himself to entails, just that he'll avoid execution for thirty more days and buy time for his relatives and lawyer to prove his innocence. Sounds fun, right? Once Grier wakes up after surgery and realizes what's happened he flees with Milland's noggin riding helplessly along and decides to prove his innocence himself. But Milland is slowly gaining control of their body. You get the feeling this isn't going to end well.
The Thing with Two Heads is low budget, cheeseball, light on genuine humor, and perfunctory in its ending. And yet... how can one resist? Is it an ingenious parable about the historical theft of black bodies by white men? Or is it just a chunk of opportunistic schlock? Only the screenwriters know. We'll say this, though—considering how low this movie could have sunk (picture Milland looking down at Grier's dick and exclaiming, "Whoa! That's bigger than my Oscar!") it's actually pretty restrained. Put it in the better-with-alcohol category and don't watch it alone. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1972.
Suzie Wong gets with the program.
When we watched The World of Suzie Wong several years ago we were aware that it had been a pretty big hit. It's no surprise, then, that we keep running across memorabilia from the film. Here we have a promotional pamphlet from Hong Kong, with a very cool cover of the prostitute title character, who was played by Nancy Kwan. Yes, it's faded as hell, but we kind of like that. These Hong Kong items are often in terrible shape, but there's such a thing as beautiful squalor. Is it the humidity that did this? Check out this other Suzie Wong item we shared way back, made with better paper, and seemingly stored with better care. We have scans of a few deteriorated but still interesting interior pages below, and if you read Chinese, all the better.
We may talk about The World of Suzie Wong a bit later. We watched it without the Pulp Intl. girlfriends, and we imagine they would have hated it—as any contemporary woman would, when it comes to romanticizing prostitution. Additionally, since PI2 is Filipina, we suspect she'd have a particularly incisive perspective. Yes, the Philippines are a long way from Hong Kong, but considering how encompassing attitudes were in mid-century Hollywood toward Asian women, we think she's well qualified to comment on a set-in-Hong Kong movie. In any case, it's a discussion for another day, perhaps. Scans below.
Marie Forså gives a lofty performance in a down and dirty classic
Above is a Japanese poster for the Swedish film Butterflies, another sexploitation romp featuring blonde-on-blonde sex symbol Marie Forså. The movie also stars Harry Reems and Eric Edwards, two legit porno actors from back in the day, here getting a chance to do some mainstream work. The basic thrust, so to speak, of the plot involves a country girl who goes to the big city and has various sexual adventures with older and more experienced men. You know the drill.
As with other Forså films, there are explicit scenes, but in this case it's actually her doing the deed. There are several uncut pans from face to nether regions in two of her bed sessions that leave no doubt. There's confusion around this because the filmmakers wanted a gynecological version of the movie and shot jarring close-ups of thrusting genitalia. Those aren't Forså's. They were shot later to make the film extra explicit. Because of those inserts the continuity of the original scenes was ruined, and assumptions that Forså was replaced by a body double came into being.
We have to say, even though the intercourse is real, that doesn't mean the sexual ecstasy is, but Forså is a good performer in this regard. You may even believe she's having the best sex of her life. This is of course not the norm for porn actresses, whose fakery generally is obvious. But Forså is a force of nature. We don't know if there's a version of the movie that omits the explicit inserts. If there is, that's the one to watch. But either way, Forså's innocent looks, combined with an uninhibited performance, make Butterflies a true blue classic. It premiered in Japan today in 1975.
Need to get rid of an uninvited guest? Try hummus.
For a b-movie The Thing from Another World is quite entertaining. Above you see its nice Belgian promo poster, which has a different look for the era, with its colorful vortex and entranced looking couple. Belgium, of course, is multi-lingual, so the movie was titled La chose d'un autre monde in French and Het ding van een andere wereld in Dutch. It was directed by Christian Nyby, who was taking his first turn in the director's chair, but a certain uber-experienced fella named Howard Hawks apparently assumed a supervisory role, which may be why the film has such a sense of competent ease about it.
Snarky critics often joke that The Thing is basically James Arness as a giant carrot, but that's silly. The monster is a type of vegetable, but Arness does not dress as one, or anything close. He's a humanoid creature in a jumpsuit. We mention it only because those carrot quips, which suggested the film was some sort of low budget disaster, kept us from watching it for years. If the monster was just a carrot they could chase it away with a bowl of ranch dressing or hummus, but it's actually made of sterner stuff than that. Even fire barely fazes it.
In the end, whether thanks to Nyby or Hawks or some combination thereof, what you get here is a good, solid sci-fi thriller, well put together, well acted, reasonably scripted, and ultimately pretty entertaining. There's no Belgian release date, but after premiering in the U.S. in 1951, it made France in January 1952, so it probably opened in Belgium just a bit later. We're sure we don't have to mention that the 1982 remake was great, but if you haven't seen it feel free to take a gander at out little write-up on in from several years ago.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1953—NA Launches Recovery Program
Narcotics Anonymous, a twelve-step program of drug addiction recovery modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous, holds its first meeting in Los Angeles, California.
1942—Blimp Crew Disappears without a Trace
The two-person crew of the U.S. naval blimp L-8 disappears on a routine patrol over the Pacific Ocean. The blimp drifts without her crew and crashes in Daly City, California. The mystery of the crew's disappearance is never solved.
1977—Elvis Presley Dies
Music icon Elvis Presley is found unresponsive by his fiancée on the floor of his Graceland bedroom suite. Attempts to revive him fail and he's pronounced dead soon afterward. The cause of death is often cited as drug overdose, but toxicology tests have never found evidence this was the case. More likely, years of drug abuse contributed to generally frail health and an overtaxed heart that suddenly failed.
1969—Woodstock Festival Begins
The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, which was billed as an Aquarian Exposition, takes place on a 600 acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York. It would run for three sometimes rainy days and feature thirty-two acts performing at all hours of the day and night. Today the festival is regarded as one of the greatest events in popular music history.
1977—Radio Signal Arrives from Deep Space
An unidentified radio signal, nicknamed the WOW Signal for the notation a scientist made on a computer readout, is briefly detected by the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) project's Big Ear radio telescope. Despite a month of searching the same section of space, the signal is never found again.
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