Modern Pulp Jun 11 2024
BEACH BODIES
People get topless, bottomless, legless, headless—anything goes.


This fun Italian poster, which is uncredited, was created for the monster movie Spiaggia di sangue, which was originally filmed in the U.S. and released as Blood Beach in 1980, before reaching Italy today in 1981. We riffed on it many years ago because it's nothing more than a left coast remix of Jaws on a frayed shoestring budget, not really deserving of a proper review, in our opinion. The producers were even sued by the Jaws franchise for using a catchphrase—Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water you can’t get to it—just a little too similar to that for the previous year's Jaws 2Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water. We said last time that you never really see the monster. Actually, you do, briefly, at the end, in all its papier mâché glory. Total. Letdown. Don't visit Blood Beach. Instead, look at the lobby cards below and call it a day.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 10 2024
THE FURIOUS 5
Don't push them 'cause they're close to the edge.


Sizzling is a good word for Kim Novak. In her fourth film, 5 Against the House, which premiered in the U.S. today in 1955, she wasn't quite a star yet, but her backers at Columbia Pictures had tabbed her for the Hollywood firmament. They placed her in this drama about a quartet of men who've spent a few years in the Korean War (Novak makes the 5 of the title but she spent that time on the home front) and are back to finish law school. Distressed by their lack of resources and opportunities, one of them, who's a gambler and dreamer, convinces two of the others they can rob a Reno casino. Guy Madison, top-billed, has no idea what's occurring, at least at first, and Novak plays his girlfriend and has even less of an idea. They figure it out, though, while the group are road-tripping to Nevada. Madison and Novak want out, but both are blackmailed into participating.

The movie has an interesting tone. They guys are all quipsters, and some of their Rat Pack interplay is legitimately funny, but their simmering disaffection eventually comes to the fore as they amp themselves up for the robbery by talking about all they've lost having been sent to war. Most of all, they've lost time. That idea makes narrative sense, but the actors are a little old for the roles. Madison, Alvy Moore, and Brian Keith are all in their mid-thirties. How long did they spend in Korea—a decade? Kerwin Matthews is twenty-nine, which maybe works, but Novak, as Madison's college sweetheart, is in her early twenties. How the hell did that happen? Did he start dating her when she was thirteen? Maybe their ages are minor points, but we noticed, and you will too.

In any case, the guys resent being years behind law students who avoided the war, and figure the country owes them something, even if it's only cash. Later, though, right when it looks like they might get smart and back out, Keith shows that he had a screw knocked loose by combat and manages to force the issue. The subsequent robbery involves fake mustaches and a misdirection play, but it's never the point. The movie is really a sympathy piece for the boys who fought overseas and a mild remark about the psychological cost of warfare. All fine, but—and it pains us to say this about any Novak movie—it's weak, entirely unrealistic, and climactically ludicrous. Ultimately, 5 Against the House is probably only worth seeing for the banter between the fellas, and a gander at captivating Kim. She's hotter than Reno in July. You can bet on it.
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Vintage Pulp Jun 7 2024
PLAIN GOOD SENSI
It's a perfect moment for a bit of inquieti reflection.


We said we'd get back to Italian illustrator Enzo Nistri, so today we have two posters he painted to promote the drama Sensi inquieti, which premiered in Italy today in 1962. It was originally made in France as Climats, and was known in English as Climates of Love. It starred Marina Vlady, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Emmanuele Riva, and Alexandra Stewart, and is about a married couple tempted to stray when their relationship begins to feel too constraining. It doesn't sound like our thing, so it isn't one we'll watch, but we thought these were particularly nice pieces. We also have the original art without text below, and a zoom so you can see some details of the work. Nistri was a top talent. We'll have more from him later.

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Vintage Pulp May 26 2024
WHITE MISCHIEF
Directly off the boat and immediately into trouble.


We chose the header for this post because there's a movie called White Mischief, which we watched recently, about Brits in Africa, and it has an amusing line where a character surveys the morning and says, “Oh God, not another fucking beautiful day.” The two pieces of Italian promo art above for the set-in-Africa movie Mogambo might make you say, “Oh God, not another fucking beautiful Italian poster.”

These were painted by Ercole Brini, who we've never featured before but who is another of the many virtuosic artists from Italy that toiled for the movie studios. Whenever we think about the sad loss of painted cinematic poster art, the Italians are who come to our minds. We just don't think there's any doubt at this point—they were the best. Not that it's a competition. Amazing posters with interestingly local aesthetic attributes came from everywhere.

We'll try to feature more from Brini later, and if you're curious about
Mogambo it's—of course—another movie about Africa turning various white northerners into cynical, shambling husks of their supposedly better former selves. Those husks are Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, and Grace Kelly. It opened in the U.S. in 1953 and premiered in Italy this week in 1954. Have a look here if you want to know more, and maybe here.

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Vintage Pulp May 25 2024
SPURRED INTO ACTION
Gordon and others get bushwacked in no-budget horse opera.


L'éperon brûlant is a U.S. movie titled Hot Spur, but once again we found a foreign poster far more intriguing than the domestic version. The movie was originally released in 1968, but this poster is from France and was made for the movie's preimier there today in 1970. It's signed by the artist: Loris. We can't tell you anything about him or her except that they also painted posters for 1971's L’homme qui vient de la nuit and 1974's La virée superbe. This is an interesting effort.

We mainly wanted to watch this for raven brunette beauty Virginia Gordon, so imagine our suprise and dismay to see the filmmakers turn her into an unnatural blonde. In any case, the movie is nothing special—it's a Western revenge drama, poorly directed by Lee Frost of Policewomen fame, and poorly acted by Gordon and everyone else. Basically, a Mexican farmhand is driven by constant abuse to seek revenge, and does so by kidnapping his cruel employer's wife. Probably a bad idea.

The film takes advantage of the fraying censorship enforcement of the era to show more nudity and sexual violence than in previous years. There are themes embedded within the script about racism, patriarchal control, and what we'd call today male toxicity, but they're so obscured by sexploitative content that you'll be too busy feeling queasy to absorb any well-intentioned messaging. L'éperon brûlant/Hot Spur is basically a footnote suitable for true cineastes only. All others can give it a pass.

We decided to share this specific poster for a secondary reason. Users on both Alamy and Diomedia claim it as theirs, which is what happens when bloggers and Ebay sellers post high resolution images online to be hoovered up by opportunistic hustlers. Not that we don't sometimes get images from Ebay. This one came from there. But we don't try to claim false copyright on them. Once upon a time we considered uploading our thousands of original scans at huge sizes, but now the decision not to looks pretty smart. Many of those images would be on Alamy, Shutterstock, et al now.

In the last several years the problem of copyright squatters has grown, and with AI programs scouring the internet for instances of presumed infringement, threatening e-mails are increasingly going out to website operators. But once again, it needs to be pointed out that movie posters and promo shots were made for non-copyright holders to publicize the associated works, and such items fall into the category of fair use. The copyright on this poster belongs to the film studio or production company that originally made it (Les Films Leitienne), and isn't transferred just because someone uploaded it to Alamy or any other site. If you operate a blog and get a threatening e-mail, ask for documentation of copyright. They're obligated to provide that. But they won't be able to.

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Vintage Pulp May 17 2024
HIDE AND CREEP
She's got a very bad feline about this situation.


Are cats creepy? We don't think so. But some people have a problem with them, and filmmakers are always happy to serve up a dose of an audience member's fears. Movies we've discussed that use cats as sources of terror include 1934's The Black Cat, 1948's The Creeper, 1970's Kaidan nobori ryu, aka Black Cat’s Revenge, 1971's Il gatto a nove code, aka, Cat o’ Nine Tails (mainly just on the posters, but what beautiful art), and 1973's La morte negli occhi del gatto, aka Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye. Those are just the ones we've looked at here. The list goes on and on through dozens if not hundreds of movies. In literature we've had looks at Nancy Rutledge's Blood on the Cat and Dorothy Salisbury Davis's The Judas Cat. You get the point. The Cat Creeps, for which you see a pretty nice poster above, fits snugly into cinematic tradition.

In the movie a newspaperman named Fred Brady is assigned to dig up dirt on senate candidate Walter Elliot, who's just been implicated in the murder of a former political rival fifteen years ago. Brady happens to be dating Elliot's daughter, but says nothing about his conflict of interest and takes the assignment to keep it away from a vicious rival reporter. Immediately, Brady learns there are family secrets, which are mostly revealed during a trip made with Elliot, his lawyer, his daughter, an investigator, and two others to the isolated island home of the person who has made the accusations. That person ends up dead, and the more superstitious members of the party come to believe a black cat is possessed by her spirit. Weirdo mystic Iris Clive even promises the others that it will reveal the murderer.

The movie is billed as a mystery, which it is, but it's a glib one, filled with one-liners and goofy looks. We were surprised to see Noah Beery in a major role as Brady's sidekick. He's best remembered these days as Jim Rockford's father Rocky from The Rockford Files, which we've been watching the entirety of during the last year. Here he and Brady—between quips, piercing screams, and drop-dead faints from the entire female cast—manage to solve the puzzle tidily but uncompellingly. Even a couple of ending twists didn't impress, and weaving the cat into it all required torturous screenwriting. But the mystery is never the point. This is an exercise in atmosphere—there's a lot of shadowy creeping around, as promised by the title. It mostly works. For a period mystery you could do far worse. The Cat Creeps—which is unrelated to the identically titled film from 1930—premiered today in 1946.
“Creeps? What kind of weirdo names their cat Creeps?”

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Vintage Pulp May 17 2024
LUST AND DEATH
Do not centerfold, spindle, or mutilate.


The Centerfold Girls has a pretty anodyne poster for what is a decidedly provocative film. It hit cinemas today in 1974 and is about a religious fanatic played by Andrew Prine who wishes to save (read: murder) three women who've posed nude for a men's magazine called Bachelor. The film is divided into chapters, with the story around each stalking target—Jaime Lyn Bauer, Jennifer Ashley, and Tiffany Bolling—given about one third of the running time. Obviously that means—er, sorry, strongly suggests—that at least two of the trio die. Spoiler alert! There could also be collateral damage. Spoiler... allusion?

The movie lacks the tongue-in-cheek aspect of so much sexploitation cinema, falling more into the category of in-your-face grindhouse efforts like Thriller - en grym film and I Spit on Your Grave. In other words, it's a mean little movie. But one with serious intent. There's real effort made at character development, for example Ray Danton's feckless playboy in chapter two. There's also effort made to make the film look good. It's cheap but competent, with some Hitchcockian touches added by experienced television and b-movie director John Peyser meant to let cinephiles know he's no hack.

We came across comments in several places saying the movie is disrespectful toward women. That's true. Any film that casts any distinct category of human as victims (and in grindhouse it's usually women) can automatically be seen by some as targeted oppression—especially when that oppression is rampant in the real world. No film called The Centerfold Girls is interested in avoiding that criticism, so you go in knowing that. The result? It's pretty good. You know what would have been really fun? If they'd made a sequel called The Centerfold Boys about Playgirl models. Beautiful, superficial, basically helpless male models. We should have been 1970s movie producers.

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Vintage Pulp May 12 2024
SUFFER LITTLE CHILDREN
Who'd want to kill a child? On occasion, virtually any parent on the planet, but in this case it's a violent psychopath.


This poster was painted by the great Enzo Nistri (the brush behind classic promos such as this and this) for the giallo flick Chi l'ha vista morire?, known in English as Who Saw Her Die? It stars former James Bond lead George Lazenby (looking unhealthily thin here because for reasons inexplicable he lost thirty-five pounds for the role) as an American artist in Venice whose young daughter goes missing. He first appeals to the (pro forma ineffectual) police, but the girl turns up floating dead in the Grand Canal.

This brings Lazenby's estranged wife Anita Strindberg to town for the funeral, and soon they're asking questions about a child murder from the previous year, which we the viewers have seen in the opening reel being committed by a woman clad and veiled in black. Lazenby and Strindberg go full sleuth in order to identify and locate this suspected killer, who meanwhile graduates to knocking off adults who might have clues. You may assume co-star and former Bond villain Adolfo Celi has something to do with all this, and he might, but this is a giallo. There's no way to know who's the killer until the final reveal.

The movie's real star may be Venice, where residents once sauntered easily through lanes uncluttered by tour groups and AirBnB renters. You'll see many hidden nooks of the city, beautifully shot by director Aldo Lado and cinematographer Franco Di Giacomo. This type of scenery will come courtesy of AI image generators in the approaching years. After all, why close down St. Mark's Square when you can render it in a computer? Take heart, though—even a computer will never be able to generate Anita Strindberg. Chi l'ha vista morire? premiered in Italy today in 1972.
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Vintage Pulp May 11 2024
A STATE OF ESTASI
Reaching the highest pleasure.


Time flies. We've always reminded ourselves to get back to the Italian artist who signed his work as Mafé, but seven years passed. Well, we have him today, better late than not at all. Above you see his poster for the French made sex flick Pornoestasi, which starred Erika Cool, Marilyn Guillame, Élisabeth Buré, and Martine Grimaud, and was originally titled Tout est permis, or “everything is allowed.” Mafé created other nice pieces, several of which you can see by clicking his keyword below.

We had a glance at Pornoestasi, and what you get is a typically clumsy xxx production from the era, poorly scripted and shot, in which a couple who run a clothing boutique together are experiencing some doldrums. The man decides he needs time away from the woman, she agrees, and both take the opportunity to experience new partners. The funny part is that “away” means a hotel in the same town. We'd at least go to Antibes or Saint-Tropez. In any case, Pornoestasi is nothing to write home about. It premiered today in 1977. 

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Intl. Notebook May 8 2024
HARD TO BEIRA
I'm sorry I hurt your feelings. Have you considered looking for a woman out of your league who's closer to your age?


Above you see one of the items we picked up in Lisbon. It's an issue of Colecção Cinema. Basically, these and others of its ilk in multiple countries were print versions of current release films. Starring on front are Curd Jürgens and Eva Bartok from their 1956 West German movie Ohne dich wird es Nacht, which was titled in Portuguese À Beira do Pecado, meaning “on the verge of sin.” It was known in English as Without You It Is Night, the literal German title. Sounds dark, and it is. It's about drug addiction. Though there isn't as much art inside Colecção Cinema as you'd think considering it's a cine-novela, we picked it up anyway for the interesting cover and the low price—a mere €1. Fifteen scans below.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 24
1915—Ship Capsizes on Lake Michigan
During an outing arranged by Western Electric Co. for its employees and their families, the passenger ship Eastland capsizes in Lake Michigan due to unequal weight distribution. 844 people die, including all the members of 22 different families.
1980—Peter Sellers Dies
British movie star Peter Sellers, whose roles in Dr. Strangelove, Being There and the Pink Panther films established him as the greatest comedic actor of his generation, dies of a heart attack at age fifty-four.
July 23
1984—Miss America Resigns
Vanessa Williams, who had been crowned Miss America and was the first African American woman to win the prize, resigns her title after Penthouse magazine purchases and slates for publication a series of lesbian-themed nudes Williams had posed for when she was younger. After resigning she files a $500 million lawsuit against Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione but later drops the suit.
July 22
1992—Cocaine Baron Escapes Prison
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria, imprisoned leader of the Medellin drug cartel, escapes from a posh Colombian jail known as La Catedral after he learns authorities intend to move him to a real prison. His taste of freedom doesn't last—he's killed in a shootout a year-and-a-half later.
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