|Vintage Pulp||May 25 2021|
It's pie for everyone in Girls Are for Loving.
Above you see a poster for Girls Are for Loving, which is a spy movie in which a sexy operative for hire is tapped by the CIA to foil a set of international baddies that want to disrupt Asia-U.S. trade negotiations. The movie is third in a series after 1971's Ginger and 1972's The Abductors, with Cheri Caffaro in the lead role of Ginger MacCallister, while Sheila Leighton is the head villain and Timothy Brown is the CIA's man on the spot. It's an action-sexploitation flick, but the international trade aspect, mid-level budget, and shooting locations in St. Thomas elevate it above what you'd expect.
But it isn't that elevated. Caffaro does some lingerie karate, some bikini karate, some hot pants karate, and some topless karate, while her backup Brown always shows up too late to help. Inevitably she's captured, and just as inevitably, she's stripped and molested. But you can't keep a good international spy down, even with ropes and the weight of a hairy, slobbering villain. In the end Caffaro gets the better of her foes, and she and sidekick Brown head off into the sunset smiling.
As sexploitation goes, this one is raunchier than most, and the fact that Caffaro was married to director Don Schain makes it even more eyebrow raising that he directed another man getting touchy feely with his wife's cherry pie. But on the other hand, you have to admire these spouses' commitment to art. We can imagine Schain's direction: "Suck her nipples. No, suck them. Really get them in your mouth. Great. Cheri, act like you enjoy it. Good. That's uh... actually quite convincing." As ’70s action goes Girls Are for Loving isn't great, but as ’70s sexploitation it's muff-see entertainment. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1973.
U.S. Virgin IslandsSt. ThomasGirls Are for LovingCheri CaffaroSheila LeightonTimothy BrownDon Schainposter artcinemasexploitationmovie review
|Vintage Pulp||May 23 2021|
Social critique lurks in the dark corners of Evelyn Keyes film noir.
This unusual poster was made for the film noir The Prowler, which premiered in the U.S. today in 1951 starring Evelyn Keyes and cinephile fave Van Heflin. When a woman reports a prowler one of the cops that responds to the call becomes infatuated with her and decides to make her his own, despite the fact that she's married. The process of claiming her involves him forcing himself upon her, but this being a mid-century drama, after the fade to black we fast forward a few weeks and the two are now having an affair.
This is the set-up of the film, not its story arc, so we haven't given anything anyway in terms of major plot points, however we wanted to mention the preamble because it's uncomfortable viewing—though we should note that the film doesn't present this behavior as normal. It also seems clear that Heflin is able to pull this off specifically because a fizzled Hollywood career has made Keyes' character vulnerable, and she's unhappy in a marriage that she agreed to for reasons of security. So if you watch the film don't get your hackles up. In order to condemn behavior it's useful to show it, and that's what Heflin's manipulations are all about.
But there's more going on here than just a noir drama about a bad man and a targeted woman. The movie was written largely, if not wholly, by blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo, and he always has a deeper message. Here's a notable line of dialogue concerning bad police officers: “It depends on what you think a cop's job really is. I figure that the job of a cop is to protect lives. Now some of these trigger happy guys, they think they have to protect things.”
Hmm. Relevant to today? Quite possibly.
Often you can identify a film noir by the simple fact that the lead male is screwed, and gets progressively more screwed as the movie unfolds. The Prowler reverses the formula and places Keyes in the screwed role and makes Heflin a sort of homme fatale, a sociopathic manipulator determined to get what he wants no matter the cost. What he wants is Keyes, and he'll destroy her marriage, her self respect, her mental stability, and any other pillar of her existence to have her. And of course, in so doing, he'll risk losing what humanity he has and descending into soulless desolation.
Evelyn Keyes was a talented performer. We've seen her several times now and she always kills it. Thanks to her and others The Prowler is a well acted movie. It's also beautifully shot. It was directed by Joseph Losey—soon to be blacklisted along with Trumbo, so presumably they were on the same page concerning social critique as cinematic subtext. Millions of average Joes made the same gripes as Trumbo and Losey, and millions of average Joes still do today. But when filmmakers weave a narrative tapestry that calls America broadly corrupt, trouble with the empty suits in Washington D.C. always looms.
Here's a parting shot from Trumbo: “So I'm no good. But I'm no worse than anyone else. You work in a store you knock down on the cash register. The big boss, [he cheats on] the income tax. [Politician] sells votes. The lawyer takes bribes. I was a cop. I used a gun.”
Don't criticize America like that! People will think you're a communist.
I have been re-educated by the House Un-American Activities Committee. I am happy. America is perfect.
The ProwlerLos AngelesEvelyn KeyesVan HeflinDalton TrumboJoseph Loseyposter artcinemafilm noirmovie reviewcommunism
|Vintage Pulp||May 21 2021|
French mystery artist returns after long absence.
Dogged determination pays off again. Way back in 2012 we shared five book covers by a mystery artist who signed his work Desmé. Today we found two French movie posters by the same person. These were painted for 1941's Premier rendez-vous, aka Her First Affair, starring Danielle Darrieux, and 1956's Face au crime, originally titled Crime in the Streets, starring John Cassavetes and James Whitmore. Desme's signature evolved, it seems, because the first piece is signed not merely Desmé, but D.H. Desmé. So now we have his initials. What? You were expecting a full bio? These things take take time. We'll have more info in 2030.
FrancePremier rendez-vousFace au crimeCrime in the StreetsD.H. DesmeDanielle DarrieuxJohn CassavetesJames Whitmoreposter artcinema
|Vintage Pulp||May 19 2021|
In the Ministry of Fear they bake better than they spy.
Fritz Lang was one of the most important directors of his era, both in his native Germany and in the U.S., and was a pioneer of the film noir form. Movies like Scarlet Street and especially The Big Heat are essential noir viewing. Ministry of Fear dates from a bit earlier and finds Lang saddled with what we consider to be a substandard script that through sheer artistry he makes into a watchable film. Ray Milland, Marjorie Reynolds, and Dan Duryea headline in a spy tale that revolves around Lang's favorite villains—the Nazis. Jewish and German, he left his homeland for Paris and beyond during the ascent of the Nazis during the 1930s, so the subject was personal for him, and was one he'd dealt with in previous films such as Cloak and Dagger and Hangmen Also Die.
In Ministry of Fear Milland plays a man who spends two years in a British asylum and is released at a time when World War II is raging and London is being bombed. He goes to charity carnival and is enticed into guessing a cake's weight for a chance to win it, and after being given the correct answer by a fortuneteller, is victorious. But it's soon clear that the correct weight wasn't supposed to be given to him, and he isn't supposed to have the cake. But he really wants it and resists attempts by the carny folks to take it back. He loses it during a train ride when a passenger beats the snot out of him for it, and at that point finally realizes the obvious—sweet though this confection may have been, it wasn't sought by various and sundry for its flavor, but because inside was something important. He wants answers, and he'll have to risk his neck to get them.
Generally with movies it's best to simply accept the premise, but there are limits. We were never clear on why it was necessary to put this important item in a cake. We understand subterfuge is involved in the spy game, but why not just hand the item over in an alley, or a pub bathroom, or a parked car? And if food must be involved, why a cake? Why not a haggis, or something else very few people want to just gobble up on the spot? A dried cod maybe. A blood sausage would have done. Plus they're easy to transport. You can just stick them in your pockets. And in a tight spot a whack across the nose with a blood sausage is far more effective than shoving cake in someone's mug. The cake gimmick was probably—strike that—certainly better explained in Graham Greene's source novel. We haven't read it but we're confident about that. It could have been Lang who screwed the pooch, but it was more likely Seton I. Miller. He was screenwriter as well as executive producer.
In any case Milland bumbles his way through a train trip, across a moor, in and out of a crazy séance, and into a maze of misdirection to the eventual revelation of what's inside the cake, but the whole time we kept thinking the movie should be called Ministry of Cut-Rate Spies. We don't mean to say it's a total loss. It isn't like the Eddie Izzard comedy routine, “Cake or Death.” You won't choose death over cake. But it's a pretty uninspiring flick. The old dramas that have survived have done so for a simple reason. Most of them are good. Ministry of Fear isn't bad. It's just meh. It's like a cake that fell—it's flat and dense, but teases you with how yummy it could have been. It premiered in England today in 1944.
Here, have your cake. And eat it too. Heh.
I prefer blood sausage for train trips, but I guess it's better for you I'm not shoving one of those in your face, eh?
Wow, you sort of... crush the shit out of your cake before eating it.
Have I been eating cake wrong the whole time I've been in England?
EnglandLondonWorld War IIMinistry of FearFritz LangRay MillandMarjorie ReynoldsDan DuryeaGraham GreeneSeton I. Millerposter artcinemanazisfilm noirmovie review
|Vintage Pulp||May 17 2021|
Who says cats don't like to get wet?
We're back to Japan today, with another Nikkatsu Studios pinku flick, this time Mesunekotachi no yoru, known in English as Night of the Felines. We like cats, so this one should be a slam dunk. It's about three women who work in a sort of massage parlor in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo called Turkish Paradise, where they provide soapy rubdowns and other services to male customers. They manage to get involved in efforts to convert an ostensibly gay youngster named Makoto to heterosexuality. Two items of note here: apparently soapy rubdowns are a thing in Japan; and apparently the filmmakers considered sexuality a strictly a-or-b deal. But whatever, in this all-or-nothing milieu conjured up by writer Akira Nakano and director Noboru Tanaka, men can be converted from totally gay to totally straight, which totally leads to troubles in typical Nikkatsu fashion. The movie is partly comedic in nature, and lurches between laughs—or attempts at generating them, anyway—to surprisingly dark interludes involving voyeurism, suicide, and more. It was interesting, and the gender bending nature of it was different. For us most of its value was in watching the Turkish Paradise felines and their bubbly slippings and slidings. Soapy rubdowns. Who'd have thought? Since we can't visit Turkish Paradise we're going to show the movie to the Pulp Intl. girlfriends and see if they can learn some tricks. Wish us luck. Mesunekotachi no yoru premiered in Japan today in 1972.
JapanNikkatsuMesunekotachi no yoruNight of the FelinesTomoko KatsuraKen YoshizawaHidemi Haraposter artroman pornosexploitationcinemapinkumovie review
|Modern Pulp||May 14 2021|
When they gave out maternal instincts Izumi Shima forgot to sign up for her dose.
In Japanese, “haha” means mother, and in Waisetsu kazoku: haha to musume, known in English as Indecent Family: Mother and Daughter, there's a mother who certainly qualifies as funny. Funny as in strange. Mommy dearest is none other than Izumi Shima, one of our favorite pinku actresses, as we've demonstrated numerous times, such as here and here. The idea of her having had a child in this movie defies credulity. She was twenty-nine in it, while Yōko Morimura, who plays her daughter, was at least eighteen. But whatever, it's Nikkatsu roman porno, so you have to go with it.
Plotwise, a middle-aged sad sack played by Akira Shioji makes a connection with Morimura while she's dancing at a strip bar called Mississippi Queen, and she comes to live with him. Never let a stripper move in with you. Every man knows that. But not Shioji, apparently. In short order Morimura's mother Shima moves in too. At first Shioji is pretty thrilled with this arrangement, but it isn't long before Shima decides to show him that mothers know things daughters don't. And that, of course, is the beginning of his problems. Since this is a roman porno, we don't have to detail all the things that go on—you know what to expect, and you know things don't often end well.
You also know there's usually a leftfield subplot, and in this case it has to do with Shioji's house being coveted by his nephew in order to sell it for hotel development. Or something like that. Doesn't matter, because the plot is just a framing device for nudity and cleverly simulated sex. As we've noted before, it's amazing how raunchy a film can be yet not show very much. Shioji and Morimura's sixty-nine session about halfway through is a case in point. You'll really believe he's getting up in her rump. All very fun, and we were especially happy there was no pee. It's a roman porno staple we can do without. For that reason alone we give Waisetsu kazoku: haha to musume a cautious thumbs up. It premiered in Japan today in 1982.
Mother, homemaker, community activist, and filthy freak. She does it all.
I have a hot young girlfriend for sex, and her mother to clean the house. Life doesn't get much better than this.
I feel like singing! Figaro!
And skipping! Wheeee!
Here, why don't you watch while I sensually undress my passed out mom.
Dang. I never noticed until seeing her half-naked, but she's a total milf.
Hah! I wasn't passed out at all! I was intentionally letting Shioji perv out.
Now that he realizes I'm hotter than the surface of the sun, I'm going to strip him down to the bone just like this spare rib. Sluuuuurp!
Mom! Quit sucking off that rib! You're embarrassing me!
No, my daughter, I don't believe I shall desist from fellating this juicy rib. I don't believe I shall desist at all.
If you think my foot is nice just wait until you experience the warmer and softer parts of my body.
That trip I took to Akiyoshido Cave last year was so cool. How weird that I should think of that now.
Yup. Fucked his brains right out of his skull. Now back to the rib.
You stole my unattractive and inappropriately old lover, mom. I'm not speaking to you.
Bonus material below: a couple of promo photos of Morimura and Shima.
JapanNikkatsuWaisetsu kazoku: haha to musumeIndecent Family: Mother and DaughterIzumi ShimaYōko Morimuraposter artcinemaroman pornopinkusexploitationnuditymovie review
|Mondo Bizarro||May 13 2021|
Authenticity test on horrifying Ecuadorean artifact reveals that it's a horrifying Ecuadorean artifact.
We ran across a story today that touched on an occasional Pulp Intl. subject—that of shrunken heads, those macabre delights found in the dusty basements of museums and the arcane libraries of mysteriously missing anthropologists. Vintage men's magazines such as this issue of Man to Man often contained features on shrunken heads, usually written by adventurers who claimed to have narrowly escaped losing their own. This occurred mainly in the Amazon regions of Ecuador and Peru where a people called the Jivaro live. When white men weren't available, the Jivaro used the heads of slain enemy warriors, shrinking them via an exacting, multi-step process meant to trap the spirit of the unfortunate victim so that their supernatural power could be utilized. The practice died out decades ago but old shrunken heads are scattered about the world because they were highly sought after curios, a demand that also led to the manufacture of numerous fakes.
Researchers at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia had a shrunken head sitting around that had been acquired by a recently deceased university staffer during a 1942 trip to the Ecuadorean Amazon. They announced Monday that the head is indeed the genuine item. They reached this conclusion by subjecting it to numerous tests, among them CT scans, and of course the angry spirit test, which involves ridiculing the head then waiting to see if your hind quarters wither and fall off. This particular head is especially pulpworthy because it has acinema history. It was used as a prop in the 1979 film Wise Blood, John Huston's adaptation of Flannery O'Connor's novel of the same name. In the movie it was placed on a fake body, as you see just above. Mercer University plans to repatriate the head to Ecuador, continuing the recent practice of some museums and universities returning cultural items looted or bought for a pittance by artifact hunters.
We agree that stolen artifacts should go back to where they came, assuming the original possessors ask for them, which they increasingly have been doing. This means there will be fewer shrunken heads in circulation, which in turn means the process for making them that we shared a few years ago is more timely than ever. Like a Julia Child recipe for boeuf bourguignon, the classics never go out of style. In fact, we think the horrible shrunken head market is about to blow up like Bitcoin. So if you feel the need to shrink the head of... we don't know, anyone ranging from your current boss to the so-called friend who stole your hopeless crush back in college, feel free to get a sense of the process from our post. It's a bit messy, but satisfying and amazingly empowering. So we hear. Just remember that you can't make a shrunken head without a decapitated head, and that's another messy business entirely.
|Vintage Pulp||May 10 2021|
St. Cyr escapes her gilded cage.
Above is a poster for Runaway Girl, a starring vehicle for burlesque queen Lili St. Cyr. In the film, Randy, played by Jock Mahoney, runs a family vineyard, and imports low wage harvest workers every year, all of them women, all young. This year his flock of seven laborers includes an extra woman in the form of Edella, played by St. Cyr. The grape grower starts to have randy feelings toward her, and pretty soon the two are canoodling in town and country. But Randy isn't actually a member of the wine making family by blood. He was taken in by the patriarch when young, and dating the help quickly causes this fault line to open. St. Cyr doesn't belong either. She's beautiful, glamorous, and has clearly never worked hard in her life. What is she doing there? How did a glamorous blonde end up picking grapes in a vineyard? The title of the movie tells you.
Runaway Girl is a low rent drama with only St. Cyr to distinguish it, but there are two versions—a cinematic release, and a racier adult version with three nudie cutie segments. There's a group shower sequence, a skinny dipping sequence, and a striptease. These sequences are jarring because they were spliced in to heat up the stew for an adult oriented re-release that played in nudie cinemas. St. Cyr also does a little medley of her most famous burlesque numbers, as she explains in a flashback that she's—shockingly—really a nationally famous peeler running away from the overwhelming demands of life as a paid exhibitionist. This revelation doesn't sit well with the old fashioned Randy. Can he overlook St. Cyr's racy past?
Runaway Girl is a product of classic Hollywood thinking—i.e. any famous pop culture personality can be harnessed for profit. The same holds true today, as a succession of singers, rappers, reality stars, and comics trickle into movies every year. We're not putting them down. Some can actually act, particularly the comics. But St. Cyr can't. Emotively, she's flatter than a fruit roll-up. It pains us to admit that, because we think she's a celestial wonder. But there you have it. Even worse, this was her seventh full length film, so it probably represents the height of her acting skills. Woof. You have a choice. You can either avoid this turkey or watch it expressly to see St. Cyr with motion and sound, rather than merely as an amazing pin-up. We have some nice production photos below to help you make up your mind. Runaway Girl premiered in the U.S. today in 1965.
|Vintage Pulp||May 10 2021|
Welch proves indispensable to yet another ’60s caper flick.
Above you see a promo poster for 大泥棒, or “Great Thief,” made for the 1968 Raquel Welch/Robert Wagner caper flick The Biggest Bundle of Them All. The U.S. poster was painted by master illustrator Robert McGinnis, but we decided to show you the Japanese art instead because it's rare. There are two more Japanese promos below that are also rare. We'll get to the McGinnis version later. In the film, Wagner and his henchmen kidnap an elderly Italian gangster played by Vittorio De Sica and hold him for ransom. Problem is he has no money. At first they don't believe him, but when it finally becomes clear he's broke, Wagner and Co. try to cut bait. But De Sica is terrified all Italy will find out he couldn't pay his own ransom. His reputation would be ruined. So he convinces his kidnappers to join him in a swindle that will maintain his reputation, make him rich again, and earn the kidnappers more money than they ever imagined. De Sica becomes the boss of his own abductors.
For a crime-comedy, it's an ingenious premise, which makes it a shame it wasn't original. Another movie with an almost identical plot called The Happening was in production at Columbia, and when the studio got wind of The Biggest Bundle of Them All it threatened to sue. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer agreed to give Columbia a cut of Bundle's profits and a legal bloodbath was avoided, but in the same way De Sica's big caper doesn't exactly play out perfectly, Bundle's profits didn't blow the roof off MGM headquarters as planned. And no wonder. It wasn't just the script that wasn't original—the film falls into the same category as continental crime capers like Charade, To Catch a Thief, and Topkapi, and those make for crowded and treacherous cinematic waters. Bundle isn't sophisticated enough, or exciting enough, or infused with enough sexual chemistry to compete with better films of its ilk.
Speaking of sexual chemistry, Welch is naturally the big attraction of any movie she's in, and we've seen enough of her work now to understand that she was more of a persona than an actress during this mid- to late-’60s period. In film after film she basically played herself. Here she smiles and quips and poses, and it's all very Welchian in that groovy way her fans had come to expect—bikinis, lingerie, go-go dancing and all. The movie would be worth far less without her. There are also supporting appearances by Edward G. Robinson and Femi Benussi, while future blaxploitation icon Godfrey Cambridge is one of the kidnappers, so there's plenty for stargazers to enjoy here, but we can't call the movie a success. If you have nothing to do some evening, it might give you a few smiles, but not a bundle of them. After premiering in the U.S. in 1968, The Biggest Bundle of Them All opened in Japan today in 1968.
JapanMetro-Goldwyn-MayerColumbia PicturesThe Biggest Bundle of Them AllThe HappeningVittorio De SicaRaquel WelchRobert WagnerGodfrey CambridgeFemi BenussiEdward G. Robinsonposter artcinemamovie review
|Vintage Pulp||May 5 2021|
Get while the getting is good.
It's the classic film noir pickle: what will a guy do when he can't find a job? Pretty much 100% of the time he resorts to crime, and pretty much 100% of the time he gets in deep shit real fast. The unlucky mug in Try and Get Me! is Frank Lovejoy, who moved with his wife and son to California but didn't realize “a million other guys had the same idea.” Desperation sets in and a chance meeting precipitates his descent into crime, as he becomes a getaway driver for stickup artist Lloyd Bridges. Meanwhile, over in the subplot, a news publisher who wants to move more copies of his paper convinces a reporter to portray the holdups as part of a crime invasion by eastern gangs. Interesting, right? If you're a media outlet that wants to rake in profits, just claim some “other” is ruining your community.
Here's the money quote: “People love to be scared to death. The more you scare 'em the more papers they buy.”
Without putting too fine a point on it, which we'll do anyway, clearly nothing has changed seventy years later, except now cable and radio don't sell fear, because that implies weakness—they sell “outrage,” which sounds macho and proactive, but is nothing more than a fight-or-flight reaction to fear. Would a character in a popular movie made in 2021 casually toss off an observation like that? We mean a line that gets at an essential societal ailment—to wit, people will think exactly what they're told to think, as long as the information comes from someone they like? We doubt it. In Try and Get Me! the newspaper guys use the “eastern criminals” fairy tale until people are so riled up they lose the capacity for rational thought. They even—ahem—form a lawless mob and assault the seat of government.
Too much plot info? Oops. It's less relevant than you'd suspect, though. Anyway, Bridges, who's instigating the crime spree, inevitably tires of taking in twenty and thirty bucks per job and drags Lovejoy along on a prospective big score. How do you think that turns out? Could it possibly be... murder? And now they're both in it up to their noose-sized necks. The audience knows from an earlier scene that Lovejoy's collar size is fifteen and-a-half. Foreshadowing? Possibly, but there's still an hour left in the film at that point, and anything can happen. Later there's an interesting shot of a window shade and its circular pull, which looks sort of like a noose. Hmm... Well, best not to dwell on possible signs and portents too deeply. Try and Get Me!, also known as The Sound of Fury, premiered in the U.S. today in 1950
Try and Get Me!The Sound of FuryFrank LovejoyKathleen RyanLloyd BridgesAdele Jergensposter artcinemamovie review