Vintage Pulp Aug 15 2020
TWO OF A KIND
You know what I love about you, Robert? You're as beautiful as me. It's like I switched my bender with FaceApp.


The promo poster for the classic film noir His Kind of Woman declares Jane Russell and Robert Mitchum the hottest combination ever to hit the screen. The windscreen? The screen door? We'll assume it means the silver screen. The movie was made by RKO Radio Pictures when it was run by Howard Hughes, so if you know anything about vintage cinema you already know this production was a mess. Hughes' micromanaging, meddling, and firings of actors led to heavy cost overruns and more than an hour of retakes. Despite these issues Mitchum and Russell do fine as the romantic leads, and support from Vincent Price, Jim Backus, and Raymond Burr helps them immensely. Are they the hottest whatever to hit the whatever? Well, of course. They'd be the hottest pushing a stalled car up a hill, or flossing their rearmost molars, or yakking in the toilet after an all night tequila binge. When you're hot, you're hot. We know quite well because—not to boast—people have said the same about us.

Anyway, Mitchum plays a classic film noir patsy who accepts a pile of money to go to Mexico for unknown purposes, only to discover that the sweet deal he thought he was getting isn't so sweet after all. Russell plays a rich girl idling down south with her lover, a famous actor, but when she gets a gander of Mitchum she starts rethinking her romantic priorities. Any smart woman would. We won't reveal the plot other than to say it's adequate, though not awe inspiring. The last few reels make a hard right turn into comedy, which some viewers hate, but the major problem for us is that the ineptness of the villains during the extended climax strains credulity. In the end His Kind of Woman may not be your kind of movie, but guys (or girls) get to see Russell dress slinkily and sing a couple of songs, and girls (or guys) get to see Mitchum go about twenty minutes with no shirt, so there's a silver lining for everyone here. The film premiered in the U.S. today in 1951.
Do you have someplace I can store this suitcase filled with my excess masculine heat?
 
Sure, you can sit next to me. But first you have to sign a liability waiver in case you get scorched.
 
You'll love this next trick. I put my finger in this cognac and it catches fire.
 
Hot as this guy is, I don't know whether to keep beating on him or start beating on me.
 
And once I take your face off I'll be the hot one. I'll have it all! Respect, envy, women, excellent service wherever I go! The world will be mine! Mwahh hah hah! Haaaaaaaah haha hahah!
 
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Vintage Pulp Aug 14 2020
SAMSON AND THE LIARS
Speak softly but carry a big stick. And possibly a gun or two.


Above you see a poster for the blaxploitation flick Black Samson, which starred Rockne Tarkington, William Smith, and Carol Speed. Because we hadn't heard of this movie we were expecting something super low rent, but it's actually on par with the better blaxploitation productions, with plenty of location shooting, large scale action, and an actual lion. But while Black Samson is competently made, there are no standout set pieces or comedic interludes, little eroticism, and not much in the way of incisve commentary. Probably its most notable quality is that the bad guys are uniquely cruel, at one point throwing a completely harmless woman out of a moving car, and mutilating another woman's breasts with a knife just for kicks.

The basic plot involves a syndicate of white crooks who want to peddle drugs in the ghetto, and the staff-wielding, lion-owning hero Samson who stands in their way. Conflict escalates, and in the end matters devolve into a full scale race riot, followed by a mano-a-mano between Samson and the head honky in charge to settle the issue once and for all. If Samson exchanged that wooden staff he totes around for a legit boom stick he could have solved his issues sooner, but probably less entertainingly. In the end Black Samson manages to press all the right buttons, which means that for fans of the blaxploitation genre, it's definitely worth a watch. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1974.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 13 2020
SINGA SAD REFRAIN
If at first you don't succeed, fly back to Malaysia and try again.


In the movies good girls always seem to fall for bad boys. In the World War II drama Singapore Ava Gardner is the former and Fred MacMurray is the latter, a smuggler of jewels. The two hook up in the titular locale, and when Gardner learns her new love is a crook, she accepts it with a rhetorical shrug. She asks merely if Fred is what the authorities suspect him to be, receives an affirmative answer, then asks if he can't sell jewels legally, receives the answer, “Yes, but at a quarter the price,” and that's it. She doesn't trouble her mind beyond that point, which we consider a major failing of Seton I. Miller's script.

It isn't the only failing. When it comes to areas of love and desire, the dripping melodrama of the dialogue puts MacMurray and Gardner in tough spots, and neither comes out unscathed. The good news is that in other areas Singapore fares better. The film weaves the tale of how MacMurray's plan to smuggle priceless pearls is cut short when the Japanese unexpectedly bomb the city. The love story, the smuggling plot, and the bombing are all told in reminiscence, bracketed front and rear by MacMurray's return five years after the tragedies and errors of his previous stint there. Now, with the city recovering from conflict, MacMurray tries to put together the puzzle pieces of the past.

We love old Hollywood's foreign fetish, its eagerness to set films in exotic locales. When it works well, as in Casablanca and its deft usage of Morocco, the result is magic; when it doesn't, as in, say, Miss Sadie Thompson and its setting of Pago Pago, the bells and whistles are a glaring reminder of missed opportunities. Singapore falls somewhere in the middle. We get to see a bit of Singapore when it was still part of Malaysia, which is interesting, but the most exotic sight to be seen is still Ava Gardner. For us, she was reason enough to take the trip. But just barely. Singapore premiered in the U.S. today in 1947.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 11 2020
BREATHING SHROOM
Holiday revelers come face to fungi with their worst fears.


This is a simply awesome poster. It was made for the Japanese horror movie Matango, which was known in English speaking countries as Attack of the Mushroom People. The second title pretty much gives it all away—mushroom people aggressive. Plotwise, a group of sailboating jet setters get swallowed by a fog bank and end up marooned on a mysterious island. There they find a derelict boat, evidence of scientific research into the island's unique giant mushrooms, and disturbing indications that the fungi are more than what they seem. Not long afterward the castaways begin to fear they're turning into mushrooms themselves. This is of course a terrifying prospect, but since they're food challenged the upside is they'll have something to put in their eggs. Overall Matango is better than you'd suspect. It's atmospheric, nicely photographed, and the hallucinatory efx work pretty well. If you like 1960s sci-fi and horror we think this one will do the job for you. It premiered in Japan today in 1963.


Wow, how much did I drink last night? I feel terrible this morning.


You guys run! I'll hold them off with this garlic and bottle of olive oil!

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Vintage Pulp Aug 9 2020
SUPER NATUREL RAQUEL
Welch tries to Fathom the spy game in cheeseball ’60s thriller.


This great poster was painted by French artist Vanni Tealdi for the 1967 spy adventure Une super-girl nommée Fathom, originally made as Fathom. The film was based on an unpublished novel by Larry Forrester, and is set in Spain in various beautiful locations around the Costa del Sol, including Nerja, which we discussed not long ago. Sixties icon Raquel Welch plays a member of a skydiving troupe recruited by Headquarters Allied Defenses Espionage and Security—HADES—to locate the fire dragon, which is supposedly a trigger for a nuclear bomb. Mostly the mission involves Welch using her smile and showing off her supernaturel physique, which is the real nuclear bomb, packed with kilotons of destructive power.

She finds herself caught in a web of lies and soon doesn't know who's the good guy, whether the fire dragon is really a nuclear trigger, and whether she shouldn't just run away and catch up with the rest of her troupe. It's all quite lighthearted, and considering what Welch is given to work with scriptwise, she manages not to sabotage herself or the film. However, she was not that great of an actress at this point, so your primary motive for watching this would be to enjoy the scenery—certainly of Welch, but also of Spain. Those two reasons will get you through the film's ninety-nine minutes. Une super-girl nommée Fathom has no known French release date, but it premiered in the U.S. today in 1967, and would have made it to France later the same summer.

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Sex Files Aug 7 2020
CHAMBERS' DOOR
It's nice and warm inside.


This is obviously Marilyn Chambers fronting a poster for her x-rated extravaganza Behind the Green Door, which opened in the U.S. this month in 1972. We shared a Japanese poster for this a long while ago, as well as a another Japanese promo advertising this as a double bill with The Resurrection of Eve. Today we figured we might as well show you the original American promo too.
 
Why do we coming back to Chambers? Probably her connection to horror films via the David Cronenberg classic Rabid has something to do with it. Not many actors have straddled porn and maintream cinema. Chambers is top of the heap on that score. And she died young at age fifty-six, so that always brings about examinations of a star's legacy. And finally, it's always interesting to see what path porn stars take when they move on. Chambers' path took her to Southern California, where she died in a mobile home in Santa Clarita, a long way from the bright lights of New York City where she first became a star.

We had never watched Behind the Green Door, but we remedied that a few days ago, and for those who don't already know we can tell you the movie is a sexual awakening story, with Chambers the star of a live sex show about “the ravishment of a woman who has been abducted,a woman whose initial fear and anxiety has mellowed into curious expectation.” She appears in two vignettes of escalating explicitness, as masked onlookers observe à la Eyes Wide Shut. That's the entire plot.

Chambers looks very good in this movie. We can imagine what it must have been like for cinemagoers to see a woman in this raunchy role who was fully beautiful enough to be a Hollywood star. The party lifestyle she lived began to make almost immediate physical changes, but for a moment, here in the summer of 1972, she was really a goddess. We have a nice image of her below as evidence of that assertion.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 17 2020
SENTENCE FRAGMENT
The jail hasn't been made that can hold Honey Blake.


Above is a fantastic poster for the women-in-prison flick Betrayed Women, starring Beverly Michaels. The promo art might make you think this is something other than a bottom drawer b-melodrama, but think again. Michaels plays a gun moll named Honey Blake who gets tossed in the pen after being convicted as an accessory to armed robbery, and she immediately starts plotting to cut her sentence short via escape, while a cruel warden is intent on breaking her spirit—and possibly her cranium. Unintentionally humorous lines of dialogue include, “What is this? A cootie inspection?” and, “Ahh, who knows what goes on in this cockeyed world?” and, “I'm telling you that Blake dame's dynamite!” Michaels is the type of actress who somehow always managed to elevate weak material, but even she can do only so much. The movie has its moments, but not enough of them. It will generate a few laughs, though. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1955.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 12 2020
SHE DEVIL
You guys hungry? I've got some piping hot human souls here. They're dee-lish.


The lost world adventure She, starring Helen Gahagan and Randolph Scott, was produced by Merian C. Cooper, who made King Kong in 1933. With him involved you know She is a big production. It's also as pure a pulp movie as you'll find. It was based on H. Rider Haggard's pre-pulp tale She: A History of Adventure, which first appeared in 1886.
 
The story involves a man named Leo following in the footsteps of a distant relative who disappeared five centuries ago searching for a lost land and the secret to immortality. It turns out that secret is real and it's guarded by an ageless goddess, beautiful and cruel, who all those years ago made Leo's distant relative her consort. But he died, which means when the goddess sees Leo she believes he's her dead lover returned from the beyond, and she's determined to possess him again.
 
Gahagan is the goddess, Scott is Leo the explorer, and Helen Mack is his steadfast love, who takes none-to-kindly to some slutty goddess trying to lay her man. She is cheesy as hell, but it's also a high budget adventure with big sets, elaborate staging, and an insane fire stunt that comes during a chaotic climax. Movies this old always feel a bit alien, but it's still pretty good overall. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1935.
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Vintage Pulp Jul 10 2020
HAREM SCARE 'EM
The queen of sexual torture takes her talents to the Middle East.


Today is the day we finally complete the trifecta of Ilsa movies with Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks, for which you see two Japanese posters above. The movie premiered in the U.S. in March 1976, and opened in Japan today that same year. The Japanese titles of Western movies are sometimes like lists of ingredients. The translation of アラブ女地獄 悪魔のハーレム is “Arab hell devil harem.” Even with that clear warning, Japanese audiences—who aren't fazed by much—must have said, “These Yank filmmakers are fucking crazy.” Which is to say that the Ilsa trilogy is among the most irredeemable sexploitation cinema ever produced, the type of stuff that will never, ever be made again, at least not in the U.S., where every instance of cinematic nudity is a political event. Generally, we decry that, but only when it keeps realistic and healthy sexual interactions from being shown onscreen. Harem Keeper is not healthy. Not on any level.

But we digress. This was the second installment of the Ilsa trio, and all starred Dyanne Thorne. She reprises her role as the cruel dominatrix Ilsa, and this time she's in charge of a sheik's harem. She rules this desert roost with utter cruelty, indulging in random acts of corporal punishment, and assisting her boss as he derives both income and pleasure from auctioning kidnapped women to wealthy pervs. Ilsa and the sheik discover that their little set-up has been infiltrated when they catch a spy sent by the granite-jawed Max Thayer, who later himself arrives on the scene and is quickly a prized guest in Ilsa's bed. We could get into the major subplot involving war with a rival sheik, but suffice it to say that the entire plot is just an excuse to string together set pieces featuring vile faux-violence and silly faux-sex. How low does the movie sink? At one point Ilsa uses her incomparable creativity to implant a harem girl with an explosive diaphragm that will detonate during intercourse. It's no electrified dildo (see installment one), but it's close.

Yes, Ilsa is cruel as hell, but it's nothing excellent sex won't cure. That's right up Thayer the Layer's alley. He works his way to Ilsa's creamy center, at which point she decides to switch allegiances and betray her sheik. Will she get away with this outrage? Well, we've already mentioned there were three Ilsa movies and this was the second, so theoretically, she gets away with it. On the other hand, she died at the end of the first movie, so you never know. Regardless, without putting too fine a point on it, this is a terrible movie. But the participation of porn actress Colleen Brennan, nudie model Uschi Digard, and blaxploitation beauties Tanya Boyd and Marilyn Joi as Ilsa's usually-topless enforcers, make this worth a guilty watch. Just don't let anyone know you did it, or you might lose your job, your friends, your family, and even your cat—and cats generally don't give a fuck. But that's how bad this flick is. We have a ton of promo images below. Some came from an interesting French-Canadian website called Cinepix. You can check it out here.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 1 2020
FIRST COME, FIRST CAST
Girls Come First but Lindberg came last.


Above you see a promo poster for the wacky British sex comedy Girls Come First, which premiered this month in 1975. The movie deals with a rich magazine owner named Hugh Jampton who hires a debt-wracked artist played by hunky ex-physique model John Hamill to paint nude portraits of the hostesses that work at the Swinger Club, which Jampton owns. This is a short film, only about forty-five minutes, so that's the entire plot, other than Hamill getting laid. Our main interest in this was determining whether Christina Lindberg is in it. She's not on any cast lists you find online, but she's right in the middle of the poster. Could she be in the film but be absent from cast lists? Absolutely. Thanks to the dreaded internet replication error, she's listed everywhere as appearing in 1974's Teenage Playmates, which she doesn't, so we wouldn't be surprised if she isn't credited for a movie she's actually in. So we took a detailed look and we can say without doubt that—like technical values, genuine laughs, acting ability, and a sense of shame—Lindberg is nowhere to be found here. The producers obviously figured she'd make a great addition to the poster and borrowed her for that purpose.

After getting over that disappointment, we noticed British-Chinese actor Burt Kwouk playing Jampton's chauffeur. His presence is worth mentioning because, in a way, he's a film icon, a sort of symbolic stand-in for stereotyped Asian characters in cinema. He played the bumbling Cato in four Pink Panther films, and here he plays a bumbler named—wait for it—Sashimi. Can you imagine? Kwouk personified the dilemma confronting all actors, but particularly actors of color, throughout film history. In the real world a paycheck is nothing to sneeze at, but the resulting work survives for future generations to ridicule and/or revile. Kwouk said in 1981 about the parts he played, “If I don’t do it, someone else will. So why don’t I go in, get some money, and try to elevate it a bit, if I can?” If Kwouk's work was the elevated version you'll break into a cold sweat imagining what his roles could have been like. In any case, we've solved the Lindberg mystery, and now we'll move on. Below are a couple of shots of Hamill and Longhurst for your pleasure.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 15
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.
August 14
1912—U.S. Invades Nicaragua
United States Marines invade Nicaragua to support the U.S.-backed government installed there after José Santos Zelaya had resigned three years earlier. American troops remain for eleven years.
1936—Last Public Execution in U.S.
Rainey Bethea, who had been convicted of rape and murder, is hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky in what is the last public execution performed in the United States.
August 13
1995—Mickey Mantle Dies
New York Yankees outfielder Mickey Mantle dies of complications from cancer, after receiving a liver transplant. He was one of the greatest baseball players ever, but he was also an alcoholic and played drunk, hungover, and unprepared. He once said about himself, "Sometimes I think if I had the same body and the same natural ability and someone else's brain, who knows how good a player I might have been."
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