Vintage Pulp Jun 10 2021
TUESDAY NIGHT
Eddie G. never goes down without a fight.


Mid-century Belgian promo art strikes again. This is an epic poster. It was made for the crime drama Black Tuesday, which played in Belgium as Mardi ça saignera (French title) and Dinsdag zal er bloed stromen (Dutch title). Edward G. Robinson and Peter Graves star in the tale of two death row inmates who escape prison and go on the lam. Graves has hidden $200,000 from a bank robbery and Robinson plans to betray him and steal the dough. Unfortunately, Graves is critically shot during the escape and, even as he lies near death, refuses to say where the money is hidden.
 
This is a pretty nice flick. Virtually any movie with Robinson is worth a viewing. He played many types of characters in his career, but he's known for portraying tough guys, and this is classic Edward G., with all the snarls and sneers fans had come to expect from romps like Little Caesar and Key Largo. And why wouldn't he snarl? Unless a doctor he's taken hostage can save the day the cash he lusts for will never be found. But maybe Graves won't die. Maybe he's tougher than he seems—and smarter too. Robinson never wins in his gangster roles, so it's a question of how he'll lose, not if. But it's always fun watching him fight the bad fight. Black Tuesday premiered in the U.S. in late 1954 and reached Belgium today in 1955.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 8 2021
GUNN RIGHTS
When Jim Brown stands his ground an entire city is turned upside down.


This Japanese poster was made to promote the U.S. blaxploitation flick Black Gunn, which in Japan was called スーパー・ガン, or “Super Gun.” The U.S. promo for the movie is nice too, but we prefer this version. Black Gunn starred Jim Brown as a Los Angeles nightclub owner whose little brother rips off the mob and stashes the cash in Brown's office safe. Little brother has also stolen and stashed ledgers containing information that could bring down the entire organized crime apparatus. Naturally, the mob comes looking and they aren't subtle about their methods. A few beatings and threats elicit some useful information, and pretty soon they're knocking on the door of Gunn's Club, as Brown's joint is called. Think his little brother is going to survive all this? If he did, you wouldn't get to see vengeful Jim beat, kick, and blast various members of mafia west.

Brown is usually a passable actor, no worse than average for action movies of the period, but here he seems to be sleepwalking, along with every other cast member apart from head villain Martin Landau. Brenda Sykes in particular seems to be adrift about a hundred nautical miles offshore. We chalk these performances up to a rushed production, but the good news is the action is explosive, so the film isn't a total waste of time. Plus it has Bernie Casey, and we'll watch him in anything. He had a palpable cool that should have been bottled and sold. Black Gunn premiered in the U.S. today in 1972.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 4 2021
HEAD OF THE CLASS
Maya Hiromi gets Onna roll and just can't stop.


This poster was made for the Japanese roman porno flick Onna kyôshi: Shônen-gari, known in English as Female Teacher: Boy Hunt. Nikkatsu Studios had already made two Female Teacher movies, but they're unreleated. This one did, however, spawn a sequel called Onna Kyoshi: Dotei-gari, or as it's known in English, terrifyingly, Female Teacher: Cherry Boy Hunt. We won't go there. Anyway we queued this up, and our first thought was: Wow, another roman porno film where a woman gets turned on by having her teeth drilled? Well, these movies explored every possible fetish. Having her teeth pried at turns her on so much she starts digging around her mouth herself with a fork. See the second screenshot below.
 
In any case, the sizzling hot Maya Hiromi plays a horny biology teacher who takes advantage of her position to indulge in some sexual extracurriculars. She shaves a student's pubes, gives a classroom lesson pantyless, has a nice little threesome, masturbates in a library, and engages in other activities that would get any teacher outside a roman porno movie arrested and placed on the sexual offender registry. We won't tell you what develops from all Hiromi's crazy academic activity, but trust us—you can expect it to be twisted. In the end Onna kyôshi: Shônen-gari is another Nikkatsu Studios humpfest where eroticism turns to something darker, and the final message—to the extent that it's comprehensible—is dubious at best. Can't recommend this one. Just can't. It premiered in Japan today in 1975.
 
But here's something we can recommend: a nice shot of Hiromi originally published in 1978. Just don't let it make you watch the film. It ain't worth it.
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Vintage Pulp Jun 4 2021
HEAT OF THE MOMENT
The temperature goes up but everything else goes down hard in low budget action flick.


We're drawn by cool promo posters, but even though there's nothing special about the cheap-ass art for the 1976 blaxploitation flick Black Heat, we had to watch it anyway because we love low budget vintage cinema. It's like panning for gold. Usually you end up disappointed, but occasionally you find something shiny and nice. Black Heat stars Timothy Brown, who we last saw in an epic disaster called The Dynamite Brothers, aka Stud Brown, that probably should have ended his cinematic career. But here he is two years later still riding the blaxploitation wave. He plays Kicks Carter, an L.A. cop trying to get to the bottom of illegal activities at a fancy hotel, keep his partner's born loser girlfriend out of gambling trouble, and make time for romance on the side.

Considering the bad luck Brown had with The Dynamite Brothers we'd love to tell you Black Heat is a major step up in his career. It isn't. It's terrible. The only spark is provided by co-star Tanya Boyd, who you may remember from her eye popping turn in Black Shampoo. Anything she's in, we'll gladly watch, because as far as heat is concerned her dial goes to eleven. But she about covers the positives here. Well, her and the fact that the movie features one of our favorite sights from ’70s cinema—the car that goes over a cliff with a dummy in the driver seat. It's a good metaphor for the film—basically driverless, destined to crash and burn. Black Heat premiered today in 1976.

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Modern Pulp May 31 2021
HOOKED ON PINKU
It takes a lot of guts to watch these sometimes.


A long while back we put together a collection of posters for bdsm themed Japanese pinku films. Why? Why not. But we hadn't seen the movies. One was called Shojo no harawata, aka Entrails of Virgin, aka Guts of a Virgin, and we came across it recently and figured let's watch this thing. The story concerns a slimy fashion photographer and his equally slimy buddies who take two models to a secluded cabin with the intent to take advantage of them, but are attacked by a hairy monster from the woods who has a massive boner. The film is part of Kazuo Komizu's, aka Gaira's, “splatter-eros” trilogy along with Bijo no harawata, aka Guts of a Beautiful Woman and Gômon kifujin, aka Female Inquisitor. A few of his other directorial credits include Violence porno: Jôkan and Violence porno: Nawa to bôkô. You get the idea.

We try not to make any cultural judgments when we watch these pinkus. There's a line from James M. Cain (you knew we'd work in a pulp author somehow) where one of his characters says of bullfights, “If it was my own country I'd be against it, but when it's somebody else's, I go.” That's how we feel. When something in a pinku flick confuses us or weirds us out, we generally shrug and go, “Not my place to criticize.” And now, of course, we'll criticize. In terms of Japanese erotica, the actresses make noises of pleasure that are indistinguishable—at least to our ears—from noises of pain. Not cool. It's sort of a whining, like this feels soooo good I'm on the verge of tears. That's one reason we don't generally get turned on by pinku movies. While the women are uniformly fantastic, their erotic acting is way off target for us.

The blurred line between pleasure and pain in this movie is liable to do a number on your head. And if it doesn't, the scene where a model masturbates with a severed arm while blowing the monster certainly will. Hope we didn't give too much away there. As far as the entrails aspect, well, the title is provocative, but while there's a virgin, we see no entrails. Thank fucking God. And because sex in pinku movies is mostly implied due to laws against the showing of pubic hair or sex organs, the sexualized violence is largely implied too. It's cleverly implied though. So be forewarned. We can't recommend this movie, but the poster art is so amazing we had to share it. It's signed—see just below—but we were not able to ascertain by whom. Too bad. There's real talent there. More so than in the film. Shojo no harawata premiered in Japan today in 1986.
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Vintage Pulp May 28 2021
EUROPEAN VACATION
Mitchum packs everything he needs for traveling except his sleuthing hat.


This beautiful poster for the Robert Mitchum thriller Foreign Intrigue is yet another framable delight from the golden age of Hollywood. Wikipedia calls this movie a film noir, but genre designations are often wrong there and on IMDB. This is actually a spy movie, often light in tone, sort of like the later films Charade and Arabesque. Mitchum is an American in Paris working as a press agent for a reclusive one percenter. When his employer dies of a heart attack, Mitchum comes to believe there was more to the death than a blown ventricle. He follows a trail of clues from the French Riviera to Vienna and Stockholm, which is where the foreign part of Foreign Intrigue comes in. The intrigue part? Well, that never fully develops. In fact, the movie falls back on the cliché of having the villains explain their plot to the protagonist. It has to do with money, blackmail, traitors, and Hitler. Trust us, it's not as interesting as it sounds. Compounding the narrative problems is a dopey soundtrack and a Mitchum who's short on charm here. The flirtations between him and Swedish love interest Ingrid Thulin are solid wood. She went on to win Best Actress at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, which goes to show that half of acting is screenwriting. Are there any saving graces to Foreign Intrigue? Of course. It's well shot, atmospheric, cast with international actors and their wonderful accents, and is a nice travelogue, encompassing Mediterranean villas, Vienna backstreets, and Swedish lakes, all in lush Eastmancolor. And Mitchum is watchable even in a film that mostly wastes his considerable star power. Intrigued? Then go for it. Foreign Intrigue premiered today in 1956.

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Vintage Pulp May 25 2021
A TASTE OF CHERI
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.

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Vintage Pulp May 23 2021
PROWLING AROUND
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. 

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Vintage Pulp May 19 2021
LET THEM EAT CAKE
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?
 
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Vintage Pulp May 17 2021
PUSSYCAT DOLLS
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.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 13
1971—First of the Pentagon Papers Are Published
The New York Times begins publication of the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret U.S. Department of Defense history of the country's political-military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. The papers reveal that the U.S. had deliberately expanded its war with carpet bombing of Cambodia and Laos, coastal raids on North Vietnam, and Marine Corps attacks, and that four presidential administrations, from Truman to Johnson, had deliberately misled the public regarding their intentions toward Vietnam.
June 12
1978—Son of Sam Goes to Prison
David Berkowitz, the New York City serial killer known as Son of Sam, is sentenced to 365 years in prison for six killings. Berkowitz had acquired his nickname from letters addressed to the NYPD and columnist Jimmy Breslin. He is eventually caught when a chain of events beginning with a parking ticket leads to his car being searched and police discovering ammunition and maps of crime scenes.
June 11
1963—Buddhist Monk Immolates Himself
In South Vietnam, Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc burns himself to death by dousing himself with gasoline and lighting a match. He does it to protest the persecution of Buddhists by Ngô Đình Diệm administration, choosing a busy Saigon intersection for his protest. An image of the monk being consumed by flames as he sits crosslegged on the pavement, shot by Malcolm Browne, wins a Pulitzer Prize and becomes one of the most shocking and recognizable photos ever published.
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