Vintage Pulp Oct 16 2019
DRUNK AND DISORDERLY
Cocktails, comedy, and crime make a mix that'll go right to your head.


Above, a fantastic Czech poster for the 1934 romantic comedy-murder mystery The Thin Man, which there was titled Detektiv Nick v New Yorku. This is a photo-illustration, rather than the paintings we love, but it's still, in our book, as good as promo art gets. As far as the film goes, like Casablanca or Chinatown, there's no way to overrate it. Some of the humor is so modern that you'll have trouble believing it was made almost a century ago and wasn't cribbed from an episode of Friends or Seinfeld. Just goes to show that in the infinity of time we don't change as quickly as we think.
 
We adore the boozing party animals at the center of this tour de force—Nick and Nora Charles, played by William Powell and Myrna Loy—whose drunken interactions could easily be the inspiration for Jim and Jules of the hilarious television show Brockmire. Credit the director, actors, editors, and everyone else for this masterpiece, but give the biggest nod to Dashiell Hammett, who wrote the excellent source novel. There's no release date for Detektiv Nick v New Yorku in Czechoslovakia, but figure spring or early summer of 1935.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 14 2019
HOT IN THE CITY
The temperature rises and the bodies fall in Fritz Lang's tense film noir.


In the thriller The Big Heat, which is based on a novel by William P. McGivern and directed by Fritz Lang, Glenn Ford plays one of the toughest men you'll find in film noir—ass kicking detective Dave Bannon, whose clash with organized crime sends him down a rogue path that leaves people battered, bruised, bloodied, burnt, and blown up. He co-starred with Gloria Grahame, and the way the plot develops, she turns out to be every bit as tough. We can't tell you anything about the movie others already haven't about a thousand times, so we're focusing instead on this top notch promo poster, a framable classic in the panel format we love. You'll see this online only occasionally because it's way too rare for sellers to ever have in stock, but it's a fitting piece for such a great movie. The Big Heat premiered in the U.S. today in 1953.

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Modern Pulp Oct 9 2019
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
The more you Zoom the weirder everything looks.


Above is a poster for Zûmu appu: Bôkô hakusho, aka Zoom Up: Sexual Crime Report, the fourth film in the Zoom Up series. This installment starred Yuki Kazamatsuri and Rie Hirase, and premiered in Japan today in 1981. Where do we start with this? Kazamatsuri plays a disc jockey married to a powerful businessman. One night on her way to the radio station she's raped by a gang of creeps on motorcycles, and it turns out this was not a random attack. That's already a spoiler, so we'll stop there.

As always, we try to remember that Nikkatsu Studios was in the business of making money. The directors and screenwriters had a lot of artistic freedom, and occasionally tried to embed social commentary and deep metaphor in these films. But you know how it goes with metaphor—if you suspect it's there you'll look for it until you strain your brain. Broadly speaking, roman porno avoids the feminist patriarchy smashing of pinky violence films, usually denying women any sort of cathartic retribution. We stress usually. Even in this retrograde genre women sometimes get the opportunity to make men eat cold steel, or hot lead, as the case may be. Which path does Zûmu appu: Bôkô hakusho take? We ain't saying.

If you look around the internet the very few reviews of roman porno films you find are by males, usually in Japanese. We sometimes add to the all-male chorus, but just as often we keep our write-ups vague, focusing mainly on the poster art. We hope one day there'll be a more diverse online analysis of these, particularly of two types: in English from Japanese viewers who can provide social context we can't; and from women. The latter you might expect us to get from PI-1 and PI-2 (did we mention they're out of town?), but they refuse to watch these. Maybe, truly, that's the most incisive analysis of all.

Wait, so this is all a cinematic metaphor?

Ahh, a wonderful, relaxing metaphor for womblike security.

Oh no! A terrible, disturbing metaphor for survival in a hostile world!

Lalalala... slurp.... gurgle... metaphor.... lalalalalala...

Shhh... trust me. This is a metaphor you're really going to enjoy.
 
Maybe these metaphors will be clearer without my glasses.
 
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Vintage Pulp Oct 6 2019
MARRIAGE INEQUALITY
No wonder divorce rates are sky high.


Did we mention that the Pulp Intl. girlfriends are out of town? No? Well, they are, so it's time to screen the craziest shit vintage cinema has to offer—’70s roman porno. We don't truly understand the films, but we try. What we do understand is that on some level the previous decades' restraint in Japanese cinema was being challenged by filmmakers given almost total artistic control, as long as the films had four sex scenes per hour. So what you get is a lot of daring explorations of previously untouchable themes, and a lot of visual artistry designed to titillate without violating censorship restrictions. Japan's oldest studio, Nikkatsu, made these films, and many were hits with both audiences and critics (who we suspect in both cases were preponderantly male).

The above poster was made to promote Dan Oniroku hanayome ningyo, aka Bridal Doll, which is based on the writings of acclaimed author Oniroku Dan, and stars Asako Kurayoshi in her cinematic debut as a woman who's sold to a man as a bdsm sex slave. It's pretty twisted. Not only does he dress her as a bride, but he has a glass walled bathroom so he can watch her do her business, and at one point literally has her shackled to a ball and chain. But his idyllic set-up goes awry when a neighbor learns what's going on and decides to save Asako. He does this by kidnapping the sadist's wife, who's played by the luminous Izumi Shima, putting her through similar ordeals, then proposing a swap.

Does this swap go as planned? Well, we won't tell you that. We will, however, remind you that there are three true outcomes in roman porno: irony, tragedy, and ambiguity. Nobody ever gets out happy. At least not often. They're always transformed by their ordeals, one way or another. As always, not being Japanese and lacking the lifetime of cultural knowledge that would bring, we know there's more going on here than we can discern. But we still can't recommend this one as anything other than Shima eye candy. And you get that by looking below. So maybe save the seventy-one minutes for a walk in the sunshine. Dan Oniroku hanayome ningyo premiered in Japan today in 1979.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 2 2019
HEADLESS HYDRA
Sci-fi invasion film is a Missione impossible.


The hydra of myth had seven heads. The movie 2+5: Missione Hydra feels like there wasn't a single head involved. It originally premiered in Italy today in 1966, but was re-released in 1977 as Star Pilot, an opportunistic move inspired by the success of Star Wars. But where Star Wars made history, Star Pilot is historically awful. The plot involves aliens who crash land on Earth but need to go back to their home planet located somewhere in the constellation Hydra, and can only repair their ship with the help of a few human scientists. As a bonus they plan to abduct these accommodating people for intensive—possibly even invasive—study.

2+5: Missione Hydra is very nearly the worst science fiction film we've ever seen, perhaps second only to the infamous Star Crash. Its unique terribleness was brought about by a perfect storm of factors, including a budget completely inadequate for the film's ambitions, which resulted in cheap sets, shoestring special efx, ridiculous costumes, bad music and sound, and stunt work that looks as if it was performed by the guys who fight with wooden swords at medieval fairs.

Adding to these problems is a script that is not only inept, but filled with attempts at light-hearted humor that fall flatter than buckwheat crêpes. Leontine and Leonora Ruffo are dealt the worst characters, and must try to bring to life, respectively, a frisky sexpot and a cold alien space babe. But they're overmatched by the writing. The only positive with 2+5: Missione Hydra is the usual one when it comes to awful films—if you have a few quick-witted friends and some booze, this could turn into one of the most entertaining movie nights you've ever had.

Guys, was that our screenwriter back there on the side of the road? Maybe we should stop. We might need him.

We have come to Earth to fertilize your women. And your men. And possibly some trees. Our semen funnels can induce fertilization in anything.

Among our species, my funnel is considered enormous.

You had me at “fun,” space stud.

This is the fertilization chamber. To excite you we have installed mood lighting and will transmit the Chili Peppers', “Party on Your Pussy.”

We can't fertilize on this! It's barely big enough for a reverse cowgirl, let alone a standard missionary.

Heh. They have no idea we're recording the fertilizations. We should do quite well with these on the galactic candid porn market.

How did your fertilization go? Mine, all things considered, was better than expected.

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Modern Pulp Sep 29 2019
CAGED HEAT
Junko Mabuko is unjustly detained yet again.


It's Junko Mabuki again, beset by her usual troubles on this poster for the roman porno flick Dan Oniroku joen fujin, which premiered in Japan today in 1980. This movie seems to have been retitled for its English language release either Blazing Bondage Lady or Madam Rope Flame. Different sites say it's one or the other, but both titles kind of mean the same thing, so both are probably correct.
 
How does Junko get caged? It's her husband's fault. He accidentally runs over a woman who's a star S&M performer and her widower shows up to claim Junko as his own (and as a bonus also kidnaps her sister, played by the ethereal Izumi Shima). Junko's captor introduces her to aspects of bdsm such as whipping and enemas (always a favorite of roman porno flicks), and her shame and resistance eventually turn to acceptance and pleasure.

Mabuki burst onto the roman porno scene in 1979 and in 1980 made a dozen films. Nikkatsu thought they had another Naomi Tani on their hands and even staged a press conference at which they introduced Mabuki to the assembled journalists while she was done up in bondage gear. These types of publicity stunts weren't unusual for Nikkatsu. 
They had barely enough time to congratulate themselves for finding a new star when in 1982 Junko abruptly retired.
 
But Mabuki left behind more than a dozen films and established herself as one of the era's most popular stars. Even so, we rarely recommend these movies and can't recommend this one either, but we love roman porno posters, which taken out of context are always amazing art pieces. Junko is like art too, below. Rest assured, this is not the last we'll see of her.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 27 2019
NO WAY OUT
Treasury agents build a better louse trap.


Above is a poster for the 1949 film noir Trapped, which with its focus on the techniques used by treasury agents to foil counterfeiters, falls into the procedural crime category. Lloyd Bridges plays a convict whose printing plates have somehow made it back into circulation. Treasury agents spring him so he can help catch the perps, but Bridges is no snitch—at first opportunity he beats the tar out of his minder and escapes. But hubris has been the downfall of many a film noir tough guy. Turns out the treasury guys expected the escape attempt, and the agent let himself be battered to make the break believable. The hope is that the now-free Bridges will run straight to the counterfeiters. It's a fun idea, but on the whole what you get is a somewhat perfunctory noir, enlivened just a bit by a nice nocturnal climax in a tram garage. As a bonus, in a co-starring role as the loyal girlfriend you get Barbara Payton, whose infamous cautionary Hollywood story is probably worth a movie all its own. Check what we mean hereTrapped premiered in the U.S. in Los Angeles today in 1949.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 25 2019
ROKKU STARS
Yamauchi and Shibata are back for an encore.


Several years ago we shared a rare tateken sized poster for Bankaku Rokku, aka Bankaku Rock, aka Ranking Boss Rock, and today, above, we're circling back to the film with the hansai sized poster, which we usually just call standard sized. We didn't share this in the earlier post because we didn't have it then. It just wasn't available at the time. That omission is now rectified. Something else that wasn't available back then was the movie. Well, we found that too. Our efforts are unceasing.

Bankaku Rokku is a juvie delinquent pinky violence flick in which the Akabane 100 Club and Ikebukuro Cavalry battle for supremacy. Emiko Yamauchi plays Yukiko, the “bankaku,” or chief bodyguard of the Akabane 100. When she's released from reform school she decides to settle an old score with the Cavalry gang's leader Taka, played by Etsuko Shibata. But Yukiko's revenge gets complicated when she's accused of a murder that was actually the work of Johuku Clan, a male gang of pimps and thieves.

This flick is all alienation and disaffection. When the police come looking for Yukiko her authoritarian father even urges them to give her the death penalty. Will Yukiko dodge the cops and get her sweet revenge? It wouldn't be pinky violence if she didn't at least get the chance. Broken bottles, supersharp scissors, and razor blades are the order of the day, along with numerous boobs and climactic bloodspray. There may not be much of a point to it all, but for pinky violence fans it should hit the spot. Bankaku Rokku premiered in Japan today in 1973.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 23 2019
INNER SPACE
Come along and ride on a Fantastic Voyage.


There's something about sci-fi movies from the late 1960s that makes them so pleasing to watch. The source material was innovative and ambitious thanks to a crop of fresh new sci-fi novelists, while cinematically, capabilities in special effects, a trend toward elaborate sets, and bold color thanks to improved film processing techniques resulted in more believable and engaging final products.
 
Fantastic Voyage, for which you see a beautiful Japanese poster above, benefits from all those elements. We queued it up and watched it straight through, impervious to distraction, marveling at the visionary look of it and its fun story of a team of doctors and scientists reduced to microscopic size and injected into a man's circulatory system to find and remove a blood clot deep in his brain.
 
Thanks to its provenance as a novel by Isaac Asimov it's just scientifically convincing enough—once you accept the idea of a shrink ray—to aid suspension of disbelief. A good popcorn muncher, this one, with a great cast that includes Raquel Welch, film noir legend Edmond O'Brien, and Donald Pleasence. Highly recommended. Fantastic Voyage opened in the U.S. in August 1966 and reached Japan today the same year.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 20 2019
HANDY DANDY
Plundering priceless cultural treasures can be loads of fun.


We haven't seen many mummy movies but if they're all like this one we'll look for more. The Mummy's Hand is a deft blend of comedy and thrills, with Dick Foran and Wallace Ford playing a pair of goofy archaeologists in Egypt who stumble upon clues that point to the jewel laden tomb of a dynastic princess. They don't have any cash, so they charm Cecil Kellaway, who here is credited as Cecil Kelloway, into financing the expedition. His daughter, the beautiful Peggy Moran, comes along for the ride.
 
Everyone is good in this, but Kelloway is especially enjoyable. He plays a famous magician, very adept but a bit distracted, which leads to several amusing moments, including one in which he gets locked in his own steamer trunk. There isn't a single Egyptian in this film, just white guys wearing brown shoe polish and scraggly beards, but casual cultural insensitivity is par for the course during this era. Depending on what you're willing to overlook The Mummy's Hand is about as good-natured and fun as a film gets. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1940.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
December 13
1944—Velez Commits Suicide
Mexican actress Lupe Velez, who was considered one of the great beauties of her day, commits suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. In her note, Velez says she did it to avoid bringing shame on her unborn child by giving birth to him out of wedlock, but many Hollywood historians believe bipolar disorder was the actual cause. The event inspired a 1965 Andy Warhol film entitled Lupe.
1958—Gordo the Monkey Lost After Space Flight
After a fifteen minute flight into space on a Jupiter AM-13 rocket, a monkey named Gordo splashes down in the South Pacific but is lost after his capsule sinks. The incident sparks angry protests from the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but NASA says animals are needed for such tests.
December 12
1968—Tallulah Bankhead Dies
American actress, talk show host, and party girl Tallulah Bankhead, who was fond of turning cartwheels in a dress without underwear and once made an entrance to a party without a stitch of clothing on, dies in St. Luke's Hospital in New York City of double pneumonia complicated by emphysema.
December 11
1962—Canada Has Last Execution
The last executions in Canada occur when Arthur Lucas and Ronald Turpin, both of whom are Americans who had been extradited north after committing separate murders in Canada, are hanged at Don Jail in Toronto. When Turpin is told that he and Lucas will probably be the last people hanged in Canada, he replies, “Some consolation.”
1964—Guevara Speaks at U.N.
Ernesto "Che" Guevara, representing the nation of Cuba, speaks at the 19th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City. His speech calls for wholesale changes in policies between rich nations and poor ones, as well as five demands of the United States, none of which are met.
2008—Legendary Pin-Up Bettie Page Dies
After suffering a heart attack several days before, erotic model Bettie Page, who in the 1950s became known as the Queen of Pin-ups, dies when she is removed from life support machinery. Thanks to the unique style she displayed in thousands of photos and film loops, Page is considered one of the most influential beauties who ever lived.
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