Vintage Pulp Feb 20 2020
DEVIL'S HIGHWAY
This is a Ride you should refuse.


Not every old movie survives because it's good. If you doubt us, check the contemporary reviews for The Devil Thumbs a Ride. They're disastrous. What you have here is a clunky RKO b-noir, only sixty-seven minutes long, about a bank robber who hitches a ride with an amazingly naive driver and proceeds to drag him into the worst trouble of his life. The pair and two women they pick up during a pit stop eventually end up in a secluded house where the villain reveals his true nature as a liar, bully, sexual predator, and worse. You have to feel bad for these dullards victimized by the hitchhiker, but you'll feel worse for the audiences that paid money to see the movie. Way back in 2009 when we featured the film's other promo poster we hadn't yet seen it, but now that we have we can't recommend it. Its terribleness does verge on humor at times, though, which is something, and movie buffs might be interested to know that it stars Lawrence Tierney, who's these days best known for having played Joe Cabot in Reservoir Dogs. But still, not the best vintage Hollywood has to offer. The Devil Thumbs a Ride premiered today in 1947.

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Vintage Pulp Feb 15 2020
SHINE A LIGHT
Landis brings her usual touch of glamour to a not-quite film noir.


Above is a poster for the Carole Landis vehicle Behind Green Lights, a mostly forgotten film that she headlined in 1946. When the body of a shady private dick turns up outside police headquarters, the resulting investigation pulls in a prominent politician's daughter (Landis), and gets the city tabloids scenting scandal. As the plot unfolds, it becomes clear that influential people want Landis arrested so her father's re-election campaign will be derailed, which forces Gargan to fight his way upstream to crack the case. Landis may be top billed and better known than Gargan, but she's criminally underused and her role is one-note all the way. It's Gargan who gets most of the screen time and is tasked with bringing a tough edge to the movie. He mostly succeeds, and Landis is fine too, as far as she's allowed to go, but on the whole Behind Green Lights is nothing special. It's categorized on many websites as a film noir but—and you know what we're going to say next, because we say it all the time—it isn't really. Yes, it's on the borderline, but it's basically a procedural police drama with a few flashbacks shot in film noir style. The American Film Institute agrees—it categorizes the film as a police drama. Noir fans should approach this uncomplicated little thriller with tempered expectations. Behind Green Lights premiered in the U.S. today in 1946.

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Vintage Pulp Feb 10 2020
EAST OF SWEDEN
Lindberg gets full exposure in Japan.


This is a very interesting Japanese poster for the Swedish sexploitation flick Exponerad, which premiered in Japan today in 1972 as 露出 or Roshutsu, which both mean “exposure.” The film was known in English speaking countries as Exposed and (misleadingly) Diary of a Rape. There are some scans of this piece online, but not of this quality. We talked about the movie last year. Check here.

And as a bonus, because Exponerad is a movie that deals with daydreams, we have below all of our most dreamlike images of Lindberg. No surprise, right? If you visit our site often, you know she's a mainstay, so today we're just adding to what was already a substantial treasure trove. All of these ethereal shots are Exponerad promos, and all are striking. We have many more Lindberg rarities, and you can bank on us sharing those down the line.

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Vintage Pulp Feb 8 2020
THIS IS YORU LIFE
Satoko Sato gets into another tight spot.


Above are a couple of beautiful rarities, colorful promos for the Japanese pinku flick Yoru no saizensen: Onna gari, known in English as Frontline of the Night - Women Hunting. It stars Satoko Sato, Kôji Wada, and Tatsuya Fuji in the tale of a man who spends four years in prison for assaulting a Yakuza, but returns to battle them upon his release. The movie is probably most remembered for a comedic seduction bit involving a woman dressed as Che Guevara, beard and all, and the scenes of Sato in a brass chastity belt. It was not the only time she wore a bizarre bondage get-up. She did it in the sequel Yoru no saizensen: Tôkyô onna chizu. Check the visuals here. As interesting as this film sounds, we had no luck tracking it down. But we wanted you to see these nice pieces of art anyway. Yoru no saizensen: Onna gari premiered in Japan today in 1969.

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Vintage Pulp Feb 8 2020
LAW AND DISORDER
Sondra Currie commits police banality.


The badass on the above promo poster is the prolific and still-working U.S. actress Sondra Currie, whose credits include everything from 1970's Rio Lobo to 2009's The Hangover. Policewomen is actually about just one policewoman with the fun character name Lacy Bond. The action starts with a mass escape at L.A.'s women's jail, which Lacy almost foils singlehandedly using her superior martial arts skills. But two convicts get away, one of whom is Jeannie Bell—the reason we watched this flick in the first place.

After the jailbreak intro come the opening credits, and the first image you see is this:

Which is a pretty nice visual. But lest you think this is a movie dealing solely with serious police work, the next images you see are these:

Then these:

And finally these:

So viewers know going in this is full spectrum ’70s schlock. Lacy is tapped for a dangerous undercover assignment taking down a gang of female drug smugglers. It shouldn't be too difficult. The gang mainly lounges around an L.A. suburb in bikinis and hot pants. Their leader is a septuagenarian career criminal looking for one more big score before cruising into her sunset years. The cops have other ideas, and Lacy infiltrates the group in unlikely fashion in order to take them down from within.

Policewomen actually has a couple of twists we considered to be surprising for a low budget movie, but budget is the crux of it—higher production values might have yielded a passable effort, but there weren't, and it isn't. And sad to say, the movie mostly fails to cross the line into entertainingly bad—except for a rather amusing falling dummy shot—and instead remains a joyless slog for its entire length. Since the field of ’70s girl gang movies is so crowded, there's no way we can recommend this botched entry. But before we sign off, here's a screenshot of Jeannie Bell, whose afro reaches truly epic proportions:
Even with a top heavy hairdo and dead leaves stuck in her curls, Bell looks smashing. She can't act. She and everyone else in the movie seem as if they're searching for their lines on an optometrist's eye chart, but even so, there's nothing we've seen of Bell that does anything but encourage us to see even more. Check out a promo image of this eternal goddess here. Policewomen premiered today in 1974.

Is it weird that with all these women around the only thing that truly turns me on is pumping iron?
 
If only weight training could fix—*sob*—this hideous mug of mine.

Central I'm issuing a POLO alert for the Los Angeles metro area. Repeat—be on the look-out for a missing Polo shirt. Or any shirt from Ralph Lauren.
 
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Vintage Pulp Feb 1 2020
BUENAS NOCHES
It happened four nights.


Cuatro noches contigo is not a pulp style movie, so we won't get into detail about it, except to say that it's a Mexican version of the iconic comedy It Happened One Night, with Luis Aguilar, the beautiful Elsa Aguirre, some musical numbers, a lot of cuteness, and one spanking. But we wanted to call attention to the film's art deco influenced poster. It was painted by Leopoldo Mendoza Andrade, who signed his work as Mendoza and was one of the artists who popularized this style in Mexican promo art during the 1950s. We haven't yet seen one of these art deco creations that isn't stunning. See what we mean here, here, here, and here. Cuatro noches contigo premiered in Mexico today in 1952, and if you understand Spanish and want to check it out, for now it's on YouTube at this link.

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Modern Pulp Jan 28 2020
THEY STILL LIVE
And at this rate it looks like they'll outlast us all.


Is it one of the greatest allegorical science fiction films ever made? Well, sci-fi is conducive to metaphor, so the list of contenders is long, but certainly John Carpenter's They Live is somewhere in the mix. You see its Japanese poster above. The film invaded Japan today in 1989, after premiering in the U.S. during November of the previous year. We suspect this one falls into the category of movies many have been told they should see, but few have bothered to make the time for. We're here to suggest that you make the time. The premise is ingenious—Earth's ruling class are actually aliens in human form. What do these offworld one-percenters want? Mainly for humans to obliviously embrace behavior that is beneficial to the maintenance of elite power. To that end the everyday world people see is a mere curtain over a deeper reality totally geared toward making humans obey, consume, conform, and reproduce.

Carpenter said about the film, which is based on the 1963 short story, “Eight O'Clock in the Morning,” by Ray Nelson, “The picture's premise is that [our current economic system] is run by aliens from another galaxy. Free enterprisers from outer space have taken over the world, and are exploiting Earth as if it's a third world planet. And as soon as they exhaust all our resources, they'll move on to another world.” The idea is certainly poignant in this age of inequality, low wage employment, population explosion, environmental ruin, and all-powerful international corporate overlords that somehow are regarded by U.S. courts as “people.”
 
The aliens of They Live, not unlike corporations, want to go unchallenged while they suck the planet dry. But Roddy Piper, playing a drifter passing through Los Angeles, happens upon a small resistance who have made special sunglasses that penetrate the disguise laid over the world. When he dons these glasses his mind is simply blown by what they reveal. Even the money people work so hard for is nothing more than plain white paper bearing the message: “This is your god.” Carpenter builds the drama of They Live slowly, and plays it for laughs on multiple occasions, but the sense of dread mounts as Piper and co-star Keith David realize the illusions that maintain order are broadcast from a massive fleet of hovering drones, and if they don't expose the truth perhaps nobody will.

We've seen They Live several times, and loved it more on each occasion. Generally, people who don't like it find it too slow, which is ironic considering it's a film that suggests people are deliberately being prevented from taking the crucial time needed to see what's real and what isn't. They Live makes us imagine what would happen if aliens really did arrive on Earth. Most likely they would be sifting through the ruins of what was once here, and they'd say, “This strange species had diverse art that often discussed hostile alien invasions, but it appears they didn't realize the thing that would destroy them was already here—it was their own economics.”

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Modern Pulp Jan 27 2020
BARRED FOR LIFE
Welcome to Wilson's house of pain and leather.


American actress Ajita Wilson was born in Brooklyn but became a big star in Italian sexploitation and porn movies. She was transsexual, having been born George Wilson, but opting for gender reassignment in the mid-1970s. She launched her career in New York City, making a name for herself in the red light district of the era, which back then was centered around Times Square, these days aka Disneyland east. Not long after she launched her adult career she was seen by a European producer and offered a chance to work across the pond in historic Rome. She jumped at the chance.

Wilson appeared in close to fifty movies, starting with 1976's The Nude Princess. In Perverse oltre le sbarre, which is known in the U.S. as Hell Behind Bars, she plays a killer and jewel thief named Conchita who gets tossed in the prigione and has to negotiate the usual women-in-prison staples—corruption, violence, lesbianism, and a sadistic warden. Oh, and let's not forget screechy girl fights, and sexual harassment showers. Did we leave anything out? Ah, cavity searches. Can't forget those. Torture by high voltage shock. Illicit drugs. Karate chopping double-crossers. Breathy sexploitation soundtrack. Maybe that doesn't count, though, because the prisoners theoretically can't hear it.

Yes, this prison Ajita ends up in is pretty bad, but it could be worse—at least the warden lets the women wear lingerie. Rita Silva and Linda Jones co-star in what becomes a standard WIP escape drama, and of course the escape is more fraught than anyone expected. As prison sexploitation Perverse oltre le sbarre is the same as most others, with the exception that the budget is obviously lower. With nearly fifty films to her credit Wilson almost certainly made something better. We'll take a look and see if we can find which efforts those might be, and you'd be advised to do the same and skip this one. We'll see Wilson again, though. Perverse oltre le sbarre opened in Italy today in 1984.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 25 2020
REASON TO PANIC
You try staying calm when there's a killer on the loose.


After several years writing up movies being screened at San Francisco's annual Noir City Film Festival we decided not to do it this year. But we're going to make one exception. The 1946 French drama Panique, for which you see a beautiful promo poster above, is showing at the fest tonight, and since we were able to obtain a copy, we had a look. It isn't a film noir. It's a drama starring Viviane Romance, Max Dalban, and Michel Simon, and it deals with a woman named Alice, her lover Capoulade, and her neighbor Hire, who has a crush on her. The set-up suggests love triangle, but Hire has more than just a romantic interest in Alice. He also believes her boyfriend might be responsible for an unsolved murder. The issue he'll confront is just how strong Alice's loyalties to her boyfriend are.

Every year the Noir City Film Festival draws entries from outside the film noir realm. Panique was probably chosen because its subtext deals with bigotry, an evil that is on the upswing across the globe. The character Hire is Jewish, which leads to serious trouble for him as the film progresses. The powerful screenplay was derived from George Simenon's 1933 novel Les Fiançailles de M. Hire (also the source material for the 1989 film Monsieur Hire), and of course in 1933 in Europe, the flames of anti-semitism were being fanned by demagogic leaders into what would soon be the conflagration of genocide. We can't tell you more about the plot of Panique without giving everything away, but we recommend it. Foreign film buffs will certainly enjoy it.

Something else we recommend is our write-up on Viviane Romance from ten years ago. Many European film performers and artists whose careers spanned World War II either fled the continent, ran afoul of the Nazis, or worked out an accommodation that allowed them to continue in their professions. Romance falls into the third category. The French population was somewhat understanding about stars who decided to keep working even after the Nazis took over the French film industry. They were understanding up to a point, that is. If you're interested in learning more just click this link.
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Vintage Pulp Jan 24 2020
IN TOO DEEP
Philip Marlowe tries not to go under for the third time in Lady in the Lake.


Lady in the Lake, for which you see a promo poster above, was the first motion picture shot almost entirely from the visual perspective of a single character. That character is Raymond Chandler's iconic private dick Philip Marlowe, played by Robert Montgomery, who also directed. As both a mystery and a seeing-eye curiosity, this is something film buffs should check out. You won't think it's perfect. Montgomery's version of Marlowe regularly crosses the line from hard-boiled to straight-up asshole, but that's the way these film noir sleuths were sometimes written.

Though the bad attitude is tedious at times, the mystery is interesting, there's plenty of directorial prowess on display from Montgomery, and a bit of unintentional comedy occurs when he gets knocked cold twice in that first person p.o.v. Seriously, Marlowe, you couldn't see those punches coming? We were reclined on the sofa with glasses of wine in our hands and we could have dodged them without spilling a drop. It's all in good fun, though. Every shamus gets forcibly put to sleep now and again.

If the movie has a major flaw it's that co-star Audrey Totter gives a clinic in overdone facial expressions before overcoming these bizarre poker tells to finally settle into normal human behavior around the halfway mark. Despite that bit of weirdness, film noir fans will like this. Those new to the genre maybe will find it too strange to fully enjoy. But it's indisputably a landmark, and that's worth something. Lady in the Lake premiered in London in late 1946, and went into general release in the U.S. today in 1947.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
February 22
1987—Andy Warhol Dies
American pop artist Andy Warhol, whose creations have sold for as much as 100 million dollars, dies of cardiac arrhythmia following gallbladder surgery in New York City. Warhol, who already suffered lingering physical problems from a 1968 shooting, requested in his will for all but a tiny fraction of his considerable estate to go toward the creation of a foundation dedicated to the advancement of the visual arts.
February 21
1947—Edwin Land Unveils His New Camera
In New York City, scientist and inventor Edwin Land demonstrates the first instant camera, the Polaroid Land Camera, at a meeting of the Optical Society of America. The camera, which contains a special film that self-develops prints in a minute, goes on sale the next year to the public and is an immediate sensation.
1965—Malcolm X Is Assassinated
American minister and human rights activist Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam, who shotgun him in the chest and then shoot him sixteen additional times with handguns. Though three men are eventually convicted of the killing, two have always maintained their innocence, and all have since been paroled.
February 20
1935—Caroline Mikkelsen Reaches Antarctica
Norwegian explorer Caroline Mikkelsen, accompanying her husband Captain Klarius Mikkelsen on a maritime expedition, makes landfall at Vestfold Hills and becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica. Today, a mountain overlooking the southern extremity of Prydz Bay is named for her.
1972—Walter Winchell Dies
American newspaper and radio commentator Walter Winchell, who invented the gossip column while working at the New York Evening Graphic, dies of cancer. In his heyday from 1930 to the 1950s, his newspaper column was syndicated in over 2,000 newspapers worldwide, he was read by 50 million people a day, and his Sunday night radio broadcast was heard by another 20 million people.
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