Vintage Pulp Apr 15 2010
DEATH PROOF
Don’t love the Game, love the player.

Mining dead artists for profit is a well-established (if ethically dubious) tradition. Ernest Hemingway somehow kept publishing novels after his suicide. Tupac Shakur released more albums after he was shot to death than when he was alive. And Game of Death, for which you see the Japanese promo art above, hit theaters after Bruce Lee died unexpectedly during filming. The film's producers, who had been left with a large cash outlay and no star, cobbled together a disjointed finished product using doubles and old footage, and when the end result was unveiled to the world, everyone from Lee’s family to his die-hard fans labeled it a blight on Lee’s legacy. But we take a different view. Lee wasn’t famous because he was an actor—he was famous because he was a visual artist. His acting was always secondary, merely a convenient medium of delivery for his martial arts. Like a dead musician whose final few great songs are released on a disc filled out by mediocre live recordings and outtakes, Game of Death’s Lee footage should be judged apart from the film as a whole. Seen in that light, you’ll be able to appreciate the fact that Lee is sublime in his last few choreographed fights, even if the filler material surrounding him is a mess. From what we’ve read, Lee’s original concept for this movie was ambitious, interweaving bits of philosophy and spirituality into a violent quest for higher consciousness in both life and martial arts. Had the project been finished, it probably would have been the greatest martial arts epic ever made. But even if the film never reached such lofty heights, we can still enjoy Lee’s last moments working in the craft he loved. Game of Death premiered today in Japan in 1978. More rare promo art below.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
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.
December 10
1935—Downtown Athletic Club Awards First Trophy
The Downtown Athletic Club in New York City awards its first trophy for athletic achievement to University of Chicago halfback Jay Berwanger. The prize is later renamed the Heisman Trophy, and becomes the most prestigious award in college athletics.
1968—Japan's Biggest Heist Occurs
300 million yen is stolen from four employees of the Nihon Shintaku Ginko bank in Tokyo when a man dressed as a police officer blocks traffic due to a bomb threat, makes them exit their bank car while he checks it for a bomb, and then drives away in it. Under Japanese statute of limitations laws, the thief could come forward today with no repercussions, but nobody has ever taken credit for the crime.
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