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.
June 21
1940—Smedley Butler Dies
American general Smedley Butler dies. Butler had served in the Philippines, China, Central America, the Caribbean and France, and earned sixteen medals, five of which were for heroism. In 1934 he was approached by a group of wealthy industrialists wanting his help with a coup against President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and in 1935 he wrote the book War Is a Racket, explaining that, based upon his many firsthand observations, warfare is always wholly about greed and profit, and all other ascribed motives are simply fiction designed to deceive the public.
June 20
1967—Muhammad Ali Sentenced for Draft Evasion
Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who was known as Cassius Clay before his conversion to Islam, is sentenced to five years in prison for refusing to serve in the military during the Vietnam War. In elucidating his opposition to serving, he uttered the now-famous phrase, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.”
June 19
1953—The Rosenbergs Are Executed
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted for conspiracy to commit espionage related to passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet spies, are executed at Sing Sing prison, in New York.
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