Vintage Pulp Aug 7 2014
POWER OF LOVE
Rainbowman is a lover and a fighter.

You’ve probably been asked a few times in your life what superpower you’d want, but why would you have to settle for one? This poster promotes the Japanese television series Ai no Senshi Reinböman, aka Warrior of Love Rainbowman. The main character is a former pro wrestler who trains in India under a yogi and develops not one but seven different incarnations. Each of those incarnations has a comprehensive set of abilities, so Rainbowman has about a hundred superpowers—everything from becoming jointless so he can move like a snake to using pine needles as deadly projectiles. And of course he can fly and shoot fire from his hands and do all the other mundane superhero stuff too. Unfortunately, among his many powers are none involving costume design, which is why he looks more like a backup breakdancer from an 80s hip-hop tour than a superhero. Cool poster anyway, though.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 1 2014
THE GOOD, THE BETTER, AND THE BEST
Who needs a name when none of your enemies survive to remember it anyway?

There are precious few movies that truly age well, and far fewer series. But like the Clint Eastwood spaghetti western series colloquially known as the Man with No Name Trilogy, these Japanese posters have stood the test of time. From top to bottom they are for A Fistful of Dollars, aka Koya no yojimbo, For a Few Dollars More, aka Yuuhi no ganman, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, aka Zoku yuuhi no ganman. There are some who say Eastwood’s character actually has a name in these films, but we beg to differ. In the first he’s referred to once as Joe, which is a name, yes, but more likely is a tag, like calling him “hotshot,” or “buddy.” In the second he’s referred to as Manco, which colloquially means “one armed” in Spanish. And in the third film he’s referred to as Blondie. But whatever his real name was, probably everyone thought of him the same way—as trouble. 

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Vintage Pulp Jul 21 2014
CLAMMY HANDS
Dive-in cinema at its best.

This poster is for Shiofuki ama, aka Clam-Diving Ama. You of course remember that an ama is a woman who dives for valuable undersea items, typically abalone or pearls. Like the other ama movies we’ve discussed, this one is from Nikkatsu, and it stars Akiko Hyûga as a neglected ama named Saki whose truck driver husband is inconveniently away for long periods. When he dies in an accident the men of Saki’s village turn their attention to her, and a resultant affair leads to trouble. This one has a secret pregnancy, a miscarriage, and betrayal, and while Hyûga is the lead it’s actually co-star Yûko Asuka who does most of the down and dirty. For those interested in viewing the movie, it will prove impossible to find, probably, but at least we can show you the poster. Oh, and the promo shot below. Shiofuki ama premiered in Japan today in 1979.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 9 2014
STIRRING IT UP
Rub-a-dub-dub, a girl and her tub…

By now you know we’re really into these promos for Japanese ama movies, so here’s one for Kuikomi ama: Midare-gai, aka Marked Ama: Stirred Up Shell. The poster is instructive because it’s the only one we’ve seen that offers a good look at one of the ama’s most important tools. No, not that, silly. We mean her wooden tub, which floats on the water's surface attached to its owner by a rope. Typically they’re a bit larger than the one pictured, and are used to hold whatever she finds. One source said they were used as buoys that she clung to in order to rest between dives, but we’re not too sure on that. By chance we ran across some black and white ama photographs from the 1950s and we’ll put those up soon. But getting back to the movie, basically you get the standard plot here of illicit sex in a small fishing village triggering jealousy and revenge, and upsetting the delicate local equilibrium. The movie stars Ryoko Watanabe and was directed for Nikkatsu Corporation by Atsushi Fujiura. It premiered in Japan today in 1982.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 23 2014
MONA RIZA MYSTERY
Like the mysterious Da Vinci painting we can’t figure out this piece of art.


Above and below are two posters for Iwataro Ishii’s Mona Riza okyo, which was based on the graphic novel of the same name by Teruo Tanashita, and stars Mari Atsumi as a pickpocket trying to get her hands on a valuable but elusive diamond pin called the Star of the Sea. Strangely, the word “Kyoto” clearly appears in the poster titles—it’s the last symbol on both—but all the sources we checked said the film is called Mona Riza okyo. It’s a mystery too deep for us to solve, but if any of you can shed some light on it please drop us a line. Mona Riza okyo premiered in Japan today in 1971.

Update: David W. writes in and tells us: Indeed the last word on each poster is Okyo, not Kyoto.

Mystery solved. Thanks David for your help.

Update 2: NelC offers a more detailed explanation of the title. Here's what he wrote: The transliteration of the subject line is indeed Mona Lisa O-Kyō. The proper name for Kyōto is 京都市, "Kyōto-shi" or "Kyoto City" in English. 京都 is "Kyōto." 京 is "Kyō." 京 by itself means "capital" as in "capital city," and お is an honorific, so お京 might be read as "the capital." (モナリサ is, of course, "Mona Lisa.")

So the title might be read as "The Capital Mona Lisa." The significance of this is beyond my meagre abilities in Japanese, though. A colloquialism for "the great," maybe, as in Wodehouse-era British English? I don't know.

Thank you NelC. Your excellent explanation is more than we could have reasonably hoped for. Mystery solved, again.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 17 2014
LA STRADA SYMEONI
Sandro Symeoni presents an Italian vision of Japan.

We often share Japanese movie posters, but today we thought we’d look at Japan through the eyes of Italian illustration master Sandro Symeoni. This poster is for La strada della vergogna, which was a Japanese movie made by Kenji Mizoguchi entitled Akasen chitai, aka Street of Shame. No shame in this art. 1956 on the original film, 1959 on this poster.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 15 2014
SOAP OPERA
Out of the bath and into the fire.

You can see this poster for the 1966 comedy Boy Did I Get a Wrong Number! around the internet, but we thought we’d share our scan anyway because we like the art and the graphics. Concerning the latter, that isn’t a big 70 in the middle of the poster—those are Japanese characters meaning “flow.” Combined with the rest of the text, the entire title reads “Queen of the Bath.” Maybe Lana Turner would have something to say about that, but in any case the title isn’t as random as you’d think. The movie is about an actress who is famous for her bath scenes but wants to be taken seriously. In a fit of pique she goes AWOL from her latest production and ends up hiding out in Oregon in the cabin of a married real estate agent, who spends the movie trying to keep his wife from finding out. It’s classic, 1960s style romantic slapstick, and the best thing about it is Elke Sommer in the starring role, though Bob Hope is always watchable. We uploaded many production stills below. Why all the imagery? Because Sommer is good for you. Boy Did I Get a Wrong Number! premiered in the U.S. this month in 1966. 

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Vintage Pulp Jun 2 2014
SLOW BURN
What Mari wants Mari gets.

We said we’d get back to Mari Tanaka and here she is again, sooner than you expected, we bet. This poster advertises her 1973 roman porno movie Koi no karyudo: yokubo, aka Love Hunter: Desire, which was a sequel to an earlier film titled simply Love Hunter. Tanaka had a small role in the first film, but in this one she’s the star, playing a stripper who is at one point arrested on obscenity charges. Nikkatsu Studios was doubtless inspired by its own experience being raided and seeing personnel hauled to court on obscenity charges associated with the first Love Hunter. The notoriety did not hurt, though—both the first and second installments were major successes, and a third iteration was made later. It’s worth noting, as we often do, that these roman porno films are actually softcore in nature, with no actual sex and no frontal nudity at all. We will admit though, that they can be provocative and even shocking. Or put another way, it’s amazing what a director will elect to show when told he/she cannot show genitalia or pubic hair. Charges loomed over the original Love Hunter for years, until it was finally deemed not obscene by Tokyo District Court in 1978. Below is a lovely image of Tanaka, and we can all agree it’s not obscene either, hopefully. As far as we can tell, this is the first appearance for the above poster on the internet. Koi no karyudo: yokubo premiered in Japan today in 1973

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Femmes Fatales May 25 2014
MARI GO ROUND
Every angle produces the same great result.

Above are two rare shots of an actress long overdue for some exposure here—Mari Tanaka, who appeared in numerous Nikkatsu movies, including Kanno kyoshitsu: ai no technique, aka Excitement Class: Love Techniques, and the wonderfully titled Joshidaisei: Sexy Dynamite. The photos come from a coffee table book celebrating Heibon Punch magazine circa 1970. We have more images of her and we also have a rare movie poster, which means we’ll be coming back to her soon.

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Vintage Pulp May 21 2014
ZERO SUM GAME
Idle handcuffs are the Devil’s playthings.

We’re into the Japanese pile again today, but for a different type of poster, and a different type of movie. This rare promo is for Yukio Noda’s Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa, aka Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs, starring Miki Sugimoto. It’s a limited edition piece painted by the artist Shindo, who we can’t find much about, but who presumably was pretty famous. We’ll look into that. Anyway, we watched this movie recently, and we’d tell you all about it, but do you really need another blog review, even an extraordinarily (ahem) witty and erudite one? Thought not. It’s widely available, so search it out, queue it up, and enjoy it. Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa premiered in Japan today in 1974.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 22
1950—Althea Gibson Breaks the Color Barrier
Althea Gibson becomes the first African-American woman to compete on the World Tennis Tour, and the first to earn a Grand Slam title when she wins the French Open in 1956. Later she becomes the first African-American woman to compete in the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
1952—Devil's Island Closed
Devil's Island, the penal colony located off the coast of French Guiana, is permanently closed. The prison is later made world famous by Henri Charrière's bestselling novel Papillon, and the subsequent film starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman.
1962—De Gaulle Survives Assassination Attempt
Jean Bastien-Thiry, a French air weaponry engineer, attempts to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle to prevent Algerian independence. Bastien-Thiry and others attack de Gaulle's armored limousine with machine guns, but after expending hundreds of rounds, they succeed only in puncturing two tires.
August 21
1911—Mona Lisa Disappears
Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, aka La Gioconda, is stolen from the Louvre. After many wild theories and false leads, it turns out the painting was snatched by museum employee Vincenzo Peruggia.
August 20
1940—Trotsky Iced in Mexico
In Mexico City exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky is fatally wounded with an ice axe (not an ice pick) by Soviet agent Ramon Mercader. Trotsky dies the next day.
1968—Prague Spring Ends
200,000 Warsaw Pact troops backed by 5,000 tanks invade Czechoslovakia to end the Prague Spring political liberalization movement.
1986—Sherrill Goes Postal
In Edmond, Oklahoma, United States postal employee Patrick Sherrill shoots and kills fourteen of his co-workers and then commits suicide.

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