Very funny. Why don’t you just call it your penis like an adult and stop with that stupid nickname?
Not only does the book’s title sound like a nickname for a penis, but so does the name of the author—John Wyllie. Well, the story has nothing to do with sex. It’s a World War II saga set in Sumatra and revolving around a group of flyboys. Wyllie got some of his ideas from firsthand experience—he was a flyer for Canada during the war, was shot down, and spent some years in Japanese prison camps. He wrote about a dozen books, with this one coming in 1955 (paperback in ’58), and enjoyed moderate success.
Movie Pictorial was a Japanese magazine with an international flair.
Above is a collection of covers from Movie Pictorial, aka Movie Information, a Japanese cinema and celeb magazine that thrived from the 1950s until the 1980s. Typically one side was Japanese in nature, and the other was Western. These were filled with photos, but we haven’t managed to find one at a reasonable price yet. When we do we’ll show you what’s inside. You can see more covers here and here. Japan
, Movie Information
, Movie Pictorial
, Nathalie Delon
, Sydne RomeMaria Anzai
, Faye Dunaway
, Eiko Matsuda
, Jocelyn Lane
, Midori Kinouchi
, Genevieve Grad
, Catherine Denueve
, Etsuko Nami
This trip sucks! Next time let’s just pay extra for first class!
The Mercenaries, aka Dark of the Sun isn’t a movie many remember, but we’re going to remember it, because this is a great pre-CGI action film—not perfect, but well above average. Based on Wilbur Smith’s novel Train from Katanga, and starring Rod Taylor, Jim Brown, Peter Carsten, and Yvette Mimieux, it tells the story of two mercenaries in the civil war-torn Congo hired to ride a military train upcountry, rescue a group of stranded people, and retrieve $50 million in uncut diamonds languishing in a time-locked safe. They have to do it within three days, which means making rushed preparations—notably, enlisting the aid of a dodgy ex-Nazi who commands the Congolese mercs needed to round out the mission. This Nazi is a really bad human, so it’s no surprise he gets into a chainsaw fight with the protagonist shortly after they meet. You’d think the hero would expect the unexpected from the guy after that—but no. The Japanese poster above, while not perfectly descriptive of the action, gets the mood of The Mercenaries across effectively, and it opened in Japan today in 1968.
, Train From Katanga
, The Mercenaries
, Dark of the Sun
, Rod Taylor
, Jim Brown
, Yvette Mimieux
, Wilbur Smith
, Peter Carsten
, poster art
, movie review
When all around him are losing their heads—it’s because he’s the one cutting them off.
The above poster was made to promote the Taiwanese wuxia flick Du bi quan wang da po xue di zi, aka The One Armed Boxer vs. The Flying Guillotine, aka Master of the Flying Guillotine. Wuxia movies deal with honor, oaths, redressing wrongs, etc. In this one the Flying Guillotine is determined to avenge the deaths of his two disciples (which occurred in the prequel One Armed Boxer). His weapon isn’t so much a guillotine as it is a flying helmet with a circular saw attached. The workings of the device are obscure, but using it he can snatch peoples’ heads clean off. Quite a sight. His mission of revenge takes him over hill and dale, through town and hollow, but he has such trouble locating the One Armed Boxer he decides it's more efficient to simply kill every one-armed peasant he comes across. Though from his perspective he’s righting a wrong he isn’t actually the good guy here. How could he be? Snatching innocent folks’ heads off isn’t exactly honorable. Eventually he locates his quarry and we get a climactic showdown. Why, what's that inside the One Armed Boxer's shirt? It's his other arm, of course. We're not supposed to notice. In addition to the two stars you get a supporting cast with their own baroque brands of martial arts, including an Indian yoga master who can extend his arms double length like a pair of fire truck ladders. This is classic schlock, highly recommended.
When life gives you lemons make a roman porno movie.
We’ve been holding onto this poster for a few years. We were told when we got it that it’s for a movie called in English A Clockwork Lemon—an intriguing title. But we looked everywhere and the name didn’t appear in a single film database. The poster text doesn’t say anything about clocks or lemons, by the way, but it’s often true that Japanese titles are changed completely for films’ Western runs. When we finally located info on this one—looking for the Japanese rather than English name—it turned out it was made in 1968, which eliminates “A Clockwork Lemon” as the English title, since Kubrick’s dystopian citrus epic didn’t appear until ’71. Unless, of course, he stole his title from this film. We doubt that, so, let's assume we were led astray on the English title, but whatever, that happens sometimes. Wanna know what the movie is called in Japanese? The text reads something like “same hole again.” So, there you go. Not much we can add to that.
Um, except to mention as we always do, that these aren’t porn films, despite the titles. They’re about on the level of late night cable softcore. Softer, actually, because no naughty bits could legally appear onscreen in vintage Japanese cinema. “Same Hole Again” was directed by… actually, wait—that sounds so wrong. Maybe we’ll just go with Japanese here. 穴じかけ was directed by Hajime Sasaki, stars Kazuko Shirakawa, and appeared in 1968. Shirakawa is an important cinematic figure—she headlined the first roman porno (again, not porn) production Nikkatsu Studios ever made—Danchizuma: hirusagari no jôji, aka Apartment Wife: Affair in the Afternoon. She made a series of films in the genre, later moved into mainstream flicks, and was still acting as of 2011. Sorry we don’t have more info. But you gotta love the poster, right? To make up for our lack of data, below is a shot of Shirakawa looking lemony fresh.
She’ll be your beast of burden.
Akira Katô’s crime thriller Shinayakana kemonotachi, for which you see the promo poster above, had the interesting English title She-Beasts, Warm Bodies, and was also known as Sensuous Beasts. It stars Mari Tanaka and is noteworthy for being Naomi Tani’s first movie. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to track down a copy so the poster is all you get for now. We do know that it’s a bit of a black comedy, and the plot revolves around embezzlement, drug trafficking, and of course the yakuza. We’ll keep our eyes open for this one and maybe report back. Shinayakana kemonotachi premiered in Japan today in 1972.
, Shinayakana kemonotachi
, She-Beasts Warm Bodies
, Akira Katô
, Mari Tanaka
, Noami Tani
, roman porno
, poster art
Mansfield gets top billing but the rockers steal the show.
Above is a vintage Japanese poster for Jayne Mansfield’s 1956 musical comedy The Girl Can’t Help It. They don’t make ’em like this anymore—a gangster hires a boozing agent to transform his girlfriend into a star, but the girlfriend has no talent, and the agent falls in love with her. This might be Mansfield’s most important movie due to the role it played in popularizing early rock music. For example:
And the unbeatable Fats Domino.
Though they aren't rock and rollers, the lovely Julie London and the amazingly beautiful Abbey Lincoln, who you see just below, also put in appearances. The Lincoln number is especially wonderful, and it's well-staged too, with the backdrop of deep violet curtains set against her crimson gown.
The only uncute thing about this exceedingly cute movie is poor Jayne Mansfield’s bazooka bra and strangling corset, the latter of which producers have cinched her into in order to give her a twenty-inch waist. It's cringe-inducing. Otherwise, awesome stuff.
, The Girl Can’t Help It
, Jayne Mansfield
, Tow Ewell
, Little Richard
, Eddie Fontaine
, The Chuckles
, Gene Vincent
, Eddie Cochran
, The Treniers
, The Platters
, Fats Domino
, Julie London
, Abbey Lincoln
, poster art
, movie review
The girl with the draggin’ tattoo.
The three posters above promote the Japanese psychological horror movie Irezumi, aka Tattoo, directed by Yasuzô Masumura and starring Ayako Wakao as woman kidnapped into geishadom who is forcibly tattooed upon her back by a disturbed tattoo master. His creation is the monstrous, woman-faced spider you see on the posters. This act sets Wakao on a path toward vengeance, violence, and evil. Some reviews of Irezumi note that the tattoo is in some sense alive, like the portrait of Dorian Gray, however the actual art doesn’t change its aspect—we checked, using a handy invention called rewind, and the lady-spider is the same in the beginning and end of the movie. The tattoo does, though, unleash something, and Wakao changes, quite drastically, her journey from relative innocence into femme fatale depravity giving Irezumi its power and dread. While not splashy and filled with shocks in the style of modern horror, the movie is, all in all, a highly recommendable mind trip. There's another Irezumi from 1982 with a different plot, but this one, the first one, premiered in Japan today in 1966.
Do I make you horny, baby?
Morbosità di una orientale, which would translate as something like “morbidity of an easterner,” was originally a 1977 Japanese film called Tokyo Chatterly fujin, and was released in English as Lady Chatterley in Tokyo. Katsuhiko Fujii helmed the production, and Izumi Shima starred, but every other name on these promos is a Western pseudonym for a Japanese performer. Ann Charlton, Janet Glythe, Price Williams, and King Byrbo never existed except as credits created for the art you see here, and are in reality Junko Miyashita, Kyoko Aoyama, Tatsuya Hamaguchi, and Minoru Okochi. What was the point of doing that? We don’t know. Japanese films had played in Italy before without being Westernized in this way, so it’s a mystery we presume we’ll never solve.
The film keeps to the themes—but not the plot—of D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. When a millionaire’s son is rendered impotent by an accident, his wife succumbs to the charms of the groundskeeper’s willy, the chauffeur’s stickshift, and the construction worker’s retractable ruler. We last saw the amazingly striking Izumi Shima being molested by an invisible man, and here her paramour punches through a windowpane and fondles her through the splintered glass. That’s horny. Not to be outdone, Shima humps a tree. That’s horny. Also, a stallion fucks a mare. Really. So every living in creature in this film is incredibly horny. Did it make us horny? Hey, you think we typed this with our fingers? Think again.
, Morbosità di una orientale
, Tokyo Chatterly fujin
, Lady Chatterley in Tokyo
, Lady Chatterley’s Lover
, Katsuhiko Fujii
, Izumi Shima
, Junko Miyashita
, Kyoko Aoyama
, Tatsuya Hamaguchi
, Minoru Okochi
, D. H. Lawrence
, poster art
, movie review
Meiko Kaji takes the Stray Cat Rock franchise out for a final spin.
Even Nikkatsu serials eventually end, and this entry in the Stray Cat Rock series, entitled Nora-neko rokku: Bôsô shudan ’71, aka Stray Cat Rock: Crazy Rider, was the final outing for Meiko Kaji in the franchise. That’s her, of course, looking exceptionally badass on an exceedingly rare promo poster, and below we have even rarer distributor sheets. Plotwise, Kaji has a boyfriend named Ryumei who has spurned the mainstream lifestyle for hippie freedom. When bikers attack Ryumei and Kaji the altercation leads to Ryumei killing one of the thugs. Unluckily for Kaji, he’s whisked away, leaving her to take the murder rap, in turn leading to her being tossed in jail. Turns out Ryumei’s father wants him to give up hippiedom and join the family business, and sent the bikers to kidnap him and bring him home.
Kaji escapes from jail a while later, seeks out Ryumei, finds him transformed into a cold-hearted suit, and is imprisoned again, this time by the father’s evil thugs. The main problem with this movie for Kaji fans is she doesn’t get much screen time. Instead much of the tale is told from the other end, as Kaji’s friends, led by Yoshio Harada, plot to free her. This isn’t fatal to the movie, though. If you can embrace the other protagonists you’ll find plenty to enjoy. The sentiment of hippies-versus-power may seem quaint, and indeed the film handles certain elements of their lifestyle comedically, but all these years later, with Japan’s rich getting richer while its poverty rate is among the highest for developed nations, is anyone still laughing? Nora-neko rokku: Bôsô shudan ’71 premiered in Japan today in 1971, and you can see more posters for the series here and here.
, Hori Production
, Nora-neko rokku: Bôsô shudan ‘71
, Stray Cat Rock: Crazy Rider ‘71
, Meiko Kaji
, Yoshio Harada
, poster art
, pinky violence
, movie review
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1951—The Rosenbergs Are Convicted of Espionage
Americans Ethel and Julius Rosenberg are convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage as a result of passing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. While declassified documents seem to confirm Julius Rosenberg's role as a spy, Ethel Rosenberg's involvement is still a matter of dispute. Both Rosenbergs were executed on June 19, 1953.
1910—First Seaplane Takes Flight
Frenchman Henri Fabre, who had studied airplane and propeller designs and had also patented a system of flotation devices, accomplishes the first take-off from water at Martinque, France, in a plane he called Le Canard, or "the duck."
1953—Jim Thorpe Dies
American athlete Jim Thorpe, who was one of the most prolific sportsmen ever and won Olympic gold medals in the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon, played American football at the collegiate and professional levels, and also played professional baseball and basketball, dies of a heart attack.
1958—Khrushchev Becomes Premier
Nikita Khrushchev becomes premier of the Soviet Union. During his time in power he is responsible for the partial de-Stalinization of the Soviet Union, and presides over the rise of the early Soviet space program, but his many policy failures lead to him being deposed in October 1964. After his removal he is pensioned off and lives quietly the rest of his life, eventually dying of heart disease in 1971.
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