Vintage Pulp Nov 22 2014
STRAY CAT STRUT
She slinks down the alley looking for a fight, howling to the moonlight on a hot summer night.


Since we featured Reiko Ike yesterday it seems only right to have Meiko Kaji today. Which of them is the real queen of 70s Japanese action cinema? It’s up for debate. Maybe it’s even someone else entirely. Anyway, you see above and below two posters for Nora-neko rokku: Mashin animaru, known in English as Stray Cat Rock: Machine Animal. It was the fourth of five Stray Cat Rock films, and Kaji starred in all, though as different characters in each.

The series is about juvenile delinquency and takes place against a backdrop of industrial cityscapes and inside the sorts of groovy nightclubs you might associate with Austin Powers. The plot involves Kaji and her cohorts planning to sell stolen LSD in order to help a soldier escape the Vietnam War, but getting entangled with rival gangsters who want to horn in on the deal. It’s very much worth a viewing, and stacks up well against the previous entries. Wild stray cat—you’re a real gone girl. Nora-neko okku: Mashin animaru premiered in Japan today in 1970.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 21 2014
GAMBLING ADDICTION
When you play with her you’re betting your life.

Above, a rare alternate poster for the very entertaining pinku flick Hidirimen bakuto, aka Red Silk Gambler, with Reiko Ike. The movie, which we touched upon briefly a few years ago, opened in Japan today in 1972.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 17 2014
THE SCORPION'S STING
Someone’s going to pay for what happened—in full, plus interest.

This poster for Shin joshuu sasori: 701-gô, aka New Female Prisoner Scorpion: 701 promotes the first film in what today might be called a franchise reboot. Meiko Kaji established the character of Prisoner 701 in four hit films, and a few years after she left Toei Company decided to resurrect the series with Yumi Takigawa in the lead. Framed for murder, she ends up in a women’s prison where she’s harassed, sexually assaulted, and marked for death. A prison riot finally gives her the chance at revenge, and lets just say she takes full advantage.

She feels even less forgiving once she escapes, meaning she has a score to settle with the men who railroaded her in the first place. You know what to expect, so we don’t really need to go into detail. The poster above is an ekibari, which we gather means it was made for subway walls, and it’s in bo style, which seemingly means two pieces. Below we have the bo-ekibari in its separate, very cool sections, with Takigawa giving the stare of death that’s usually the last sight of her enemies’ lives. Shin joshuu sasori: 701-gô premiered in Japan today in 1976. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 13 2014
JUNGLE HEAT
Documentary double feature takes Japanese viewers on a tour of Western vice.

This Japanese poster promotes a double feature of the English language productions West End Jungle and World of Flesh. Both are fake documentaries, the first set in London’s Soho district, the second in Hollywood. They take viewers on a trip through the underworld of burlesque shows, prostitution, clip joints, orgiastic private parties, and general illegal or barely legal tomfoolery, with stentorian voiceover and an air of dire warning. But only World of Flesh has Baby Bubbles, and this is an important fact. Bubbles, aka Corky Dunbar, aka Elaine Jones, can’t possibly be done justice by a photo, but if one can come close it’s the shot below showing her in the midst of her trademark gag—spinning her tasseled breasts in opposite directions. Bubbles danced before we were born, but World of Flesh has made us fans. Even our girlfriends loved her (although we must admit, they’d never seen the boob spinning trick before and it made them burst into hysterical laughter, which means maybe they loved the absurdity of the act more than its artistic merits). Anyway, Bubbles appears for an amazing three or four minutes early in World of Flesh, aka Hollywood’s World of Flesh, and she is a must for fans of mid-century burlesque. But if time is too precious to locate the movie, most of her segment is available on YouTube right here. And now we’ll stop, because after seeing her, you won’t care what we have to say.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 8 2014
BAD TECHNIQUE
Is it strange that of all the ways to seduce someone we never thought of this one?


Yes, we’re doubling up on the movies today, not because we think the internet needs more amateur reviews, but because we want to show the posters. As always, it’s about the art. We have it, and it’s pointless to have it and not share it. Behold the poster. Done? Great. Okay, regarding the movie, we can sum it up by telling you there’s a scene in which a male character sticks his head in a toilet—in a nightclub—sucks up a mouthful of liquid and spits it in a gentle stream upon the chest of the woman he’s in love with. More strange yet—it turns her on. This visceral horror is counterbalanced, just barely, by a weird yet very affecting fantasy sequence where the same character sprays the object of his affection with water from a garden hose while she’s in a jail cell. Have a look at the screen grabs below.  

 
That is a very provocative expression lead actress Mari Tanaka is wearing. Is it because the water is cold? No—it’s a male character’s fantasy, so that’s supposed to be arousal. Our girlfriends don’t make that face at us, but now we’re seriously considering ways to make it happen. At least, as long as they don’t involve spraying water all over our place. Anyway, you have the yin and yang here—two scenes involving a man drenching a woman with water, of both clean and not-so-clean varietals. Is it symbolic? Maaaaybe just a little.
 
The plot goes like this: Tanaka teaches at a college and several of her students collude to break up her engagement to a chemistry professor so one can have her to himself. But everything they try only seems to make the relationship between Tanaka and her chemist stronger. Finally in desperation the students rig a lab experiment to blow the chemist to constituent particles, but succeed only separating him from his prostate, leaving him impotent. Since a sizable amount of dialogue is devoted to his prodigious endowment his maiming is a tragedy not just for him, but all women (this from the character Oharu-san, who has encountered the fiancée in her brothel and is reduced to tears at the news of his injury).
 
Will Tanaka finally ditch her love now that he’s been turned into Jake Barnes (extra credit if you know that one), or is their relationship held together by something more than sex? We’d answer, but we swore off spoilers a while ago, which means only a viewing of this exceedingly strange movie will give you the answer. Meanwhile, below, Tanaka shows her technique for hiding her naughty bits, as required by Japanese law at the time. Kanno kyoshitsu: ai no technique, which was called Excitement Class: Love Techniques in the English speaking world, premiered in Japan today in 1972.


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Vintage Pulp Nov 1 2014
ONE COOL CAT
No helmet, no jacket, no problem.

The above poster is the original promo Kôyû Ohara’s motorcycle gang roman porno Shiroi mesuneko: mahiru no ecstasy, aka White Female Cat: Ecstasy at High Noon, and as you can see star Hitomi Kozue is completely flouting the mandatory helmet ordinance. Well, the point of riding a motorcycle is to feel the wind blow through your… er, hair. We haven’t screened this one, but we love the poster so we thought we’d show it to you anyway on its premier date, which was today in 1975.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 31 2014
HELL AND BACK
Amid medieval Japan’s manners and restraint, how can a person tell the difference between love, honor, and duty?


Above is a poster for Teinosuke Kinugasa’s masterwork samurai drama Jigokumon, which was known in English as Gate of Hell. It was the first Japanese film shot in color, via the process Eastmancolor, which was a leap beyond three-strip Technicolor, and one that makes Jigokumon blaze like a supernova. The story, from a play by Kan Kikuchi, concerns a Heian-era samurai named Moritoh whose bravery during a battle is rewarded by his lord granting him anything he desires. What he desires is the Lady Kesa. Problem is she’s married to another samurai. The lord mistakenly grants Moritoh’s wish, which is soon revealed to be impossible, but Moritoh resolves to have Kesa anyway, by any means necessary—trickery, bribery, even all-out murder. What develops is not just a thriller about entitlement and lust, but a meditation on honor, love and, especially, social strictures.

Jigokumon was a sensation. A hit in Japan, it was a revelation to foreign audiences. It took home the Palme d’Or from the 1954 Cannes Film Festival, a 1955 special Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, an Oscar for Best Costume Design in a color film, and more prestigious nods. Along with Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, Kimisaburo Yoshimura’s Genji Monogatari, Kenji Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu Monogatari, and other films from the early 1950s, it marked the emergence of Japanese cinema onto the international scene. We’ve posted a large group of screen grabs below—perhaps overkill, considering how many—but the film just looks so damn good and the shots are so spectacular that we couldn’t help ourselves. Jigokumon premiered in Japan today in 1953.


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Intl. Notebook Oct 23 2014
MCQUEEN AND THE QUEEN
Steve and Marilyn. Steve and Lola. It’s a great pairing either way.

Steve McQueen and Marilyn Monroe may or may not have met in real life (some sources say they, uh, knew each other), but pairing them in print is still a bit of an inspired move. Or maybe you think the significant pairing is McQueen with a Lola T70 MKIII B race car. Hey, whatever turns you on. In any case, this is a December 1972 foldout poster from Japan’s Screen magazine, with McQueen (and Lola) on one side and Monroe on the reverse. The McQueen photo was made during the filming of Le Mans the previous year, and the Monroe shot is obviously the one made famous by Playboy back in 1953. Screen produced many posters, all of which are rare today (for instance, the amazing Raquel Welch image here). We have more of these somewhere and we’ll get them online eventually.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 19 2014
ZONED OUT
She’s dreaming of the day when she gets to change out of that ridiculously uncomfortable outfit.


Above, an alternate promo for Yoru no saizensen: Tôkyô onna chizu, aka Secret Zone of Tokyo. This one is nice, but the previous version is one of the coolest Japanese posters we’ve seen.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 1 2014
INTIMATE PORTRAIT
Naomi Tani gets roped into a weird situation.


Above is a poster for Genso fujin ezu, aka Fascination: Portrait of a Lady, aka Fantasy Portrait of a Wife, one of many S&M movies starring Naomi Tani, aka the Queen of Pink. In this one Tani plays Hisako, a bored housewife married to a conservative art professor. Hisako is beset by bizarre sexual daydreams, including one of being captured like a stray dog and stuck in a cage. Her frustrations soon center on Tachiki, a visionary art student her husband has expelled from school for being too modernist. Hisako and Tachiki soon begin meeting, and Tachiki introduces Hisako to a world of bondage and other dubious delights. The husband doesn’treally understand the extent of his wife’s straying until she doesn’t come home one night. Not entirely her fault, though, as she’s tied up in Tachiki’s flat. In the morning Tachiki is inspired by lingering rope impressions on Hisako’s flesh to attempt something more permanent—he tattoos her entire body with a rope design. Hisako’s husband, you can be sure, is going to be pissed.

That’s all we’ll say about the plot of Genso fujin ezu. The idea of a person’s transformation taking on psychic then physical dimensions is pretty clear, but daydreams of domination and humiliation just don’t resonate for us. Bondage and rope arts occupy an important place in Japanese culture, so maybe that’s simply the default direction for bored cinema wives, the same way American movies from the period often featured women taking a walk on the wild side with hot-rodders or counterculture types. That’s our best guess, anyway. Oniroku Dan is the mind behind the literary genre that birthed these films, and if we’d read any of his books we’d have a better idea exactly why Hisako veers into S&M, but failing that we’ll just take the movie on its own merits. Genso fujin ezu premiered today in 1977.


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
November 24
1963—Ruby Shoots Oswald
Nightclub owner and mafia associate Jack Ruby fatally shoots alleged JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of Dallas police department headquarters. The shooting is broadcast live on television and silences the only person known for certain to have had some connection to the Kennedy killing.
1971—D.B. Cooper Escapes from Airplane
In the U.S., during a thunderstorm over Washington state, a hijacker calling himself Dan Cooper, aka D. B. Cooper, parachutes from a Northwest Orient Airlines flight with $200,000 in ransom money. Neither he nor the money are ever found.
November 23
1936—First Edition of Life Published
Henry Luce launches Life, a weekly magazine with an emphasis on photo-journalism. Life dominates the U.S. market for more than forty years, publishing scores of iconic photographs that remain some of the most recognizable ever shot, and peaking at one point with a circulation of more than 13.5 million copies a week.
1963—Doctor Who Debuts on BBC
The BBC broadcasts the first episode of Doctor Who, starring William Hartnell as a mysterious alien who time travels in his spaceship, the TARDIS. With his companions, he explores time and space while facing a variety of foes and righting wrongs. The show would become the longest-running science fiction series ever broadcast.
November 22
1963—John F. Kennedy Is Assassinated
In Dallas, Texas, U.S. President John F. Kennedy is killed and Texas Governor John B. Connally is seriously wounded as they ride in a motorcade through Dealy Plaza. Lee Harvey Oswald, an employee of the schoolbook depository from which the shots were suspected to have been fired, was arrested on charges of the murder of a local police officer and was subsequently charged with the Kennedy killing. He denied shooting anyone, claiming he was a patsy, but was killed by Jack Ruby on November 24, before he could be indicted or tried. Today, Americans who believe JFK was killed as the result of a conspiracy are routinely dismissed in the press, yet the vast majority of them believe Oswald did not act alone.

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