Vintage Pulp May 21 2018
OSAKA FIVE-O
You have the right to remain dead.


We already showed you a rare hand-painted poster for the pinky violence actioner Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa, aka Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs. Today we're showing you the tateken poster, which is rare too, so much so that this may be the best scan you'll of it see online. The kind of washed out look is part of the design. If you haven't seen the movie, it's about a vigilante cop played by Miki Sugimoto who is released from prison by a government agency in order to take down the kidnappers of a powerful politician's daughter.

Like most pinku movies, there's some sexual violence, and many reviewers excoriate this admittedly overused plot device. We don't claim those reviewers are wrong, but it should be noted that rape in pinku is often symbolic, serving both to advance the immediate plot and implant a deeper message. In this case the main perpetrator in the sexual assault of a young Japanese woman is wearing U.S. Navy coveralls. The depth of negative feeling about the U.S. occupation of Japan is made clear. All that said, the constant use of sexual assault in Japanese film—if it was ever artistically justified at all—definitely jumped the shark with the arrival of Nikkatsu Studios' roman porno offerings. We've talked about that before.

One interesting part of assessing vintage art is that at the time it was created the artists often thought they were making a certain statement, but decades later their art is perceived as sending the exact opposite message. Such is the case with pinky violence movies, in which maverick male filmmakers—in this case Yukio Noda—showed Japanese women taking on and usually destroying an entrenched male power structure, but only after being driven to it through degradation and violence. Which in screen terms meant rape. Were there other ways to show women driven to the point where they would kill? No doubt, but in patriarchal 1970s Japan the shock of these films was not how women were driven to kill men, but that they did—and often got away with it.

Miki Sugimoto deals with with some very bad men in Zero Woman, but her focus never wavers. She's to rescue the kidnapped daughter and dispose of the abductors in such a way that no news coverage or police investigation points back toward the father. Wrapped in a crimson raincoat she dispatches villain after villain, but learns that not even the presumed good guys are redeemable—not the politician, not the cops, nobody. It's grim, cynical, nihilistic stuff—and a classic of the genre. Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa opened in Japan today in 1974.

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Femmes Fatales Feb 25 2018
REMEMBER MIKI
But really, who could ever forget her?


Miki Sugimoto posed for a lot of nude photos. Among 1970s pinku stars Terumi Azuma posed for more, definitely. And probably Naomi Tani too. But we see Sugimoto nudes all the time. These were shot by Japanese lensman Kenji Nagatomo and appeared in the nostalgia magazine Dankai Punch (Baby Boom Punch) in 2007 as a photo feature titled “Remember Zero Woman.” This of course refers to Sugimoto's starring turn in the pinku classic Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa, aka Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs, which you should see if you haven't yet. We'll have more from Miki later. Also, seven years ago we posted a shot from this Nagatomo session very similar to the top image, and if you're interested you can see that here.

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Intl. Notebook Jul 5 2015
SEEING RED
Sugimoto heats up summer in Tokyo.


We like to keep an eye out for these cinema flyers advertising vintage pinku flicks because they usually feature imaginative reworkings of iconic imagery. In this case, Miki Sugimoto appears front and center on a flyer produced for a film festival at the Jinbōchō Theater, an arts complex comprising a theatre, cinema, and performance space opened in 2007 by Shogakukan publishers in the Jinbōchō neighborhood of Chiyoda, Tokyo. The shot of Sugimoto comes from her 1974 pinku actioner Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa, aka Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs, which plays from today through the end of July on a slate with fifteen other films of the non-pinku variety.
 
The nicely designed text in the bubbles at the center of the poster says something like, “Films born from summer vacation special project cartoons,” or put another way, it's a summer festival of films whose source material were all mangas—i.e. Japanese comic books. Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa was based on a manga by Tōru Shinohara, who also wrote the manga that inspired the hit Meiko Kaji series Female Prisoner Scorpion.
 
As a side note, the Jinbōchō Theater is an amazing structure designed by acclaimed architects Nikken Sekkei, and we uploaded a shot of it so you could have a look. It's an intimate space—99 seats, which means it was made specifically for film revivals. Generally we're all about vintage stuff and preserving history, particularly fantastic old cinemas, but nothing significant was torn down to build the Jinbōchō Theater, and in a city as modern as Tokyo a structure like this fits right in. If you're a film buff and you happen to be in that region of the globe you now have something to do in July. 

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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.
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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