Working in Bardot’s shadow.
Thea Fleming, aka Thea Fammy, née Thea Catharina Wihelmina Gemma Pfennings, is a Dutch actress who was packaged as “The Brigitte Bardot of Holland.” We don’t know if that was because of her talent or looks, but in any case she actually spent most of her career not in Holland but in Italy, working under the stage name Isabella Biancini. She was never a big star, no Bardot by any measure, but she made some memorable movies, including Salome ’73, Asso di picche—Operazione controspionaggio, aka Operation Counterspy, and Il nostro agente a Casablanca, aka The Killer Lacks a Name. This great shot is from around 1970.
, Salome ’73
, Operation Counterspy
, Asso di picche—Operazione controspionaggio
, Il nostro agente a Casablanca
, The Killer Lacks a Name
, Isabella Biancini
, Thea Fleming
, Thea Fammy
Something to take your breath away.
Above, a poster for the erotic drama Kyoran no aegi, aka Morning Frenzy, Panting Frenzy, and Frantic Wheezing, none of which sound the least bit sexy. But we wouldn’t know because we haven’t seen this one. It’s apparently an effort to mix roman porno with film noir and wasn’t well recieved. Kyoran no aegi starred Maya Hiromi and Hitomi Kozue, and it premiered in Japan today in 1974.
, Kyoran no aegi
, Morning Frenzy
, Panting Frenzy
, Frantic Wheezing
, Maya Hiromi
, Hitomi Kozue
, roman porno
, poster art
In tip top shape from stem to stern.
Above is a promotional photo of Italian actress Edy Vessel, who was born in Trieste as Edoarda Wessellovsky, a fact that neccessitated a name change before she achieved reknown in such films as Psycosissimo and Federico Fellini's 8½. This photo from the French magazine Stop dates from 1962.
There’s a dark cloud on the horizon.
The Human Tornado is a movie that, as a blaxploitation spoof, doesn’t take itself at all seriously yet is still horrendous. Like really bad. Probably the hardest part of watching it is slogging through an opening stand-up bit by star Rudy Ray Moore that is cringe inducingly awful. After that you get a few flashes of cleverness surrounded by ninety minutes of disastrous writing, acting, direction, sound, editing, and future Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson. All of this is good fodder for witty viewers, perhaps, but does not entertain those who are not fans of bad cinema. Which is to say, this one may have put the Pulp Intl. girlfriends off low budget movies forever. Again. But we will forge ahead, bravely, on our own, because The Human Tornado was the middle of three movies starring Moore’s creation Dolomite, and we’ll be watching the other two entries in the franchise, come hell, high water, or cyclonic winds. The Human Tornado premiered in the U.S. today in 1976.
Life and death at the edge of a razor.
This promo is for Jigoku no tenshi: Akai bakuon, aka Hells Angels: Crimson Roar, one of scores of girl gang movies that deluged Japanese cinema during the 1970s. This one is from Toei Company and concerns a gang member named Yoko, played by Yûko Iruka, who spends three years in prison for assault with a switchblade, and afterward emerges onto the mean, nightclub-lined streets of her coastal hometown. You know Japanese bars are sleazy when their names are English—Bar Lucky, The Apollo, The Happening, Club Ace, New York 3, et al. We especially liked the placard that read: Girls can get so excited and lustful sometimes, as shown in this picture. Why don’t you come in now? The girls working for me are so sexy. You can try to satisfy them. Yes, even sex club signage is polite in Japan.
These places are all geared toward American servicemen, of course, and the distaste for Western decadence, though subtle, is clear. But it isn’t Americans who are a problem for Yoko—it’s a group of pesky Yakuza who make their home at the Lonely Angel bar. After Yoko is drugged into paralysis and raped by two of the slimier specimens she hones that trusty switchblade of hers and goes on a revenge spree that, well, doesn’t end nicely for her enemies. She gets timely help from her boyfriend, and when he ends up on the point of a katana, that makes her even angrier. Turns out she’s deadly with a sniper rifle too. Standard stuff, but with an unusual and effective star in Iruka, and Reiko Ike’s 1973 hit song “Futen Gurashi Part 2” recurring throughout the soundtrack—a bonus. Jigoku no tenshi: Akai bakuon premiered in Japan today in 1977.
, Toei Company
, Jigoku no tenshi: Akai bakuon
, Hells Angels: Crimson Roar
, Yûko Iruka
, Hiroshi Tachi
, Yasuko Naito
, Reiko Ike
, pinky violence
, poster art
, movie review
October 1st marks the second rare lunar event this week.
Two years ago we shared a very rare Japanese promo poster from the 1976 Italian romance Laure, also known as Forever Emmanuelle. The calendar image above from the Japanese cinema and celebrity magazine Roadshow doesn’t directly promote Laure, but it comes from the same photo session, and like the earlier image features French actress Annie Belle doing her imitation of Monday’s supermoon. Both are amazing events, but this one, happily, features fewer craters.
Who says she’s in danger of sinking?
One Venetian treasure may be disappearing into the Adriatic Sea, but in this late 1950s promo shot British actress Venetia Stevenson is on the rise. In the end, many of her credits were for television appearances, but she also appeared in movies such as Day of the Outlaw and Island of Lost Women before leaving show business at the age of twenty-three to marry and have a family. Onward and upward.
A history of Violenza.
Above, a colorful Japanese poster for Florestano Vancini’s Italian thriller Violenza al sole, aka Blow Hot Blow Cold, the story of a young couple vacationing on an island where they meet an older couple. The older male spies on the young couple during their various romantic interludes, but the reason why he’s doing it, and the movie’s ending, make it a minor classic. With Bibi Andersson, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Rosemarie Dexter, and Guiliano Gemma, very good stuff. Violenza al sole premiered in Italy in August 1969 and made it to Japan today in 1970.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1966—LSD Declared Illegal in U.S.
LSD, which was originally synthesized by a Swiss doctor and was later secretly used by the CIA on military personnel, prostitutes, the mentally ill, and members of the general public in a project code named MKULTRA, is designated a controlled substance in the United States.
1945—Hollywood Black Friday
A six month strike by Hollywood set decorators becomes a riot at the gates of Warner Brothers Studios when strikers and replacement workers clash. The event helps bring about the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act, which, among other things, prohibits unions from contributing to political campaigns and requires union leaders to affirm they are not supporters of the Communist Party.
1957—Sputnik Circles Earth
The Soviet Union launches the satellite Sputnik I, which becomes the first artificial object to orbit the Earth. It orbits for two months and provides valuable information about the density of the upper atmosphere. It also panics the United States into a space race that eventually culminates in the U.S. moon landing.
1970—Janis Joplin Overdoses
American blues singer Janis Joplin is found dead on the floor of her motel room in Los Angeles. The cause of death is determined to be an overdose of heroin, possibly combined with the effects of alcohol.
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