Hollywoodland Aug 27 2016
WATER DANCE
Ice is nice, but harder than water.


British skater and actress Belita, who was born Maria Belita Jepson-Turner, frolics in the pool at the Town House Hotel in Los Angeles for a cover of Life that hit newsstands today in 1945. We've shown you this pool before. A window from a swanky hotel bar known as the Zebra Room provided a view through one wall, which meant patrons could watch swimmers while enjoying cocktails. The hotel put together a group of women called Aqua Maidens who performed swim shows, but Belita was not a Maiden. She was already famous for skating in the 1936 Olympics (though she had finished only sixteenth), and had established a Hollywood career with 1943's Silver Skates and 1944's Lady, Let's Dance. She would also make 1946's Suspense, which was unique for combining skating with film noir.

In addition to being an ace skater Belita was an accomplished dancer, and the Life photos show her demonstrating her underwater ballet skills. She even wears a tutu in a couple of shots. Interestingly, Picture Post, a British Life-like magazine that was considered imitative, had already featured Belita on its cover, also at the Town House, two months earlier on June 16, 1945. Doubtless both sets of photos were from them same session. So in this case Life was the imitator.
 
Belita wasn't the most famous ice skater in Hollywood during the 1940s—Sonja Henie was a huge star, and Vera Ralston was probably better known as well. That may be one reason why Belita managed only eight or nine films before moving on to other pursuits. She eventually retired to the village of Montpeyroux, France, where she died in 2005 at age eighty-two. But the photos below are eternal.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 25 2016
THE STING, PARTS 2 & 3
She isn't even remotely done with you.


Way back in 2010 we shared a promo poster for Joshû 701-gô: Sasori, aka Female Convict 701: Scorpion, as part of a collection of promos from the entire Female Prisoner tetrology. If you click over to that group you'll see it right on top. The movie opened today in 1972 with Meiko Kaji in the lead as the iconic character Nami Matsushima, aka Matsu the Scorpion, and the posters above are the second and third we have for this fun movie. If you haven't seen it but appreciate a little Japanese style cinematic mayhem, we recommend you check it out. 

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Vintage Pulp Aug 25 2016
FAST LEARNERS
Sometimes staying after school isn't a punishment.


Above is a poster for Onna kyōshi: Shiseikatsu, aka Female Teacher: Private Life, a Nikkatsu roman porno flick that starred Ayako Ichikawa and Hitomi Kozue in the story of an obsessive affair between teacher and student. Interesting fact about this movie: Nikkatsu staged a contest for roman porno scripts and Onna kyōshi resulted from the winning entry, submitted by Mari Abe, who benefitted screenwriting credit, a cash prize, and a college scholarship. Thanks to her stroke of genius Nikkatsu was able to milk the Onna kyōshi concept for a sequel, followed by an eight film series. Just goes to show how mainstream these racy movies were. Of course, Onna kyōshi explores scenarios that would be considered criminal today. In fact, there's debate in 2016 whether teachers should be allowed to have private lives at all—i.e. whether they should be role models both in and out of school, and if they fail whether their actions are fair game for judgment and discipline. Ichikawa and Kozue are ready to judged and disciplined below. Onna kyōshi: Shiseikatsu premiered in Japan today in 1973.

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Femmes Fatales Aug 22 2016
BUNDLE OF JOI
You know that whole forbidden fruit concept? I've never agreed with it.


Above, a nice shot of blaxploitation star Marilyn Joi, aka Tracy King, who appeared in notable efforts such as Black Samurai and the unforgettable Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks, but is probably best known as Cleopatra Schwartz from the mainstream comedy Kentucky Fried Movie. This photo appeared on the cover of Players magazine in 1980.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 21 2016
TAKING A SEAT
Tate gives chase in an international fortune hunting comedy about a missing chair.


In ¿Las cual de 13?, aka 12 + 1, aka Twelve Plus One, an Italian barber played by Vittorio Gassman inherits thirteen chairs and, deeming them useless, sells them to a London antique shop. He later discovers one of the chairs contains a fortune, but when he returns to the shop he's told they've all been sold. So he offers the antique shop employee Sharon Tate half of the fortune to help him track down the chairs, which of course have scattered to the four winds. Their search takes them to Paris, Rome, and beyond, in 1960s screwball fashion with its expected pratfalls, mix-ups, and sticky situations. Gassman and Tate do reasonable jobs with the goofy script that's been made of Soviet authors Ilf and Petrov's satirical source novel, and the film is boosted by appearances from Vittorio De Sica, Mylène Demongeot, Terry-Thomas, and Orson Welles. This was an Italian production, but the poster above was painted for the film's Spanish run by Carlos Escobar, who signed his work “Esc.” This is the best we've ever seen from a very good artist. Since the movie didn't premiere in Italy until after Tate had been slain this month in 1969, and didn't reach Spain until mid-1970, the poster very likely was painted post-murder, which means Escobar probably was thinking of how to best portray someone who'd become a tragic figure. We suspect he put special effort into his work as a tribute, and if so, a fitting tribute it was.

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Femmes Fatales Aug 19 2016
TAKING AIM
This is loaded, so answer this next question carefully. Who's the star of this movie?


Jean Arthur, née Gladys Georgianna Greene poses for a promo photo made when she was filming the romantic comedy A Lady Takes a Chance with John Wayne. Arthur was a very big star who began in silent cinema, made the transition to talkies, and reached the height of her fame in her mid-thirties. She was billed above Wayne for Lady, and he was a huge star himself. Some of Arthur's other efforts include Shane and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The photo above dates from 1943, and A Lady Takes a Chance premiered in the U.S. today that same year. 

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Vintage Pulp Aug 18 2016
KILL CRAZY
Love and the art of armed robbery.

Above, a French promo poster for the American film noir Gun Crazy, which premiered in France as Le Démon des armes today in 1950. Haven't seen it? We think it's well worth a viewing.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 11 2016
MAKO AMENDS
Apologies for the omission, Miss Michiyo.


Years ago we shared a poster for a Michiyo Mako roman porno flick and called her a “little known” actress. Well, live and learn. She wasn't little known—we knew little about Japanese film, is what the problem was. Now we know more, which is a benefit of maintaining this website, and we can report that Mako appeared in thirty movies between 1967 and 1976. Today we have promo posters for three of those to make up for giving her short shrift before. Top to bottom: Yorokobi no sekkusu, aka Sex of Joy or Nymph of Delight, Onna zakari: Mishitsu no yorokobi, aka Pleasure in the Secret Room, and 処女誘魔, for which we did not find a phonetic Japanese title. In English, these chracters would read something like Virgin Kidnapping Magic. More Mako posters later.
 
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Modern Pulp Aug 6 2016
BAD KITTY
Russ Meyer's tale of killer cats from Southern California is absurd but entertaining.


Though the text is in English, this promo for Russ Meyer's Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! was made for a 1994 re-release in Japan. You can see that the flipside at right is partially in Japanese. Faster Pussycat is one of those movies—everyone has heard of it, but fewer than you'd suspect have actually seen it.
 
So what's the deal? Tura Satana, Haji, and Lori Williams drag race, wisecrack, and roughhouse their way around Southern California. But because they're bad tempered and sociopathic, they eventually kill a guy, which then requires abducting the only witness, and in turn leads to a scheme to cheat a wheelchair bound old man out of his disablement stash. It's an uneasy alliance between these three kittens, destined for implosion, an inevitability helped along by Satana's unending torrents of shouty abuse.
 
You really have to hand it to Meyer—what he did, he did really well. Faster Pussycat is a completely overdone tale of reckless youth and the lawless west, but ripping around the Mojave Desert with these girls is consistently fun. The type of moral decay and geographical desolation showcased here is one American film's time-honored motifs. Meyer's entry in the genre holds up pretty well. The movie originally premiered today in 1965.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 5 2016
STRANGENESS ON A TRAIN
Someone in the sleeping compartment isn't going to wake up.


Film noir teaches us that anyone can get in too deep, even a railroad engineer. In Human Desire, Fritz Lang's retelling of Emile Zola's 1890 novel La Bête humaine, Glenn Ford finds himself trapped between lust for Gloria Grahame and reluctance to kill to have her. He's already helped her cover up another killing and gotten in the middle of blackmail plot, but every man has his limits. This is flawed but canonical noir, with a cocky Ford, a quirky Grahame, a brutish Broderick Crawford, and Kathleen Case playing the loyal gal pal, who for our money is much more alluring than Grahame. Ford figures that out too, eventually. Too bad his realization is sandwiched between two murders on his train. Human Desire premiered today in 1954.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 29
1949—Soviet Union Joins Nuclear Club
The Soviet Union detonates a nuclear weapon at a test site in Kazakhstan. American experts are shocked and dismayed because they had thought the Soviets were still years away from having a workable bomb. The resultant fear helps trigger an arms race that would see the Americans and Soviets stockpile approximately 32,000 and 45,000 nuclear devices.
August 28
1963—King Gives Famous Speech
In the U.S., Martin Luther King, Jr., at the culmination of his march on Washington for jobs and freedom, gives his famous "I Have a Dream Speech," advocating racial harmony and equality.
1981—Scientists Announce Existence of New Disease
The National Centers for Disease Control announce a high incidence of pneumocystis and Kaposi's sarcoma in gay men. These illnesses are later recognized as symptoms of a blood-borne immune disorder, which they name AIDS. The disease is initially thought to have developed in the late 1970s among gay populations, but scientists now know it developed in the late 1800s or early 1900s in Africa during the height of European conquest of the continent.
August 27
1975—Haile Selassie I Dies
Haile Selassie I, former Emperor of the Kingdom of Ethiopia, dies of respiratory failure. Selassie was most famous for his landmark speech before the League of Nations in 1936, in which he pleaded for help against an Italian invasion, but to no avail. He warned that fascist aggression would not end with Ethiopia. His words, "It is us today; it will be you tomorrow," turn out to be prophetic when Germany's fascists later spark World War II.

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