Vintage Pulp Feb 8 2016
SADA MASOCHISM
She always had a problem letting go.


This could be a Pulp Intl. first—a Japanese movie where a foreign poster is the nicest version out there. Usually the Japanese whip all competing asses in the poster design department, but just this once the Italian iteration is better, probably because it was painted by Enrico de Seta, one of the best illustrators of the period. The movie is Jitsuroku Abe Sada, which was called in Italian Abesada—L'abisso dei sensi. That means “Abesada—abyss of the senses,” but the English title decided upon was actually A Woman Called Sada Abe. The story tracks real-life murderer Sada Abe, who habitually practiced sexual asphyxiation with her lover Kichizo Ishida, and in 1936 strangled him to death with the sash of her obi. The sensational story grew into an epic folk legend, interpreted by painters, writers, and poets, and when Japan's roman porno film genre came along the incident was a perfect fit.

Jitsuroku Abe Sada was one of several films to tackle the subject. In real life, Sada followed up her killing of Ishida by castrating the corpse and fleeing with the severed organ. The movie covers this aspect of the incident too, and eventually ends with Sada's arrest. The real life Sada was convicted of murder and other crimes, but despite begging to be executed was sentenced to prison, released after a few years, and went on to live four more interesting decades. We won't go so far as to recommend Jitsuroku Abe Sada. It has its worthwhile points, among them the reliable Junko Miyahsita in the lead, but if you're going to watch a telling of the Sada Abe incident, maybe try the more famous and more explicit In the Real of the Senses, which appeared in 1976. Jitsuroku Abe Sada premiered in Japan today in 1975.

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Vintage Pulp Feb 6 2016
OFFICE HOURS
Junko can’t come to the phone right now—she’s taking dictation.


OL nikki: Nureta satsutaba premiered in Japan today in 1974 and starred Aoi Nakajima as a woman named Junko who’s seduced by a banker involved in a scheme to embezzle 900 million yen. That’s like $350 in U.S. money. Just kidding—it’s actually a shade over a million dollars in 1974, we think. We gather that the inspiration for this film was an actual embezzlement scheme at Tokyo’s Shiga Bank. The “OL” of the title stands for “office lady,” and the entire title would translate roughly as “office lady diary: wet wad of money.” Hah hah. Wad. Um, this was the fourth entry in what was a very popular series, with seven made all together, though not all starring Nakajima. We have posters for other OL movies and we’ll get those up down the line, hopefully. 

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Femmes Fatales Feb 6 2016
COMPTON, CALIFORNIA
Tinkle, tinkle, little star.


Joyce Compton, née Olive Joyce Compton, launched her Hollywood career in 1925 and managed a few uncredited roles before being named one of the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers’ Baby Stars in 1926. WAMPAS Baby Stars was an award that each year singled out thirteen young actresses on the cusp of fame, and Compton went on to appear in well over one-hundred films during more than five decades in show business. The shot above is a First National Pictures promo from 1926 showing her modeling a tinkle garter, which was a garter belt with bells on it. To what end? Don’t ask us. It was the twenties, so maybe they helped women be heard above all the roaring.

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Vintage Pulp Feb 4 2016
BARRIO BLUES
The prince and the pauper are one and the same.


This striking promo for the Mexican comedy El rey del barrio was painted by Ernesto Garcia Cabral, who we discussed briefly in this post featuring a small collection of his creations. Garcia Cabral was born in Huatusco, Veracruz and would become one of the most published artists in Mexico, churning out cartoons, caricatures, and general illustrations. His early work, with its stylishly elongated flappers and sheiks, fits right into the art deco period, and his later work evolved to take on the form you see above. El rey del barrio premiered in Mexico today in 1950, and tells the story of a working class Joe who leads a double life. By day he's a kindly wage earner, but at night he dons zoot suit and cape—yes, cape—to become a thief and gangster. He's in love with a girl from his neighborhood, but keeping his second identity secret becomes increasingly harder as he bungles his way from caper to caper. You've see this story before, but probably not set in 1950s Mexico, and not with Germán Valdés, who was a rare comedic talent in the spastic mode of Jerry Lewis or Bob Hope. Silvia Pinal as his love interest is just the right mix of sweet and sassy. Add a bit of singing and some sexy nightclub dance numbers and you've got yourself a winner. The potential bad news is that there's no English language or subtitled version, as far as we know, but you've all learned Spanish by now, right? ¿No? Mas vale tarde que nunca, gabachos.

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Femmes Fatales Feb 4 2016
CABIN FEVER
If she gets any hotter the building will go up in flames.


It’s about that time again, so here’s another previously unseen image of a 1970s Japanese actress—Hitomi Kozue, one of the era’s most beautiful exports, seen here in a very nice shot dating from 1974. Kozue did an entire series in this cabin setting and we have quite a few of them, which we’ll eventually post so you can see if she left the building a pile of ashes.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 31 2016
SNUFF'S ENUFF
1960 thriller combined voyeurism, repression, child abuse, and sexual crime long before the public was ready.


Hollywood lore is sprinkled with tales of maligned cinematic masterpieces. British director Michael Powell’s 1960 voyeuristic thriller Peeping Tom is one of them—a film so savagely reviewed that it irreparably damaged what had been an acclaimed directorial career. While Powell should not have suffered so brutal a fate, his film’s rebranding as a work of incandescent genius is also not fully deserved. In the end Peeping Tom is a perfectly decent piece of filmmaking, amazingly forward-looking but also flawed. It deals with a man-child obsessed with filming women at the moment the fear of death appears in their eyes, and our villain does this of course by murdering them, and he manages to kill, film, and keep his subjects in frame at all times by using a spear-like contraption attached to his camera tripod. As you can probably guess, his carefully balanced existence is upset by the arrival of a prospective love interest, and we know from the moment she appears that she’ll be in front of his lens at some point.
 
In the U.S., Peeping Tom came after Alfred Hitchcock’s similar Psycho, but it Britain it arrived first. Censorship was slipping in British cinema, but to get a sense of how prudish authorities still were, consider the fact that Hitchcock’s movie caused controversy not only for its shower murderand for showing Janet Leigh in her bra and in bed with a man, but for being the first film to show a flushing toilet—an affront to bluenoses though the contents were merely a torn up note. Peeping Tom pushed the envelope farther and did it first, showing the killer Mark Lewis preying on sex workers and nude models, showing nudie reel star Pamela Green sprawled topless on a bed just before her murder, and drawing out the killings to agonizing length as Lewis coaxes the perfect expression of terror from his victims. Powell develops his killer to the extent that the audience must understand him as a human, and uses point-of-view to make the character’s films-within-the-film the equivalent of snuff movies.
 
The list of technical achievements goes on—Powell deftly manages to make Peeping Tom brutal without spilling a drop of blood, and his visual approach is engrossing. So why isn’t the movie a 10? Well, there are a few glaring script incongruities, some of the acting is below professional level, the killer seems careless for someone that has been at it for a while, and the idea of so obviously disturbed a man—stuttering, mumbling, visibly shying from any form of human contact—being able to attract even awoman as kind and credulous as Anna Massey just doesn’t ring true. There are men who are projects, and there are men who are lost causes—are we right, girls? That’s what the Pulp Intl. girlfriends say anyway. But Peeping Tom is a film every cinephile should see. The moral objections of contemporary critics seem quaint now—many hated being forced to experience the murders from the killer’s perspective, but the viewer’s loss of choice echoes the killer’s helplessness to control himself, and that may very well be Powell’s best trick.

The Noir City Film Festival ends tonight with a pairing of Peeping Tom with the Michelangelo Antonioni classic Blow-Up, which means here at Pulp Intl. we’ll close the book on the fest and move back into the more diverse subject matter that usually makes up our website. We wanted to use Noir City as an excuse to delve into the film noir catalog and we managed to watch sixteen of the twenty-five films on the schedule—some for the second or third time—and write about twelve of them. This all made for a quite enjoyable week, with much wine drunk and popcorn noshed (we have a Whirley popcorn maker we had sent over from the States that does a bang-up job), but it was also a bit of work. At this point we doubt we’ll go through all the considerable effort of screening next year’s Noir City slate, but you never know. Next January is a long, long way off—or at least, it should seem that way if you’re living life the way you should. We shall see. 

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Femmes Fatales Jan 31 2016
HAND OF GODDARD
Canary with a .38.

Above, American actress Paulette Goddard in a publicity shot made for the 1939 film The Cat and the Canary

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Vintage Pulp Jan 30 2016
MAKING A MURDERER
Nice guys finish last—until they're pushed too far.


The 1945 film noir Scarlet Street is one of the bleaker offerings from a generally bleak genre. Edward G. Robinson plays an aspiring painter in a loveless marriage whose need makes him a perfect mark for a pair of hustlers, played by Joan Bennett and Dan Duryea, who shake him down for money, a free apartment, and even his recognition as an artist. The main treat here is seeing tough guy Robinson play a mild-mannered everyman, the sort of terminal pushover he also portrayed to great effect in the noir The Woman in the Window. The thing is, some people can only take so much abuse.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 29 2016
MAN ON THE EDGE
The Big Knife could be sharper but its lessons about Hollywood ruthlessness resonate.


Above you see a poster for the 1955 drama The Big Knife, which, along with The Bad and the Beautiful, plays on tonight’s dark-side-of-Hollywood double bill at the Noir City Film Festival. Based on Clifford Odets’ play of the same name, The Big Knife tells the story of a star actor who wants to expand artistically, but is being tormented by his studio boss to ink a new deal locking him into more of the unfulfilling schlock that put him on the map. The studio has leverage because it helped the actor—played by Jack Palance—hide his role in causing a fatal car accident years ago. The studio boss—Rod Stieger, shamelessly hamming up the place (see photo below)—will stop at nothing, including blackmail, to get the contract signed. The stage-based origins of The Big Knife are clear, as the action rarely leaves one room and the dialogue is at times florid, but the question of whether Palance has the constitution to stand up to Stieger’s abuse offers some tension, and Ida Lupino as Palance’s wife helps elevate the exercise. Above average, we’d call this one, but we think festivalgoers will like The Bad and the Beautiful a lot better.


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Femmes Fatales Jan 29 2016
STRAIGHT SHOOTER
Nothing to fear but Greer herself.


This awesome promo photo comes from Jacques Tourneur’s iconic 1947 film noir Out of the Past, in which Jane Greer plays Kathie Moffat, one of history’s greatest femmes fatales. Here she watches Robert Mitchum and Steve Brodie in a fistfight, planning all along to decide the situation with a bullet.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
February 08
1969—Allende Meteorite Falls in Mexico
The Allende Meteorite, the largest object of its type ever found, falls in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The original stone, traveling at more than ten miles per second and leaving a brilliant streak across the sky, is believed to have been approximately the size of an automobile. But by the time it hit the Earth it had broken into hundreds of fragments.
February 07
1985—Matt Munro Dies
English singer Matt Munro, who was one of the most popular entertainers on the international music scene during the 1960s and sang numerous hits, including the James Bond theme "From Russia with Love," dies from liver cancer at Cromwell Hospital, Kensington, London.
February 06
1958—Plane Crash Kills 8 Man U Players
British European Airways Flight 609 crashes attempting to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport in Munich, West Germany. On board the plane is the Manchester United football team, along with a number of supporters and journalists. 20 of the 44 people on board die in the crash.

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