Modern Pulp Nov 27 2014
TOKYOSCOPE POP
2010 lecture and film series produced uniquely stylish art.

Modern art with a vintage flair always catches our eye. The posters above and below promote a lecture and film series called TokyoScope Talks, which were held in San Francisco during 2010 at the subterranean Viz Cinema in Japantown. The cinema has since closed, and the lecture/film series has concluded, but the art is so interesting we wanted to share it anyway, even fours years late. These events were primarily organized by writer/journalist Patrick Macias, and the posters were put together by the talented Kazumi Nonaka.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 26 2014
COMING OF AGE
The shape of posters past.

More Swedish poster art, this time for Alexander Korda’s Things to Come, aka Tider skola komma. This design, with its art deco touches, is by Mauritz Moje Åslund, an illustrator who was most active during the 1930s, and who also worked in commercial art, set design, political propaganda, and animation. Things to Come was adapted by H.G. Wells from his sc-fi novel The Shape of Things to Come, and the movie reached Sweden today in 1936.

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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 16 2014
SING-SING ALONG
Raft tries to navigate dangerous waters.

This poster for Vägen från Sing Sing showcases the clean style and bold negative space we’ve become fans of in mid-century Swedish promo art, and it also captures star George Raft’s famous profile. This was originally a 1939 American production called Invisible Stripes starring Raft, Jane Bryan, William Holden, and Humphrey Bogart, and it deals with a Sing-Sing ex-con’s perhaps doomed efforts to go straight. Check out the Swedish aesthetic here, here, here, and here. Vägen från Sing Sing premiered in Sweden today in 1940.

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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
BROWN IS THE NEW BLONDE
Diana Dors dirties her golden locks for another turn as a woman behind bars.


The excellent promo above for Le femme et le rôdeur, aka The Unholy Wife was created by Roger Soubie, one of the best French poster artists of the mid-century period. His art drew us to the movie, which we watched only to discover Diana Dors in identical grime mode as in her prison drama Yield to the Night. Not only do both productions feature Dors locked down with her blonde tresses gone brown due to lack of available dye, but both involve her being on death row for murder. Since The Unholy Wife was the next film she did after Yield to the Night we can only assume her initial foray into crime and incarceration was such a success it needed to be repeated. Like almost exactly. Unfortunately, two visions of a bruise-eyed Dors about to receive state-sponsored revenge were too much for audiences, and her repeat excursion was roundly panned.

And sadly, we must agree. Dors is living in California and is married to a Napa winery baron, but since she’s also sharing her affections with a hot young lover, she soon ponders murdering her unsuspecting hubby for his estate. When we lived in Berkeley, just south of the California wine country, we rarely pondered anything more than sunlit grapes and a nice Schug Syrah. But okay, The Unholy Wife is a film noir, which means Dors is no more happy with her heaven-on-Earth existence than a Wall Street stockbroker is with his untaxable Cayman Islands shadow fortune. Both inexplicably want more. Dors starts the film in prison and tells her story via flashback, so we already know her schemes backfired. If only the same were true for stockbrokers. The Unholy Wife premiered in England in the summer of 1957 and premiered in France today the same year.

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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 5 2014
EEL FEELINGS
Only in Italian film can hard labor make you better looking.


If you’re thinking this West German poster for Sophia Loren’s 1954 drama Die Frau vom Fluss, aka La donna del fiume, aka The River Girl looks a bit like this promo for Riso Amaro, you're right—and the actual films are quite similar too. During the 1950s Italian filmmakers produced at least a few movies with identical blueprints—i.e. improbably hot peasant girls performing hard labor somewhere in the Po Valley while wearing bodyhugging clothing. Generally, the girls dream of better circumstances but possess little means to achieve such an end—until into their lives tumble dudes with big plans.

Sounds like light fare, but sultry summer settings and sexy attire notwithstanding, these were serious films—usually tragedies. Where the staple food in Riso Amaro (and Elsa Martinelli’s 1956 drama La risaia) was rice, here it’s eels. Loren works in an eel cannery by day, dances a mean mambo during her spare hours and, like Silvana Mangano in Riso Amaro, finds herself torn between a decent bore and a thrilling criminal. The choice she makes opens up a whole different can of eels and she spends the rest of the film having to manage the consequences. That’s about all we’ll say, except that we watched the flick last night and more or less enjoyed it. As for Loren, she’s 100% more and 0% less, a big personality whose stardom was a matter of destiny. The movie is worth seeing just because of her.


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
November 28
1942—Nightclub Fire Kills Hundreds
In Boston, Massachusetts, a fire in the fashionable Cocoanut Grove nightclub kills 492 people. Patrons were unable to escape when the fire began because the exits immediately became blocked with panicked people, and other possible exits were welded shut or boarded up. The fire led to a reform of fire codes and safety standards across the country, and the club's owner, Barney Welansky, who had boasted of his ties to the Mafia and to Boston Mayor Maurice J. Tobin, was eventually found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
November 27
1934—Baby Face Nelson Killed
In the U.S., killer and bank robber Baby Face Nelson, aka Lester Joseph Gillis, dies in a shoot-out with the FBI in Barrington, Illinois. Nelson is shot nine times, but by walking directly into a barrage of gunfire manages to kill both of his FBI pursuers before dying himself.
November 26
1922—Egyptologists Enter Tut's Tomb
British Egyptologists Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon become the first people to enter the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in over 3000 years. Though sometimes characterized as scholars, Carter and Carnarvon were primarily interested in riches, and cut up Tut's mummy to more easily obtain the jewels and gold affixed to him.

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