Vintage Pulp May 1 2016
BERMUDA POLYGON
The mystery happens on an island, alright. But the island is Manhattan.

We thought Bermuda Mystery would be an island adventure, a copycat To Have and Have Not, but not a single exterior scene takes place in Bermuda. The film is actually set in New York City. The mystery of the title refers to an offshore investment fund based in Bermuda and shared by six war vets. If any of the six die before the account comes to maturity the others split the extra, which in a modern storyteller's hands would be a recipe for a Tarantinoesque six-sided gun battle, but which in this film leads to the investors being bumped off one by one. Ann Rutherford plays the classic mid-century ditz role as the niece of the first victim who drags a private dick into the mystery to help her unmask the killer. Of course, romance eventually develops between ditz and dick, though he's engaged to another woman. “I told you I'd get him before this was over,” Rutherford says directly to the audience, winking. But it was obvious from the get-go. Marginally enjoyable if low budget. Bermuda Mystery premiered in the U.S. today in 1944.
 


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Vintage Pulp Apr 28 2016
PAST LIFE REGRESSION
Like Shakespeare wrote, what's past is prologue.


This unusual poster was made to promote the Spanish run of Retorno al pasado, a movie better known as Out of the Past. The title says it all. A man who thinks he's left his sordid past behind sees it rear its ugly head and threaten to ruin the good future he's planned for himself. Starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, and Kirk Douglas, this is one of the top noir thrillers, in our opinion. Certainly it's one of the most beautifully shot, thanks to director Jacques Tourneur and cinematographer Nicholas Mesuraca. Like the poster art by Macario Gomez, the film is richly textured and lushly black, which makes for a nice sense of gathering danger, especially in the pivotal fight sequence about forty minutes in. Plus it has the always compelling Mexico connection used by many excellent noirs, as well as nice location shooting around Lake Tahoe and Reno. Highly recommended, this one. After opening in the U.S. in November 1947 it had its Spanish premiere in Madrid today in 1948. 

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Vintage Pulp Apr 28 2016
REPEAT OFFENDER
Some people just can't keep out of trouble.

We already showed you a poster for Reiko Oshida's 1971 pinku actioner Zubekô banchô: zange no neuchi mo nai, aka Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless To Confess. She returns above on two rare alternate promos. Those inclined can visit our earlier write-up on the movie here.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 26 2016
LIFE BEHIND BARBS
Nobody gets out of here alive.


We wrote about Spanish director Jesus Franco not long ago. Sort of. When we noticed another premiere date approaching for one of his films we thought we'd check it out. El reformatorio de las perdidas, originally titled Frauengefängnis, and called Barbed Wire Dolls in the U.S., is a nearly plotless exercise in sadism featuring Lina Ronay, Monica Swinn, and other overheated female convicts dealing with predatory guards and an evil wardeness. There's an escape, as usual in these Franco films, and as usual it fails. That's giving nothing away because the escape isn't the point—the nudity and sex are. Last time we discussed Franco we made a joke of it without really talking about the quality of his films. So here's the deal—they range from the arty to the ridiculous to the outright terrible. This one falls unambiguously into the latter category. That is all. Hey, but you gotta love that Spanish poster. Frauengefängnis premiered in West Germany today in 1976, and hit Spain and other countries in 1977.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 26 2016
RIGHT ON THE DOTS
There isn't much chasing in The Great Chase but the movie is definitely great.


Norifumi Suzuki's Karei-naru tsuiseki, aka The Great Chase is fast, funny, and bizarre entertainment. Etsuko Shihomi plays a Formula 1 driver who also works for the Japanese secret service, in this case taking down an international drug syndicate. Shihomi was already a star in Japanese cinema from her supporting roles in Sonny Chiba's Streetfighter and its spin-offs. Karei-naru tsuiseki sees her honing her solo chops—literally, as she karates the shit out of dozens of guys. But you get so much more than fistfights here—you get Shihomi in disguises, a corpse filled with cocaine, a girl in armor being force fed a banana, a nun brawl in a church, a mob boss dressed as a bear, a fight on what has to be the world's highest cable car, and more. Pure cheese, but of the most flavorful sort, and with a top notch promo poster featuring Shihomi in a discolicious polka dot two-piece. We have posters for five other Shihomi actioners and she looks badass on all of them. We'll share those in the future. Karei-naru tsuiseki premiered today in 1975.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 24 2016
WASTED YOUTH
Anything for a thrill.


Awesome pulp style poster for Juvenile Jungle, with Corey Allen, Rebecca Welles and a brief appearance from Playboy playmate Yvette Vickers. The movie premiered today in 1958 and is one of the rare U.S. films we've been unable to find. But reviews are copious, and they'll inform you this revolves around a gang that kidnaps a store owner's daughter in order to extort his payroll, and how the plan goes awry when the gang leader and the captive fall for each other. Stockholm Syndrome in Southern California's beachside, leather-jacketed delinquent culture, filmed in the widescreen process Republic Pictures called Naturama.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 20 2016
STRAY BULLETS
She's going to Rock your world.


Back in 2009 we shared two posters for Meiko Kaji's action-packed pinku Nora-nekko rokku: Sekkusu hanta, aka Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter. The above tatekan sized poster is an alternate promo for that film, which premiered today in 1971. It's similar to the version we showed you before but not identical—stripes go the other direction, woman pulling her undies down is missing, inset image of girls torturing a bad boy has been removed. Both posters are tops. Take a close look at the other one here (scroll down a bit).

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Vintage Pulp Apr 18 2016
MORTAL BELOVED
But I only want to kill my stepmom and take her money. What’s the big deal?


First things first—this poster was painted by Nicola Simbari, yet another genius from the ranks of Italian illustrators, someone who today is thought of as one of Italy’s most important modern artists and has pieces hanging in museums all over the world. He painted the above masterpiece for the Howard Hughes produced Seduzione mortale, known in the U.S. as Angel Face. It's the story of a man who tries to trade up to a richer, flashier girlfriend and ends up entangled in a murder plot. Robert Mitchum stars as the fickle hero, Jean Simmons co-stars as the femme fatale, Mona Freeman is the loyal girlfriend, and Jim Backus—aka Mr. Howell from Gilligan’s Island—is a tough district attorney.

This one is worth watching for the cringe-inducing central killing alone, which ranks top five in the annals of film noir for sheer brutality. Mitchum is good as always, Simmons less so due to her occasional tendency to act! rather than act, but that’s a minor issue. The movie works. It's well scripted by a trio of writers with an assist from Ben Hecht, and nicely directed by Otto Preminger. Best line in the film: “Is rigging a car like he says a very complicated thing? Or could anyone do it? Even a woman?” Ah yes, film noir—sexy and sexist. But there’s a real lesson there—never teach a femme fatale how a car’s transmission works. You’ll regret it.

Angel Face opened in the U.S. in late 1952 and premiered, according to all the sources we checked, in Italy today in 1953. But the poster at top advertises a premiere at a Rome cinema called the Fiamma on 6 May, 1953. Which date is right? Possibly both. April 18, 1953 was a Saturday, which would be a typical day for a film’s run to commence. May 6 was a Wednesday—not typical for launching a wide release. We suspect the poster was made for a special engagement, probably one night only. But we’re only guessing. We may have to slot this question in the unanswered file. There are only so many things you can figure out from a computer terminal after all. We have another poster below, plus two nice promos.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 18 2016
THE REAL MCCOY
DeForest Kelly makes strong impression debuting in low budget psychological noir.


We’re doubling up on the film noir with Fear in the Night, a low budget drama that hit cinemas today in 1947. It stars DeForest Kelly—Dr. McCoy of Star Trek fame—in his cinematic debut as a bank teller who has a nightmare of murder, but wakes with unnerving hints it was more than a dream—blood on his hand, thumbprints on his neck, and a few foreign items in his possession. While not a top noir, the source material—Cornell Woolrich’s story “And So to Death”—is strong, and the film is stylishly shot by director Maxwell Shane and cinematographer Jack Greenhalgh, who use various visual tricks to suggest a man barely keeping his grip on reality (see below). Some may be put off by the voiceover dominating the first reel, but we thought it was fun. Viewers know right away Kelly’s done something bad in the real world—the questions are where, when, how, and why. Luckily, his cop in-law and loyal girlfriend are there to lean on, so it’s only a matter of time before the truth comes out. Kelly is only twenty-seven in this and with his soulful eyes and perfectly waved hair he’s quite handsome. We recommend this one for true noir lovers, fans of Star Trek, and women who want material for their rub club. And no, you aren't imagining it—DeForest doesn't appear on the promo poster, even though he's the star.

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Modern Pulp Apr 17 2016
ROOM IN ROME
In search of the perfect O.

There's nothing special about this poster for Mado kara Roma ga mieru, aka Roma dalla finestra, aka Rome from a Window, other than perhaps that it's double-sided, as you see at right. But the movie does feature Kimiko Nakayama, which is no small thing. Shot in Italy by a Japanese director with a mostly Italian cast and crew, it's the story of a photographer named Carlo, his wife, Nakayama's character O, and the various sexual entanglements these three experience, both between themselves and with others.
 
This being a movie from Japan's infamous roman porno genre, it's in no way a surprise that the photographer meets O because he comes across her peeing. She happens to be doing this at the monument marking the site where Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini was murdered in 1975, beaten to death by an assailant or assailants then run over several times with his own car. When Carlo and O get together later for fun and games she comments upon the prodigious size of his member, to which he responds that he is of normal Italian size. As a joke, it can cut both ways, as can many aspects of the movie.
 
In general, it's all very weird, possibly because director Masuo Ikeda, who also wrote the screenplay, was foremost a painter, sculptor, ceramist, printmaker and award-winning novelist who only dabbled in film direction. The sense of artistic freedom, in terms of not being concerned with following norms, really shows. With an atmospheric soundtrack from Paul Mauriat (the sleeve is just above and right) that is better remembered than the actual movie, Mado kara Roma ga mieru, aka Roma dalla finestra premiered in Japan today in 1982. And just because we had it laying around, below is a shot of Nakayama to go along with one we shared several years ago.
 


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 02
1920—Negro National Baseball League Debuts
The first game of Negro National League baseball is played in Indianapolis, Indiana. The league, one of several that would be formed, was composed of The Chicago American Giants, The Detroit Stars, The Kansas City Monarchs, The Indianapolis ABCs, The St. Louis Giants, The Cuban Stars, The Dayton Marcos, and The Chicago Giants.
1955—Williams Wins Pulitzer
American playwright Tennessee Williams wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his controversial play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which tells the story of a southern family in crisis, explicitly deals with alcoholism, and contains a veiled subtext concerning homosexuality in southern society. In 1958 the play becomes a motion picture starring Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman.
May 01
1945—Germany Announces Hitler's Death
German radio in Hamburg announces that Adolf Hitler was killed in Berlin, stating specifically that he had fallen at his command post in the Reich Chancery fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism and for Germany. But in truth Hitler had committed suicide along with his mistress Eva Braun, and both bodies were immediately thereafter burned.
1960—Powers Is Shot Down over U.S.S.R.
Francis Gary Powers, flying in a Lockheed U-2 spy plane, is shot down over the Soviet Union. The U.S. denies the plane's purpose and mission, but is later forced to admit its role as a covert surveillance aircraft when the Soviet government produces its remains and reveals Powers, who had survived the shoot down. The incident triggers a major diplomatic crisis between the U.S. and U.S.S.R.
April 30
1927—First Prints Are Left at Grauman's
Hollywood power couple Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, who co-founded the movie studio United Artists with Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith, become the first celebrities to leave their impressions in concrete at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, located along the stretch where the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame would later be established.

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