Sony Chiba battles the mob in a breakout performance.
How many movies did Sonny Chiba appear in? Like two-hundred? It must be close to that. These posters were made to promote his actioner Dasso yugi, known internationally as Escape Game, or alternatively as Jail Breakers. Chiba plays a career criminal who breaks out of the joint and ends up joining a cartel that specializes in prison breaks. They're “escape coordinators.” It's a great set-up for a flick. However, Chiba fans who haven't seen this should be forewarned that he's no martial arts master here. He's just a regular ex-con trying to make a fast yen in the face of long odds. It's a pretty good film, with nice twists, fun stunts, a cool soundtrack, and, in Chiba, one of the most bankable stars of ’70s Japanese cinema. And while the movie doesn't feature his trademark martial arts, it does feature Haruko Hanibuchi in a co-starring role, and she's an art form all her own. We'll show you what we mean a bit later. Dasso yugi premiered in Japan today in 1976.
It's always the person you least suspect.
Above are a couple of beautiful Italian posters for L'alibi di Satana, better known as The Unsuspected. The set-up of this is too complicated to explain in the short form we use here on Pulp intl., but basically it's a murder mystery dealing with family jealousy, thwarted romances, inherited money, and amnesia. Despite the complexity of the script, which is derived from a Charlotte Armstrong novel, thanks to the title you can guess who the killer is by ignoring all the clues and simply picking the person with the best alibi. We know—that's a spoiler. But we bet 95% of you would have nailed it within twenty minutes anyway. The Unsuspected is still an interesting flick, though. The main attraction is Claude Rains, always great no matter the circumstances, and he's accompanied by Joan Caulfield, Audrey Totter, Constance Bennett, and others. It premiered in the U.S. in 1947, and opened in Italy today in 1949.
Divorce probably would have been the easier option.
Conflict was Humphrey Bogart's follow-up to the crowd pleasing To Have and Have Not, and he takes a dark turn as a man whose bad marriage is complicated by the fact that he's fallen in love with his sister-in-law. He's willing to kill to be free, but his plan goes sideways, as they always do. We won't go into detail except to note that, interestingly, Bogart begins to see the same jumbled pyramidal shape everywhere—in a pile of fallen logs, in an architectural drawing, in the kindling set up to start a bonfire, etc. It's a Hitchcockian touch designed to symbolize the inner conflict of the title, but why exactly is he seeing these things? Is it because he killed his wife? Or because he botched his opportunity and now she's trying to drive him insane? We won't tell you. We'll only say that the winding road toward a resolution is reasonably entertaining, and Bogart can pull even a flawed film to the positive side of the ledger. Conflict, which co-starred Alexis Smith and Sydney Greenstreet, premiered in the U.S. today in 1945.
Woman heads south of the border but her career options stay north.
Quella viziosa di Susan is a U.S.-made porn flick that was originally titled The Last Tango in Acapulco. It starred Becky Sharpe and Bill Cable, supplemented by various unidentified stunt genitals. The plot of this is fascinating. Sharpe has a forced sexual relationship with her dad which she escapes by fleeing to Mexico, but once there she descends into a life of prostitution. Many victims of sexual abuse do become prostitutes, obviously, which makes it quite weird that in an escapist genre like porn the filmmakers actually get anywhere near such subject matter, but clearly they served a higher cause than mere sexual titillation. Sadly, reality intruded on their lofty goals in the form of budget, thus despite high ambition, great Mexican beach locations, and an appealing lead actress, the movie comes across as below average sexploitation. But it still earned an Italian release, for which someone with talent painted this nice promo poster of a woman going south of the border in a different way. Sadly, like owners of the stunt genitals, the artist goes unidentified. The Last Tango in Acapulco opened in the U.S. today in 1973 and made it to Italy in 1976.
All deliveries guaranteed fresh and warm or you get 50% off.
The Corpse Came C.O.D., as if you couldn't guess from its screwball title, is a comic murder mystery, and yes, it features a corpse sent through the mail—or more precisely by messenger. This stiff arrives in a crate to a famous actress's home, and when the body spills out she calls a well-connected newspaperman to help her with the problem. For him this involves not only solving the crime while staying ahead of the police, but fending off a rival who smells a juicy story. This rival happens to be his romantic interest, so the two fight and feud while trying to snatch the scoop from each other. This love-hate relationship is the core of the film, with the two hurling lines at each like, “I wouldn't trust you if I had an atomic bomb in each hand!”
This is a pretty fun flick. Think The Thin Man, but with less budget and a bit less panache. It stars George Brent, Joan Blondell, Adele Jergens, and Leslie Brooks, and has interesting cameos from actual Hollywood gossip columnists George Fisher, Hedda Hopper, Erskine Johnson, Louella Parsons, and others. The film was written by columnist Jimmy Starr, which accounts for the tabloid focus, and he has a cameo too. You pretty much can't lose with this one. It's good natured and well put together, and might even make you wonder why movies like this aren't made anymore. The Corpse Came C.O.D. premiered in the U.S. today in 1947.
There's only one way out and it isn't retirement.
Above is a poster for Gendai yakuza: yotamono jingi, aka Hoodlum Yakuza, which premiered in Japan today in 1969 and starred Bunta Sugawara as a yakuza footsoldier trying to escape the life. He wants to run away with his girlfriend, and with the help of his brother hatches a scheme he hopes will make his freedom possible. Fat chance.
We shared a standard promo of this at the bottom of a collection we put together five years ago, but this piece is an exceedingly rare, horizontally oriented, two-piece promo, a style known as bo-ekibari. We have the halves uploaded separately below, and we have another rare poster for the film we'll share later.
Mari Atsumi goes searching for her place in the sun.
Above, two beautiful posters for Taiyo wa mita, aka I Saw the Sun, with Mari Atsumi. We couldn't track this one down but we know it's a drama set in a seaside town and know it premiered in Japan today in 1970. We already shared a really nice promo image for the film here, and if we learn more we'll report back.
Ever feel like you were born in the wrong time?
Above is another Mexican promo poster, this time for the drama La loca, which starred Libertad Lamarque in an Ariel nominated performance as a woman who believes she's living in 1936. We feel that way sometimes ourselves. But in her case, her delusion is preventing her family from collecting an inheritance, which pits them against her, prompting a psychiatrist to take up her cause in order to defend her against being exploited. Speak Spanish? You can watch the movie online here while the link lasts. The poster was painted by Juan Antonio Vargas, and as we discussed earlier this beautiful style of illustration was popular among Mexican poster artists of the time. La loca premiered today in 1952.
Hit novel Blindfold returns as a movie vehicle for Rock Hudson.
Rock Hudson was in the decline phase of his cinema career when he made Blindfold, and was just about to move into television, where he would score a huge hit with the cop show McMillan & Wife. But this film shows him in solid form. As in the novel, it all starts when his psychiatrist character is asked by a government agent to treat a mentally broken scientist in total secrecy, which Hudson reluctantly agrees to do, and is conducted to an isolated house while blindfolded. Days later he's run into—literally—by the sick man's sister Claudia Cardinale, who believes her brother has been kidnapped. Was the man who asked Hudson for help really with the government? Or did he merely want to unlock a secret hidden in the scientist's brain? When another agent appears and tells him this is precisely the case, Hudson and Cardinale have no idea who to believe. It begins to look like the scientist is being held against his will. If Hudson and Cardinale hope to rescue him, they need to pinpoint his location even though Hudson was blindfolded every time he was taken there.
As in the novel this is the central gimmick, and it seems an impossible task, but Cardinale convinces Hudson he can find this isolated house. Obviously, this section is handled in less detail than in the novel. Hudson estimates how long the flight was, eliminating impossible flight plans, learns where migrating geese fly south, and remembers what he heard during the car journeys—a body of water, a rickety bridge, a strange type of boat, and a church choir. It was a fun idea in the book and it's a fun idea on the screen too. In fact, it must have made an impression, because aspects of it were directly borrowed by Robert Redford for his 1992 comedic thriller Sneakers. Hudson and Cardinale, first as adversaries and later as budding romantic partners, try to unravel the where what why when and who, while shamelessly flirting with each other. As we said in the previous post, think of Charade or Arabesque. Blindfold isn't executed as well as those films, but it's certainly a nice little trifle, and it's worth watching. Anything with Cardinale is. And Rock ain't so bad either. The film premiered in the U.S. today in 1966.
Last stop—the city morgue.
Watching lots of movies eventually brings everything your way. The promo poster for Grand Central Murder lured us, and we found ourselves watching an archetypal Sherlockian whodunnit, complete with the villain unmasked in the final moments. When a Broadway showgirl is murdered on a private train car the police gather a gaggle of suspects and go through each of their stories trying to uncover the killer. Among the detainees—her escaped convict boyfriend, her sad sack ex-husband, her jealous co-worker, her phony psychic stepfather, her theatrical understudy, and others, including the convict's lawyer, played by lead actor Van Heflin. Various alibis and reminiscences are shown in flashback until the killer is revealed via a monologue that wraps everything up nice and neat. We wouldn't call the movie screamingly thrilling and funny like the poster does, but it's okay if you like mysteries, and the mass transit backdrop is actually kind of interesting. Grand Central Murder premiered in New York City today in 1942.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1967—Muhammad Ali Sentenced for Draft Evasion
Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who was known as Cassius Clay before his conversion to Islam, is sentenced to five years in prison for refusing to serve in the military during the Vietnam War. In elucidating his opposition to serving, he uttered the now-famous phrase, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.”
1953—The Rosenbergs Are Executed
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted for conspiracy to commit espionage related to passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet spies, are executed at Sing Sing prison, in New York.
1928—Earhart Crosses Atlantic Ocean
American aviator Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly in an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean, riding as a passenger in a plane piloted by Wilmer Stutz and maintained by Lou Gordon. Earhart would four years later go on to complete a trans-Atlantic flight as a pilot, leaving from Newfoundland and landing in Ireland, accomplishing the feat solo without a co-pilot or mechanic.
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