|Vintage Pulp||Apr 11 2023|
Sometimes you can't win no matter what you do.
This poster was made for the crime drama Book of Numbers, which premiered in the U.S. today in 1973. The movie falls into the category of blaxploitation, but it's also an ambitious period piece, with a Depression era focus, a deep subtext, and a determination to portray a type of black American life rarely seen onscreen. During the lean years of 1930s a couple of waiters who harbor big dreams ditch food service and hatch a scheme to set up a numbers racket. They roll into El Dorado, Arkansas, get some local help, and soon are making cash faster than they know how to spend it. Their success inevitably attracts the attention of the law, organized crime, and the local Ku Klux Klan. Can the protagonists succeed against all these foes? And what does success look like for black men in the 1930s? No matter how much money they make, they are still not respected, safe, or free.
The movie stars future Miami Vice stud Philip Michael Thomas, along with Raymond St. Jacques, who produced and directed. Their two characters are decades apart in age, and vastly different in how they deal with constant racism. Thomas takes no guff from anyone, even when it costs him; St. Jacques will play any role expected of him by whites in order to survive. This doesn't sit well with the hot-headed Thomas, and leads to growing resentment. In our view, this is the most unique aspect of the film. It implies that because society forces black men to play roles, they can never be truly known by anyone outside their intimate circle. Robert Deane Pharr wrote the source material for this, and it must be an interesting novel, because it spawned a good movie. Book of Numbers is tough, adult, thought-provoking, and historically revealing. We recommend it for 1930s buffs, blaxploitation aficionados, and of course fans of Miami Vice.
ArkansasBook of NumbersMiami VicePhilip Michael ThomasRaymond St. JacquesFreda PayneRobert Deane Pharrposter artcinemablaxploitationmovie review
|Mondo Bizarro||May 20 2016|
Dream a little dream with us.
Gypsy's Witch Dream Book of Numbers is a lucky number book published in 1972 and based on the principle of dream interpretation. Basically, you have a dream, look up its elements, and find the associated numbers. For example, take an average dream—say you're in an all nude, alcohol licensed strip club on the Turks and Caicos with about 10K in your pockets and the dancers include Anjelique Pettyjohn, Kimiko Nakayama, and Joey Heatherton, along with assorted Miss Universe contestants, and on a small stage in the corner the music is being played live by Shakira, but she's performing Curtis Mayfield's “Give Me Your Love” and the rest of the Superfly soundtrack. You can't decide who to buy a lap dance from, so in order to convince you Anjelique, Kimiko, and Joey begin demonstrating progressively more amazing and shocking contortionist maneuvers, even going so far as to ask you to help them achieve certain positions, at which point your waitress Elke Sommer brings a raspberry Rickey and tells you she's off work now, but go ahead and have a lap dance first, because she'll wait. We'll stop there. So then you go into the dream book and look up “naked,” “island,” “dancer,” and maybe, just to cover your bases, “summer,” “Star Trek,” and “pretzel.” You find the three-digit numbers associated with those items, which you take to the nearest 7-Eleven, buy several Powerball tickets containing those numbers, and win diddly squat. That's basically how the dream book works. Oh, and the cover was painted by mid-century paperback artist Gene Bilbrew. Almost forgot to mention him.