Recent excavation reveals rare and wonderful treasures.
Egypt is a land of ancient artifacts, but it isn't one of pulp or pulp influenced art. Even so, we did some deep digging and found a few items that may fit the bill. These movie posters were painted by artists such as Ahmed Hamed, Hassan Mazhar Gasour, and the tandem of Stamatis Vassiliou & Marcel during the ’50s, ’60s, and ’80s. You see here, top to bottom, Fattouma, 1961, Thawrat el-Madinah, aka A Town's Revolt, 1955, Klatwa doliny wezy, aka Curse of Snakes Valley, 1988, two posters for El gessad, aka Flesh, 1955, two posters for Fi baitina rajul, aka There Is a Man in Our House, 1961, starring Omar Sharif, and finally, Iterafat zauja, aka A Wife's Confession, 1954. These may not be executed as the highest level, but they're quirky and colorful, which is good enough for us. We'd take any of these in a frame and be happy. See another Egyptian poster with Pam Grier—or a reasonable likeness of her—at this link.
Lovers in a dangerous time.
Above are two posters for Nikutai no mon, aka Gate of Flesh, one of the most famous films to come out of Japan during the post-war period. We talked about the pinku remake of this, which appeared in 1977. The original was directed by Seijun Suzuki and stars Jo Shishido, Satoko Kasai, and Yumiko Nogawa. It closely follows the plot of Tajiro Tamura's novel, in which a group of tough prostitutes survive in bombed out post-World War II Tokyo thanks to camaraderie and a strict code of conduct, of which the most important rule is never to have sex for free. When a wounded ex-soldier takes shelter with them, some of the women find emotional distance difficult to keep, while one finds maintaining physical distance even harder. The novel is a tragedy, and since the film tracks the fiction closely, don't expect to walk away from this one with a smile on your face. It premiered in Japan today in 1964.
You can't keep a good girl down.
This dramatic poster was made for Nikutai no mon, aka Gate of Flesh, a movie based on a 1947 novel by Japanese author Taijirô Tamura. The book has been filmed five times. The most famous version was made in 1968 with Jo Shishido and Yumiko Nogawa earning acclaim for their lead roles in what was a serious and artistic film, but the above promo is for the 1977 roman porno version starring Reiko Kayama, Izumi Shima, and Junko Miyahsita. Needless to say, the two films diverge rather sharply. However, we need to point out, as we do periodically, that roman porno isn't porno—it's softcore. The “roman” in roman porno is short for “romantic,” and though the movies aren't typically romantic in the normal sense, they aren't explicit. Such depictions were illegal in Japan back then, and remain so today (though filmmakers use pixilation of sexual organs to skirt the law).
When the novel Nikutai no mon appeared in 1947 a different censorship regime existed called the Civil Censorship Detachment, which was under the authority of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, aka Douglas MacArthur. Under SCAP CCD censorship, explicit accounts of fraternization between Japanese and whites were forbidden, as were detailed accounts of the atomic bombings, or anything that could generate distrust toward the American occupiers. Most Japanese authors obeyed. A few wrote obliquely about the forbidden subjects. And a very few broke the rules entirely to describe war horrors—e.g. flashburned nuclear victims walking naked and blind amongst the ruins, their hairless bodies so swollen their sex could not be determined. Tamura's novel falls in the middle. It tells the story of a group of Japanese women trying to survive in the rubble of Tokyo via prostitution.
Where the 1968 movie stuck pretty close to Tamura's fiction, the roman porno focuses more on the sexploitation angle, though it keeps the action set in 1947. A criminal syndicate known as Black Rose provides Japanese girls as prostitutes to the American military, and any who resist the various examinations, training, and indignities are punished with torture and death. When Reiko Kayama arrives on the scene, she eventually inspires the others to follow her as she leads a revolt against her enslavers. You get sex, girlfights, killings, and blood. If you're looking for standard roman porno fare—with perhaps a bit more visual piazazz than usual thanks to director Shôgorô Nishimura and cinematographer Yoshihiro Yamazaki—you've picked the right film. Nikutai no mon premiered in Japan today in 1977.
The key is to have sufficient assets.
Getting deeper into those two-thousand Japanese posters we mentioned, here’s a promo for Shôgorô Nishimura’s Danchizuma: nikutai kinyu, which in English was called Apartment Wife: Flesh Financing. There were twenty-one of these Apartment Wife movies made by Nikkatsu Studios during the 1970s, and they mostly focused on the sexual predicaments of working class women. This one is supposedly one of the best, but we can’t say because we haven’t been able to track it down. It starred Yu Mizuki, who also appeared in 1977’s Danchizuma: amayadori no joji, aka Apartment Wife: Rainy Day Affair, as well as several other productions. Danchizuma: nikutai kinyu premiered in Japan today in 1976.
Some say being a big fish in a small pond is better than being a small fish anywhere. They may be wrong.
Hakkin nikubuton, aka Banned Book: Flesh Futon, for which you see a poster above, has one of those strange titles you come across occasionally in Japanese cinema. “Banned book” seems straightforward enough. But “flesh futon”? Hmm… Based on an erotic novel by Chinese writer Li Yu and starring Hajime Tanimoto, Maya Hiromi, Terumi Azuma, and Rei Okamoto, the movie tells the story of a poor writer named Mio who unexpectedly authors a bestselling erotic novel called—and this will clear up the title weirdness—Flesh Futon. See? Mio takes to fame quite easily, living in the fast lane and generally having a good time.
But his wonderful life begins to fall apart due to various unexpected misfortunes. These run the gamut from having a prostitute spread a rumor that his penis is “like a guppy,” to having to his house robbed and (now that we understand the title, we know this next part is coming) his book banned. When Mio later encounters the house thief this dodgy character reveals that it’s possible to have one’s penis enlarged. How? Let’s just say it’s a pretty ruff procedure. Mio opts for the surgery, but alas, quickly learns that being a big fish isn’t everything, as his previous misfortunes turn out to be only a taste of what is to come. Hakkin nikubuton premiered in Japan today in 1975.
Oh, there you are. Can you stop screwing around and take out the garbage like I asked?
Above, cover art by Barye Phillips for Bruno Fischer’s mystery The Flesh Was Cold, originally The Angels Fell. Fischer, who also wrote as Russell Gray and Harrison Storm, published this under its initial title in 1950, with Signet’s paperback edition hitting shelves in 1951.
It’s got tough spies, fast cars, big boats, dangerous women and great scenery. What could possibly go wrong?
It’s amazing how awful and ineffectual 1960s anti-drug movies were. Massimo Mida’s spy caper LSD—Una atomica nel cervello, aka LSD—Inferno per pochi dollari, aka LSD—Flesh of the Devil, falls into that category. It isn’t quite Reefer Madness silly, but it comes close, with an unintentionally hilarious opener featuring a child blowing up two men with a toy car, then using a blowgun to take down a third who runs so slowly he might as well have canoes for feet. That bit is followed later in the film by giggly, spastic, tearful acid trip sequences put together by someone who maybe listened to Surrealistic Pillow but never actually tried drugs. Mida created the moniker Mike Middleton for his directorial credit, and we have to wonder if he was afraid having his real name attached to the film would shame his family. What saves the movie is that it’s got a touch of that ineffable Italian style, numerous location set-ups along the Lake Como shoreline, and plenty of the beautiful Franca Polesello, who you see below. There are worse ways to spend ninety minutes, but this feature is mainly for Italophiles and those with Mystery Science Theater 3000 wit. Others may want to steer clear. At least the poster art, by Moroni (first), and Diovano (second) is great. LSD—Una atomica nel cervello premiered in Italy today in 1967.
Frosty the Snowman was a jolly happy soul, with a corncob pipe and a button nose and a nympho on his pole…
Those are the lyrics, right? We can’t remember. You know, maybe humping a snowman is more fun than it looks, but even so, it seems like a good way to find yourself explaining to a doctor—or a gynecologist—how you got the weirdest case of frostbite ever. Don Elliott was a pseudonym used by science fiction author Robert Silverberg, and we can only guess he’s cringed over this one at least once a day ever since he wrote it in 1967. The art is by Tomas Cannizarro.
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.
She started her career with a fright but later laughed her way to the bank.
This shot featuring Canadian actress Barbara Kent nicely captures the spirit of Halloween. Kent was born Barbara Cloutman, and began her rise to stardom by winning the 1925 Miss Hollywood Beauty Pageant. Her first parts were in Prowlers of the Night and Flesh and the Devil, but her later roles were usually comedic in nature and were her most popular films. In all, she appeared in thirty-six productions, which sounds impressive until you wonder how well she might have done had this black cat never crossed her path.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1915—Claude Patents Neon Tube
French inventor Georges Claude patents the neon discharge tube, in which an inert gas is made to glow various colors through the introduction of an electrical current. His invention is immediately seized upon as a way to create eye catching advertising, and the neon sign
comes into existence to forever change the visual landscape of cities.
1937—Hughes Sets Air Record
Millionaire industrialist, film producer and aviator Howard Hughes sets a new air record by flying from Los Angeles, California to New York City in 7 hours, 28 minutes, 25 seconds. During his life he set multiple world air-speed records, for which he won many awards, including America's Congressional Gold Medal.
1967—Boston Strangler Convicted
Albert DeSalvo, the serial killer who became known as the Boston Strangler, is convicted of murder and other crimes and sentenced to life in prison. He serves initially in Bridgewater State Hospital, but he escapes and is recaptured. Afterward he is transferred to federal prison where six years later he is killed by an inmate or inmates unknown.
1950—The Great Brinks Robbery Occurs
In the U.S., eleven thieves steal more than $2 million from an armored car company's offices in Boston, Massachusetts. The skillful execution of the crime, with only a bare minimum of clues left at the scene, results in the robbery being billed as "the crime of the century." Despite this, all the members of the gang are later arrested.
1977—Gary Gilmore Is Executed
Convicted murderer Gary Gilmore is executed by a firing squad in Utah, ending a ten-year moratorium on Capital punishment in the United States. Gilmore's story is later turned into a 1979 novel entitled The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer, and the book wins the Pulitzer Prize for literature.
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