You moved like they do. I've never seen anyone move that fast.
Usually when we share a foreign poster for a film it's because the foreign version is markedly better. The original poster for Bruce Lee's Hong Kong-produced martial arts thriller Tang shan da xiong is actually pretty nice, but the Matrix-like motion capture attempt on this Italian version is just too cool to ignore. In Italy the film was titled Il furore della Cina colpisce ancora, or “China's fury strikes again,” and the art is by Averado Ciriello. It's an inspired effort, which he almost equals on version two, at bottom. There are also two Japanese posters at this link, and it's here that we mention that the movie was titled in English The Big Boss and Fists (not Fist) of Fury.
Bruce Lee movies are not to be watched for their acting or complex plots, and the dialogue in this one is laugh-out-loud bad. The film is a morality play about Lee, an expert fighter, having promised his wise old uncle never to fight again because “violence is never the answer.” Of course he's immediately dropped into a pit of evil when his new job in an ice factory turns out to be a front for drug smuggling. His intervention in the racket comes exactly too late to help his cousin, who's murdered by the villains, but when he finally fights, it's with lightning quickness and almost mystical ability, as he lethally wades through hoards of baddies and cripples the smuggling enterprise single-handedly, or double-fistedly. Maybe violence is the answer after all.
But it isn't quite that easy. These traffickers didn't reach the top of the heap for nothing. Their continued commitment to violence demands that Lee either walk away or willingly descend into the same cycle. As always there's a final showdown with a crafty old karate master who pushes Lee to his limits. His moral progression from purity through temptation, corruption, shame, revenge, and consequences is cheesy but it's also very entertaining, and one thing is clear. He never needed digital help to dazzle the eye. He'd demonstrate his gifts in three more movies, then be gone, at the age of thirty-two, with his final film—his biggest hit Enter the Dragon—released posthumously. Tang shan da xiong premiered in Hong Kong in 1971 and reached Italy today in 1973.
Why the hell didn't I think to have the bank teller double bag this?
We keep sharing posters for Stanley Kubrick's thriller The Killing because each one we see is unique and interesting. Above is an Italian poster we missed when we shared three other promos from Italy last year. This one, with its broken sack of cash symbolizing the futility of the central robbery, was painted by Giuliano Nistri. It's impressive that the Italian distributors commissioned three completely different masterful promos for the film, but that was the golden era of cinematic art. These days in Italy, as everywhere, movie posters are merely photographs with text emblazoned across them, but once upon a time they produced amazing things like what you see above, and here. Rapina a mano armata, aka The Killing premiered in Italy today in 1957.
The only way to learn it is to do it.
This is a really nice poster for the Italian sex comedy La matriarca. We watched it on Daily Motion, and Catherine Spaak plays a young widow who discovers her dearly departed kept a secret apartment reserved for his serial philandering. Wondering if her lack of sexual experience contributed to her husband's wanderings, and spurred to curiosity about various carnal practices, she proceeds to seduce pretty much everyone she knows, absorbing lessons along the way. She becomes particularly fixated on the wisdom of Aristotle, which leads to her comically using men as horses (see below). We're mainly interested in the poster, though, which is unsigned, but was painted by Giuliano Nistri, a conclusion we came to because he painted the alternate Italian promo which you see below, and because it's very similar to another Nistri poster you can see here. La matriarca premiered in Italy today in 1968. If you get the urge to watch it, try this link.
Italian thriller offers viewers an entertaining world of trouble.
It’s probably fair to say Duello dans le monde, aka Ring Around the World has been pretty much forgotten in filmdom, but maybe it shouldn’t be. With a good premise, groovy-jazzy soundtrack, and location shooting in global hotspots like Bangkok, London, Hong Kong, and Rio de Janeiro, this was better than we had any right to expect. Richard Harrison investigates a series of seemingly natural deaths only to find that they were murders—in reality an assassin has shot the victims with pellets made of a frozen concoction that induces heart attacks. The pellets of course then melt and leave no trace behind.
We were drawn to this film by the excellent French language promo poster above painted by Giuliano Nistri, but were surprised to find a semi-competent thriller in the vein of James Bond. Interestingly, there’s a skydiving stunt here that predated the famous Moonraker opening sequence by more than a decade. The stunt isn’t exactly the same, but the idea is close, done low budget. The movie is probably too goofy and cheap to be called good, but on the whole it’s worth a look, and as a bonus it co-stars the wonderful Dominique Boschero. Originally released in Italy in 1966 and called Duello nel mondo, it opened in France as Duel dans le monde today in 1967.
Only the poodle knows what’s funny, and it isn’t telling.
As you may have noticed, of late we’re very high on Italian illustrators. We’ve shown you some of the best here, here, and here. Today we wanted to share this Giuliano Nistri effort for Alberto Lattuada’s 1957 romantic comedy Guendalina. The poster’s inspiration is a famous scene in which star Jacqueline Sassard dances in full body tights for co-star Raf Mattioli. You may notice that Nistri seems to have expended considerable skill getting his representation of Sassard to be lifelike, but considerably less on the creepy, dead-eyed poodle next to her. That’s because the poodle isn’t real. In the film, it’s a stuffed animal, and he got it exactly right. Guendalina premiered in Italy today in 1957.
Vice and virtue in Vienna.
So, quite by coincidence there’s another movie we watched recently that also premiered today, though thirty years later than The Shanghai Gesture (see below). The movie is Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh, which would translate as “The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh,” but was released in the U.S. as Blade of the Ripper. This flick is considered one of the best gialli ever made, and it’s tough to argue the point. It’s intricate, absorbing, unpredictable, colorful, and shot in an array of amazing external locations and inside one of the greatest mid-century modern apartments ever conceived. It also has Edwige Fenech, whose gifts are well known. Taking place mainly in Vienna and climaxing in Sitges, Spain (which happens to be one of our favorite towns in Europe)Signora Wardh is a tale of obssession and infidelity wrapped in a murder mystery. Mrs. Wardh does indeed have a strange vice, but that’s just window dressing. It’s her that’s being hunted throughout the movie—either by a serial killer, a demented ex-lover, or both. Or neither. They say that the only way to keep a secret is if no more than two people know it and one of them is dead. But the only way to commit murder is if the killer has an iron clad alibi, and for that he often needs help. Rule one conflicts with rule two, and that’s the fun of Signora Wardh. Above you see a rare and wonderful Italian promo poster painted by Giuliano Nistri, the younger brother of equally talented Enzo Nistri. We'll get back to both Nistri brothers a little later. Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh opened in Italy today in 1971.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1955—James Dean Dies in Auto Accident
American actor James Dean, who appeared in the films Giant
, East of Eden
, and the iconic Rebel without a Cause
, dies in an auto accident
at age 24 when his Porsche 550 Spyder is hit head-on by a larger Ford coupe. The driver of the Ford had been trying to make a left turn across the rural highway U.S. Route 466 and never saw Dean's small sports car approaching.
1962—Chavez Founds UFW
Mexican-American farm worker César Chávez founds the United Farm Workers in California. His strikes, marches and boycotts eventually result in improved working conditions for manual farm laborers and today his birthday is celebrated as a holiday in eight U.S. states.
1916—Rockefeller Breaks the Billion Barrier
American industrialist John D. Rockefeller becomes America's first billionaire. His Standard Oil Company had gained near total control of the U.S. petroleum market until being broken up by anti-trust legislators in 1911. Afterward, Rockefeller used his fortune mainly for philanthropy, and had a major effect on medicine, education, and scientific research.
1941—Williams Bats .406
Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox finishes the Major League Baseball season with a batting average of .406. He is the last player to bat .400 or better in a season.
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