Vintage Pulp May 26 2024
WHITE MISCHIEF
Directly off the boat and immediately into trouble.


We chose the header for this post because there's a movie called White Mischief, which we watched recently, about Brits in Africa, and it has an amusing line where a character surveys the morning and says, “Oh God, not another fucking beautiful day.” The two peces of Italian promo art above for the set-in-Africa movie Mogambo might make you say, “Oh God, not another fucking beautiful Italian poster.”

These were painted by Ercole Brini, who we've never featured before but who is another of the many virtuosic artists from Italy that toiled for the movie studios. Whenever we think about the sad loss of painted cinematic poster art, the Italians are who come to our minds. We just don't think there's any doubt at this point—they were the best. Not that it's a competition. Amazing posters with interestingly local aesthetic attributes came from everywhere.

We'll try to feature more from Brini later, and if you're curious about
Mogambo it's—of course—another movie about Africa turning various white northerners into cynical, shambling husks of their supposedly better former selves. Those husks are Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, and Grace Kelly. It opened in the U.S. in 1953 and premiered in Italy this week in 1954. Have a look here if you want to know more, and maybe here.

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Vintage Pulp May 12 2024
SUFFER LITTLE CHILDREN
Who'd want to kill a child? On occasion, virtually any parent on the planet, but in this case it's a violent psychopath.


This poster was painted by the great Enzo Nistri (the brush behind classic promos such as this and this) for the giallo flick Chi l'ha vista morire?, known in English as Who Saw Her Die? It stars former James Bond lead George Lazenby (looking unhealthily thin here because for reasons inexplicable he lost thirty-five pounds for the role) as an American artist in Venice whose young daughter goes missing. He first appeals to the (pro forma ineffectual) police, but the girl turns up floating dead in the Grand Canal.

This brings Lazenby's estranged wife Anita Strindberg to town for the funeral, and soon they're asking questions about a child murder from the previous year, which we the viewers have seen in the opening reel being committed by a woman clad and veiled in black. Lazenby and Strindberg go full sleuth in order to identify and locate this suspected killer, who meanwhile graduates to knocking off adults who might have clues. You may assume co-star and former Bond villain Adolfo Celi has something to do with all this, and he might, but this is a giallo. There's no way to know who's the killer until the final reveal.

The movie's real star may be Venice, where residents once sauntered easily through lanes uncluttered by tour groups and AirBnB renters. You'll see many hidden nooks of the city, beautifully shot by director Aldo Lado and cinematographer Franco Di Giacomo. This type of scenery will come courtesy of AI image generators in the approaching years. After all, why close down St. Mark's Square when you can render it in a computer? Take heart, though—even a computer will never be able to generate Anita Strindberg. Chi l'ha vista morire? premiered in Italy today in 1972.
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Vintage Pulp May 11 2024
A STATE OF ESTASI
Reaching the highest pleasure.


Time flies. We've always reminded ourselves to get back to the Italian artist who signed his work as Mafé, but seven years passed. Well, we have him today, better late than not at all. Above you see his poster for the French made sex flick Pornoestasi, which starred Erika Cool, Marilyn Guillame, Élisabeth Buré, and Martine Grimaud, and was originally titled Tout est permis, or “everything is allowed.” Mafé created other nice pieces, several of which you can see by clicking his keyword below.

We had a glance at Pornoestasi, and what you get is a typically clumsy xxx production from the era, poorly scripted and shot, in which a couple who run a clothing boutique together are experiencing some doldrums. The man decides he needs time away from the woman, she agrees, and both take the opportunity to experience new partners. The funny part is that “away” means a hotel in the same town. We'd at least go to Antibes or Saint-Tropez. In any case, Pornoestasi is nothing to write home about. It premiered today in 1977. 

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Femmes Fatales May 9 2024
SECOND SKINS
The long and short of legwear.

Polish actress Magda Konopka tries two different styles of leg coverage in these images that first showed up in the Italian magazine Playmen in 1967. Somewhere in the changing room she lost her shirt, but that'll happen. It's happened to us. Konopka is known for such b-movies as Blindman, Robinson and His Tempestuous Slaves, and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (which we've written about to a ridiculous extent), but is probably best remembered for the 1968 thriller Satanik. We haven't watched that, but it's on the list. You can see more Konopka here

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Vintage Pulp Apr 10 2024
ISLAND HEAT
It's the same old story. Take a trip to the tropics, lose every bit of self control.


We ran across this Italian locandina for the shot-in-the-Dominican Republic sexploitation flick Il pavone nero, known in English as Voodoo Sexy, and thought it made a nice alternate promo to the one we posted years back. The movie premiered in Italy today in 1975, and with a title like Voodoo Sexy you know what it's about: white skin + tropical heat = a total loss of inhibitions. Flicks of this ilk were an unofficial subgenre of ’70s and ’80s cinema. We love them, and you know why? Because they aren't wildly inaccurate in terms of northerners going crazy down south. The star of this one was German actress Karin Schubert, and that's the other reason we revisited the film—it gave us an excuse to share the photo of her below. Hope it helps you get over hump day.

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Vintage Pulp Mar 25 2024
HER EYE ON YOU
In the land of the blind the one-eyed woman is queen.


We've done a lot on Sandro Symeoni, which means that just for the sake of completeness we can't overlook these. They're his Italian posters for the Christina Lindberg grindhouse classic Thriller, which was originally made in Sweden as Thriller - en grym film, and in English speaking countries was known as Thriller: A Cruel Picture and They Call Her One Eye. We've already talked about it, and its star.
 
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Vintage Pulp Feb 17 2024
ENTER THE SUPERDRAGON
The name's Cooper. Brian Cooper. What—you were expecting some other secret agent?


The Italian spy thriller New York chiama Superdrago, which we had a chance to watch during our little break last week, was known in English as Secret Agent Super Dragon, and is another in a spate of hipster spy movies that came in the wake of James Bond's massive cinematic success. It premeired in Italy today in 1966. Three of its promo posters were painted by the great Sandro Symeoni, and while the above example is also attributed to him on some websites, that's incorrect. It's really by Enrico de Seta. Or said to be by one long-running online poster vendor. We're not actually sure about that because the signature doesn't look like his, but who are we to argue with the experts?

In the film, Ray Danton plays a retired agent codenamed Super Dragon—civilian name Brian Cooper—who's roused from his yogic meditations and drawn back into the spy game when a friend dies in a suspicious auto accident that may be related to previous strange deaths. The clues lead from a U.S. college town to Amsterdam (because what kind of spy movie would it be without some globetrotting?), and into the lissome arms of fellow spies Margaret Lee and Marisa Mell (because what kind of spy movie would it be without hotties à la carte?). Between romances Danton learns that the plot revolves around the untraceable drug synchron-2. Purpose: unknown (but don't be shocked if it's to do with world domination).

Few of these Bond knock-offs are sufficiently budgeted or technically proficient enough to result in good final products. Whether you like them has to do with nebulous factors. In this case, we thought Danton's unctious self-entitlement and blasé approach to world saving were funny. We loved when one of his many assailants swallowed cyanide, Danton said, “I'd better get rid of him,” then dumped the corpse out the nearest window. Cue sound effect of splashing water. New York chiama Superdrago is a bit camp without being a satire, and just poorly written enough to provide a few laughs without being a total screenwriting train wreck. But don't pretend we said it's actually good.
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Vintage Pulp Feb 12 2024
FURY ROAD
Mature and Dors pair up for a bloc buster thriller.


The 1957 Victor Mature/Diana Dors vehicle The Long Haul premiered in Italy today in 1958 as La strada è bloccata, which means “the road is blocked.” The art here is by Italian illustrator Anselmo Ballester. This is one of his better efforts, we think, with his Dors figure reflecting light from some off-canvas source, while a fire lights the background. You can see more from him here and here. As for the movie, we talked about it a while ago. You can read our thoughts here. And you can see a cool Japanese poster for the film here.

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Modern Pulp Feb 7 2024
PARADIS LOST
The lawless of the jungle.


The curious and certainly never-to-reappear style of movies referred today as women-in-prison, or WIP, is a subgenre of sexploitation cinema that came about for one reason: it used settings in which women were helpless. Well, in theory. The dramatic thrust of the plots always derived from attempts to retain dignity and to escape captivity. The protagonist was usually an odd woman out—an unjustly imprisoned victim or an undercover operative—surrounded by a mix of prisoners who were hopeless, cruel, sexually predatory, and complicit, plus the abusive guards, one of whom nearly always was a sadistic woman.

Hotel Paradis stars Anthony Steffen, Ajita Wilson, and the slinky Cristina Lay, sometimes referred to as Cristina Lai. There are numerous posters for it, but we like the above Danish effort featuring a fight to the death. Its text notes: This film is banned in many countries because of its strong scenes.... it's shown in Denmark in uncut version. Indeed. Interracial lesbian sex might be to blame for the banning. There are other possible reasons too. We won't waste our time trying to figure it out. As an aside, the movie was filmed concurrently with the WIP flick Femmine infernali using the same cast, director, and sets. So consider this a write-up of that movie too, since the pair are basically identical.

Plotwise, a group of women are being transported to a jungle hellhole prison where forced labor is used to dig for emeralds. When their guards are ambushed and killed by patriot soldiers seeking to steal the emeralds to fund a nebulous revolt, the women agree to continue posingas prisoners in order to aid the infiltration of the camp. Behind bars is one inmate—Wilson—who has the shining or something, and keeps telling the others that violence, death, and freedom are coming. Also coming are WIP staples such as the evil wardenness, languorous shower scenes, whippings, baroque tortures, and sexual assault. It all ends pro forma with a climactic shootout.

Obviously, you have to go into these types of movies with a sense of humor if you can. When Lay first meets Wilson in the camp, she says, “My name's Maria. I'm frightened.” Why, oh why, didn't Wilson respond, “I'm Ajita. I'm a virgo”? Too bad we didn't write the script. Lay then helps herself to Wilson's pipe—which Wilson just a bit earlier had used to masturbate. If she can obtain a pipe you'd think she could get a dildo, but whatever, in prison you have to find your pleasures where you can. And in women-in-prison movies the same holds true—we thought the scene was hilarious. It was merely one of many.

It should be noted that while Wilson is the female lead, and we've shared a couple of racy images of her and highlighted her importance as a trans trailblazer, Lay is the audience draw here. She's unusually beautiful, and director Edoardo Mulargia and the movie's producers know it quite well. She gets the most loving camera work, the wettest shower scene, a nice interlude with Wilson, and goes through the entire final shootout obviously naked beneath her tattered prison tunic and with the top of it hanging wide open. It's not quite Frauen für Zellenblock 9, in which Karine Gambier and company perform their long escape sequence completely starkers, but it's notable just the same.

Hotel Paradis is obviously sexist and exploitative. As we've said before, in the same way blaxploitation movies usually show a racist power structure before the hero shatters it, sexploitation movies sometimes do the same with sexism. Sometimes. Not here. There are additional flaws. Compared to better WIP efforts it lacks the winking sense of humor, the empowerment undercurrent, and the sense of actors having fun while making something they know is ridiculous. There's a hardcore cut of this film with explicit scenes spliced in. It merely amplifies the aforementioned issues, so we suggest you avoid that version. But really, if you avoid Hotel Paradis entirely you'll probably be a better person for it. It premiered in Italy as Orinoco: Prigioniere del sesso in the autumn of 1980, and in Denmark today in 1983.
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Femmes Fatales Jan 29 2024
RAPTOR MUSIC
You better watch her like a hawk.


We already shared a couple of nice images of Swiss actress Monica Strebel, but when we saw this great shot we had to bring her back. It was published in the Italian magazine IO. The accompanying text doesn't explain why she has a bird, but it's rather interesting anyway because it claims she wanted to play characters “psychologically suited to her personality, detached from the usual exclusively sexy artificial doll roles, real characters, [that] suffer.” Well, the suffering part came true—she mostly acted in giallo films, where enduring psychological torture is a prerequisite. In this photo, though, she looks like someone who does the torturing. It's from 1969.

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Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 25
1938—Alicante Is Bombed
During the Spanish Civil War, a squadron of Italian bombers sent by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini to support the insurgent Spanish Nationalists, bombs the town of Alicante, killing more than three-hundred people. Although less remembered internationally than the infamous Nazi bombing of Guernica the previous year, the death toll in Alicante is similar, if not higher.
1977—Star Wars Opens
George Lucas's sci-fi epic Star Wars premiers in the Unites States to rave reviews and packed movie houses. Produced on a budget of $11 million, the film goes on to earn $460 million in the U.S. and $337 million overseas, while spawning a franchise that would eventually earn billions and make Lucas a Hollywood icon.
May 24
1930—Amy Johnson Flies from England to Australia
English aviatrix Amy Johnson lands in Darwin, Northern Territory, becoming the first woman to fly from England to Australia. She had departed from Croydon on May 5 and flown 11,000 miles to complete the feat. Her storied career ends in January 1941 when, while flying a secret mission for Britain, she either bails out into the Thames estuary and drowns, or is mistakenly shot down by British fighter planes. The facts of her death remain clouded today.
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