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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Femmes Fatales Nov 28 2022
RETRO VISION
If only you could see the world the way I see it.


Above: an amazing shot of Austrian actress Marisa Mell made while she was filming the Italian drama Una sull’atra, aka Perversion Story in 1969.

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Intl. Notebook Oct 14 2022
THE MELL GAZE
Voulez vous Rendez-Vous avec moi ce soir?


We have a new Canadian tabloid for you, an issue of Le Rendez-Vous published today in 1968 with a cover shot of Austrian star Marisa Mell, and in the centerfold a brilliant photo of German actress Elke Sommer we're pretty sure has never been seen online before. We had to scan that in four pieces and merge the quadrants, which is time consuming, but in this case worth it, because—as you know if you visit the site often—we think Sommer is one of the all-time vintage goddesses. And speaking from a graphic design perspective, we think we did a pretty good job of assembling her, if we may say so. Fellow German actress Babsi Zimmermann also makes an appearance, and we thought we'd never see her again, but 1968 seems to have been a very visible year for her—particularly in Canadian tabloids.
 
In typical cheapie scandal sheet style, Le Rendez-Vous is filled with ridiculous material on subjects ranging from crime to medicine. You'll see a photo below of a human brain. The text there says, unsurprisingly, “Finally the secret of immortality... We can keep the brain alive separated from a dead body!” A Doctor Jacobsen claims brain transplants will become as popular as heart transplants. Okay, but heart transplants aren't popular—they're necessary. Big difference. However, if brain transplants were ever to become routine, we'd take one. Sure why not? It would be the ultimate mind altering experience, and we've never been against those. Twenty-plus scans below.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 10 2021
RAIL BLAZERS
When a train trip goes off the tracks Marais and Mell come to the rescue.


This poster for Train d'enfer was painted by Georges Allard, who's probably best known for promos he made for Brigitte Bardot movies such as Le mepris and Le Repos du guerrier. Train d'enfer, which was adapted from the novel Combat de nègres by René Cambon, starred Jean Marais and Austrian femme fatale Marisa Mell in what is basically a Bond knockoff centered around a plot to assassinate an important emir as he travels to France. It sounds pretty fun, so we may check it out later. The title literally means “hell train,” but when the movie was released in the U.S. it was titled Operation Double Cross. Under its original title it premiered in France today in 1965.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 25 2019
EVIL WAYS
Danger rears its pretty heads.


Above, a cool West German tri-fold promo for the classic camp crime flick Gefahr: Diabolik, aka Danger: Diabolik, with pretty boy John Phillip Law as the titular spy Diabolik and pretty girl Marisa Mell as his muse and sidekick Eva Kant. If you haven't seen the film it's utterly cheesy and great fun. It premiered in West Germany today in 1968.

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Femmes Fatales Mar 5 2019
MELL DOMINANCE
What's gloves got to do with it?


Austrian born actress Marisa Mell made this photo when she was starring in the 1966 Italian thriller New York chiama Superdrago, aka Secret Agent Super Dragon, and what it shows is that opera gloves are the female spy's equivalent to James Bond's bow ties. Shooting someone is an important occasion, and the least you can do is dress formally when you do it. The title of this movie alone—we seriously must watch it. We'll report back.

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Sex Files Jun 28 2018
CRUISING FOR A BRUISING
Take National Spotlite's dating advice and you might end up black and blue like its cover.

Looking at this cover of National Spotlite published today in 1971 teaches us one thing—black ink is cheap. The magazine has Austrian actress Marisa Mell on the cover in a nice shot we've never seen before. Also on the cover, editors promise you can learn to be a modern Don Juan, and inside they share “sure fire seduction methods.” We know you're dying to learn these, so for all you single boys out there we'll skip right to the actionable intel.

The thing to watch are a woman's thighs, the way she sits and moves. If she's squirming around in her seat a lot and crossing and uncrossing her thighs it probably indicates a lot of beneath-the-surface sexual tension. On the other hand, if she's sitting there calmly smiling at you it could mean she's a tease, trying to get you to come on to her so she can put you down.

And:

There aren't many women who want to be picked up in an elevator at 8 o'clock in the morning. On the other hand, there aren't many women sitting alone in bars who don't want to be picked up. Walk up, buy her a drink, sit down and enjoy the entertainment. When she's finished her drink, take her by the arm and guide her outside. After that you've got it made.

Wow, to us this seems like terrible advice, particularly the part about grabbing a woman by the arm and leading her outside. That sounds like a quick shortcut to a swift knee in the nuts. But the advice doesn't end there. After all, the real point of every cheapie tabloid article about dating is to veer into graphic sleaze fiction. That's no less the case here:

To help with the satisfaction part guys of the ’70s should use tools of the ’70s. I never let a woman go the first night without a little treatment from the vibrator. I mean, there's a limit to what you can do with penis, fingers, tongue, and so forth. (edit. “and so forth?”) Take a vibrator and start working it around her breasts. Watch her nipples rise and swell. When [you use it] on her clitoris and vaginal lips, let the tips of your fingers dip into her nest.

We'll stop there, before the climax, so to speak. We aren't sure if National Spotlite is trying to create Don Juans or increase the number of restraining orders. We also find their prototypical stud—this guy below wearing a bowler hat and a carnation in his lapel—of questionable use as a role model. As far as we're concerned Spotlite reinforces the same old lesson—never take sex advice from a tabloid.

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Vintage Pulp Feb 24 2018
WILD ORCHIDS
Seven ways to die in Rome.


We mentioned a while back we were taking a closer look at vintage giallo flicks, and today you see a Renato Casaro poster for Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso, aka Seven Blood-Stained Orchids. During a train trip a serial killer who's been dispatching women in various diabolical ways tries to make a victim of Uschi Glas. Uschi's man Antonio Sabato is the police's number one suspect, and the only way he can disprove their suspicions is by finding the killer. Uschi plays sidekick for him, which is good, because he looks terribly confused most of the time. This falsely-accused-must-find-real-killer gimmick had already reached perennial status when Antonio arrived on the scene, so you'd hope for a fresh take on it—and be disappointed. This isn't a bad movie, but it's undistinguished, a giallo without the high style of the best entries in the genre. Umberto Lenzi, who had directed numerous films but was making his first giallo here, would do a bit better later. Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso premiered in Italy today in 1972.
It's a self portrait. I don't know why I painted myself bloody and mutilated. Just a weird inspiration.

These are my new strangling gloves. 100% lambskin. Nice, right?

My last victim didn't like gloves so this time I'm going bareback!

Not cutting him down.
Me either.
Wait, what? That's not fair. I didn't even see him until just now.

This mystery is probably far less complicated than we think.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 1 2016
HISTORY REPEATS
Perversion never goes out of style.

Years ago we briefly discussed the Marisa Mell thriller Una sull’atra and shared an Angelo Cesselon poster made for its Italian run. Well, we're back to the movie today with a poster made for its Spanish run under the title Una historia perversa. The illustration was painted by Francisco Fernandez Zarza-Pérez, who signed his work as Jano, and was one of Spain's more prolific cinematic illustrators. We put together a small collection of his work a while back and you can check that out here. Una historia perversa made its Spanish premiere in Barcelona today in 1969.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 15 2013
DIABOLIKAL GENIUS
He was a Danger to everyone around him.

Above is a Japanese poster for Mario Bava’s Italian psychotronic masterpiece Danger: Diabolik, a movie we’ve discussed a bit before, and which every movie website in the universe has discussed as well. So, we’ll just reiterate what all those sites say: campy, cheesy, colorful, comical, languid, sexy, tongue-in-cheek, a prime influence on the late Austin Powers series, and so forth. We would add, however, that it was terribly reviewed in its time. But we like it, and it also has a political message that resonates today: Diabolik hoards wealth for his own amusement and lust for luxury, doesn’t care who he hurts or kills in the process, and has taken so much and done it so often that it has left his government destabilized and discredited. Sound familiar? Danger: Diabolik premiered in Japan today in 1968.

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Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 21
1940—Smedley Butler Dies
American general Smedley Butler dies. Butler had served in the Philippines, China, Central America, the Caribbean and France, and earned sixteen medals, five of which were for heroism. In 1934 he was approached by a group of wealthy industrialists wanting his help with a coup against President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and in 1935 he wrote the book War Is a Racket, explaining that, based upon his many firsthand observations, warfare is always wholly about greed and profit, and all other ascribed motives are simply fiction designed to deceive the public.
June 20
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.”
June 19
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.
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