The superstition is true—it's bad luck to cross her path.
This impressive promo poster was made for the pinku actioner Kuroi Mehyô M, aka Black Panther Bitch M, in which Japanese superstar Reiko Ike plays an assassin tasked with getting rid of a troublesome gangster. This is far easier said than done, but she has all the skills a good killer-for-hire needs—she can run fast, climb well, throw knives (and handily placed pitchforks), read lips, perform acrobatics, crush testicles, endure pain, and wear a pantsuit like a boss. We'd love to tell you the film is great, but it's all pretty silly, truthfully. But when Reiko and her soulful eyes and shiny café au lait skin are onscreen does the plot really matter? It might to you, but it doesn't to us. The Japanese title of this, by the way, is actually “Black Rose M.” We don't know where the panther thing came from, but it's an apt description for Reiko. Kuroi Mehyô M premiered in Japan today in 1974.
She's just wading for something to happen.
Above, a pretty poster for Hito natsu no kankei, which starred Minako Mizushima, along with Izumi Shima and Tamaki Katsura. There's no English title for this, but if you were to translate ひと夏の関係 it would mean something like “summer relationship.” On the other hand, Hito natsu no kankei means something like “one person's life.” So there you go. This premiered in Japan today in 1978.
She gets her best work done during overtime.
Above, a beautiful poster for Danchizuma wasureenu yoru, known in English as Apartment Wife: Unforgettable Night. The wife in this third entry in the Apartment Wife series is Junko Miyashita. The plot is typically convoluted, but basically she's sexually unfulfilled by her hubby and finds pleasure in an anonymous office encounter. Her repeated trysts with this person leave her vulnerable to blackmail of sorts, and— Actually, it's really hard to describe this without giving everything away. Let's just call it a twisted sexual awakening tale with an ironic ending. Which is what most of the Apartment Wife movies are. This one premiered in Japan today in 1972.
Whoever said she was in mourning might need to double check their info.
This is a pretty nice poster, which was made to promote the roman porno film Inzesu mibojin, known in English as Lusty Widow. It starred Rumi Tama, Reika Maki, and our favorite nude motorcycle rider Yuri Yamashina in a story about a woman widowed at twenty-six, which of course makes her fair game for assorted orbiting males. Unsurprisingly, having lost her man she isn't feeling very lusty at all, at least until she finds herself drawn into assorted intrigues and associated sexual kinks, including voyeurism and illicit photos, both of which the poster makes clear. Sadly, we were unable to track the film down, which is an occupational hazard with these things. On the other hand, they nearly always turn up eventually. We'll keep an eye out. Inzesu mibojin premiered in Japan today in 1976.
When they say they're getting together to enjoy some girl time it may not be as innocent as it sounds.
Above, a poster for Tsumatachi no Gogo Wa Yori: Kano no Ori, which is quite a mouthful that in English was simplified to Cage of Lust: Wives’ Afternoon. The movie was adapted from a novel by Hiroko Nakayama and starred Junko Miyashita in a tale of infidelity, deception, lesbianism, etc. It's a typical Nikkatsu Studios effort, quick and easy at 72 minutes from end to end. It premiered in Japan today in 1976.
How many wrongs finally make a right?
This poster was made to promote a Nikkatsu Studios roman porno flick titled Osoe!, which in Japanese means “attack.” In typical roman porno fashion, the plot is pretty twisted. In brief, Erina Miyai plays a woman who wants revenge on a corporation for its role in the death of her parents. She goes to a disco and deliberately allows herself to be taken home and gangbanged, all for the purpose of later informing the guys who did it she'll accuse them of rape if they don't kidnap the corporation's CEO for her.
We'll say this much for Nikkatsu—their ideas were certainly creative. In this case, there's a subtext of turning male power against itself, which is all to the good, but of course things never come off quite how the protagonists intend in roman porno. Which is to say, Miyai's plot goes pear shaped. Osoe! is super obscure in the West but was a successful release and even played a few years ago at the famed Laputa Asagaya revival cinema in Tokyo. Its original premiere was today in 1978.
Pink and yellow are normally so cheery.
Zûmu in: Bôkô danchi, for which you see a poster above, is another Nikkatsu roman porno movie, with a serial killer/rapist on the loose dispatching women in baroque and horrible ways. The star of the movie, Erina Miyai, falls victim to a rapist early on but is not killed. When the murders start she wonders if it's the same man. That question is answered quickly, but mystery is not really the point here. The goal seems to be making a mash-up of Japanese pinku (pink film) and Italian giallo (yellow film).
For example, during one of the killings a woman is pursued past an apartment block, but in filmmaking terms she's running in place, which lends the scene the nightmarish quality characteristic of giallo. All the windows beyond her are illuminated, but as she screams for help the lights go out one by one. As far as mixing filmmaking palettes goes, it's nice work. As far as the message, was director Naosuke Kurosawa also trying to tell viewers Japan was becoming inured to violent crime? Perhaps.
Based on the existence of roman porno Japan was for sure becoming inured to violent movies. Zûmu in: Bôkô danchi is more violent than most, but with its deliberate attempt to transcend—however slightly—the requisites of roman porno, it's also better than most. Does that mean it's actually good? Not as such, but for serious film buffs it's worth a glance and a discussion. It premiered today in 1980.
That moment when you realize your neighbors have known all along you've been watching them.
Above, a poster for Danchizuma: Kanki no yoru, aka Apartment Wife: Night of Pleasure, starring Junko Miyashita, Tatsuya Hamaguchi, and Masumi Jun. This is of course another Nikkatsu roman porno romp, with all that the label suggests. This entry was seventh in a franchise that eventually totaled twenty-one films. It premiered in Japan today in 1973.
The winds of war blow hard and cruel over man and woman alike.
This striking pink poster was made to promote Shunpu den, known in English as Story of a Prostitute. Based on a novel by Taijiro Tamura, this is another of director Seijun Suzuki's envelope pushing dramas. He made a habit of disobeying the directives of his studio Nikkatsu and here he crafts a tale that refuses to simply extol the virtues and glories of the Japanese military. Plotwise, a woman falls in love with a lieutenant's lowly aide, and as the superior officer torments her, she and the subordinate embark on a forbidden affair. This occurs during the Sino-Japanese War circa 1935, and when the Chinese attack, the question of honor versus survival comes to the fore.
A lot of reviews call the lead character here, played by Yumiko Nogawa, a prostitute, but that's a simplification. She plays an ianfu or comfort woman, which was a form of sexual bondage usually reserved for foreigners. Ianfu were sent around to military garrisons to have sex with soldiers, and sometimes the ratio of women to men was very lopsided. We've seen 1:1000 cited, but can't confirm that independently. Lawsuits about this are still crawling through international courts. Japan's oldest English language newspaper The Japan Times recently was called out for acquiescing to Prime Minster Shinzō Abe's insistence that ianfu be referred to by terminology less embarrassing to Japan.
Westerners generally won't have all this history in mind when watching Shunpu den, but it's useful to consider. Nogawa's character Harumi is Japanese and a volunteer, so in both respects she's atypical compared to the reality of Korean, Indonesian, and Filipino women abducted by the tens of thousands. With this type of subtext to the backstory, and a foreground occupied by men indoctrinated into a military corps bound by an intractable and sometimes suicidal code of conduct, a happy ending seems like an impossibility. But you never know. However it turns out, the worth of dramatic cinema is in the trying. Shunpu den premiered in Japan today in 1965
Shima's education costs become too much to bear.
Above is a poster for Dan Oniroku hebi no ana, also known as Snake Hole, starring Izumi Shima. We wish she had made a few movies in the mainstream, but she was a roman porno star, and that means some of her output can be hard to watch. We make no judgments. Well, no, we do make judgments, but we try to be open minded about these crazy flicks. Japanese filmmakers were exploding old taboos and on the balance that was a good thing, but where Toei's pinky violence usually empowered women, Nikkatsu's roman pornos recast them as victims. In this film, for example, Shima is forced to participate in bdsm fantasies. She's shaved, hung from ropes, walked with a dog collar, and is erotically vacuumed (don't ask). This was Shima's last starring role, and it came near the end of Nikkatsu's roman porno obsession. But of course that was just a marketing label. The studio continued its explorations of taboo subject matter. As far as this one goes, we don't recommend it, but we've seen worse films. If it sounds like something that'd interest you—so pee it. Dan Oniroku hebi no ana premiered in Japan today in 1983.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1953—NA Launches Recovery Program
Narcotics Anonymous, a twelve-step program of drug addiction recovery modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous, holds its first meeting in Los Angeles, California.
1942—Blimp Crew Disappears without a Trace
The two-person crew of the U.S. naval blimp L-8 disappears on a routine patrol over the Pacific Ocean. The blimp drifts without her crew and crashes in Daly City, California. The mystery of the crew's disappearance is never solved.
1977—Elvis Presley Dies
Music icon Elvis Presley is found unresponsive by his fiancée on the floor of his Graceland bedroom suite. Attempts to revive him fail and he's pronounced dead soon afterward. The cause of death is often cited as drug overdose, but toxicology tests have never found evidence this was the case. More likely, years of drug abuse contributed to generally frail health and an overtaxed heart that suddenly failed.
1969—Woodstock Festival Begins
The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, which was billed as an Aquarian Exposition, takes place on a 600 acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York. It would run for three sometimes rainy days and feature thirty-two acts performing at all hours of the day and night. Today the festival is regarded as one of the greatest events in popular music history.
1977—Radio Signal Arrives from Deep Space
An unidentified radio signal, nicknamed the WOW Signal for the notation a scientist made on a computer readout, is briefly detected by the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) project's Big Ear radio telescope. Despite a month of searching the same section of space, the signal is never found again.
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