I'm not worried. I know something you don't. I'm the star of an entire series.
Above, a 1959 cover painted by James Meese for John Ross MacDonald's 1950 thriller The Drowning Pool. We looked at a 1951 cover for this a while back, but rather than talk about the story made some dumb jokes and called it a day. So about the book. The novel features franchise detective Lew Archer trying to solve a drowning murder while dealing with a family torn apart over an inheritance. Liking the book is a matter of liking the character. Archer is cynical, quippy, and pretty rude most of the time—in short, a typical mid-century fictional detective. And therein lies the issue. He's standard, which means the mystery needs to be unique, but instead it's a drop-off from the series debut The Moving Target. It's not bad, though, and consensus is the eighteen Archer adventures improve as they progress. We'll see, because we plan to keep reading them. Hopefully Archer will make us glad he survived this gun to his head.
Lana Turner and Co. stumble badly in counterculture drug thriller.
This Italian promo poster was made for the 1969 thriller Geometria di un delitto, better known by its original title The Big Cube. Plotwise a woman played by Lana Turner marries a rich man and comes into conflict with his twenty-something daughter, played by Karin Mossberg. Their problems worsen when the rich man dies and bequeaths his money to his wife, leaving only a monthly stipend for his daughter. However, according to the will—see if you can follow this—if the daughter marries she inherits everything, but only provided stepmom gives her consent.
No, it doesn't make a bit of sense. The filmmakers wanted to generate conflict and tension, but a nonsensical stipulation in the will isn't needed to do that. Families fly apart over money all the time, even when there's plenty for everybody. But okay, you have to go with it. As the movie wears on the problems between stepmom and stepdaughter are exploited by Mossberg's drug dealer boyfriend, who comes up with the bright idea of driving Turner insane by repeatedly dosing her with LSD. Instead of the perfect murder, he's come up with the “perfect freak-out,” as he describes it. If Turner is certified insane she loses control of the fortune.
This is a movie you watch strictly for laughs, because it's ridiculous. The script and acting are terrible, and the plot must have been conceived under the influence of whatever leftover acid Turner didn't ingest. Basically The Big Cube is a drug scare movie, and like most examples from that sub-genre it's fatally dumb. But you could do worse. Mossberg is radiant, and screen legend Turner is always worth a gander even when her non-elite acting skills are exposed. There's no known Italian release date, but The Big Cube premiered in the U.S. today in 1969.
It's a movie with the power to make a blind man see.
We may never run out of beautiful Japanese posters. Today we have one for the goofball spy thriller Hyappatsu hyakuchu: Ogon on me. The title on this one gets complicated. It was retitled in English Booted Babe, Busted Boss, and mostly referred to as such. Yeah, pretty bad title. In Japanese it was known as 100発100中 黄金の眼, which means “golden eyes 100 shots out of 100.” That title was shortened in English to just Golden Eyes. We like that better than Booted whatever.
The film was a sequel to Hyappatsu hyakuchu, known in English as Ironfinger. We had somewhat high expectations for this, considering Ironfinger was pretty entertaining in that stupidly funny sort of way. Akira Takarada stars again as Andy Hoshino. He goes to Beirut, is asked by a little girl to kill her father's killer, and is paid for his services with the only currency the girl has—a silver dollar. Neither of them knows that this coin is in reality a priceless Spanish gold medallion covered in silver.
Soon numerous parties are chasing Andy around Beirut, and later Tokyo, trying to retrieve this priceless artifact. The main pursuer is the arch-villain Mr. Stonefeller, a blind Emilio Largo clone (think Thunderball) whose hearing is so precise he can pick foes off with a sniper rifle. So why isn't the movie called Golden Ears? Just doesn't have that snap to it, does it? We guess Toho Company called it Golden Eyes because the villain wants the gold so badly, therefore he has eyes for it, so to speak. Best guess.
The plot is less important than the gags here, and there are a couple of good ones, particularly during a gunfight in which Andy kills several foes by throwing a machine gun at them, then shooting the trigger of the machine gun in mid-air, thereby causing it to fire, plowing the bad guys under like weeds. But still, the sophomore jinx is a real thing, and Golden Eyes has diminished sequel syndrome. It's watchable, though, if likely offensive to anyone of Lebanese descent. You'll see what we mean. It premiered in Japan today in 1968.
Must dodge hook. Must dodge hook. Must dodge hook. Really must dodge hook! Must dodge hook! Must dodge hook! Oww! Motherfuck me! Anyone got more shoe polish? Lebanese Brown if you have it. I ran out before I finished my ears. The irony is he told me he'd learned he was being racist and came up here to wash it off in the bath. Ten more minutes and there'd have been no justification for this. I can hit anything with this pistol. Including d-flat. Here, listen. Isn't that cool? Wait until you hear Miss Tomoni sing, Mr. Stonefeller. This will blow your mind. She's considered the Bob Dylan of Tokyo because of her incisive and politically relevant lyrics.
You're right, she's amazing. And though I'm blind, and technically shouldn't be able to see her, I also find it incredible how she changes costumes multiple times mid-song like that. Oh, that's nothing. The midnight show she goes full frontal. Maybe your off-and-on blindness will be on around then. Room service, sir. You ordered two duck dinners? Surprise! Duck à l'Agent Orange! Gotta run! Hope you die! Go vegan! You can leave my tip on the nightstand! Hi! Commercial Girl here. You haven't seen me for a while, right? Hate to interrupt, but I've been called by the Pulp Intl. girlfriends to put a stop to this endless post. The Pulp guys are on virus lockdown and it's making them a little loopy. But under threat of sexual boycott they're done for today. See you soon!
Cold steel is fine but hot lead is a hell of a lot more efficient.
This poster was made for the classic Tomisaburô Wakayama gangster flick Kapone no shatei yamato damashi, known in English as A Boss with the Samurai Spirit. It's the third one we've found for the movie, and as you already know from our previous posts, these round promos are rare. They were made only by Toei Company, as far as we know, and only for a few years during the late 1960s and early ’70s. We have others we'll get to later. For now, see two more examples here and here, and a third in this group. Also, you can see the other two Kapone posters here and here.
Los Angeles and the invention of Flight.
The above photos show the historic funicular railway Angels Flight, which opened in downtown Los Angeles in 1901 in the Bunker Hill area, with tracks running from Hill Street up a steep incline to Olive Street. There are only a few vintage funicular railways left in the U.S. Angels Flight—along with the impressive Monongahela Incline and the Duquesne Incline, both located in Pittsburgh—is among the most famous.
But it didn't operate without interruption. It closed in 1969 when Bunker Hill was redeveloped—in reality a destruction of an entire historic working class neighborhood—and reopened a block south in 1996. The railway's historical significance is architectural, but also cinematic. It appears in quite a few vintage films, most notably in Hollow Triumph, Night Has a Thousand Eyes, Act of Violence, Criss Cross, M, and Kiss Me Deadly.
The area near Angels Flight is set for a new redevelopment, as adjacent Angels Knoll, one of the last pieces of greenery in downtown Los Angeles, is to be bulldozed for another of the supposedly-mixed-use-but-really-millionaires-only skyscraper complexes that are popping up all over world as a way for one percenters to park their money.
Angels Flight will survive this new construction, at least for now, though it will be dwarfed by a forty story glass highrise mere feet to its south. Well, L.A. has rarely let the environment or historical significance stand in the way of making money, and when you look at it that way, the fact that Angels Flight survives at all to this day may be proof of a higher power.
For British movie lovers Continental Film Review was their ticket across the English Channel.
Continental Film Review was first published—as far as we can discern—in November 1952. We decided on that month because we saw a copy from February 1953 numbered Vol. 1 Issue 4, and the masthead said the magazine was published the first week of every month. CFR would go on to become one of Britain's most popular film magazines, exposing English language readers to the wide variety of foreign movies being made across continental Europe. The above issue appeared this month in 1966 with cover star Maria Pia Conte, and numerous film personalities inside, including Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Bates, Rossana Podesta, Evi Marandi, and more. We have other issues we'll get around to sharing at some point. In the meantime see more here, here, here, and here.
Yamauchi and Shibata are back for an encore.
Several years ago we shared a rare tateken sized poster for Bankaku Rokku, aka Bankaku Rock, aka Ranking Boss Rock, and today, above, we're circling back to the film with the hansai sized poster, which we usually just call standard sized. We didn't share this in the earlier post because we didn't have it then. It just wasn't available at the time. That omission is now rectified. Something else that wasn't available back then was the movie. Well, we found that too. Our efforts are unceasing.
Bankaku Rokku is a juvie delinquent pinky violence flick in which the Akabane 100 Club and Ikebukuro Cavalry battle for supremacy. Emiko Yamauchi plays Yukiko, the “bankaku,” or chief bodyguard of the Akabane 100. When she's released from reform school she decides to settle an old score with the Cavalry gang's leader Taka, played by Etsuko Shibata. But Yukiko's revenge gets complicated when she's accused of a murder that was actually the work of Johuku Clan, a male gang of pimps and thieves.
This flick is all alienation and disaffection. When the police come looking for Yukiko her authoritarian father even urges them to give her the death penalty. Will Yukiko dodge the cops and get her sweet revenge? It wouldn't be pinky violence if she didn't at least get the chance. Broken bottles, supersharp scissors, and razor blades are the order of the day, along with numerous boobs and climactic bloodspray. There may not be much of a point to it all, but for pinky violence fans it should hit the spot. Bankaku Rokku premiered in Japan today in 1973.
What was the must-have possession of 1971? Christina Lindberg.
Here you see a couple of French posters for the 1971 Swedish sexploitation movie Possédée, which means “possessed,” but which was originally titled Exponerad, and was known in the U.S. as Exposed and Diary of a Rape. There's no known release date for the movie in France, but it worked its way across Europe in 1972, so figure it opened in France sometime in the middle of the year. The top poster is one you see often online, but the second promo, in black and white and showing star Christina Lindberg clutched by a male hand, is rare.
We've posted a lot a material on Exponerad. Our continual focus on this is not because the movie is especially worthwhile, but because its promotional materials are great. As an example, below is a shot of Lindberg made to publicize the film, and which appeared in the Japanese magazine Young • Idol • Now. More photos from the session appeared in other Japanese magazines, but this rare shot is by far our favorite. Feel free to check out our other posts on this film by clicking keyword “Exponerad” at bottom.
We're going to have fun. I'm well known as the life of the Communist Party.
This cover for M.E. Chaber's 1952 spy thriller All the Way Down is uncredited but pretty nice. The rear pleases the eye too. If we had to guess we'd say it was painted by Rafael DeSoto, who was often utilized by Popular Library during the early ’50s, but with no interior credit, alas, we cannot know for sure. What we do know for sure is that Chaber's real name was was Kendell Foster Crossen, and under various pseudonyms he wrote pulp fiction and sci-fi, and well as other spy novels. Most of the latter category starred franchise hero Milo March, heavy drinker and quick with a quip, with the above coming second in a series devoted to the character. It was originally called No Grave for March, but the good folks at Popular Library thought All the Way Down was a better fit, and of course when it comes to title changes they're always right.
All the way down where? Why into the underbelly of German communism. At the center of the plot is a superweapon—one of those hilarious sci-fi contrivances unique to 1950s mass market literature. March heads to Berlin bearing microfilm concerning this technological atrocity and poses as a member of the American Communist Party in order to infiltrate the German commies. Chaber's descriptions of post-war pre-wall Berlin, the streets, subways, and parks, are obviously written from experience, and those passages add considerable interest to the proceedings as Milo tries to earn the trust of suspicious enemies, stay alive while doing so, and—best case scenario—keep a low level brandy buzz intact the entire time. And of course there's a love interest. Greta is her name. She's German by birth but American by nationality and a member of the Denver Communist Party. Milo wants to march into her panties, so naturally smalltalk brings him around to asking why she joined the movement. Part of her answer:
“Then in 1942, after we Americans were at war against Hitler, someone wrote a name on the window of my father's store. It was the same name that the Nazis had written on his store window in Berlin—only it was written in English instead of German this time. The next day I became a Communist.”
She joined the Communist Party to oppose fascism. Why do we highlight that quote? Well, let's just say people are becoming confused these days about Nazis. It was once universally known that Hitler persecuted and imprisoned leftists, despite the deliberately deceptive name of his political party. Those episodes are mentioned time and again in All the Way Down, as Chaber makes clear that Nazis and communists were at opposite ends of the political spectrum. He probably never would have believed there would be confusion about this, yet here we are in 2019, and increasing numbers of Americans believe (or at least pretend) Nazism and communism were both leftist movements. In any case, Chaber has written an entertaining book here, in which a skirmish between communists and capitalists is deftly won by the capitalists. That's not a spoiler. In 1952, in a Popular Library paperback, it's obviously the only ending that could ever be.
Brother can you spare a diamond?
Ambitious show-biz hopefuls from all over the world have always flocked to Los Angeles. Actress Jacqueline White is a rare breed—she was born there, in Beverly Hills, in fact, which may be why despite having a nice dress and a fur coat, she has her hand out for more. White was drawn into film when a casting agent saw her in a play at UCLA, and she went on to appear in the classic noirs The Narrow Margin and Crossfire. This particular shot was made for the thriller Mystery in Mexico, in which she and others chase a fortune in missing jewels. It's from 1948.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1914—Aquitania Sets Sail
The Cunard liner RMS Aquitania, at 45,647 tons, sets sails on her maiden voyage from Liverpool, England to New York City. At the time she is the largest ocean liner on the seas. During a thirty-six year career the ship serves as both a passenger liner and military ship in both World Wars before being retired and scrapped in 1950.
1914—RMS Empress Sinks
Canadian Pacific Steamships' 570 foot ocean liner Empress of Ireland is struck amidships by a Norwegian coal freighter and sinks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with the loss of 1,024 lives. Submerged in 130 feet of water, the ship is so easily accessible to treasure hunters who removed valuables and bodies from the wreck that the Canadian government finally passes a law in 1998 restricting access.
1937—Chamberlain Becomes Prime Minister
Arthur Neville Chamberlain, who is known today mainly for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938 which conceded the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany and was supposed to appease Adolf Hitler's imperial ambitions, becomes prime minister of Great Britain. At the time Chamberlain is the second oldest man, at age sixty-eight, to ascend to the office. Three years later he would give way to Winston Churchill.
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