|Hollywoodland||Feb 6 2020|
|Intl. Notebook||Sep 29 2013|
|Modern Pulp | Vintage Pulp||Sep 26 2013|
San Sebastian in general and Cinema Caravan in particular are keeping us busy, but we have time for a quick post, so here we go. Last night we attended a screening of Hiroyuki Nakano’s 1998 adventure/comedy SF: Episode One, also known as Samurai Fiction. It’s a quirky movie, imaginatively shot mostly in black and white, and involves a young samurai on a mission to both avenge a friend’s death and retrieve a priceless sword. He encounters an ex-samurai who tries to teach him the wisdom of non-violence, with limited success. The movie is set in 1689 and looks a bit like Kurosawa’s great period pieces, but subverts that similarity with its humor and modern rock 'n’ roll soundtrack. Since it was in Japanese with English subtitles, the mostly Basque audience was perhaps a bit baffled, but even those with language difficulties could enjoy the film’s visual creativity, and ultimately everyone seemed to enjoy it.
Watching Samurai Fiction got us thinking about our many Japanese posters, and because we actually have access to that stuff wherever we go, we decided to share five of the nicer pieces in our collection. In terms of information on these, time is a little tight to research them carefully, but here’s what we know: poster one—nothing; poster two—Nawa Hada Jigoku: Rope Skin Hell, with Naomi Tani, 1979; poster three—we’re unsure on that one, but that’s definitely Kayoko Honoo in the art; poster four—Kapone no shatei, yamato damashi, aka A Boss with the Samurai Spirit, with Tomisaburô Wakayama, 1971; poster five—nothing. But we'll see if we can find something about that one. See ya soon.
|Intl. Notebook||Sep 25 2013|
|Intl. Notebook||Sep 24 2013|
|Intl. Notebook||Aug 18 2012|
We’re showing you this August 1966 Continental Film Review for one reason—Raquel Welch. She appears in both the front and back of the magazine, and the latter photo was made while she was in the Canary Islands filming One Million Years B.C. That photo session featuring a blonde, windblown Welch was incredibly fruitful, at least if we’re to judge by the many different places we’ve seen frames from the shoot, including here, here, here and especially here. There had not been a sex symbol quite like Welch before, and in 1966 she had reached the apex of her allure, where she’d stay for quite a while.
On the cover of the magazine are Christina Schollin and Jarl Kulle, pictured during a tender moment from the Swedish romantic comedy Änglar, finns dom? aka Love Mates. Inside you get features on the Berlin and San Sebastian film festivals, Sophia Loren, Nieves Navarro, Anita Ekberg, and more. CFR had launched in 1952, and now, fourteen years later, was one of Britain’s leading publications on foreign film. It was also a leading publication in showing nude actresses, and in fact by the 1970s was probably more noteworthy for its nudity than its journalism. The move probably undermined its credibility, but most magazines—whether fashion, film, or erotic—began showing more in the 1970s. CFR was simply following the trend, and reached its raciest level around 1973, as in the issue here. Fifteen scans below.
|Reader Pulp||Dec 2 2011|
So now we’ll fill in the blanks for our friend (and thanks very much, by the way, for sending this to us). Vicente Ballestar was born in 1929, and worked primarily for the German publisher Bastion-Verlag, aka Bastei, where he created many of the often bizarre covers for the popular John Sinclair series. Later he went into fine art, the field in which he still works, and via his internationally published books about painting has become a renowned instructor of watercolor techniques. For someone who has worked steadily for such a long time, is widely read by art students, and has mounted exhibitions in places as far flung as Colombia and Italy, he has a rather minimal web presence. Even his blog is only two pages and hasn’t been updated for a year. But after a search we were able to find a few of his covers, and we’ve posted those below.
|Intl. Notebook||Sep 26 2011|
The Donostia Zinemaldia, aka San Sebastian Film Festival, is becoming one of the better fests in the world. Its 59th edition ended this weekend in Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain, and for the third year in a row we were there, though not for the festival per se. But we’re posting on it because it was thoroughly pulp-worthy due to the out-of-competition screenings of contemporary American crime films. The subset was called “The American Way of Death” and was restricted to films made within the last thirty years, including Goodfellas, Wild at Heart, Miller’s Crossing, King of New York, New Jack City, One False Move, Silence of the Lambs, Reservoir Dogs, Menace II Society, Red Rock West, Heat, Summer of Sam, Memento, Seven, Fargo, and twenty-five more. In fact, it must be one of the most comprehensive collections of American crime cinema ever screened, and the only significant film from the period they missed, in our opinion, was To Live and Die in L.A. As for the Festival itself, some of the stars who attended included Clive Owen, Antonio Banderas, and Glenn Close,who received a lifetime achievement award. The top prize, called the Concha de Oro or Golden Shell, was won by Los Pasos Dobles—or The Double Steps—by Isaki Lacuesta, and Julie Delpy picked up a special prize for her new movie. If you ever find yourself in northern Spain in September, we recommend passing through Donostia-San Sebastian for the fest. You may not be able to get into the screenings, but the surfing, bars and events are just tremendous, so that should console you.
|Modern Pulp||Oct 30 2010|
The organizers of the Basque film festival Fantasiazko eta Beldurrezko Zinemaren XXI Astea, aka the Twenty-First Fantasy and Terror Film Festival, have borrowed a couple of iconic characters from the classic erotic space adventure Barbarella for their 2010 program. The two models above don’t look nearly as good as John Phillip Law and Jane Fonda did in 1968, but then again, who does? The festival starts today in Donostia-San Sebastian, Pais Vasco, Spain.
|The Naked City | Vintage Pulp||Oct 7 2010|
We double up on the murders today, thanks to the always informative true crime magazine Master Detective. This issue is from October 1954, with Barye Phillips cover art, and amongst the horrors revealed is one involving Massachusetts spouses Melvin and Lorraine Clark. The Clarks were heavy into key-swapping parties, at which opposite sexes blindly selected each other's keys from a bowl or sack to randomly determine who would be whose companion for the evening. If you’ve ever seen the Sigourney Weaver movie The Ice Storm, it was exactly like that—a few drinks, a few joints, and some freewheeling, no-strings-attached sex. But when Melvin came home the night of April 10, 1954, and found Lorraine in bed with another man outside the context of a swapping party, an argument ensued that escalated to the point where Lorraine stabbed her husband with a knitting needle and shot him twice. She wrapped Melvin’s body in chicken wire, weighed him down with a cement block or two, and dumped him off Rocks Village Bridge into the Merrimack River, where the current was supposed to carry him out to sea.
Lorraine never expected to see her husband again we can be sure, and even filed for divorce as part of her cover story, claiming he had abandoned her after a bitter confrontation. But Melvin hadn’t abandoned her—in fact, he hadn’t gone far at all. A bird watcher found his mostly skeletonized body in a riverside marsh in early June. Under police questioning Lorraine caved in pretty much immediately and, long story short, earned a life sentence in federal prison. She never named an accomplice, but no bodybuilder she, it seemed clear she could not have done the heavy lifting involved in the murder without a helping hand. Also, for someone who had little to no experience with firearms, she sure had good aim. Melvin had taken one in the forehead and one in the temple. But Mrs. Clark was not pressed to name a partner in crime, did her time in silence, and was eventually paroled. In retrospect, you wonder if local bigwigs wanted the case to go away. After all, you meet the most interesting people when you swap.
Master Detective treats us to a second fascinating story, this one on Italian fashion model Wilma Montesi, who in April 1953 was found dead on Plinius Beach near Ostia, Italy. Police declared her death a suicide oraccidental drowning—case closed. But the public had many questions. How had she drowned in just a few inches of water? If it was suicide, why had she shown no signs of depression? Why were her undergarments in disarray? The police weren’t keen to reopen the case, but agreed to an informal re-investigation. Weeks later they announced once more: suicide or accidental drowing. But the public suspected cops weren’t trying to reach any other conclusion.
When the editor of the neo-fascist paper Attualita charged in print seven months later that Wilma Montesi had not gone to Ostia the day of her death, but to a fancy hunting lodge in nearby Capocotto, the story was not just ignored—Italian authorities hauled the editor before a court and threatened him with charges for spreading false information. But his tale was backed up by a witness—Anna Maria Caglio, who had spent time at the lodge and dropped a bomb on Italian society when she said it was a front for drugs and sex parties—sort of like The Ice Storm again, but with much richer and more powerful people involved. By powerful, we're talking about judges, politicians, the Pope’s personal physician and other Vatican officials, and the well-connected Foreign Minister’s son Piero Piccioni, who you see pictured just above.
When the national Communist party began making waves, the carabinièri—Italy’s military police—stepped in. Like the local cops, they weren’t keen to pursue the case, but they weren’t about to let the Communists break it open and potentially expose the corruption of the entire political establishment. The carabinièri’s involvement angered many upper crust Italians, but when their officers walked the streets during those months the general public literally applauded them for daring to tread where the police had not. Their investigation soon focused on Piccioni, who besides being the scion of a political family was a famous jazz composer. But Piccioni had an alibi—at the time of the murder he was in the house of actress Alida Valli in Amalfi, where he claimed to be sick in bed. Rumors sprang up that he was Valli’s lover. Why did anyone care? Because Valli, a big star at the time who had appeared in Orson Welles’ The Third Man, was married to another famous musician, Oscar de Mejo. The case was now a full-blown media circus.
This is the way it may have gone: every direction the carabinièri turned, politically connected Italians threw up walls in their path. Alternatively, it may have gone like this: the carabinièri made a noisy show of annoying a few heavy hitters, but were only performing for a suspicious and cynical public. What was clear was very powerful people wanted the orgiastic activities in Capacotto forgotten. Behind-the-scenes manuvering was rife. Anna Maria Caglio even wrote a letter to the Pope warning him that there were people around him who meant him harm, presumably because they wanted to expose the involvement of Vatican officials in the late night shenanigans at the lodge. Pressure came down from the highest levels of the Italian establishment to put the case to bed quickly. It wasn’t quick. But neither was it necessarily thorough. Eventually four people were brought to trial, including Piero Piccioni. All were acquitted. Perhaps the only consequence of the investigation is that it became one of the most celebrated mysteries of all time, inspiring many books, and even a symbolic reference in the incomparable Federico Fellini film La Dolce Vita. But what really happened to Wilma Montesi? Nobody knows. Today the case is still unsolved.