Naomi Tani discovers she's a rose that hasn't blossomed yet.
It's been a few years since we checked in on Japanese bondage queen Naomi Tani. Well, she returns on this poster for Kurobara shôten, aka Black Rose Ascension. The movie, which is a roman porno—i.e. a Nikkatsu Studios softcore sex flick—concerns a self-absorbed Osaka porn director played by Shin Kishida who loses his star when she refuses to work while pregnant. Simultaneously, over in the subplot, Naomi Tani has an unfilled life doing various things that aren't exactly ethical in the sexual sense, such as rimming an older man for money and having an affair with a married dentist. Kishida targets Tani, seduces her, and films it. She doesn't know she's on camera at first, but realizes it partway through when a gaffer and a camera guy jump out of a closet. If you know this genre you can guess where the movie goes from there. Hint: Hmm... maybe what I was doing before was kind of like porn anyway. Nikkatsu never fails to ponder whether a woman is really just a sex freak who hasn't blossomed yet. We can't say the movie is great, but we'll say this much for it—you'll really believe it's possible to fuck while roller skating. Kurobara shôten premiered in Japan today in 1975.
Yuriko gets fresh in her bestselling photo book.
We could have gone several directions in posting a photo of Japanese actress Yuriko Hishimi, who appeared in such films as Kôshoku: Genroku (maruhi) monogatari, aka Diary of a Nymphomaniac, and Chikyû kogeki meirei: Gojira tai Gaigan, aka Godzilla vs. Gigan. We have shots of her in swimsuits, in flannels, in motorcycle leathers, in auto racing gear, in a nurse's outfit, and more. But underneath all those, there's this. Even then there are many choices because she has entire books of nudes. Well, one third of one book, and all of two others. One of her solo efforts, a big seller, was called Yuriko 1967-73, and this is one of the images from inside.
Japanese actresses posed nude often, which is why we have so many of the shots on our website. They were made, on average, fifty years ago. Today, in our current era, photos of nudes cause debate. Are they artful, or are they exploitation? If they differ from a nude Rodin or Modigliani, is it because of their realism? Is it because of their easy replicability? Or their existence outside a museum setting? Then what of a shocking museum Mapplethorpe or Schiele with the subject's exposed genitals? Perhaps nudes are exploitative only when distributed for profit. But if profit condemns a nude, then what of the profits of galleries and museums? Are nudes exploitative because of their tendency to arouse? Then what of Rodin's famed “Le Baiser”? Since our species owes its very existence to the drive for sex, if nudes arouse, isn't that a celebration of our ultimate purpose on this planet? These are questions that interest us, which we attempt to ask with each nude image. Opinions differ, but for our part we don't believe there's anything inherently exploitative about the nude form, though clearly the production of such images can lead to that. But we don't live in an all-things-are-equal world, which is to say, for some it's easier to categorize and condemn all of something than try to understand which things might actually be in one category and which might be in another. We believe some nudes are exploitative (such as revenge porn), but not all. The photo above is a Rodin with a knowing look. It's erotic, playful, and a little shy. It's pure art. Which is why we have a similar bonus shot below, and more from Hishimi here.
One good accessory deserves another.
A long while back we shared a couple of shots of Japanese actress Terumi Azuma wearing a cool yellow visor. She must have liked visors because here she is circa 1975 wearing another one, this time made of leather. We're thinking these should come back into fashion.
Fifty shades of Tani.
It's roman porno's runaway mainstream success that keeps us watching the movies. We seek to understand them from the point of view of the millions of Japanese filmgoers that made them box office gold, and we try to do it without being squeamish about the content, which is softcore, yet far beyond the pale by American standards. Made half a decade earlier than the second wave bondage flicks we've been featuring lately, Niizuma Jigoku, aka Newlywed Hell, aka New Wife's Hell stars undisputed bdsm queen Naomi Tani in a hit roman porno made with considerably more artistry than second wave films. It's still the same basic idea though—woman has no idea she's into kinky bondage until forced into it. But a more restrained approach than would be prevalent later elevates the material a bit. It's still weird as hell, but you won't feel permanently filthy after watching it. As a bonus, the amazing Terumi Azuma co-stars. Niizuma Jigoku premiered today in 1975.
If you love somebody pin them to a corkboard.
You know by now that roman porno is a Japanese softcore film genre, and that the “roman” stands for “romantic.” So it's fitting that the poster for the roman porno flick Seishojo: hitontasu no keiken has a romantic image. That isn't usually the case, but this one, with the colors and flowers, is pretty. The English title of this was One Summer Experience: Sexy Virgin, or sometimes Sex Virginity Hito: Natsu's Experience, and what happens is a man named Nobuyuki who collects butterflies meets a girl named Ruri who thinks she's the incarnation of a butterfly. Turns out she's a mental patient, but nuts never looked as good as Terumi Azuma, so Nobuyuki has to be be forgiven for violating the tenets of the hot/crazy matrix. This one gets pretty weird. There's a scene where Ruri experiences sexual pleasure from being stabbed with insect pins, and all we can say is, you know, it's roman porno. The movie has immense importance, at least to us, because it was Azuma's first lead role, and she gave the cinema world plenty of enjoyable material over the years. Below you see a beautiful promo shot—reversed by the lithographer, which we know because in real life Azuma's torso mole is actually on her left—and a nice alternate poster. Seishojo: hitontasu no keiken premiered today in 1976.
The cat is definitely out of the bag.
This cool poster is for the Japanese roman porno flick Bakeneko Toruko furo, aka A Haunted Turkish Bathhouse, a movie you should think of as an off-the-program addition to the website today, as it is not playing at Noir City. Obviously, the poster reveals that this is a ghost cat movie, and the title does too—a bakeneko is a cat that has changed into a yōkai, or supernatural creature. They made plenty of these ghost cat flicks in Japan, including Kaidan nobori ryu, aka Black Cat’s Revenge, which we talked about a while back.
This one stars Naomi Tani, Misa Ohara, Yumiko Tateno, and the luscious Terumi Azuma. Tani is whipped to death, no thanks to her husband, and comes back to haunt her killers as an avenging cat spirit. If you're a cat person, you might be thinking you'd love this. But the thing about these movies is the cats are basically just thrown into shots from off camera by production assistants, or sometimes suspended from wires, and there's no doubt their treatment was not very kind. It's good they have nine lives, because to us it looks like they need all of them to get through these movie shoots.
Below you see two more posters for the same film, alternate versions that are completely different from the one above. All three pieces are visible around the internet, but the red ones have never before been shared at this size or clarity. Watch the movie if you can. You'll find it interesting, especially the bathhouse elements (hint, hint). Whether you can watch it or not, please be kind to cats—they're a little evil in normal form anyway, but as bakeneko they're just plain lethal. Bakeneko Toruko furo premiered in Japan today in 1975.
Azuma turns to banditry and heads roll.
Dokufu oden kubikiri asa is known in English by many titles—officially it's aka Poisonous Oden and Decapitator Asa or Samurai Executioner. But in our efforts to locate it we discovered it's known online also as Decapitation of an Evil Woman and Vamp and Samurai. Do we even need to tell you about this one, considering how much info is given away by the titles?
A country girl played by Terumi Azuma goads a country boy into theivery and they and two partners quickly become notorious bandits hunted by the authorities. The story is derived from the real-life Oden Takahashi, who in 1879 became the last woman executed by decapitation in Japan. Despite this inspiration, much of the movie is played for laughs, with quite a bit of slapsticking, bungling, and yelling. Of course, it has to take a serious turn eventually, and indeed all four gang members soon become seasoned killers—just in time to start being whittled down by those annoyingly persistent authorities.
We were surprised by the comedic tone saturating much of the film, but since Japanese audiences already knew the story of Oden Takahashi, maybe some foolishness was needed to keep them interested. We could have done without it, but the movie is still pretty good, and at sixty-one minutes you don't lose too much life to it. The poster above is exceedingly rare, never before seen online we're pretty sure. The one below is more common, but still very nice. Dokufu oden kubikiri asa premiered in Japan today in 1977.
Some say being a big fish in a small pond is better than being a small fish anywhere. They may be wrong.
Hakkin nikubuton, aka Banned Book: Flesh Futon, for which you see a poster above, has one of those strange titles you come across occasionally in Japanese cinema. “Banned book” seems straightforward enough. But “flesh futon”? Hmm… Based on an erotic novel by Chinese writer Li Yu and starring Hajime Tanimoto, Maya Hiromi, Terumi Azuma, and Rei Okamoto, the movie tells the story of a poor writer named Mio who unexpectedly authors a bestselling erotic novel called—and this will clear up the title weirdness—Flesh Futon. See? Mio takes to fame quite easily, living in the fast lane and generally having a good time.
But his wonderful life begins to fall apart due to various unexpected misfortunes. These run the gamut from having a prostitute spread a rumor that his penis is “like a guppy,” to having to his house robbed and (now that we understand the title, we know this next part is coming) his book banned. When Mio later encounters the house thief this dodgy character reveals that it’s possible to have one’s penis enlarged. How? Let’s just say it’s a pretty ruff procedure. Mio opts for the surgery, but alas, quickly learns that being a big fish isn’t everything, as his previous misfortunes turn out to be only a taste of what is to come. Hakkin nikubuton premiered in Japan today in 1975.
Any day is special when she’s involved.
There are many good photos of Terumi Azuma—entire books of them, in fact, and we’ll get to one of those later—but for our money this is one of the best images ever made of one of the most photogenic Japanese stars of the 1970s. It comes from a collection called Holiday of Terumi Azuma, which is appropriate because today is a holiday in the U.S. You also may have noticed that we vanished for four days without a peep last week. That was holiday related too—we went on a spontaneous island jaunt with a few friends. Consider the above awesome image an apology for our absence, and rest assured next time we’ll at least get up an intermission card before we disappear. We have many posters for Azuma’s movies that we’ll share at some point, but in the meantime see more of her here and here. And what the heck, here too.
A perfect day to wear her birthday suit.
Well, it’s been awhile since we shared any 1970s Japanese actress promos, but today seemed like a perfect occasion. Above is roman porno star Terumi Azuma, and it just happens that today is her birthday. Azuma appeared in such films as Niizuma jigoku (Newlywed Hell), Ikenie fujin (Wife To Be Sacrificed), and Ikenie no onna-tachi (Harry and His Geisha Girls). Because it was illegal to show pubic hair in Japan when this photo was made in the mid-1970s, Azuma covers the offending area with her hand. You see this trick over and over in ’70s Japanese promos, and while it never ceases to bemuse, it also makes these shots infinitely better than something more graphic. Not that we’d mind if she moved her hand, but you know what we’re saying. Anyway, Terumi Azuma is fifty-seven years old today.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1946—Antonescu Is Executed
Ion Antonescu, who was ruler of Romania during World War II, and whose policies were independently responsible for the deaths of as many as 400,000 Bessarabian, Ukrainian and Romanian Jews, as well as countless Romani Romanians, is executed by means of firing squad at Fort Jilava prison just outside Bucharest.
1959—Sax Rohmer Dies
Prolific British pulp writer Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward, aka Sax Rohmer, who created the popular character Fu Manchu and became one of the most highly paid authors of his time writing fundamentally racist fiction about the "yellow peril" and what he blithely called "rampant criminality among the Chinese", dies of avian flu in White Plains, New York.
1957—Arthur Miller Convicted of Contempt of Congress
Award-winning American playwright Arthur Miller, the husband of movie star Marilyn Monroe, is convicted of contempt of Congress when he refuses to reveal the names of political associates to the House Un-American Activities Committee. The conviction would later be overturned, but HUAC persecution against American citizens continues until the committee is finally dissolved in 1975.
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.
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