Vintage Pulp May 16 2023
MARGIN OF TERROR
Don't lose hope. If we survive this we'll probably both get a chance to act in better movies.


This poster was made for the horror movie The Terror, and we're showing you the Japanese promo art because—as is often the case—it's nicer than the U.S. promo. Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson star, actors passing in the night, Karloff aged seventy-six and on the downward slope of a legendary film career, Nicholson aged twenty-six on the upslope. The latter plays a French army lieutenant named Andre Duvalier who becomes stranded circa 1806 in ye olde creepy-ass castle on the hill, which is occupied by Karloff's rickety Baron Victor von Leppe. Jack sees a mysterious woman wandering around. Karloff explains that she's the ghost of his wife, the Baronness Ilsa von Leppe, who died twenty years ago. Nosy Nicholson doesn't believe that for a millisecond, but the Baron sticks to his story, even admitting he killed the Baronness with his bare hands for the crime of adultery. Nice confession, but the Baron is lying or being duped, as far as Nicholson is concerned. In either case, the question is why?

Director Roger Corman was working from an Edgar Allen Poe template here, and in fact he shot on castle sets originally used for The Raven, which had wrapped earlier in the year. It's always good to save a buck where you can, but any advantage was lost due to Corman working from an unfinished script, which led to reshoots by Francis Ford Coppola, Dennis Jakob, Monte Hellman, and Jack Hill. All that talent wasn't enough to put together a film befitting Nicholson and Karloff, but the two leads do their damndest, and the result, though not good, isn't an embarrassment. Afterward, Karloff continued coasting into the twilight, Nicholson and Coppola moved on to widespread acclaim, Hill helped launch the blaxploitation cycle and make a star of Pam Grier, and Hellman directed the cult masterpiece Two-Lane Blacktop. It's a miracle they all contributed something lasting to cinema, because you'd never suspect it watching The Terror. It premiered in the U.S. in 1963 and reached Japan today in 1964.
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Vintage Pulp Oct 28 2015
NOWHERE FAST
The thing is you got to keep moving.


Esquire magazine called Two-Lane Blacktop the movie of the year and devoted a cover to it, and many other critics also lent their applause. It was directed by Monte Hellman and stars James Taylor, Dennis Wilson, Warren Oates, and nineteen-year-old Laurie Bird in a story of two hot-rodders who bet their cars on the result of a head-to-head cross country race. A similar movie had hit American cinemas months earlier in the form of Richard C. Sarafian’s Vanishing Point, but Two-Lane Blacktop not only has the usual feeling of road movie nostalgia due to its celebration of a peculiarly fragile type of freedom, but because it features an actress, also peculiarly fragile, who later committed suicide. Her role—all twenty or so lines of it—is iconic, even eternal, in our opinion. She’s the only one in the film who is completely free.
 
While most of the acting is slightly flat, as might be expected with two pop stars and a novice in three of the four main roles, these are not people who are supposed to be showing extravagant emotion. They’re nomadic, their attachments transitory, their stories made of small moments dwarfed by a big, desolate American landscape where only the cars are truly real. Detractors say nothing happens in the film, but that isn’t true—it’s just as plotted and dramatic as Shakespeare if you listen through the roar of engines and peer through the smoke. It's one of our favorite movies, and to quote Warren Oates, "Those satisfactions are permanent." Two-Lane Blacktop premiered in the U.S. during the summer of 1971, and raced into Japan beginning today in 1972. 
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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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