You can always bank on Andress.
Colpo da 500 milioni alla National Bank was originally made in England as Perfect Friday, and as you can see from the poster, it starred the Swiss vision known as Ursula Andress. That makes it a must watch, and what you get is the type of erotic caper Andress made more than once, as this time she becomes the center of a plot to rob a London bank of £200,000. Her partners are her husband and the deputy bank manager, and she's playing both ends against the middle, so to speak—i.e. doing the nasty with both while telling neither. The heist develops as heists always do, but the real question becomes who she'll choose to run away with in the end.
Andress must have loved making these films. If they weren't the easiest money in cinema history they sure look like it. Every time she got one of these scripts we imagine her going, “Ker-ching.” All she had to do was work in various European capitals, be charming and sophisticated, speak in that impossibly sexy Germanic rasp of hers—and of course strip. In that respect Andress was as reliable as government bonds. Getting naked isn't easy for some, let alone doing it in front of twenty people, but she had a pretty insouciant attitude about it, once saying, “I have no problem with nudity. I can look at myself. I like walking around nude. It doesn't bother me.”
Of course, the anti-nudity set in today's new age of prudishness would claim she said that because it was expected/demanded of her. Well, we have only her words to go by. When a person's own statements are ignored, that makes it mighty easy to turn them into whatever one wishes. There's a lot of that going around today. But we'll show her some respect and assume she said what she she meant. Her face and body got her in the door and kept her at the party, and she was aware of that. While she was a solid actress, she wasn't about to win any awards. At least not with these scripts. Colpo da 500 milioni alla National Bank is a silly little movie but it shows Andress at her best—in every way. For her fans it's mandatory. It had its world premiere in Italy today in 1970.
All the best people showed up.
The West German pop culture and celeb magazine Party, which was produced in Hannover by Lehning Press, is an obscure publication. It's very vivid, with bright color, many full page photos, and many film celebrities represented. Equal time is given to unknowns too, for example, the cover features Annelies Niessner, who was... we have no idea, and inside a color page is given to Cornelie, identified only as a “millionärstochter geht eigene wege,” a millionaire's daughter who goes her own way.
In terms of celebs you get Carol Lynley, Jane Russell, Sandra Dee, Stella Stevens, Laya Raki, a beautiful portrait of Jane Fonda, numerous shots of Ursula Andress, and many others. This publication didn't waste words, even on the copyright date. The cover tells us this is issue eight, so we're going to say it came in August, and we're thinking it's from 1967. Though it may be short on info, Party is an appropriate name, because it's a very fun magazine. We have several more issues, so look for those later.
They may be cannibals but you have to credit their exquisite culinary taste.
The above poster for was made to promote Sergio Martino's La montagne du dieu cannibale, which was originally filmed in Italy as La montagna del dio cannibale, and in English was known as Slave of the Cannibal God and The Mountain of the Cannibal God. Basically, Ursula Andress ventures into the New Guinean jungle to find her husband, who disappeared during an expedition to Ra Ra Me Mountain, considered by native tribes to be cursed. The movie was actually shot in Sri Lanka, but details, details. Andress is accompanied on her quest by her brother, played by Antonio Marsina, a professor, played by Stacy Keach, and some unlucky locals. Their jungle trek brings on interpersonal strife, native attacks, gruesome murders, eventual capture, and additional gruesome murders, all to the accompaniment of creepy drum and synth music.
You'll sometimes see this movie classified as horror, but it's really a mondo revulsion flick, padded with real animal deaths that most people will find unwatchable. These gross-outs are somewhat balanced by the imminently watchable Ursula Andress, who's forty-two here and looking just fine. We don't mention that in passing. The entire point of this gorefest is to get her tied to a stake, stripped, and caressed by hot native girls. The plot about her missing husband—which morphs into a scheme to get rich with uranium—is just a fig leaf. We don't recommend the movie even with Andress undressed in it, but if you watch it maybe don't eat lunch beforehand. After originally premiering in West Germany, La montagne du dieu cannibale opened in France today in 1978.
Look on the bright side. Yes, you'll be dead. But I may be proof God exists, so maybe you won't be dead forever.
Above, one of about a thousand stunning photos of Swiss actress Ursula Andress, one of cinema's all-time beauties. As we noted way back the first time we posted her, she obviously was delivered from the sea on a large clamshell. There's no other explanation. A higher power had to be involved. This shot was made as a promo for her 1975 made-in-Italy comedic thriller Colpo en canna, aka Loaded Guns. We'll get back to that later.
Bond. James Bond. Not sure who you are, but stick close anyway.
French illustrator Boris Grinsson outdid himself with this promo for James Bond 007 contre Dr. No, aka Dr. No. This is a framable classic, appropriate for a film that reshaped the spy genre. Its only flaw is that while the Sean Connery figure is a good likeness, the representation of Ursula Andress is not very close. We get it though—her perfect, unlined face doesn't give you much to work with. To get Connery close, you just need to make sure you include his bushy eyebrows and the deep facial lines bracketing his mouth. But Andress is a true test of skill. It's still a great poster. Perhaps even our favorite from the Bond franchise. The movie premiered in France today in 1963.
Unlike a normal lottery nobody wants a ticket, and against all odds you're bound to get picked eventually.
We all know that in cinema no idea lies fallow for long. They're all reused until they've given everything of value, and plenty that isn't. Part of the fun of watching movies is seeing the lineage of ideas. La decima vittima, for which you see a nice Mario de Berardinis poster above, was known in English as The 10th Victim, and resides in the sub-genre of films about humans killing humans for sport and gain. Other movies in the group include 1932's The Most Dangerous Game, 1972's The Woman Hunt, 1975's Death Race 2000, 1987's The Running Man, 2013's The Purge, and others.
In La decima vittima's near future, violence between citizens has been made legal and placed under the auspices of the Ministero della Grande Caccio, aka the Ministry of the Big Hunt. Those who hunt are given the identities of their prey, along with their locations and personal habits. Anyone can be hunted, even those who previously were hunters. The hunted can kill their hunters in self defense, but if they make a mistake and kill the wrong person—easy to do when you're paranoid and an unknown person is stalking you—that's old fashioned murder and off to prison you go. The purpose of all this slaughter? As the film explains, “Why have birth control when you can have death control?”
Ursula Andress, whose looks kill anyway, plays an adept hunter given an opportunity by a big corporation to monetize her tenth (and by law her final) murder. Marcello Mastroianni plays a one percenter who's been computer selected as her prey, and whom Andress' corporate benefactors want to film her assassinating for a tea commercial. Andress has agreed to kill Mastroianni at the Temple of Venus in Rome. Getting him there won't be easy, but the classic honeytrap, with the sun-kissed Andress as the sticky goodness, is a sure bet to work. It'd work on us.
We said the movie is in the same lineage as The Most Dangerous Game, The Purge, et al. Nearly all those films are better than La decima vittima. There are several problems here, not least of which is emotional tone-deafness—the characters love and hate because the script requires it, but there's no spark, no believability. The movie is probably worth watching anyway because of its super sex symbol cast rounded out by Elsa Martinelli, plus its sleek, retrofuturistic ’60s fashions, but don't go in expecting a landmark sci-fi, a brutal social commentary, a cutting satire, or anything of the ilk. In the end, just like the real future, it's so-so. La decima vittima had its world premiere in Rome and Florence today in 1965.
Filmgoers say yes to No and a franchise is born.
Since we've already talked about two movies inspired by Bond today, why not discuss the landmark that started it all? There had always been spy movies. Even the James Bond films, with their focus on high concept action and fantastical super villains, had predecessors. But United Artists, director Terence Young, Sean Connery, and the rest took the basic notes of those earlier efforts, wove them into a fresh composition, and cranked the volume up to eleven. This Spanish poster painted by Macario Gomez was made for the first Bond film Dr. No, which played in Spain as Agente 007 contra el Dr. No. Ian Fleming's novel had been published in 1958, and the film hit cinemas four years later. Like From Russia with Love, which we watched recently, we've seen it more than once, but not for years, and decided to screen it with fresh eyes.
We imagine audiences had never seen a spy movie quite like this, with its opulent production values and near-seamless construction. Set in Jamaica, the exotic locations are beautifully photographed, and while the filmmakers' portrayal of the island isn't necessarily authentic, it's immersive, and makes the required impression of a land of mystery and danger. An altogether different impression was made by the ravishing Ursula Andress, and we suspect once word got out certain filmgoers bought tickets just to see her. Joseph Wiseman's villainous Julius No, a few hi-budget gadgets, and a secret lair filled with expendable henchmen complete the set-up—and establish the Bond template for the future. Add the unflappable if occasionally imperious spy himself and the fun is complete.
The Bond franchise's success inspired scores of imitators, as discussed in the two posts above, but with a few exceptions those movies usually work today on the level of unintentional comedy or eye-rolling camp. Dr. No, despite Bond's interjections of humor, took itself seriously. Viewers were supposed to believe its most fantastic elements were possible. In addition, they were supposed to see Bond as the uber-male, a man who fights and loves hard, is virtually immune to sentiment, and never mourns losses for long. That notion of ideal manhood has certainly changed—for the better we'd say—but even accounting for the tectonic cultural shifts in the interim Dr. No holds up like the best vintage thrillers. It's stylish, charmingly simple, and—if one assesses it honestly—progressive for its time. It premiered in England in October 1962, and reached Spain today in 1963.
Pop culture magazine offers a look at post-Franco Spain.
Ages ago we found a stash of Spanish language magazines and books in a neglected closet in a stairwell in our apartment building. They were caked with dust, so we knew they'd been left to rot. We helped ourselves to a few, but didn't scan much of the collection because it was more contemporary than our usual offerings, and because the magazines were in large formats that needed piecing together in Photoshop. But we had a little time today (plus the Pulp Intl. girlfriends want us to clear out some material) so we have some scans from the Spanish magazine Interviu. This issue hit newsstands today in 1977 and features cover star María Carlos, model Virna Lisa, and Swiss icon Ursula Andress, who's the entire reason we did the scans. There's also a feature on nudism in Spain.
On the whole Interviu is a pop culture magazine, but with the crucial difference that it was published in a Spain recently freed from decades of dictatorship. Therefore the focus on politics and conflict is pretty heavy. We found four of these and all them play the dirty trick of placing photos of nude models on the overleaf of pages showing corpses. You're looking at a beautiful woman, then flip the page to see a dude with his skull smashed open. One issue had a photo of a guy torn to shreds by a bomb. We mean no recognizable body at all, just shoes, mangled flesh, and a few bones. In color. If the idea was to force readers to see the consequences of war, mission accomplished. But don't worry—we didn't include any of those scans, so scroll with confidence.
Andress gets picturesque in wine country.
This photo of Swiss actress Ursula Andress in an autumnal vineyard appeared on an issue Paris Match magazine published in September 1964. Fewer than two years removed from her role in Dr. No it's fair to say she was at this moment one the biggest stars in the world. For the most part, the roles she played didn't make splashes as big as that made by Dr. No, but there's little doubt she's one of the more fondly remembered stars of her era. We have an entire series of Dr. No images that are well worth a look, so if you're inclined just click here.
All bets are off when the Für starts flying.
4 für Texas opened in West Germany today in 1968 after premiering in the U.S. the previous December as 4 for Texas. This was a high powered production, starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Anita Ekberg, Ursula Andress, Charles Bronson, and incredibly, The Three Stooges. The movie was terribly reviewed when released, but it isn't as bad as all that. Sinatra and Martin vie for a fortune in stolen cash, and later for ownership of a profitable Galveston riverboat casino, but join forces to deal with Bronson, the villain. Ekberg and Andress are mainly interested in getting married. Critics of the time might not have been dazzled, but today, with Andress the only main member of the cast still living, 4 for Texas emits a strong aura of Rat Pack nostalgia. The poster art is by Rolf Goetze, a prolific illustrator who produced something like eight-hundred promos between 1958 and 1972, of which this one is surely among the best. See another example of his work here. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1926—Houdini Fatally Punched in Stomach
After a performance in Montreal, Hungarian-born magician and escape artist Harry Houdini is approached by a university student named J. Gordon Whitehead, who asks if it is true that Houdini can endure any blow to the stomach. Before Houdini is ready Whitehead strikes him several times, causing internal injuries that lead to the magician's death.
1973—Kidnappers Cut Off Getty's Ear
After holding Jean Paul Getty III for more than three months, kidnappers cut off his ear and mail it to a newspaper in Rome. Because of a postal strike it doesn't arrive until November 8. Along with the ear is a lock of hair and ransom note that says: "This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits." Getty's grandfather, billionaire oilman Jean Paul Getty, at first refused to pay the 3.2 million dollar ransom, then negotiated it down to 2.8 million, and finally agreed to pay as long as his grandson repaid the sum at 4% interest.
1947—HUAC Hearings Begin
The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation into Communist infiltration of Hollywood, resulting in a witch hunt that destroys lives, ruins careers, and makes Senator Joseph McCarthy the most feared politician of the era.
1968—Jackie Kennedy Marries
Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy marries Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. The marriage comes as a total surprise to the American public, and results in a terrible backlash against her and also makes her the number one target of paparazzi for years.
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