A classic case of accessory before the act.
We were enticed to watch the film Wakazuma ga nureru toki, aka When a Young Wife Gets Wet for two reasons: Izumi. Shima. We consider her to be among the most beautiful of stars from the late 1970s early 1980s, and we had to find out why she was on the above poster sporting a dimestore wig and grease pencil mole. We should have seen it coming, considering she features two distinct looks here, but what you get is Shima as a woman who lives a double life. In one she's a housewife and in the other—as if you couldn't guess—she's a prostitute.
The movie has a plot we suspect only male filmmakers could come up with. Shima suffers a rape before her marriage, though justice of a sort is later applied, and afterward she seems to lead a happily wedded life. But nobody knows that she also haunts the alleys of Yokohama's red light district to repeatedly relive her degradation. Obviously, she needs to keep this second life secret, and when threatened we find that she'll do anything to avoid exposure. We do mean anything.
The movie, which came from Nikkatsu Studios and is part of its roman porno cycle, is more atmospheric than most from the genre. It's quite dark in parts—visually we mean—with a nervous jazz score that brings to mind the 2014 hit Birdman. The nice accompaniment helps, but the plot treads the same old territory, with screenwriter Masayasu Ôebara exploring the madonna-whore complex on behalf of the audience. In the end Wakazuma ga nureru toki is memorable only because it stars the radiant Shima. It premiered in Japan today in 1978.
Bunta Sugawara spits hot lead in Machine Gun Dragon.
Cagney! Bogart! And... Bunta? This poster, if you look at the text in the righthand margin, suggests that Bunta Sugawara is a gangster on that level. We'll see about that in a minute, but one thing is sure—this is a kick-ass image of him. It was made for his crime flick Yokohama ankokugai mashingan no ryu, known in English as Yokohama Underworld: The Machine-Gun Dragon. Sugawara plays a rogue gunman, thief, and fashion plate who decides to rob the Matsumi yakuza clan of a billion yen worth of drugs. Ill gotten gains are hard to keep in crime movies, so you know already what the story arc is here: the people he robbed come looking for him.
However, there are some quirks. For example, Sugawara has a disturbingly close relationship with his mother. The two take baths together, as mom dispenses parental wisdom like, “The most important thing in the world is money. A guy without money is garbage. He might as well not have a dick,” while peeking at Sugawara's dick, which thankfully is out-of-frame. It's under mom's influence that Sugawara robs the Matsumi group, a heist the pair pull off in the first moments of the film. They plan to hold the goods until the heat cools, but another gang deduces that Sugawara was involved and demands half the drugs for not turning him over. The cops are soon closing in too, since the robbery resulted in a quadruple homicide.
Eventually, Sugawara engineers his own arrest. It's the only way he can avoid capture by the yakuza, and in jail he can presumably regroup. But Matsumi has men inside. Those men have no idea how ruthless and resourceful Sugawara is, and in the film's best sequences he shows how survival inside this particular prison is about who's willing to be the most vicious. He doesn't spend long in jail, which means that upon release his problems still must be faced. But fire breathing dragons are very hard to kill. As hard as Cagney and Bogart? Well, let's just say that if Bunta goes out, he'll go out guns blazing. Yokohama ankokugai mashingan no ryu premiered in Japan today in 1976.
Oshida shows how to wield authority with flair.
We have another bo-ekibari style Japanese poster today, the rare two-piece horizontal variety that you don't see many of—except on Pulp Intl. This was made for Zubeko banchô: hamagure kazoe uta, aka Delinquent Girl Boss: Ballad of Yokohama Hoods, which premiered in Japan today in 1971 and starred Reiko Oshida and her katana, which is a useful motivational tool for management types. We shared another poster for the movie several years ago, which you can see here, and if you're interested in bo-ekibari promos, we've posted some fun ones here, here, here, here, and here.
Etsuko Shihomi gets her kicks fighting a diamond smuggling syndicate.
You see a poster like this and you know you've got a winner of a film on your hands. Not necessarily a good film, in the conventional sense, but one you know is going to be fun. This long promo, which you'll find nowhere else online, was made for Onna hissatsu ken: Kiki ippatsu, known in English speaking countries as Sister Street Fighter: Hanging by a Thread. It premiered in Japan today in 1974 and starred martial arts wizardress Etsuko Shihomi in the sequel to Onna hissatsu ken, aka Sister Street Fighter. This time she heads to Yokohama and battles diamond smugglers who surgically implant their improbably massive contraband stones into the buttocks of Chinese prostitutes. These bad guys are really evil. When a member of their organization screws up she gets her eyes stabbed out. See below. Surely there are better jobs out there, even if one has to sink to temp work or waiting tables at Applebee's. Does Shihomi defeat the mad surgical mafia of Yokohama? Hah. What a question. In terms of karate films, she was just getting started, as the stack of posters we'll be uploading in the future will attest. Speaking of which, we have the standard promo for Kiki ippatsu below, not as rare as the above, but still a nice piece of art.
Operating at a whole new delinquency.
Above are two posters for Zubeko banchô: hamagure kazoe uta, aka Delinquent Girl Boss: Ballad of Yokohama Hoods, third in the Delinquent Girl Boss series, with Reiko Oshida reprising her role as the ass kicking Rika Kageyama. We managed to track down a copy of this and took a gander. It's similar to other entries, with Oshida going from the frying pan to the fire—or more literally, from reform school to the mean streets, as shortly after arriving in Yokohama she gets tangled up in girl biker and organized crime weirdness. She proves her mettle to the girls, then sets about causing trouble for the boys. All this is wrapped around a subplot involving a deserter from the U.S. army.
One distinguishing aspect of Yokohama Hoods is that sex and nudity are de-emphasized throughout the proceedings, and we think this actually helps the movie. We're still grappling with the often challenging role of sexual violence in pinku films, trying but not always managing to understand it in its cultural context, so Yokohama Hoods was refreshing for its lack. Other aspects are exactly as you'd anticipate—i.e. a climactic confrontation between the tough good girls and the superbad boys. Director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi goes all out, staging a waterfront fracas featuring speeding motorcycles, blazing machine guns, flashing swords, and more. If everyone actually aimed their guns rather than thrusting them wildly at their targets the fight might have ended sooner, but in any case Yokohama will never be the same. Zubeko banchô: hamagure kazoe uta premiered in Japan today in 1971.
How do I love thee? Let me count the greenbacks.
Here’s a piece of beautiful poster art for Hajime Sato’s 1966 film L’Amore Scotta a Yokohama. The film was originally released in Japan as Sanpo suru reikyusha, and of course it had a Japanese cast, but in the painting you get a decidedly Italian-looking woman playing dirty with paper money. The film is difficult to find, so if you search for it prepare for frustration. But we really wanted to show you the art anyway, painted by Tarantelli—that must be Italian for genius.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1955—James Dean Dies in Auto Accident
American actor James Dean, who appeared in the films Giant
, East of Eden
, and the iconic Rebel without a Cause
, dies in an auto accident
at age 24 when his Porsche 550 Spyder is hit head-on by a larger Ford coupe. The driver of the Ford had been trying to make a left turn across the rural highway U.S. Route 466 and never saw Dean's small sports car approaching.
1962—Chavez Founds UFW
Mexican-American farm worker César Chávez founds the United Farm Workers in California. His strikes, marches and boycotts eventually result in improved working conditions for manual farm laborers and today his birthday is celebrated as a holiday in eight U.S. states.
1916—Rockefeller Breaks the Billion Barrier
American industrialist John D. Rockefeller becomes America's first billionaire. His Standard Oil Company had gained near total control of the U.S. petroleum market until being broken up by anti-trust legislators in 1911. Afterward, Rockefeller used his fortune mainly for philanthropy, and had a major effect on medicine, education, and scientific research.
1941—Williams Bats .406
Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox finishes the Major League Baseball season with a batting average of .406. He is the last player to bat .400 or better in a season.
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