No night is complete until you get your fille.
Above you see a Belgian poster for the 1953 juvie drama Girls in the Night. This is an awesome piece of art. In basic form it isn't that different from the also great U.S. version we showed you at the bottom of this previous post, but here you get a purple and yellow color story, a different face on the femme fatale, and a nice treatment of the cityscape. Those make this piece a big winner.
What was the must-have possession of 1971? Christina Lindberg.
Here you see a couple of French posters for the 1971 Swedish sexploitation movie Possédée, which means “possessed,” but which was originally titled Exponerad, and was known in the U.S. as Exposed and Diary of a Rape. There's no known release date for the movie in France, but it worked its way across Europe in 1972, so figure it opened in France sometime in the middle of the year. The top poster is one you see often online, but the second promo, in black and white and showing star Christina Lindberg clutched by a male hand, is rare.
We've posted a lot a material on Exponerad. Our continual focus on this is not because the movie is especially worthwhile, but because its promotional materials are great. As an example, below is a shot of Lindberg made to publicize the film, and which appeared in the Japanese magazine Young • Idol • Now. More photos from the session appeared in other Japanese magazines, but this rare shot is by far our favorite. Feel free to check out our other posts on this film by clicking keyword “Exponerad” at bottom.
Ida done it better.
Occasionally we run across a VHS box we really like. This one for the 1954 film noir Private Hell 36, with Hollywood legend Ida Lupino in repose on the front, caught our eye with its simple but beautiful design. Anything with Lupino involved is worthwhile, including this film. We talked about it earlier this year, here.
Schell, Mercouri, and Ustinov plan a field trip to the local museum.
This French promo poster was made for the big screen Technicolor thriller Topkapi, which was based on a novel by Eric Ambler, who was such a popular author that the book was optioned before it even hit bookstores. The sedateness of the poster, which was painted by Yves Thos and René Ferracci, belies how outlandish the movie is at points. It starred Greek actress Melina Mercouri, British actor Peter Ustinov, and Austrian actor Maximilian Schell, with American Jules Dassin in the director's chair, filming mainly in Istanbul and using the location to voyeuristic effect as he documents exotic aspects of Turkish life. Inside all the window dressing is a heist flick about a group intent on stealing a priceless jewel encrusted dagger from the Topkapi Palace Museum. Aspects of this will look familiar to fans of the Mission: Impossible films, but Dassin adds extravagances such as direct-to-audience narration by Mercouri, a touch of Hitchcockian vertigo, and some overly broad comedic digressions that make the final result thrilling and bizarre in equal parts. While we had issues with the movie, who are we to argue with the top critics of the day? They mostly liked it and audiences did too. Topkapi had its world premiere in France today in 1965.
Etsuko Shihomi looks soft but hits hard.
This rare poster was made to promote Onna hissatsu ken, aka Sister Street Fighter, which premiered in Japan today in 1974. The movie is fourth in the Street Fighter series, after The Street Fighter, The Return of the Street Fighter, and The Street Fighter's Last Revenge. In this one karate master and undercover drug agent Sonny Chiba goes missing in Tokyo, prompting his bosses to recruit his sister Etsuko Shihomi to search for him. Shihomi collects clues, allies, and esoteric enemies, but of course finally learns her brother is exactly where any viewer would expect—in the villain's lair, where he's been forcibly addicted to drugs.
Generally, penetrating these evil underground strongholds is perfunctory, but in this film Shihomi has more problems than usual. She'll get there, though—what's a ’70s martial arts film without a subterranean showdown? It's all a bit silly and clunky, if surprisingly gory at the end. Interestingly, the movie tries to be instructive, actually freeze-framing to label certain martial arts techniques, weapons, and important characters. Weird, but okay. In the end Shihomi wins using basic stick-to-itiveness—with nunchakus upside multiple male craniums. Oh, and by the way, there are lots of reversed swastikas in this film. We talked about those, but if you missed that discussion check here.
Big screen Thief gets the job done but isn't quite the perfect crime.
This is a spectacular Italian poster for Caccia al ladro, aka To Catch a Thief, with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. The moviemakers opted for a photo-illustration rather than a painting, and it befits the star power of the movie. It was based on David Dodge's best seller of the same name, and in truth it's a pretty simple-minded adaptation of the book. You can just hear the studio execs saying: “We know it's in the novel, but we can't have the star in disguise half the movie, we can't have the romance go unacknowledged until the final reel, and we for damn sure can't have the secondary female lead be more beautiful than Grace Kelly.” Movies are a different medium than books, and changes always happen, but it's just interesting to observe what those changes are. The main change is this: Dodge's novel has suspense, while Hitchcock's adaptation does not. That probably wasn't intentional.
To Catch a Thief is a superstar vehicle, and with Grant and Kelly in the lead roles, and Hitchcock in the director's chair, it's pretty clear the studio considered the hard work done. Extensive French Riviera location shooting and VistaVision widescreen film processing are nice bonuses, but the honchos should have had screenwriter John Michael Hayes hammer the script out a little smoother. We're not being iconoclasts here. The movie received mixed reviews upon release, with some important critics calling it a failure. That's going too far—it isn't a failure. We don't think Grant, Kelly, and Hitchcock would have been capable of making anything but a good movie at this stage. But considering the source material it could have been a perfect movie. To Catch a Thief premiered in the U.S in early August 1955, and in Italy at the Venice Film Festival today the same year.
Edmond O'Brien tries to shield himself from the truth.
A cop runs across cash at crime scenes quite a bit. Maybe he snags a little here, a little there. Takes the girlfriend to dinner, buys himself a new fishing rod. He gets used to these little bonuses. Then one day there's $25,000 and nobody around to see him take it. Shield for Murder is the story of a dirty cop played by Edmond O'Brien whose theft of said cash leads to him finally becoming suspected of wrongdoing, which in turn causes him to be hunted by the original possessors of the cash, as well as investigated by his protégé. As the vise tightens O'Brien gets more desperate, and more dangerous. Redemption is never an option, but survival might be—with luck. O'Brien is good in every film role, so what you get here is a solid genre entry, enlivened by a drawn out action climax and a shootout at a public pool that's among the best throwdowns to be found in vintage cinema. Marla English co-stars, which helps plenty. Plus check O'Brien's crazy eyes in the production photos below. He gives this role his all. Shield for Murder premiered in the U.S. today in 1954.
If I'd known being a virgin would lead to this I'd have considered that proposition from my dad's fishing buddy.
Do people still make chastity pledges? Well, if the pledge is to a cruel Aztec jaguar god that wants you to serve as his bodily vessel, don't do it. The Living Idol, which explores that precise possibility, is a novelization of a 1957 movie of the same name starring Liliane Montevecchi. We discussed it a while back. The novel came from Signet with Robert Maguire on the cover chores, and we've seen copyrights of 1956 on this, so it may have preceded the film as a means of generating interest. You can find out everything you need to know about the book by reading our bit on the movie here.
Just call him the noble formerly known as Dracula.
We don't have to tell you what Blacula is. It's clear from the poster alone that it's a retelling of the Dracula legend. It's also an early high point for blaxploitation cinema. It isn't perfectly made, but as an allegory it's on the nose: centuries ago an African prince named Mamuwalde was transformed into a vampire out of sheer racist spite, cursed to eternal hunger, taken as cargo to a strange foreign land, and now fights to survive there, far from his home. William Marshall in the lead role is doubtless the sweatiest vampire in movie history, but he's good in what is by definition a patently absurd role. In supporting parts are Thalmus Rasulala, Denise Nicholas, and the ravishing Vonetta McGee, who Mamuwalde thinks is his long lost wife Luva and treats to some sweet vampire love. As pure horror Blacula is middling, and it's homophobic in parts, but audiences liked the film and made it one of the top grossers of the year. Despite its flaws the undead Prince Mamuwalde embodied a fresh approach to black themed cinema, and it's certainly fun to watch. It opened in the U.S. today in 1972.
Christina Lindberg flick expounds upon reality, fantasy, and a woman's struggle in a sexualized world.
The sexploitation flick Exponerad, which premiered in Sweden today in 1971 and is known in English as Exposed and Diary of a Rape, is an exceedingly serious movie considering its genre. That would normally be a sin in our book, but this stars Christina Lindberg, so we figured okay, it's worth a gander. Lindberg, in one of her earliest roles, plays Lena, a high school girl torn between her twerp of a boyfriend Jan and an older, depraved sociopath named Helge. She prefers Jan, but Helge has taken nude photos of her and is using them to blackmail her into servicing guests at his wild parties.
When Jan learns that Lena has been sharing her fuzzy favors, his caveman side comes out and he slaps her. Lena promptly runs away to the country. Here we learn that the wall between reality and fantasy is a thin one for her, and she crosses between it multiple times. She's raped by a stranger, tries to seduce a man who picks her up hitchhiking, dies in a fiery automobile crash, and has other imaginings the audience only knows are in her head once the movie leaps back to the point where those scenes began.
If we consider these fantasies closely it's possible Lena is coming to grips with her sexuality and her place in a sexualized world. A particularly insightful review we read suggested that all of these waking dreams represent the male gaze, which is why they're creepy and violent. It's a theory we like, but we aren't sure if it actually holds up—unless daydreams can leave physical artifacts behind. We know we're being vague. This is when that no spoilers promise we made a while back is inconvenient.
In any case, what the filmmakers wanted to do here was make thought-provoking erotica, and they definitely accomplished that. We picture the producer shaking hands with director Gustav Wiklund and saying, “Well done, lad. Despite all the nudity there's no possibility anyone will get a boner.” Whether the film makes any sense is a different issue. We recommend that if you watch Exponerad, you watch with full attention or you'll get lost long before the double twist ending that'll make you say either, “Aha!” or “Huh?” Fans of ambitious sexploitation, this movie is your jam. We have some promo images beow, and you can see more here and here.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1959—Khrushchev Visits U.S.
Nikita Khrushchev becomes the first Soviet leader to visit the United States. The two week stay includes talks with U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, as well as a visit to a farm and a Hollywood movie set, and a tour of a "typical" American neighborhood, upper middle class Granada Hills, California.
1959—Soviets Send Object to Moon
The Soviet probe Luna 2 becomes the first man-made object to reach the Moon when it crashes in Mare Serenitatis. The probe was designed to crash, but first it took readings in Earth's Van Allen Radiation Belt, and also confirmed the existence of solar wind.
1987—Radiation Accident in Brazil
Two squatters find a container of radioactive cesium chloride in an abandoned hospital in Goiânia, Brazil. When the shielding window is opened, the bright blue cesium becomes visible, which lures many people to handle the object. In the end forty-six people are contaminated, resulting in illnesses, amputations, and deaths, including that of a 6-year-old girl whose body is so toxic it is buried in a lead coffin sealed in concrete.
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