She's overworked, underpaid, unappreciated, and has no backup plan. Also there's that whole curse thing.
Can a working girl find happiness à la Pretty Woman? That's the eternal question asked by (Maruhi) jorô seme jigoku, aka The Hell-Fated Courtesan. An Edo-era geisha-turned-prostitute played by Rie Nakagawa is believed by superstitious locals to be cursed because some of those who've had sex with her died. Her only sort-of-friend in this dark existence is a perverted artist, and her pimp is of course cruel and untrustworthy. But eventually she meets a puppeteer to whom she offers herself romantically only to be rebuffed. Surprised, she intones, “This is not an ordinary guy.” She's right. He refused her because he thinks he can only be turned on if a woman looks like one of his puppets, but when he finally samples some of that sweet Nakagawa he changes his mind about that and offers to take her with him to Osaka, where her problems and alleged curse will be behind her. Will she go? Will she be allowed to go? Will fate cut her a break? Pertinent questions all.
In 1973 Nikkatsu Studios' roman porno line had not yet jumped the shark, which means (Maruhi) jorô seme jigoku resembles a normal film in most ways. Its plot is basically linear, though it contains one framing segment; its sexual content is perverse, though not pointlessly misogynistic; and its humor generally works. In fact, there are some truly funny moments in this, such as when Nakagawa lets a carp suck her nipples. We won't even bother to describe what direction that scene goes. Later she slices off a dead man's finger and masturbates with it. Afterward she tells the finger that, though its former owner was a scoundrel and a snake, he will now go to heaven. That's some magical pussy. Maybe Nakagawa isn't cursed after all. Maybe she just embodies male insecurities and fears and they punish her as a result. And if that's true, maybe there is a Pretty Woman ending for her. But you never know. One character observes that a woman's heart is unpredictable and terrifying. (Maruhi) jorô seme jigoku tries to prove that adage true. It premiered in Japan today in 1973
When they say high school is torture usually they're kidding.
The beautiful Rushia Santô made only a few films during her brief career. One of them was the Nikkatsu Studios roman porno flick Onna kyôshi: Seito no me no maede, aka Female Teacher: In Front of the Students. Santô plays a high school teacher, and since her school looks like a prison it's no surprise she experiences a prison style shower rape. The student she eventually accuses of attacking her—Tôru Nakane, who the audience knows is innocent—retaliates by grabbing her and keeping her prisoner over spring break. This being a Nikkatsu film, that imprisonment naturally involves making Santô realize she's a sex maniac, and by the end of the break Santó, the studly Nakane, and his girlfriend Rina Oka are humping like rabbits.
The mystery that isn't a mystery is finally solved in the last part of this 70-minute sprint. There are some weak attempts at humor here and there, such as during a sex scene between Nakane and Oka when he's simultaneously eating a sticky bun and she's eating a banana, but the moment for cinematic discussions of whether some women like to be submissive—still ongoing as recently as in 2015's Fifty Shades of Grey—has definitively passed. As far as we're concerned anything done between consenting adults is fine, but consenting is the operative word. Nikkatsu films often play around with that concept, but these days such explorations are discordant, to say the least. Like all the obscure movies we watch, we're looking for forgotten gems. This is no gem, and maybe just needs to be forgotten. Onna kyôshi: Seito no me no maede premiered in Japan today in 1982.
Yay! Recess is over! Back to our soul sucking penitentiary of a high school! I have a very bad feeling about this movie.
Tanaka takes a turn in front of the mirror.
We're interested in all things Mari Tanaka, so we had to share this promo image featuring her striking a nice over the shoulder pose. This was made for her movie Rabu Hantâ: Atsui hada, aka Love Hunter: Hot Skin, which premiered in Japan today in 1972. You can see a couple of other interesting promos at our write-up on the film here.
The things she can teach can't be learned from books.
Falling squarely into the could-not-be-made-today category, the roman porno flick Kyōshi mejika, which in English was titled Teacher Deer, or sometimes Teacher Doe, stars Hitomi Sakae and premiered in Japan today in 1978. When we first meet Sakae, she beats the shit out of three guys who are committing a sexual assault. Soon afterward we learn she's a biology teacher at a stuffy learning institution called Hakuho High School. Thus we've seen her tough side, and her brainy side. There's one more side, which she shows when she explains anatomy to her class by, well, have a look below:
You'd think this would make her classes pretty popular, at least with the boys, but the students boycott her and the faculty is scandalized. Things get a little blurry here, because her character is supposed to be mixed race. This actually may have been true of Sakae in real life too, though we can't confirm that. In any case, it may contribute to her outsider status at the school, though we can't confirm that either, because some subtleties in Japanese films are beyond us. But we've learned what her character is—tough, smart, and highly sexual.
After she gets chewed out by the school principal for her unusual teaching methods, she and math teacher Izumi Shima go out to commiserate. They pick up a photographer and have a threesome with him, after which Sakae leaves Shima in his company. Shima then turns up missing. The investigation into her disappearance uncovers some naughty photos from threesome night, and from that point things go in directions nobody could have guessed. Suffice it to say that teacher deer's presence at Hakuho High is more than it seems.
We said this movie couldn't be made today, but not because it's racy. It's the high school sex angle. High school implies non-adults, and that's obviously a cinematic no-no—for good reason. In terms of actual visible sexual content, though, Kyōshi mejika is mild for the genre. On one level we're thankful for that, because these flicks can get purely crazy. But on another level, the film isn't terribly creative in terms of plot. We consider it a non-representative example of Nikkatsu Studios' roman porno output, but that makes it one you can come away from feeling relatively okay about yourself.
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.
Afro trend makes Watanabe wannabe cooler.
Consider this the flipside of our post on vintage afros a few days ago. While the afro was seen mainly on black actors and actresses, particularly in the blaxploitation movies we're always watching, many non-black actresses also flirted with the style. Celebs from Jane Fonda to Raquel Welch tried out 'fros, and we've even come across the occasional afro/perm on Japanese actresses. For example, here you see Yayoi Watanabe upping her hipness quotient. She appeared in such films as Ero shogun to nijuichi nin no aisho, aka Lustful Shogun and His 21 Mistresses, and was also the star of scores of memorable promo images, such as this one and this one. Probably, a Japanese actress sporting an afro wouldn't go over quite the same way today, but we like the look, and believe that respectfully experimenting with the styles of other cultures in non-costumey ways is fine. But that's just us. This shot is from around 1973.
The performance was good, but the encore was unforgettable.
We asked you to stay tuned, and quicker than you can say ring-a-ding-ding above is Setsuko Ogawa as promised. Her guitar isn't just for decoration. In addition to her many film credits she released a 1973 single and later sang the theme song of the Nikkatsu Studios roman porno flick Enka Jôshikô: Kizudarake no Kaben—translation: “petals full of scars”—in which she headlined.
We've seen Ogawa described as the first roman porno star, and that could be true. Her debut film was 1971's Irogoyomi ōoku hiwa, aka Castle Orgies, and it was Nikkatsu's first official offering from its radical new genre, or possibly the second, depending on which source you believe. She starred in another Nikkatsu movie that year, so she was certainly among the genre's first recognizable faces.
The above image was pasted together from two larger shots and put online several years ago. We found full-frame versions of those separate shots, but not at a useful resolution, so two cropped shots stuck together like Siamese twins is what you get. However the resolution on that image is good, so we put it under the digital knife and split it during a dicey operation that took all of five seconds, with the results below. We'll have more from Ogawa at some point.
With this ring, I thee refuse to wed.
Setsuko Ogawa is the bell ringer on this poster for Jouen Ohichi no koiuta, known in English as Passionate: O-Shichi's Love Song, or alternatively Burning Desire. We have a burning desire to see this but couldn't track it down, a not uncommon outcome where Ogawa's movies are concerned. We know it's a drama in which she defies her parents wishes about marriage, leading to serious consequences. It premiered in Japan on February 29, 1972, but since there's no 29th tomorrow, we're sharing the art a day early. Maybe by the next leap year we'll have found the movie. But way before then we'll show you an amazing Ogawa promo photo. Stay tuned for that.
A gun and an attitude will take you far.
This is the rarest of the rare. We've shown you many movie posters foreign to the country in which the original film was made. The most common amongst those have been French, Italian, and Japanese posters for American films. We've also seen a few U.S. and British posters for Japanese films. But we've never seen a French poster for a Japanese film, and that's what you have here. And it isn't just any film. It's for the iconic 1973 Miki Sugimoto pinku actioner Sukeban–Kankain Dasso, known in English as Girl Boss: Escape from Reform School, and titled here Girl Boss - Les Étudiantes en cavale. That would translate: “girl boss - students on the run.”
This was painted using the original Japanese poster as inspiration by Constantin Belinsky, a talent we've discussed a couple of times before. He was born in Bratslav, Ukraine, learned his craft in art school in Chișinău, which was then in Romania but is now in Moldova, and worked professionally in Paris. He painted posters for classic dramas like Laura and Pickup on South Street, but later in his career specialized in genre films such as Creature from the Black Lagoon. He was born in 1904, so we suspect this poster was among his last pieces. But it won't be his last on Pulp Intl. We have more to show you later.
It's a bold color but in samurai movies everyone who's anyone wears it.
The above poster was made for the samurai thriller Bôhachi bushidô: Sa burai, known in English as Bohachi Bushido - The Villain. Gorô Ibuki plays a mid-1600s samurai named Kyushi-Issho who goes to work for a gang called the Bohachi that kidnap women from across Japan to sell them into sexual slavery. This gang is uniquely cruel, which suits Kyushi-Issho just fine. He's cruel too. He chops off numerous arms and heads, and generally paints walls red wherever he goes. Enter Reiko Ike, one of the stars of Toei Company's pinky violence genre, as Monkmatsu, who procures women for the gang. When she meets the samurai sparks fly, but she learns that Kyushi-Issho isn't exactly all there.
Their gang is soon arrayed against a rival group, and the tensions come to a frothy head. The conflict is resolved via a blood drenched final battle—a common motif in these films, the same way a final duel is standard in so many American westerns. The nihilistic Kyushi-Issho is fond of saying that to live is hell, yet death is also hell. Somehow, though, he always finds the will make a choice between giving up and going on. For life may be hell, but better the hell you know. Bôhachi bushidô: Sa burai is blades, blood, and boobs done with style, well worth a watch. It premiered in Japan today in 1974.
You know what the ceiling needs? A splash of red. You know what that wall needs? A splash of red. You know what her make-up needed? A splash of red. I like red. I shall paint the entire house this color. Yes. Just as I envisioned. Why stop inside the house? When this woman is torn in half she'll paint the entire yard red.
And now, Reiko and Co.
And lastly, the standard promo poster, as opposed to tateken size at top.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1986—Otto Preminger Dies
Austro–Hungarian film director Otto Preminger, who directed such eternal classics as Laura, Anatomy of a Murder
, Carmen Jones
, The Man with the Golden Arm
, and Stalag 17
, and for his efforts earned a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, dies in New York City, aged 80, from cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
1998—James Earl Ray Dies
The convicted assassin of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., petty criminal James Earl Ray, dies in prison of hepatitis aged 70, protesting his innocence as he had for decades. Members of the King family who supported Ray's fight to clear his name believed the U.S. Government had been involved in Dr. King's killing, but with Ray's death such questions became moot.
1912—Pravda Is Founded
The newspaper Pravda, or Truth, known as the voice of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, begins publication in Saint Petersburg. It is one of the country's leading newspapers until 1991, when it is closed down by decree of then-President Boris Yeltsin. A number of other Pravdas appear afterward, including an internet site and a tabloid.
1983—Hitler's Diaries Found
The German magazine Der Stern claims that Adolf Hitler's diaries had been found in wreckage in East Germany. The magazine had paid 10 million German marks for the sixty small books, plus a volume about Rudolf Hess's flight to the United Kingdom, covering the period from 1932 to 1945. But the diaries are subsequently revealed to be fakes written by Konrad Kujau, a notorious Stuttgart forger. Both he and Stern journalist Gerd Heidemann go to trial in 1985 and are each sentenced to 42 months in prison.
1918—The Red Baron Is Shot Down
German WWI fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, better known as The Red Baron, sustains a fatal wound while flying over Vaux sur Somme in France. Von Richthofen, shot through the heart, manages a hasty emergency landing before dying in the cockpit of his plane. His last word, according to one witness, is "Kaputt." The Red Baron was the most successful flying ace during the war, having shot down at least 80 enemy airplanes.
1964—Satellite Spreads Radioactivity
An American-made Transit satellite, which had been designed to track submarines, fails to reach orbit after launch and disperses its highly radioactive two pound plutonium power source over a wide area as it breaks up re-entering the atmosphere.
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