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Pasolini’s ‘Salò’: Lobby cards for one of the most controversial & reviled movies of all time (NSFW)

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The esteemed film critic Roger Ebert was reputed to have owned a copy of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s movie Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom on laserdisc, but knowing of its graphic and “obscene” content never had the courage to watch it.

Salò is one of those movies like Deep Throat or 101 Dalmatians where an audience will usually know much about it without ever having actually seen it. Indeed, Pasolini expected his audience to have swotted up on a whole semester’s worth of books before they viewed Salò so they would fully appreciate his clever subtext and his artful allusions to politics and culture and art, et cetera. Hence, the acknowledgment to the film’s “essential bibliography” of texts by Barthes, Blanchot, De Beauvoir, Klossowski, and Sollers during the opening titles.

The one book not mentioned is the film’s original source, the Marquis de Sade’s doorstop of a novel 120 Days of Sodom or the School of Libertinage.

De Sade wrote 120 Days of Sodom when he was banged up in the Bastille prison in Paris for his villainous libertine ways in 1785. Outside, the city was in a flux of brutal revolutionary fervor which provided de Sade with some ideas for his nasty erotic tale—carnage and slaughter, on one hand, excess and terror on the other. He wrote the story on a long roll of paper which he secreted in his cell. When the Bastille was raided by the revolutionary mob and the prisoners released, de Sade wept tears of grief over the thought he had lost his manuscript to looters. Fortunately for him, it was still hidden in the wall his cell.

120 Days of Sodom is the story of four weirdo libertines who decide they want to experience the most depraved forms of sexual gratification through torture, rape, and murder. They lock themselves up, along with their victims and accomplices, in a castle the Château de Silling in France, where they carry out their monstrous acts without censure. The book was never fully finished and was not published until the twentieth century when it became a favorite with the Surrealists. 

Pasolini used parts of de Sade’s book, added in a flavoring from Dante’s Inferno from The Divine Comedy, and relocated the whole story to the “puppet Nazi state” of Salò in northern Italy during Mussolini’s final years of power at the end of the Second World War. This time the debauched quartet are a Duke, a Bishop, a Magistrate and a President, who carry out acts of incest, rape, torture, mutilation, castration, and murder on eighteen kidnapped young men and women. Pasolini’s intention was to make a film that attacked the horror of capitalist society, as he explained in a television interview during filming:

There is a lot of sex in it, rather towards sadomasochistic, which has a very specific function—that is to reduce the human body to a saleable commodity. It represents what power does to the human being, to the human body.

All my films start from a formal idea, which I feel I must do. It is an idea I have of the kind of film it must be. It cannot be expressed in words, you either understand it or you don’t.  When I make a film, it because I suddenly have an inspiration about the form of that particular subject must take. That is the essence of the film.

As I shoot this film, I already have it edited in my mind. Therefore, I expect a greater professional ability from my actors. So, this film I’m using four or five professional actors. But even the ones I have collected from the streets, I use them almost as if they were professional actors. The lines have to be said properly, the way they were written, and all in one take. They must have the correct facial expression from the beginning to the end of the shot, etc etc.

My need to make this film also came from the fact I particularly hate the leaders of the day. Each one of us hates with particular vehemence the powers to which he is forced to submit. So, I hate the powers of today.  It is a power that manipulates people just as it did at the time of Himmler or Hitler.

I don’t think the young people of today will understand this film. I have no illusions about my ability to influence young people. It is impossible to create a cultural relationship with them because they are living with totally new values, with which the old values cannot be compared.

I don’t believe we shall ever again have any form of society in which men will be free. One should not hope for it. One should not hope for anything. Hope is invented by politicians to keep the electorate happy.

At the time of its release in 1975, Salò was denounced as “pornographic,” “obscene,” “filth,” “vile,” “sick,” and “depraved.” It was banned in several countries due its graphic sex and violence. None of this content would surprise many today in a world where rape porn and videos of Daesh beheadings are just a keystroke away but at the time, it was like a hand grenade going off in a busy kindergarten.

This said I have to ‘fess up to having one big problem with Salò. I found the whole film boring. Its relentless sequence of atrocities never quite added up to anything constructive or intellectually meaningful. The film could not be entertaining because of its content and it did not develop beyond making the same point over and over and over again. It was like being bludgeoned about the head with a copy of Marxism for Dummies by a surly teenager who has just discovered the brutal injustice of life. You know you’re being attacked but you don’t know why you’re being attacked because you’re not the one responsible for what your attacker is angry about. This is probably why Pasolini included a bibliography at the start, he wanted his audience to stroke their chins and knowingly nod along as another atrocity was depicted.

I believe movies like books and drama work best when they offer the good ole double-edge of entertainment and some kind of intellectual engagement that kicks in long after reading or viewing. For an entertaining assault on capitalism and class, better read something like J. G. Ballard’s High Rise, or Bentley Little’s The Store, or my DM colleague Christopher Bickel’s movie The Theta Girl all which make similar points to Salò but in a far more entertaining, enjoyable, and memorable way.
 
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More lobby cards from ‘Salò,” after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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11.30.2017
08:47 am
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Dig these high-octane Italian lobby cards for ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?’
09.25.2017
10:26 am
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The first season of Ryan Murphy’s docudrama series Feud, released earlier this year, has triggered an uptick in interest in the sublimely dishy goings-on that led to Robert Aldrich’s overwrought 1962 melodrama (if that is even the word for it) Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, which featured two actresses widely known to despise each other, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. (Weirdly, I’ve copyedited bios of both women.) Ideally cast with Susan Sarandon as Davis and Jessica Lange as Crawford, the eight-episode narrative tackled one of Hollywood’s most curious releases, a pulpy embrace of camp, kitsch, and lurid material that seems miles ahead of its time.

In Italy, the movie, under the title Che fine ha fatto Baby Jane?, didn’t debut until the spring of 1963, but when it did Italian audiences were no doubt lured to purchase a ticket by this utterly fantastic atomic-age lobby art, done up in an eye-popping palette including a garish combination of hot pink, powder blue, and bright yellow. The irony, of course, is that none of these colors are to be found in the film itself, being that it was shot in black and white.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.25.2017
10:26 am
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‘Flesh Gordon,’ the ‘Space Age Sex Spoof’ of the Seventies that’s ‘out of this world’
08.16.2017
11:14 am
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People, we’re in big trouble.

On the far distant planet of Porno, Emperor Wang the Perverted has his sex ray pointed at Earth and every time he shoots the damned thing everyone goes plum sex-mad crazy. People are fucking in the street. Orgies are piling up everywhere. No one is safe. And the cry goes up, “Is there a hero out there who can save us?”

Too right there is. Name’s Flesh Gordon—who is somehow unaffected by Wang’s porny ray.

That’s just the opener for Michael Benveniste and Howard Ziehm’s schlocky sexploitation flick Flesh Gordon from 1974. If you are cognizant with the original 1930’s Universal serials or have seen the big screen version of Flash Gordon, then you’ll know just exactly how the story goes in this “outrageous parody of yesterday’s superheroes.”

Flesh (Jason Williams) teams up with a young woman called Dale Ardor (Suzanne Fields) and a scientist Dr. Flexi Jerkoff (Joseph Hudgins), who just happens to have a rocket ship ready to blast off to beat the evil Wang (William Dennis Hunt). This unlikely trio zoom off into space, land on Porno, and combat Wang and his band of “raping robots.” Along the way, they encounter Prince Precious (Mycle Brandy) the rightful king of Porno and his band of merry men, Queen Amora (Nora Wieternik), and the Great God Porno—a Ray Harryhausen-type monster voiced by none other than Craig T. Nelson. Thrills, comedy, and sex ensue.

The storyline for Flesh Gordon was so close to the original that Universal Studios at one point actively considered suing the filmmakers for blatant copyright infringement. Benveniste and Ziehm avoided this calamity by simply stating that their film was intended as an “homage” to the original source material. They also had all the advertising material labeled with the caveat that their movie was “Not to be confused with the original Flash Gordon.”

Flesh Gordon was originally intended as a hardcore space age romp with full-on sex but unfortunately “the filming of such material was illegal in Los Angeles at the time it was made (hard as that may be to believe now)”

...to prevent their prosecution for pandering, the filmmakers were forced to surrender all such footage [to] the L.A. vice squad, and Flesh Gordon was released without explicit pornographic content.

The end result was a rather tame sophomorish comic sexploitation movie that somehow managed to win over its audience with its likeable schlocky charm. It’s fair to say that films like Flesh Gordon along with the likes of John Boorman’s Zardoz or Ken Russell’s Lisztomania or even Car Wash and Saturday Night Fever say as much about the free-wheeling hedonistic zeitgeist of the 1970s as gritty films like Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, Get Carter, and The Conversation reflect the converse.
 
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More ‘Flesh,’ revealed after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.16.2017
11:14 am
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50 ultra stylish lobby cards from the hip world of 1960s American cinema
05.25.2017
08:37 am
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Drugs, counterculture, spies, and a hundred other elements that help define the word “cool.” Here’s a collection of lobby cards from American films that were used to promote their release in West Germany from 1965-1969. Included in this collection: What’s New Pussycat? (1965) starring Peter Sellers and Peter O’Toole, spy spoof Our Man Flint (1966) starring James Coburn, outer-space sex comedy Way…Way Out (1966) starring Jerry Lewis and Connie Stevens, Francis Ford Coppola’s coming of age film You’re a Big Boy Now (1966) starring Elizabeth Hartman, romantic slapstick comedy Luv (1967) starring Jack Lemmon, Peter Falk, and Elaine May, comedy crime film The Happening (1967) starring Faye Dunaway & Anthony Quinn, satire The President’s Analyst (1967) starring James Coburn, drama–thriller Bullitt (1968) starring Steve McQueen, psychedelic sex farce Candy (1968) starring Ewa Aulin, comedy Don’t Just Stand There! (1968) starring Robert Wagner and Mary Tyler Moore, musical Finian’s Rainbow (1968) starring Fred Astaire and Petula Clark, drug comedy I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968) starring Peter Sellers, comedy cult classic The Party (1968) starring Peter Sellers, counter-culture drama The Sweet Ride (1968) starring Michael Sarrazin and Jacqueline Bisset, The Swimmer (1968) starring Burt Lancaster, sexual revolution Three in the Attic (1968), Jacques Demy’s The Model Shop (1969) starring Gary Lockwood and Anouk Aimée, romantic comedy The April Fools (1969) starring Jack Lemmon and Catherine Deneuve, drug thriller The Big Cube (1969) starring Lana Turner, and depression-era drama They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969) starring Jane Fonda and Michael Sarrazin.
 

What’s New Pussycat? (1965)
 

What’s New Pussycat? (1965)
 

Our Man Flint (1966)
 
Tons more after the jump…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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05.25.2017
08:37 am
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Sexy sci-fi lobby cards for ‘Heavy Metal’
03.15.2017
01:15 pm
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In the early 1980s, cable TV was an important and marvelous new development for Young America. For one thing, MTV was on it. But there was also soft-core porn and other adult programming, and parents often weren’t conversant enough with the technology (or the TV schedule) to prevent their offspring from watching things they probably shouldn’t. For a male preteen such as myself around 1982, there wasn’t much on the premium cable schedule I was interested in watching more than Heavy Metal. A sci-fi cartoon for adults that was both scary and sexy? With music by Blue Öyster Cult, Journey, and Cheap Trick?? You have got to be fucking kidding me. I was 12 years old and had no way of seeing an R-rated movie. But I could dial up Cinemax when my parents weren’t around…...... 

I think I dimly understood that there was a “magazine” out there called Heavy Metal that was for adults. I definitely did not know that so many of my favorite Canadian entertainers (think SCTV) were involved, including John Candy, Eugene Levy, Ivan Reitman, and Harold Ramis, although I’m certain I would have recognized the name “John Candy” in the credits.

As I say, I never saw the movie in the theater, but if I had I might have spotted some of these handsome lobby cards while entering. I suspect that Heavy Metal has not dated all that well, but I’m impressed at how effortlessly these striking images, after more than 30 years, communicate Danger - Sex - Adventure - FUN.
 

 

 
More ‘Metal’ after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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03.15.2017
01:15 pm
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Ultra stylish lobby cards from the fashionable world of 1960s British cinema
02.22.2017
10:44 am
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Enjoy this stellar collection of rare lobby cards that once graced movie theaters all over West Germany. Included in this collection are films from late ‘60s British cinema: comedic spy-fi Modesty Blaise (1966) starring Monica Vitti and Dirk Bogarde, The Spy with a Cold Nose (1966) starring Daliah Lavi, spy comedy film Casino Royale (1967) starring David Niven, Peter Sellers, and Woody Allen, Fathom (1967) starring Raquel Welch, Privilege (1967) starring Manfred Mann’s Paul Jones, The Day the Fish Came Out (1967) starring Candice Bergen, The Jokers (1967) starring Michael Crawford and Oliver Reed, Diamonds for Breakfast (1968) starring Marcello Mastroianni and Rita Tushingham, Duffy (1968) starring James Coburn, spy thriller Hammerhead (1968), swinging sex romp Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (1968), Oskar Werner drama Interlude (1968), Sebastian (1968) starring Dirk Bogarde and Susannah York, crime film The Strange Affair (1968) starring Michael York, space western Moon Zero Two (1969), and Two Gentlemen Sharing (1969) starring Judy Geeson.
 

Modesty Blaise (1966)
 

Modesty Blaise (1966)
 

Modesty Blaise (1966)
 

The Spy with a Cold Nose (1966)
 

The Spy with a Cold Nose (1966)
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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02.22.2017
10:44 am
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Ultra stylish German lobby cards from the world of 1960s European cinema
01.25.2017
09:56 am
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Millennial recap: Lobby cards were issued by the motion picture studios and typically depicted eight scenes from the film it was advertising. While they are no longer used by theaters they have become a popular collector’s item amongst film fanatics around the world. Here’s a gallery of 37 German lobby cards promoting the Italian heist-comedy Seven Golden Men (1965); A Degree of Murder (1967) starring Anita Pallenberg; the Eurospy cult favorite Kill Me Gently (1967); German sex-romp Angel Baby (1968); Fräulein Doktor (1969) starring Suzy Kendall, the sci-fi classic Barbarella (1968) starring Jane Fonda; Eurospy underground hit Island of Lost Girls (1969); Claude Lelouch’s romantic drama Love Is a Funny Thing (1969); the German hitchhiking comedy That Guy Loves Me, Am I Supposed to Believe That? (1969) starring Uschi Glas, and Lucio Fulci’s brilliant Hitchcock inspired giallo One on Top of the Other (AKA Perversion Story) (1969) starring Marissa Mell.
 

Seven Golden Men (1965)
 

Seven Golden Men (1965)
 

Seven Golden Men (1965)
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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01.25.2017
09:56 am
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Super hot German movie poster & lobby cards for ‘Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!’


A German movie poster for the 1965 film ‘Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!’
 

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to violence, the word and the act. While violence cloaks itself in a plethora of disguises, its favorite mantle still remains… sex. Violence devours all it touches, its voracious appetite rarely fulfilled. Yet violence doesn’t only destroy, it creates and molds as well. Let’s examine closely then this dangerously evil creation, this new breed encased and contained within the supple skin of woman. The softness is there, the unmistakable smell of female, the surface shiny and silken, the body yielding yet wanton. But a word of caution: handle with care and don’t drop your guard. This rapacious new breed prowls both alone and in packs, operating at any level, any time, anywhere, and with anybody. Who are they? One might be your secretary, your doctor’s receptionist… or a dancer in a go-go club!

Russ Meyer’s 1965 Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! features a rogue gang of go-go dancers who decide to set off into the desert in search of mayhem, money and men to mercilessly mess with… and as the title suggests kill. While the best thing about this movie is clearly its karate chopping star Tura Satana, a close runner up would be the German movie posters and lobby cards for the film. The German marketing materials are about as far-out as the film itself.

When I ran the words “Die Satansweiber von Tittfield” through Google Translate it didn’t exactly make sense. And sadly the strange but appropriate sounding word “Tittfield” seems to be there solely for our amusement, like “Boobsville” or something.  I love seeing powerful women beating the crap out any man who gets in the way of them having a good time, don’t you? It’s a sentiment echoed by Meyer himself in an interview from 1998. The then 76-year-old director was touring around the world in support of a re-release of FPKK when he was asked for his opinion regarding the film’s remarkable ability to keep attracting audiences 30-plus years after its initial release:

It’s a little puzzling. Most of my films have women who have large breasts. It’s not that the girls are completely lacking in accouterments there, but… I suppose they like the idea of the women kicking the shit out of the men. More than anything else, I think that’s the reason it’s done very, very well.

It might also have something to do with the snappy and highly quotable dialogue. With lines like “Easy baby! You’re almost a fire hazard!” or “I never try anything, I just do it” or “Women! They let ‘em vote, smoke and drive - even put ‘em in pants! And what happens? A Democrat for president!” how can you go wrong?

Much like the film itself (and everything else in Meyer’s long shapely body of work) some of the images in this post are NSFW. I’ve also included a few U.S. lobby cards for the film that contained images from the movie that were too great not to share.
 

A German lobby card for the 1965 film ‘Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!’
 

 

 
More ‘Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!’ after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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11.02.2016
03:19 pm
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Vintage horror film lobby cards through the decades
10.27.2015
09:23 am
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Freaks vintage lobby card, 1932
Freaks vintage lobby card, 1932
 
As Halloween is quickly approaching I’ve pulled together some pretty cool eye-candy to help feed your inner ghoul - vintage “lobby cards” used to advertise horror films from the last seven decades. The use of lobby cards can be traced back as far as 1910 (The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale houses a collection of cards from silent westerns from 1910-1930).
 
Dracula's Daughter vintage lobby card, 1936
Dracula’s Daughter vintage lobby card, 1936
 
Frakenstein vintage lobby card, 1931
Frankenstein vintage lobby card, 1931
 
Many lobby cards came in sets of up to twelve cards to help promote the film. In some cases, avid collectors have shelled out loads of cash for vintage lobby cards, such as the card pictured above for the 1931 film Frankenstein which sold at an auction this past summer for over $10K. But most of the cards in this post can be had for more reasonable sums via eBay or Etsy. I’m especially fond of the B-movie lobby cards from the 50s and the 60s that celebrated oddball films like 1956’s The Indestructible Man (starring Lon Chaney Jr.), or the impossibly strange sounding The Brain from Planet Arous (1957), and I think you will be too. Happy viewing, creeps!
 
Magic lobby card, 1978
Lobby card for the 1978 film, Magic
 
Many more macabre lobby cards after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.27.2015
09:23 am
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