Survival of the scariest.
It’s appropriate The Thing is about a monster that constantly evolves, because it’s another of those ’80s sci-fi movies, like Blade Runner, where most reviews of the day were unflattering, but have since evolved to acknowledge the high quality of the film. The Thing isn’t just great—it’s visionary. The cold, the vastness, the silence, the bone weariness of a bunch of working class scientists pitted against an interstellar horror right out of Lovecraft—a movie of this type could never be made today, as the less effective 2011 prequel proved. The ’80s Thing took the ’50s original and gave it grit and terror. The 2011 version lost the grit and, with its abundant CGI, managed only a few scares. You know, here’s the thing about CGI—producers always want the cutting edge of possibility, but those effects never look real. They’d be better off asking CGI techs to do only what they’ve truly mastered. Just because you can get the computers to render it doesn’t mean it looks good, or that it’s good storytelling. But don’t get us started. The above poster and promo pamphlet were made for the premiere of the second version of The Thing in Japan today in 1982.
It’s a Delight from beginning to end.
Above and below are assorted scans from an issue of Screenland published this month in 1940. The issue we posted previously was from 1923. In the intervening years contributor Delight Evans had become editor, and as a result had become one of Hollywood’s most powerful starmakers. Evans was uniquely talented and got her break when, as a fifteen-year-old, she had a story purchased by Photoplay. That was in 1915. By 1917 she was working for Photoplay in Chicago, and quickly ascended to an associate editor position there. At least one online source says she was an editor at Screenland by 1923, but even for someone that gifted twenty-three is a bit young to be helming one of America’s biggest magazines. We have an issue from December 1923 and it was Frederick James Smith in the corner office. But Evans was in charge by at least 1934, which we can confirm because we have an issue from that year too. When did she actually take the reins? No idea. This is where it would be nice to click over to a Wikipedia page or something, but she doesn’t have one. A trailblazer like this—can you believe it? But we shall dig. Evans needs some online exposure, so we’ll see what we can do. Twenty-one scans with a galaxy of stars below.
, Delight Evans
, Norma Shearer
, Robert Taylor
, Earl Carroll
, Sandra Jolley
, Claudette Colbert
, Betty Grable
, Humphrey Bogart
, Judy Garland
, Jean Rogers
, Marlene Dietrich
, Jane Withers
, Carole Landis
, John Hubbard
, Katherine Hepburn
, Charlie Chaplin
, Hedy Lamarr cinema
Hmm… an Englishman to gut with my new blade. And here I was planning to go home and shave my monobrow.
We were talking recently about Harlequin’s early days as a publisher of more than romance fiction. Above is another example—Bats with Baby Faces by W. Stanley Moss, a former British Army officer who wrote such best sellers as Ill Met by Moonlight and A War of Shadows. Bats with Baby Faces, the title of which references bat-like masks rather than actual bats, deals with intrigue and smuggling in the Deir-ez-Zor region of Syria, and in Cairo, where Moss lived in a villa that became a hub for the British social set. The most famous of his numerous real-life adventures occurred during that period, and that time also served as inspiration for much of his fiction. Harlequin’s edition of Bats with Baby Faces was published in 1952, and the cover art, with its mean caricature of an Egyptian who’s so swarthy he’s—bizarrely—purple, is uncredited. More Harlequin here and here.
, Harlequin Enterprises
, Bats with Baby Faces
, Ill Met by Moonlight
, A War of Shadows
, W. Stanley Moss
, cover art
Petty woman look my way.
This unusual 1950 promo photo of American actress Joan Caulfield was made for her role in The Petty Girl, in which she starred with Robert Cummings. The Petty Girl was a curious movie—a famous pin-up artist based on actual pin-up king George Petty encounters a shy college professor and becomes both romantically intrigued by her, and determined to have her pose for one of his paintings. We may watch this one and get back to you.
Aren’t you a little old for this sort of thing?
Bernard Wolfe is known for several reasons, not least of them for being Leon Trotsky’s personal secretary in Mexico City, but he was also a novelist of wide-ranging interests. Come On Out, Daddy was his Hollywood book, about a New York author who moves out west to cash in on an easy screenwriting job. While making a couple thousand dollars a week for doing very little he runs into the usual assortment of jaded Tinseltown characters—from big stars to little wannabes—and trysts with an assortment of disposable beauties before of course meeting the woman of his dreams. It’s episodic due to it being partly cobbled together from short stories published in Playboy and Cavalier, but reasonably well regarded as a cultural satire. Life described it as “garrulously and surrealistically told by a huge cast of people in varying stages of corruption.” 1963 on the hardback, and 1964 on the above, with cool cover art by James Meese.
, Mexico City
, Macfadden-Bartell Corporation
, Life Magazine
, Come On Out Daddy
, Bernard Wolfe
, James Meese
, Leon Trotsky
, cover art
Facts, speculation, and dubious assumptions.
This Inside Story from November 1963 features cover star Christine Keeler and the people in her life, while the left of the page has insets with Mamie Van Doren and Anthony Quinn. We’ve covered Keeler. Hers was one of the most flogged scandals of the 1960s, and Inside Story editors are well aware of that, which is why they claim to have new information. But it’s nothing new—just rehash on Keeler, a background on Czech call girl Maria Stella Novotny, who was well known by this time as one of Keeler’s colleagues, and standard red scare stuff about motel rooms set up with microphones and two-way mirrors. We will get back to Novotny, however—her tale offers some interesting twists and turns.
Inside Story shares stories about Mamie Van Doren, Jackie Gleason, Peter O’Toole, Ava Gardner and a nervous tailor who measured her for a suit, and how perfume makes men go wild. Editors also decry the injustice of a Harlem restaurant refusing to serve a white woman—this, mind you, during an era when literally hundreds of thousands of U.S. enclaves, from restaurants to schools to country clubs to sectors of the military, were whites-only. False equivalence, thy name is Inside Story. But interestingly, a subsequent piece about the world’s sexiest nightclubs tells readers chic Harlem bars are frequented by white Hollywood stars. And so it goes…
, Inside Story
, Christine Keeler
, John Profumo
, Stephen Ward
, Mamie Van Doren
, Anthony Quinn
, Maria Stella Novotny
, Mariella Novotny
, Stella Capes
, Peter O’Toole
, Ava Gardner
, Malcolm X
, Jackie Gleason
, Bo Belinsky
, Kim Novak
Representative democracy in action.
Nature-attacks-man covers are commonplace on men’s adventure magazines, and we’ve seen virtually every species in the animal kingdom get their revenge eventually. Today it’s the eagles’ turn thanks to this November 1957 issue of Man’s Adventure with art by Clarence Doore. What would be nice is if there was a piece of fiction to go along with this striking painting but there isn’t. So we’ll make one up:
It was a tough call for the eagles. Some pointed out that humans don’t generally hunt or eat eagles, and many agreed that this fact was in man’s favor. Plus they put us on their coins, some noted, which is a nice tribute. But others said it isn’t about only us raptors, but rather all the birds—our brethren the turkeys, the ducks, and especially the chickens, those most hapless of fowl. Though the few of us who’ve had a chance to eat chicken agree they’re incredibly tasty.
But we digress. Even if some of us have no love for the other birds, consider the big picture. Man is turning nature into a parking lot. And for what? Money—the very substance they use our images upon. Oh bitter irony. Plus, have you noticed how hot it’s been lately? They definitely have something to do with that, the destructive fuckers, and since we don't have sweat glands elevated heat is a real inconvenience. So, eagle-on-man violence—all those in favor? Nays? Right, let’s go. Aim for the eyes. They really hate that.
Twelve will get you twenty—years in prison.
On the cover of this Inside News published today in 1965, readers are told of Harriet Day, a twelve-year-old “mantrap” from Brackley, England who learned from watching her prostitute mother how to seduce men. The story is written not as journalism, but as sleaze fiction, with lines like, “swinging her ample hips and showing all the leg her clinging skirt would afford, she approached men with suggestive gestures and inviting glances.” There’s plenty of backseat and backalley action, and of course the men involved had no idea she was twelve. We say of course because even though the lure of the story is creepy underaged sex, Inside News could not actually afford to be perceived as promoting the practice—hence the 150 men were all unwittingly seduced. Harriet is eventually arrested and turned over to child welfare authorities tasked with “helping her grow up as a normal woman.” As for the men, we imagine they stayed abnormal. More from Inside News at our tabloid index.
Neyung, willing and able.
Above, model turned actress Lilia Neyung, who appeared in Italian b-movies during the 1960s, including James Tont operazione U.N.O. and Der Sarg bleibt heute zu, aka Death on a Rainy Day. With no bio anywhere online she’s as obscure as it gets, but we like this shot.
Bond takes a shot at Thai readers.
The above book covers for the James Bond novels Live and Let Die, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, For Your Eyes Only and Goldfinger come from Thailand, where a martini is a “hăy láa bprà-pâyt kók-tayn,” a phrase sure to leave even international badass James Bond a sputtering mess. At the very least, he can forget about getting it shaken not stirred. No way he can pronounce those words, cunning linguist or not. Of course, being Bond, there’s always some slinky English-speaking femme fatale happy to help him out before a) bedding him and b) trying to kill him. It’s the same for us, except the slinky femmes are the Pulp Intl. girlfriends, and after bedding us they make us help with chores, which is a little like being killed. Bond never did chores. And next time they ask us we’re going to say that to them with a straight face—James Bond never did chores. We’ll let you know how that works out.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1947—Hollywood Blacklist Instituted
The day after ten Hollywood writers and directors are cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to give testimony to the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the group, known as the "Hollywood Ten," are blacklisted by Hollywood movie studios.
1963—Ruby Shoots Oswald
Nightclub owner and mafia associate Jack Ruby fatally shoots alleged JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of Dallas police department headquarters. The shooting is broadcast live on television and silences the only person known for certain to have had some connection to the Kennedy killing.
1971—D.B. Cooper Escapes from Airplane
In the U.S., during a thunderstorm over Washington state, a hijacker calling himself Dan Cooper, aka D. B. Cooper, parachutes from a Northwest Orient Airlines flight with $200,000 in ransom money. Neither he nor the money are ever found.
1936—First Edition of Life Published
Henry Luce launches Life, a weekly magazine with an emphasis on photo-journalism. Life dominates the U.S. market for more than forty years, publishing scores of iconic photographs that remain some of the most recognizable ever shot, and peaking at one point with a circulation of more than 13.5 million copies a week.
1963—Doctor Who Debuts on BBC
The BBC broadcasts the first episode of Doctor Who, starring William Hartnell as a mysterious alien who time travels in his spaceship, the TARDIS. With his companions, he explores time and space while facing a variety of foes and righting wrongs. The show would become the longest-running science fiction series ever broadcast.
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