Vintage Pulp Mar 31 2015
THE CRUEL ZOO
The only real murders committed may have been of the animals.


Murders in the Zoo is a brisk little sixty-two-minute thriller for which you see two excellent promos above. A dealer in large animals uses the menagerie he’s recently procured in Asia to dispose of his wife’s suitors. The cast is good, especially Kathleen Burke as the straying spouse. You’ll notice she’s called The Panther Woman on the posters. That’s a reference to her role as a woman bred from a panther in the previous year’s hit thriller Island of Lost Souls, and here she retains a hint of animal cunning that makes her the most watchable cast member. Other aspects of the film are less watchable. Zoos are sad affairs even today, but during the 1930s they were tawdry places rife with choke collars and tiny cages. Watching Murders in the Zoo explains why today’s productions have the American Humane Association on set defending the animals’ wellbeing. 

Late in the proceedings, the villain tries to facilitate his escape from justice by (spoiler alert) releasing all the big cats from their cages, triggering a feline free-for-all of slashing claws and gnashing fangs. This is no special effect, folks. The sequence is brief and uses footage from two angles to extend the running time, but still, injuries surely resulted. At the least, the leopard that was held down and gnawed on by a lion probably had PTSD until the end of its days. Sometimes we point out scenes in vintage cinema that fall into the could-not-be-filmed-today category, and usually those exemplify the visionary artistry of the past. What is mostly exemplified by Murders in the Zoo’s cat scrum is the cruelty of the human species. But from a purely cinematic perspective it’s a powerful scene, and indeed, the entire zoo setting heightens the overarching dread. As 1930s movies go, Murders in the Zoo is an excellent one. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1933.

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Vintage Pulp Mar 30 2015
THAT DARN CAT
Okay, okay, I get it—you refuse to eat the dry food.

llustrator Denis McLoughlin had a seven-decade career during which he produced close to 800 paperback covers and dust jackets. His front for Nancy Rutledge’s, aka Leigh Bryson’s, Blood on the Cat is one of more unusual efforts you’ll see. It depicts the moment a small town newspaper editor finds that his cat Smoky has tracked blood into the house. A search outside turns up not the expected disemboweled unfortunate from lower on the feline food chain, but a beautiful woman passed out in a blood-splattered car. The mystery races onward from there, with suspects that include the town librarian, the bookish schoolmarm, a rich man’s disinherited son, and numerous other smallville types. Blood on the Cat was published initially in 1946, with this Boardman paperback appearing in the UK in 1950. 

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Femmes Fatales Mar 30 2015
MARY TO THE MOB
With husbands like these who needs enemies?

Mary Jo Tarola was born in Portland, Oregon in 1928 and by 1952 had established herself in Hollywood, first under the milquetoast moniker Linda Douglas, then under her own far more interesting name. Just two years into her career she married producer Pasquale “Pat” DiCicco. Not well known now, DiCicco was a bootlegger and pimp who became mafia boss Lucky Luciano’s lieutenant in Tinseltown. He was infamously abusive toward women—one dust-up with his first wife Thelma Todd led to her having an emergency appendectomy, and another with his second wife Gloria Vanderbilt involved him slamming her head into a wall. Tarola’s promising film career ended with her marriage to DiCicco, but at least she left behind a few choice artifacts like the above photo by photographer Ernest Bachrach. It dates from 1952 or 1953.

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Modern Pulp Mar 29 2015
BEASTLY BEHAVIOR
Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.

Tatsumi Kumashiro’s roman porno flick Shoujo shofu: kemonomichi was called Path of the Beast for its Western release, but the literal translation of the Japanese title is something like “Girl Whore Beast Road.” That sounds ridiculous, but it does sum up the plot. Yoshimura Ayako stars as a sex-loving twenty-something who has two horny lovers and thinks of herself as a whore because she can’t say no to either of them. She believes she inherited the trait from her equally sexual mother, and vows not to go down the same road of carnality. You see? Girl Whore Beast Road. Ayako’s assessment of herself may seem a little harsh—after all, if she loves to bone, what’s the problem? Well, reputational issues, obviously, as well as possessiveness issues on the part of her men—and those don't often end happily. But at least Ayako has ample fun in the midst of her anguish. She has sex on the beach, sex on a boat, sex in a shack, sex under the ruined pier, and even sex in a bed. It’s all softcore, of course—if you’ve never seen a roman porno movie, the sex scenes usually look like two people trying hold a water balloon between their torsos, and Shoujo shofu: kemonomichi holds to that tradition with plenty of writhing and wiggling. At some point Ayako learns to accept herself, if not her circumstances, and that’s really what the movie is about. Shoujo shofu: kemonomichi premiered in Japan today in 1980. 

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Vintage Pulp Mar 27 2015
HANNAH AND HER SISTER
Just give me a second to put my face on.

Interesting cover work from early pulp illustrator Paul Stahr for Dwight V. Babcock’s mystery A Homicide for Hannah. The art is supposed to be suggestive of Hannah Van Doren’s dual nature—she looks like an innocent sweetheart on the outside, but inside has a morbid fascination with murder and mayhem. Her darker half serves her well as she prowls Hollywood’s grimy corners writing for True Crime Cases. First of a trilogy, the hardback appeared in 1941, and the Avon paperback above is from 1945.

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Vintage Pulp Mar 26 2015
YANKING HIS DICK
She’s got a dilly of a pickle on her hands.

A Yank on Piccadilly is another book that sounds blatantly pornographic, at least to us, but it's merely the adventures of an American soldier in World War II London. Mild sexual involvement? Yes, there's some of that. Dick yanking? Lamentably, no. In case you’re curious, the name Piccadilly comes from “piccadill,” which was a stiff—cough cough—collar with scalloped edges and a lace border that was the fashion rage during the late sixteenth century. The websites we checked have this cover as by an unidentified artist, but it’s Earle Bergey’s work, clearly. 1952 publication date. 

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Femmes Fatales Mar 26 2015
PRINCESS ANNE
You can’t go home again—and sometimes you don’t want to even if you could.

Anne Francis, née Anne Marvak, was born in the prison town of Ossining, New York—location of Sing-Sing Correctional Facility. Once she made her escape to Hollywood she became known for her role opposite Leslie Nielsen in the sci-fi film Forbidden Planet, but other notable credits include Bad Day at Black Rock, Rogue Cop, and the television series Honey West, all of which are well worth a gander. This romantic shot is from the early 1950s. 

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Modern Pulp Mar 25 2015
GRAFICO DESIGN
Spanish magazine Monografico fuses art, criticism, politics—and sometimes pulp.

One of our friends from Spain sent in a few scans from an issue of the freezine Monografico, an art magazine founded in Burgos in 1987 by Luan Mart and which today is a forum not just for art, but criticism and political commentary. What caught our friend’s eye was the usage inside of the adventure magazine Man’s True Danger from August 1963. The art on that is by Charles Frace, and the boxed text has been changed (see original at right) to describe the action on the cover, but ironically. It says, “While the city sleeps, rat-haired chavalotes, gallant and generous, teach fragile butterflies to defend against evil men using simple house keys.” Chavalotes means something like “lads” or “big boys,” and it also has a sexual connotation we won’t bother with here. The idea of the image is simply to point out the prevalence of using doublespeak to mask misdeeds—i.e., how the state proclaims it wishes to protect you from external threats, but uses that as an excuse to increase its own power by destroying your rights. This is obviously a big issue in Spain, but it’s a problem everywhere. Our friend sent us a few other scans, and though they aren't pulp we decided to share them anyway because they're very interesting. We’ve uploaded those below. And thanks for sending this in—we love it when we check our inbox and find that the day's pulp work has been done for us. 

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Vintage Pulp Mar 24 2015
CIRCLING BACK
Random acts of lust and violence.

We thought we'd show you one more excellent Red Circle cover by Franco Picchioni, this time for Violenza… forza sette, written by Frank Donovan for Mondadori and published in 1970. The previous Red Circles are here. We were going to share this one later but decided we liked the art so much there was no point in saving it.

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The Naked City Mar 24 2015
DEATH EXAMINED
Tragedy plus a photographer equals sales.


Above and below is a fascinating series of photos from the Los Angeles Examiner during the heyday of tabloids, showing just how invasive such publications could be. The photo above shows the aftermath of a murder-suicide at the Ansonia Apartments in L.A.’s MacArthur Park neighborhood. A mother jumped from a window with her six-year-old son. The photos below show the scene from different angles, then a priest administering last rites to the boy, and finally the father grieving over his son’s body. The Examiner focused on crime, corruption, and Hollywood scandals, and was for a time the most widely circulated newspaper in Los Angeles. Possibly its most famous scoop was breaking the story of the 1947 mutilation murder of Elizabeth Short, better known as the Black Dahlia.

In the references we dug up on the Clouart tragedy the wife’s name is never given—she’s called only Mrs. Gerald Clouart. That was of course common practice at the time, but it’s ironic the way it renders invisible a woman who might have received help had anyone truly discerned her troubles. But in yet another example of the Examiner’s extraordinary access, one of its photos is of Mrs. Clouart’s suicide note, and we were able to get her name from that. The note said: “I’ve reached the point of no return. It’s not your fault. You’ve been a wonderful husband and father. Am taking [John] with me to spare him the disgrace. I’m just inadequate.” It was signed Terry. That was today in 1952.


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 01
1984—Marvin Gaye Dies from Gunshot Wound
American singer-songwriter Marvin Gaye, who was famous for a three-octave vocal range which he used on hits such as "Sexual Healing" and "What's Going On," is fatally shot in the chest by his father after an argument over misplaced business documents. Gaye scored forty-one top 40 hit singles on Billboard's pop singles chart between 1963 and 2001, sixty top 40 R&B hits from 1962 to 2001, and thirty-eight top 10 singles on the R&B chart, making him not only one of the most critically acclaimed artists of his day, but one of the most successful.
March 31
1930—Movie Censorship Enacted
In the U.S., the Motion Pictures Production Code is instituted, imposing strict censorship guidelines on the depiction of sex, crime, religion, violence and racial mixing in film. The censorship holds sway over Hollywood for the next thirty-eight years, and becomes known as the Hays Code, after its creator, Will H. Hays.
1970—Japan Airlines Flight 351 Hijacked
In Japan, nine samurai sword wielding members of the Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction hijack Japan Airlines flight 351, which had been en route from Tokyo to Fukuoka. After releasing the passengers, the hijackers proceed to Pyongyang, North Koreas's Mirim Airport, where they surrender to North Korean authorities and are given asylum.
March 30
1986—Jimmy Cagney Dies
American movie actor James Francis Cagney, Jr., who played a variety of roles in everything from romances to musicals but was best known as a quintessential tough guy, dies of a heart attack at his farm in Stanfordville, New York at the age of eighty-six.

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