This bird is more impressive every time you see it.
The Maltese Falcon is considered by most scholars to be the first major film noir. It was also one of the best, with legendary talents John Huston, Humphrey Bogart, and Peter Lorre coming together to make magic. Mary Astor was excellent too. This must-see film premiered in the U.S. today in 1941, but the poster above—one you don't see often—was made for its run in Australia. Put this film in the queue if you haven't seen it. And if you have, well, watch it again.
, The Maltese Falcon
, Humphrey Bogart
, Mary Astor
, John Huston
, Peter Lorre
, Sydney Greenstreet
, Elisha Cook Jr.
, poster art
, film noir
That was great. Send in the third mate when you go. And tell the fourth and fifth mates to get warmed up.
Love Me Sailor was originally published in 1945 by the Australian imprint Georgian House and what a bombshell it was. After much legal wrangling it was banned in 1948 and author Robert S. Close was tossed in prison. His sentence was three months but he served only ten days. He's the only Australian ever jailed for writing a book. After his release he left in disgust for France and didn't return for twenty-five years. Even then he stayed only briefly before leaving again and living the rest of his life on Mallorca.
So what was the fuss about? Love Me Sailor tells the story of a male crewed windjammer that takes on a single female passenger in the form of Emma Miller. The men soon want to slide their dinghies into her cove but because she likes both sex and variety they're soon at each others' throats. Men, right? As a hurricane spins up, the question that arises is whether the crew can function well enough to survive. The book is a serious effort at literature and is highly regarded by many. The edition above from Popular Library appeared in 1952, and the cover art is by unknown.
Who needs an entire bouquet when you already have a Lili?
We've talked before about Horwitz Publications' habit of using celebrities on its Carter Brown paperback covers. Previous examples include Elke Sommer, Joan Collins, and Senta Berger. Above you see another borrowed celeb—none other than Lili St. Cyr—fronting Brown's 1965 thriller Homicide Harem in a cone bra outfit that brings to mind the fashion of Jean Paul Gaultier. There's no doubt it's her. We've spent a lot of time on her and recognized her high arching eyebrows and cleft chin immediately. But just to assuage any doubts you may have, we found a photo of her wearing the same outfit (though with different shoes), which you see below. We think Horwitz used unlicensed handout photos of moderately famous stars to create their covers. Lili was pretty famous by 1955, but perhaps not in Australia, since she wasn't really in movies to the extent that anything she'd done would have played there. Possibly 1955's Son of Sinbad made it there, but we have no data on that. Anyway, we're still a bit baffled why Horwitz didn't just use local models. It isn't as if there has ever been a shortage of beautiful women down under. This will remain a mystery, we suspect.
Why on Earth are you bringing up that till-death-us-do-part stuff now? Neither is us is going to die for a long time.
Above, great cover art for Robert O. Saber's Murder Honeymoon, a digest style paperback from the Australian imprint Phantom Books, 1953. The art originally fronted Saber's 1952 Original Novels thriller City of Sin, which you see at right, and was painted by the always amazing George Gross. Saber was aka Milton K. Ozaki, and we've featured him quite a bit because he seems to have always managed to have his books illustrated by the best. Though the art on these two books was basically the same, the novels were different. This is the first time we've come across identical art for separate novels by the same author.
Wisdom, chivalry, serenity, honor—these are not those kind of samurai.
A different type of paperback today, an example of World War II sexploitation, in this case John Slater's Women Under the Samurai, from Stag Modern Novels, which deals with, well... this is not the kind of book to be proudly displayed on a shelf. More like tucked in the back of a closet. The women here are nurses and are believed by the Japanese to know the location of Allied soldiers on the Pacific Island which they all inhabit. Pretty much every torture you can imagine is used, with the whole spectacle serving to both titillate and horrify the reader. Slater, who was a pseudonym used by Ray Slattery (as well as R.L. Taylor, and others) dipped into these murky waters regularly. Some of the titles that resulted: Island Slave, Brides of Terror, Women of Warsaw, Love Slave of Paris, The Captive Women. And so forth. More than eighty times. You can understand these selling during the war and post-war period, but the amazing thing about this genre of fiction is that it lasted until well into the 1970s. This example is from 1964.
Wild time leaves man with splitting headache.
The cover of this September 1970 issue of Australia's Adam magazine illustrates W. A. Harbinson's story “The Swinging Hep-Cat,” in which a man and woman spend most of their brief marriage fighting. He eventually strangles her. Or thinks he does. She actually survives and he only learns of this fact in jail from the cops who arrested him, as they laugh about it and reveal that she's fled for Paris—and the arms of another man. Much of the fiction in men's adventure magazines is disposable, for lack of a kinder term. We love it, of course. Men's magazine fiction would be nothing without hack writing. But Harbinson actually shows some skills in “The Swinging Hep-Cat,” as well as a muscular style. A sample:
We fought considerably during those early days of our marriage, bouts of most regal proportions, plates, knives, hair-brushes and antiques flying across the bedroom on fierce winds of abuse, she raging naked against the French windows in full view of the tourists below, me crouching back toward the door wondering how to tackle this bitch who had eaten my peace—a farce, a pantomime, a lunatic performance on both sides, always dissolving in the bed.
Or this little description:
Francisco Antonio D'Costa Pegado, a glorious dark beast of a man, rich as sin, tight as a drum, an incredible neurotic lover.
We checked after finishing the story, fully expecting Harbinson to have an extensive bibliography and we were right. He's written several dozen novels, mostly sci-fi, under his own name and that of Shaun Clarke. Not every good wordsmith manages to carve out a strong career—or any career, for that matter—so we were pleased Harbinson did well, because he actually knows how to use language in a way that brings it to three-dimensional life. At least he did in “The Swinging Hep-Cat.” He's still around and was last published in 2012, but we'll probably mine his earlier material, his stuff from the 1970s. We have high hopes. Elsewhere in Adam is fiction from Jack Ritchie, Austrian actress Senta Berger on the table-of-contents page, and plenty of cartoons. We have twenty-eight scans below, including a mega Berger in the final panel for your enjoyment.
Well, at least I got you to take off your hat. Now let's do something about that red suit.
The uncredited cover artist for this issue of Australia's Man Junior magazine published in August of 1957 probably never noticed he made his cover subject look like she was dressed as Santa Claus. You see that, right? With the white hair and red towel behind her? Totally looks like Santa's hat. In our dirty imaginations, we see her as Mrs. Claus, and she's forced Santa to finally wind down in Jamaica or Seychelles after years without a vacation. She's gotten his hat off, and once he gets a few mai tais in him he'll strip off the red suit and start cavorting around in a Speedo. End up all sweaty and sunburned on YouTube captioned, “Fat guy totally goes off on beach.” And on the video there's Santa screaming about how the north pole is in his swim trunks. Yes, we got all that from a simple cover illustration. Trust us, you wouldn't want to be stuck inside our heads. Anyway, we have nineteen panels from this magazine below, and about forty more Aussie men's magazines, mostly Adam, that we'll start scanning and uploading as soon as we can pull ourselves away from all the summer activities around our town. So probably not until autumn. In the meantime, see more from Man Junior here, here, and here.
Future cat shows her slinky side for Horwitz.
It's another Horwitz Publications celeb paperback. You know the drill by now—the Aussie publisher licenses (or just appropriates) the image of an up-and-coming star for their Carter Brown series. We've already shown you what they did with Joan Collins, Senta Berger and Elke Sommer. Do you recognize the woman on the front of 1959's amusingly titled Blonde, Beautiful, and – Blam!? Take a sec. No? It's everyone's favorite Catwoman Julie Newmar, seen at age twenty-six when she was still going by Julie Newmeyer, and it's one of the rare images of her with close-cropped hair. Just so you believe us, there she is at right, looking a bit more recognizable. Check out the other Horwitz celeb covers here, here, and here.
Any evil a man can do she can do worse.
This colorful poster was made for the Australian release of Deadlier Than the Male, known elsewhere in the world as Born To Kill. The movie stars Claire Trevor and Lawrence Tierney. We had seen Trevor in several roles over the years, including in Murder My Sweet, Johnny Angel, and 1948's Key Largo, but for some reason had never learned to appreciate her talent until seeing her here. Lawrence Tierney, who you may remember as Joe from Reservoir Dogs, is also excellent, if inordinately repellent (as required by his role). A cold-hearted woman meets her match in a brutal man, and the two become entwined in both a murder coverup and adultery. Money is the backdrop but it's jealousy that is the catalyst for every terrible event that occurs. Not a perfect movie, but very good, sprinkled with engaging secondary characters—including Walter Slezak as a sleazy detective—and Trevor knocks her bit out of the park. Deadlier Than the Male premiered as Born To Kill in the U.S. today in 1947.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1951—Churchill Becomes Prime Minster Again
The Conservative Party wins the British general election, making Winston Churchill prime minister for the second time. Churchill is nearly 76 at the time, making him the second oldest prime minister in history after William Gladstone. Churchill remains PM until 1955, when he steps down at 81 due to ill health.
1964—The Night Caller Is Executed
In Australia, Eric Edgar Cooke, who had earned the nickname Night Caller, is hanged after being convicted of murder. He had terrorized Perth for four years, committing 22 violent crimes, eight of which resulted in deaths. He becomes the last person to be executed in Western Australia.
1938—Archbishop Denounces Dance Music
The Archbishop of Dubuque, Francis J. L. Beckman, makes headlines in the U.S. when he attacks swing music as a degenerated musical system destined to gnaw away at the moral fiber of young people. His denouncement follows on the heels of the music being banned in Germany due to its African and Jewish origins.
1993—Vincent Price Dies
American actor Vincent Price, who had achieved the height of his fame acting in low budget horror movies, and became famous again as the macabre voice in Michael Jackson's song "Thriller," dies at age 82 of complications from emphysema and Pariknson's disease.
1929—Stock Market Crashes
Black Thursday, a catastrophic crash on the New York Stock Exchange, occurs when the value of stocks suddenly declines and continues to decline for a month. The event leads to a subsequent crash in world stock prices and precipitates the Great Depression. This after famous economist Irving Fisher had declared that stock prices had reached a permanently high plateau.
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