The gun? Sorry to say that’s so I can deal with about 200 pounds of excess baggage I don’t want on this trip.
The Blonde and the Boodle, from Sexton Blake Library, entry number 394, is a labyrinthine tale by British author Jack Trevor Story of thwarted love and a thwarted bank heist. Basically, girl marries a crook, girl is influenced to rob bank, girl loses loot, girl decides husband is louse, girl looks for replacement, girl selects someone even worse than her first choice. All very interesting, but what we really wanted to do was share the amazing art, which is by Fernando Carcupino, a man so respected as an artist he was knighted. Really—in 1983 he was made a Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. That takes talent. Sexton Blake books have a vertical cover banner, but we’ve cropped that so you can see Carcupino’s work a bit more closely. For the purists among you we've uploaded the full cover as well. We’ll try to dig up more examples of this genius’s output later.
1960 thriller combined voyeurism, repression, child abuse, and sexual crime long before the public was ready.
Hollywood lore is sprinkled with tales of maligned cinematic masterpieces. British director Michael Powell’s 1960 voyeuristic thriller Peeping Tom is one of them—a film so savagely reviewed that it irreparably damaged what had been an acclaimed directorial career. While Powell should not have suffered so brutal a fate, his film’s rebranding as a work of incandescent genius is also not fully deserved. In the end Peeping Tom is a perfectly decent piece of filmmaking, amazingly forward-looking but also flawed. It deals with a man-child obsessed with filming women at the moment the fear of death appears in their eyes, and our villain does this of course by murdering them, and he manages to kill, film, and keep his subjects in frame at all times by using a spear-like contraption attached to his camera tripod. As you can probably guess, his carefully balanced existence is upset by the arrival of a prospective love interest, and we know from the moment she appears that she’ll be in front of his lens at some point.
In the U.S., Peeping Tom came after Alfred Hitchcock’s similar Psycho, but it Britain it arrived first. Censorship was slipping in British cinema, but to get a sense of how prudish authorities still were, consider the fact that Hitchcock’s movie caused controversy not only for its shower murderand for showing Janet Leigh in her bra and in bed with a man, but for being the first film to show a flushing toilet—an affront to bluenoses though the contents were merely a torn up note. Peeping Tom pushed the envelope farther and did it first, showing the killer Mark Lewis preying on sex workers and nude models, showing nudie reel star Pamela Green sprawled topless on a bed just before her murder, and drawing out the killings to agonizing length as Lewis coaxes the perfect expression of terror from his victims. Powell develops his killer to the extent that the audience must understand him as a human, and uses point-of-view to make the character’s films-within-the-film the equivalent of snuff movies.
The list of technical achievements goes on—Powell deftly manages to make Peeping Tom brutal without spilling a drop of blood, and his visual approach is engrossing. So why isn’t the movie a 10? Well, there are a few glaring script incongruities, some of the acting is below professional level, the killer seems careless for someone that has been at it for a while, and the idea of so obviously disturbed a man—stuttering, mumbling, visibly shying from any form of human contact—being able to attract even awoman as kind and credulous as Anna Massey just doesn’t ring true. There are men who are projects, and there are men who are lost causes—are we right, girls? That’s what the Pulp Intl. girlfriends say anyway. But Peeping Tom is a film every cinephile should see. The moral objections of contemporary critics seem quaint now—many hated being forced to experience the murders from the killer’s perspective, but the viewer’s loss of choice echoes the killer’s helplessness to control himself, and that may very well be Powell’s best trick.
The Noir City Film Festival ends tonight with a pairing of Peeping Tom with the Michelangelo Antonioni classic Blow-Up, which means here at Pulp Intl. we’ll close the book on the fest and move back into the more diverse subject matter that usually makes up our website. We wanted to use Noir City as an excuse to delve into the film noir catalog and we managed to watch sixteen of the twenty-five films on the schedule—some for the second or third time—and write about twelve of them. This all made for a quite enjoyable week, with much wine drunk and popcorn noshed (we have a Whirley popcorn maker we had sent over from the States that does a bang-up job), but it was also a bit of work. At this point we doubt we’ll go through all the considerable effort of screening next year’s Noir City slate, but you never know. Next January is a long, long way off—or at least, it should seem that way if you’re living life the way you should. We shall see.
, Noir City Film Festival
, Peeping Tom
, Michael Powell
, Carl Boehm
, Karlheinz Böhm
, Anna Massey
, Moira Shearer
, Pamela Green
, Alfred Hitchcock
, poster art
The moment you doubt is the moment it stops being real.
Corridor of Mirrors is fascinating movie, though not one everyone will appreciate. There’s an actual corridor of mirrors, and it’s a place of infinite reflections and madness, located in the sprawling mansion of man, played by Eric Portman, who believes he’s the reincarnation of someone who lived four-hundred years ago. As they say, when you’re rich you’re not crazy—you’re merely eccentric. The problem, though, is that Portman believes he was in love with a woman way back then, and that she has been reincarnated too, in the person of Edana Romney. This is very interesting work from a director—Terrence Young—who would go on to helm three James Bond movies (trivia: Lois Maxwell, the original Miss Moneypenny, makes an appearance here, as does future Hammer horror icon and Tolkien baddie Christopher Lee).
Perhaps the most successful element of Corridor of Mirrors is how the audience is dragged into the lead’s carefully constructed fantasy world. The film takes place in modern (1948) times, but by midway through, it has become a Renaissance period piece, as the camera rambles through Portman’s foreboding mansion where nary a lamp or electrical convenience of any sort is found. The use of candles is particularly effective when Portman unveils a painting of his centuries-old love—gasp!—she looks exactly like Romney. Well, maybe not so shocking, but the appearance of a flashlight late in the proceedings is actually shocking, as it’s a reminder that the previous hour has been spent inside the Neverland of a madman.
Is Corridor of Mirrors a film noir? Not even. It’s been placed on a double bill at Noir City with the stylistically similar The Picture of Dorian Gray, but noir fans might be disappointed to have bought tickets for this particular night. In fact, this year's festival features a high proportion of non-noir cinema—ten of the offerings aren't film noir, and arguably even a couple more fall outside the category. Still, Corridor of Mirrors is a nice melodrama, dripping with irony by the end, and worth seeing on its own merits. A British production, it seems as though no English language posters survive, so at top you see the nice promo from its run in Belgium, where it was called L’etrange rendezvous.
, Corridor of Mirrors
, L’etrange rendezvous
, Terrence Young
, Edana Romney
, Eric Portman
, Christopher Lee
, Lois Maxwell
, poster art
, movie review
Horwitz showed a keen eye but were their covers legal?
We’ve already commented on the good taste Aussie publishers Horwitz showed when selecting images for its Carter Brown covers. We found this 1954 edition of Murder! She Says! in the University of Queensland’s online Carter Brown archive, and the lovely woman on the front is British actress Joan Collins. Joan’s short-haired period didn’t last long—she had this boycut for just a few years—but it’s a very good look that obviously caught the eye of Horwitz editors.
The previous Horwitz celeb covers we showed you used actresses—Elke Sommer and Senta Berger—who were barely known at the time, which led us to believe their images were simply appropriated. But by 1954 Collins was already a legit star. That suggests official licensing, but what would have been the benefit for either Collins or the actual owners of the copyright, The Rank Organisation, and why would Horwitz pay money for the image then fail to even identify Collins as their cover star? Where’s the gain there? Why not just use a local model? Or maybe trademark infringement didn’t exist in 1954 the way we understand it today and they simply came across the photo and liked it. Anyway, it’s an interesting side note to a very eye-catching piece of art. See the other Horwitz ingénue covers here and here. Australia
, University of Queensland
, The Rank Organisation
, Horwitz Publications
, Transport Publishing Company
, Murder! She Says!
, Carter Brown
, Joan Collins
, cover art
But sold all over the world.
Christina Lindberg walks from plane to terminal after her arrival at Heathrow Airport from her native Sweden today in 1972. Her film career was little more than a year old but she was already one of the brightest lights in international cinema thanks to her turns in five films, including Rötmånad, Exponerad, and Maid in Sweden. Lindberg was visiting London to attend the January 6 premier of Rötmånad (English title What Are You Doing After the Orgy?) at the Cinephone on Oxford Street.
But just Imogen the possibilities.
With the above, we’ve now given about as much exposure to a terrible film as can be excused. The photo shows British actress Imogen Hassall from When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, and the shot was made during that epic’s filming in the Canary Islands in 1969. Some may remember the movie premiering in late 1970 in England and 1971 elsewhere, but it languished in the studio vaults for a while. Actually, the entire shoot was a circus. Here’s co-star Victoria Vetri, speaking to journalist Joe Vannicola about filming the movie on Fuerteventura: “Two weeks after we were there the director left his wife. He was sleeping with the script supervisor. It was like you could have made a movie within a movie. Everybody was screwing around. People were skinny dipping, drinking sangria instead of tea at four in the afternoon, getting drunk [constantly], and it was like party time. Three or four in the morning they’d say, ‘You have to be up at six for a sunrise shoot? Let's stay up all night!’ [snip] Of course, having [me] around didn't help because I was the first one to drop a loincloth. And all the girls between shots were getting a tan. After a while it didn’t faze anybody. When you’re all sitting around half naked it doesn’t matter.” So the above photo may actually be the overdressed Hassall. We approve in any case.
Hello? I’m from next door! If you don’t turn down that infernal music I swear I’m going to shoot you!
Charles Williams’ A Touch of Death (published in Britain as Mix Yourself a Redhead) had several different covers, but this 1963 Gold Medal edition with uncredited art is easily the best. It’s a bit strange, though. It almost seems as if it depicts a blind woman. And it does—a woman who’s blind drunk. An intruder is sneaking up on her as she gets loaded and plays her record collection. Don’t worry though. The hero saves her and once she sobers up she reveals herself to be one of mid-century fiction’s greatest femmes fatales—the immortal Madelon Butler. This is a really good book.
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
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
You knew that he would.
Above is another rare double-sided Robert Bonfils paperback cover, this time for Any Man’s Playmate and Strumpet’s Jungle, written by Rubel, aka James Rubel, and Sloane Britain, respectively. See the first example we shared here.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1938—BBC Airs First Sci-Fi Program
BBC Television produces the first ever science fiction television program, an adaptation of a section of Czech writer Karel Capek's dark play R.U.R., aka, Rossum's Universal Robots. The robots in the play are not robots in the modern sense of machines, but rather are biological entities that can be mistaken for humans. Nevertheless, R.U.R. featured the first known usage of the term "robot".
1962—Powers Is Traded for Abel
Captured American spy pilot Gary Powers, who had been shot down over the Soviet Union in May 1960 while flying a U-2 high-altitude jet, is exchanged for captured Soviet spy Rudolf Abel, who had been arrested in New York City in 1957.
1960—Woodward Gets First Star on Walk of Fame
Actress Joanne Woodward receives the first star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Los Angeles sidewalk at Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street that serves as an outdoor entertainment museum. Woodward was one of 1,558 honorees chosen by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in 1958, when the proposal to build the sidewalk was approved. Today the sidewalk contains more than 2,300 stars.
1971—Paige Enters Baseball Hall of Fame
Satchel Paige becomes the first player from America's Negro Baseball League to be voted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Paige, who was a pitcher, played for numerous Negro League teams, had brief stints in Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Major Leagues, before finally retiring in his mid-fifties.
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