Hollywoodland Mar 31 2017
HORSE 1, HESTON 0
You can lead a horse to water, but it's probably you who'll end up in the drink.

Charlton Heston attempts to mount a recalcitrant horse for a promotional photo shoot, and ends up in the surf. But he takes it in good humor. The text talks about his affinity for roles on horseback, such as in Ben Hur and El Cid. The shots appeared in the Japanese film magazine Roadshow, and were made around 1965. 

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Musiquarium Aug 18 2013
NICE TOUCH
Touch of Evil sleeve art perfectly captures the film's mood.

Above, a Japanese soundtrack sleeve for Orson Welles’ universally lauded 1958 post-noir thriller Touch of Evil, with music from Henry Mancini. Top marks for the beautiful design on this. 

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Vintage Pulp Apr 3 2011
FUTURE IMPERFECT
Not quite ready for primate time.

A long while back we showed you the French and German posters for the post-apocalyptic sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes. The U.S. posters are actually just as nice, if completely different. Four examples appear below. Planet of the Apes opened in the U.S. today in 1968. 

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Vintage Pulp Jan 22 2011
FINAL TOUCH
A deep feeling of Welles’ being.

Above, a Spanish-language poster for Orson Welles’ classic noir Sombras del Mal, which would translate to “Shadows of Evil”, instead of what the film was really named—Touch of Evil. Welles’ later-period noir is considered by most critics to be a masterpiece, and by many the last true noir ever made. If so, Touch of Evil is quite a punctuation mark. It premiered in Spain today in 1962. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 12 2009
BEN A LONG TIME

Cover art for a French edition of Ben-Hur, circa 1930s. The book was written by Lew Wallace, who, among other things, was an army general on the Union side in the U.S. Civil War. His Biblical epic played a profound role in causing religious leaders of the time to finally reverse their longstanding condemnation of novels as tools of evil. Ben-Hur has since been adapted into a motion picture four times, most definitively in 1959 with Charlton Heston in the lead. The English version of Ben-Hur was first published today in 1880.     

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Vintage Pulp Oct 14 2009
EVIL GENIUS
Leaving this border town, don’t know where.
It has the most famous one-take tracking shot in cinema history, it’s the last of the official film noirs (unless you’re one of those Kiss Me Deadly purists), and it was directed by distinguished filmmaker Orson Welles. And if that isn’t enough, it’s actually a pretty good movie too. It was called Touch of Evil, and though it has its flaws, the technical prowess on display is indisputable. At this point film noir was a well-charted phenomenon in which Welles had already dabbled when he made Lady from Shanghai and The Stranger. This time out, he wanted to fully explore the possibilities of shadow the way a painter might explore the possibilities of oils. Everyone knew black-and-white was on the way out. Touch of Evil was Welles’ grand commentary on the style. He was showing the world what was possible, and by extension, what might be impossible using color.

The casting of Charlton Heston as Ramón Miguel Vargas has been thoroughly discussed pretty much everywhere one cares to look, so we don’t need to get into it except to say those criticisms are valid. However, the dual shortcomings of unauthentic accents and white men playing ethnic roles were still the norm in the late ’50s. Certainly, an actor such as, say, Ricardo Montalbán would have shone where Heston merely sufficed, but cinema simply mirrors the age in which it was produced. It’s okay to use our modern world as a prism through which to examine the circumstances around an old film, but it’s best do so respectfully, because somewhere in the future people with their own prisms will be looking upon our age, and it won’t look so good to them. Welles’ Touch of Evil is genius in any age, and it touched Sweden for the first time today in 1958.
 
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Vintage Pulp Jun 26 2009
SOYLENT LUCIDITY
It's not easy eating Green.

When we wrote in our Planet of the Apes posting that Charlton Heston was capable of creating compelling film moments, his sci-fi mystery Soylent Green was the other film we had in mind. You see the French promo art above, and you’ll notice this is another film that played at the Avoriaz Film Festival. The first screening was today in 1973, and though it was well-received, the film lost the Grand Prize to Steven Spielberg’s made-for-television thriller Duel. Soylent Green’s vision of the future may look a little retro now, but its depiction of smart business as bad morals remains relevant. It’s also notable for being the last screen appearance of the legendary Edward G. Robinson, who died of cancer just three weeks after shooting ended. We recommend you check this one out. At the very least, it’ll make you think twice next time you’re in a crowd and someone starts making those mooing sounds.

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Vintage Pulp May 3 2009
APE AND SUPERAPE
Welcome to the late great planet Earth.


Inspired by French author Pierre Boulle’s novel, Planet of the Apes is one of those films many can quote, but surprisingly few have seen. The premise—a group of astronauts crash land on a distant planet where apes are ascendant and humans are jungle-dwelling primitives—sounds like one-note cinema, but Planet of the Apes is an ambitious film that comments pointedly upon religion, nuclear proliferation, and the arrogance of man. Most know Charlton Heston as either a Biblical hero or a gun advocate, but in his day he was capable of creating compelling moments on film that didn’t involve the Old Testament or Michael Moore. Not that he was a master of his craft—but certain roles seemed almost constructed for him. In Planet of the Apes, Heston’s astronaut George Taylor is calculating, physical and, most importantly, stubborn. That stubbornness drives him toward a hard won freedom, but also prevents him from truly understanding cryptic warnings about what he’ll find in the Forbidden Zone. What follows is one of filmdom’s great shock endings. Planet of the Apes premiered in West Germany today in 1968 as Planet der Affen. As a bonus we’ve included the great French poster below.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 24
1954—Communist Party Outlawed
In the U.S., during the height of the Red Scare, President Dwight Eisenhower signs the Communist Control Act into law. The new legislation bans the American Communist Party, and prohibits people deemed to be communists from serving as officials in labor organizations.
1968—France Explodes Nuke
France tests a two-stage nuclear weapon, codenamed Canopus, on Fangataufa, French Polynesia.
August 23
1942—Battle of Stalingrad Begins
The Battle of Stalingrad, perhaps the most pivotal event of World War II, begins. It lasts for more than six months, spread across the brutal Russian winter, and ends with two million casualties. The Russian sacrifice reduces the powerful German army to a shell of its former self, and as a result Nazi defeat in the war becomes a simple matter of time.
1979—Alexander Gudonov Defects
Russian ballet dancer and actor Alexander Borisovich Godunov defects to the U.S. The event causes an international diplomatic crisis, but Gudonov manages to win asylum. He joins the famous American Ballet Theater, where he becomes a colleague of fellow-defector Mikhail Baryshnikov, and later earns roles in such Hollywood films as Witness and Die Hard.
August 22
1950—Althea Gibson Breaks the Color Barrier
Althea Gibson becomes the first African-American woman to compete on the World Tennis Tour, and the first to earn a Grand Slam title when she wins the French Open in 1956. Later she becomes the first African-American woman to compete in the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
1952—Devil's Island Closed
Devil's Island, the penal colony located off the coast of French Guiana, is permanently closed. The prison is later made world famous by Henri Charrière's bestselling novel Papillon, and the subsequent film starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman.
1962—De Gaulle Survives Assassination Attempt
Jean Bastien-Thiry, a French air weaponry engineer, attempts to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle to prevent Algerian independence. Bastien-Thiry and others attack de Gaulle's armored limousine with machine guns, but after expending hundreds of rounds, they succeed only in puncturing two tires.
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