Femmes Fatales Aug 2 2017
NOVAK IN TIME
She had every reason to smile.


This photo shows U.S. star Kim Novak and it appeared in the men's magazine Escapade in April 1957 in a feature titled “Love Goddess: 1957.” The idea was simply that Novak was the biggest new sex symbol of the year, and the spread featured a half dozen shots. The one above is the best of the bunch, in our opinion. Since Novak had become spectacularly famous in 1956, had won a Golden Globe in 1955, and had begun scoring important co-starring roles in 1954, and because we can assume her studio Columbia Pictures wouldn't have wanted her to be associated with a cheesecake magazine, we can safely guess the Escapade photos predate her 1954 Columbia contract. They probably came from some obscure photographer who suddenly realized he had valuable commodities in his archives. Escapade doesn't give a date, but we'd say Novak looks about twenty. In Hollywood, stardom means old photos will always come out unless preemptively purchased by the star themself. The same thing happened to Marilyn Monroe when she got famous, except her photos were early nudes. Novak's were early smiles.

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Femmes Fatales Jun 19 2016
A CERTAIN BLAIR
Blinding curves ahead—proceed with caution.


American actress Patricia Blair strikes a bold pose on this 1959 Columbia Pictures promo for City of Fear, an atomic era thriller about an escaped convict in possession of what he thinks is a canister of heroin but which is really radioactive cobalt-60. We may circle back to this movie later. Blair appeared in a few films but her career was mostly on television, including recurring roles on The Rifleman and Yancy Derringer.

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Femmes Fatales Jan 30 2015
BIRELL ELEGANCE
A theory of light and shade.

This beautiful promo photo of Romanian actress Tala Birell strikes a film noir note, but because her career flourished before the advent of the genre she never made a movie that can be fully classified as noir, though 1937’s She’s Dangerous comes close. Birell appeared in about forty films, first in Europe, then the U.S., and eventually moved back to Europe where she worked for the U.S. Government organizing theatrical productions in Germany, France, and Austria. You’re thinking what we’re thinking, right? She was totally a spy. Well, perhaps not, but she sure looks like one above. The shot was made for Columbia Pictures after she was signed as a contact player there in 1933.  

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Hollywoodland Mar 23 2014
DANCING ON AIR
Rita Hayworth and Fred Astaire prove levitation is possible.

We love Rita Hayworth as a femme fatale and in our opinion her turn in Gilda, playing a decadent casino owner’s jaded arm candy in Argentina, is by far her signature role. But we should never fail to remember that she was an ace dancer. And of course Fred Astaire was a magician. Here they both are in a series of promo shots made while they were filming the 1942 musical You Were Never Lovelier. Some sites say these are actual film frames, but they aren’t—this was a rehearsal rather than a number from the actual film. Curiously, like Gilda the movie is set in Argentina and features similar lead roles—i.e., a bored, perhaps unreachable woman and a scoundrel with a gambling problem. Since both flicks were produced by Columbia Pictures it’s possible the studio simply recycled a successful theme. Maybe we’ll do some research on that. Meantime, check out the images below.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 11 2013
V A LA MODE
They’re only being nice because they want to know where he bought his paisley sarong.

Above is the cover of an issue of V published today in 1947. Inside are various celeb and cinema features, a photo-comic written by the famed Maurice Dekobra, a back cover by Jean David, and plenty of photography, including the feature “Don Juan les pins,” or Don Juan of the Pines, whatever the hell that means. Also a bit of a mystery is the baffled looking cover star surrounded by six swooning women and a dog. He’s damnably familiar but we can’t quite place him, and since this is V we’re talking about, the editors have predictably failed to identify him. He’s a Columbia Pictures player, according to the caption, but that’s all we got. Anyone recognize him? Drop us a line. Thanks.

Update: So we have the answer from Nick, who informs us this is Arthur Lake, who played Dagwood in the U.S. television series Blondie, based on the famous comic strip. Thanks a million for that info. This also seems like a good time to thank not just Nick, but all Pulp Intl. readers. Your support and knowledge is essential to making this site work and we always appreciate it.

Update 2: Now it all becomes clear. A reader informs us that "Don Juan les pins" is a play on words. Juan-les-pins is a popular vacation spot in France, located on the Côte d'Azur between Nice and Cannes.

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Femmes Fatales Dec 29 2011
TOREN APART
A siren in the desert.

This Columbia Pictures promo photo of Swedish actress Märta Torén was shot when she appeared in the adventure Sirocco in 1951, starring opposite Humphrey Bogart. The film, which was set in Syria, was an attempt to recapture the magic of Casablanca, and one of its taglines was: “Beyond Casablanca... Fate, in a low-cut gown lies in wait for Bogart!” The movie didn’t recapture that Casablanca magic, but it was a nice role for Torén. She worked steadily until 1957 when she died of a sudden brain hemorrhage at age 30. 

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Femmes Fatales Sep 21 2011
QUALITY STERLING
Where there’s smoke there’s fire.

These two gorgeous promo photos of Jan Sterling, née Jane Sterling Adriance, were shot for her role in Columbia Pictures’ drama Women’s Prison. Sterling also appeared in Johnny Belinda, Mystery Street, Appointment with Danger, and was Academy Award nominated for her role in The High and the Mighty. Women’s Prison was released in 1955, and these images date from the year before. 

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Hollywoodland | Vintage Pulp Apr 26 2011
STARDOM CALLING
Marilyn had a little lamb, but soon she'd have the world.

By now we shouldn’t be surprised where Marilyn Monroe turns up. Still though, we never thought we’d see her befrocked and befrilled, fondling livestock in a field. Yet there she is on the April 26, 1946 cover of the women’s magazine The Family Circle. At the time, Monroe was modeling just about anywhere she could find work, going by her real name Norma Jeane Daugherty. She was twenty years old, one year away from her first film appearance, and two years away from her first minor film contract with Columbia Pictures. The year after that, in 1949, still trying to make ends meet, she posed nude for photographer Tom Kelley. In 1952 one photo from that session ended up on a Western Lithograph Co. pin-up calendar. Monroe was a contract player with 20th Century Fox by then, and the studio feared the photos would cause a scandal. They were wrong. Monroeadmitted posing nude to pay the rent, and the public was fine with it. The next month she appeared on the cover of Life. Said Monroe: “Oh, the calendar’s hanging in garages all over town. Why deny it? You can get one anyplace. Besides, I’m not ashamed of it. I’ve done nothing wrong.”

Monroe’s career took off from there, but there’s a modern postscript to the story—namely, with the internet being what it is (a massive repository of misinformation the likes of which we never could have imagined a mere fifteen years ago), there are many shots of Monroe out there that are misidentified as the one that ended up on that 1952 calendar. So we took the liberty of posting a scan of the Life story, with its inset of the Monroe calendar. The shot you see there—and not the several others appearing on assorted websites—is the one that scandalized Monroe’s bosses but was shrugged off by the public. The nude image is pretty small in Life, but the internet being what it is (a massive repository of nakedness the likes of which we could never have imagined—but always hoped for), we were able to simply grab a larger version of Kelley’s shot and post it below so that, for purely academic interest, you can have a closer look. The photo will disappear if we get a cease and desist order, but for now it’s there.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 14 2011
SKIN GAME
Inquiring minds needed to know: Did she… or did she?

This issue of Top Secret from April 1962 asks the question: Did Kim Novak really perform in the nude during the filming of The Notorious Landlady? In the movie, Jack Lemmon bursts in on Novak while she’s bathing and she delivers her dialogue covering her breasts with her arms. It was racy stuff for back then—in fact, one contemporary review referred to the scene as “degrading”. Columbia Pictures’ publicity department fanned the flames by letting it be known that Novak had no bodysuit or other covering, meaning one of the most desirable women in Hollywood had been seen in the buff by an entire film crew. Hubba hubba. However Top Secret says the story is untrue and Novak was, in fact, covered. Whatever the truth, the timing was perfect, promotionally speaking. The Notorious Landlady hit cinemas that same month with the tagline “Did she… or DID SHE?” The line referred to a murder her character was suspected of committing, but it dovetailed nicely with the nude controversy. So the question remains: Did she… or DID SHE? And the answer is: Judge for yourself below. 

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Femmes Fatales Nov 3 2010
ONE MOORE TIME
I’m gonna love you just little, Moore baby.

American actress Cleo Moore, seen here in a Columbia Pictures promo still used for the 1956 drama Over-Exposed, in which she starred with Richard Crenna. Moore was one of half a dozen actresses who found fame during a wave of blonde mania that gripped Hollywood just after Marilyn set the town on fire.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 21
1911—Mona Lisa Disappears
Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, aka La Gioconda, is stolen from the Louvre. After many wild theories and false leads, it turns out the painting was snatched by museum employee Vincenzo Peruggia.
August 20
1940—Trotsky Iced in Mexico
In Mexico City exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky is fatally wounded with an ice axe (not an ice pick) by Soviet agent Ramon Mercader. Trotsky dies the next day.
1968—Prague Spring Ends
200,000 Warsaw Pact troops backed by 5,000 tanks invade Czechoslovakia to end the Prague Spring political liberalization movement.
1986—Sherrill Goes Postal
In Edmond, Oklahoma, United States postal employee Patrick Sherrill shoots and kills fourteen of his co-workers and then commits suicide.
August 19
1953—Mohammed Mossadegh Overthrown in Iran
At the instigation of the CIA, Prime Minster of Iran Mohammed Mossadegh is overthrown and the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi is installed as leader of the country.
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