Vintage Pulp Dec 16 2013
CASINO CULTURE
It’s possible to have too many Bonds.

 

1967’s Casino Royale wasn’t a global Christmas movie in the sense that today’s films are, however it did premiere Christmas week in ten European countries, as well as today in Japan. The movie wasn’t good. Basic idea: Sean Connery is an imposter, so the real James Bond in the form of David Niven is coaxed out of retirement, and he comes up with a plan to confuse his arch enemies SMERSH by renaming all British agents—male and female—James Bond. Time’s review of Casino Royale was headlined “Keystone Cop Out,” and The New York Times’ Bosley Crowther was just as scathing, noting that “since it’s based more on slapstick than wit, with Bond cliché piled upon cliché, it tends to crumble and sprawl.”
 
But one thing about holiday blockbusters—past and present—is that they’re expensively promoted. The many posters produced to sell Casino Royale were top notch. A U.S. poster painted by the legendary Robert McGinnis remains one of his most iconic pieces, but we also like these Italian quattro foglio promos painted by the extensively and expensively collected Giorgio Olivetti. We saw a set of these asking $8,500 at an auction site. By contrast, below are several U.S. promos, not paintings but photo-illustrations, on which the film’s secondary players get starring roles. They aren’t nearly as collectible as the movie’s paintings, but they’re pretty, so we’re sharing them as well.

 

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Vintage Pulp | Politique Diabolique May 7 2013
THE GUNMAN IN HIS LABYRINTH
Police Gazette gets readers up to date with Ava Gardner but it’s their Castro story that leads someplace interesting.

Above are a couple of scans from an issue of The National Police Gazette published this month in 1963 with cover star Ava Gardner. Gardner had been living in Spain and hadn’t been in a movie in three years, but was about to appear in the historical war drama 55 Days at Peking with Charleton Heston and David Niven. The Gazette discusses how she’d gotten fed up with the U.S.—particularly the American press. She had been particularly annoyed by the rumor that she was involved with Sammy Davis, Jr., a story that took flight after several magazines published photos of the two holding hands. When asked why she was returning to Hollywood after being out of circulation for so long, Gardner, in typically blunt fashion, replied, “I need the money.”

Moving on, we’ve pointed out that the Gazette made a longstanding habit of using Adolf Hitler on its covers, but his wasn’t the only face that moved magazines. After Fidel Castro assumed leadership of Cuba, the Gazette regularly wrote scathing stories about him. We’ve already learned that he let Viet Cong killer squads train in Cuba, and that he planned to “arm southern Negroes” in order to foment revolution in the U.S. Well, now we learn he was also a rapist. Figures, right? He might have been supreme leader of an island filled with beautiful women, but people always want what they can’t have—in this case, a teenaged ship captain’s daughter named Lisa. Gazette writer Bob Hartford cranks up the melodrama:
 
Castro laughed drunkenly as he weaved his way into Lisa’s sitting room.
 
“Have you changed your mind, my pet?” he demanded.
 
“No,” replied the brave but frightened girl.
 
All Castro needs at that point is a Lacoste sweater and a fraternity paddle and his transformation into pure evil would be complete. But as fanciful as the story seems, Lisa really did exist. Her real name was Marita Lorenz and she was Castro’s live-in mistress for several months in 1959. While Lorenz herself never suggested she was ever raped by Castro, the two did have a falling out around the issue of her unplanned pregnancy, which was terminated in its sixth month. Lorenz later said the abortion was forced on her while she was drugged; Castro’s associates claim that she wanted it. Lorenz went on to join anti-Castro activists in the U.S., and on a fundraising visit with the deposed Venezuelan dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez, became involved with him. She was still traveling to and from Cuba, and was recruited by the CIA for a Castro assassination attempt. But instead of poisoning his food, like she’d been instructed, she abandoned the plot, supposedly because she still felt strongly for him. Lorenz later wrote about all this in two autobiographies.
 
In 1977, Lorenz told the New York Daily News that she met Lee Harvey Oswald in autumn 1963 at a CIA safe house in Miami. She claimed she met him again weeks later along with a group of anti-Castro Cubans and they had Dallas street maps. We all know what happened next. Lorenz eventually testified about this before the House Select Committee on Assassinations, but her story was deemed unreliable. We suppose bouncing between two dictators and acting as a double agent will tend toraise a red flag with American congressmen, though these things have no bearing on whether she was telling the truth. It’s interesting though, isn’t it? You’d think that if a single man of his own accord assassinated another man the surrounding circumstances wouldn’t be so… labyrinthine. Yet lurking near the supposed black swan event of the Kennedy killing were double-agents like Lorenz, spooks like E. Howard Hunt, underworld figures like Eladio Ceferino del Valle and others. Just saying. In any case, we’ll have more from the Police Gazette and more on Fidel Castro soon.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 15 2012
HONEY DO TIMES TWO
Clean the toilet? Take out the trash? Sigh. I was expecting twice the sex, not twice the chores.

Here’s a nice cover for Patrick Quentin’s, aka Hugh Wheeler’s murder mystery The Man with Two Wives, which was published in hardback in 1955, and appeared in this paperback edition in ’59. In the story, a man’s wild child first wife reappears to complicate his orderly existence with his second. His problem gets worse when his first wife’s lover is killed, and the only way he can get her off the hook is by admitting to the police—and his current wife—that he was with the first wife when the murder happened. Complicated? No doubt. An interesting bit of trivia: the flim rights were bought by David Niven, but he never managed to get the project made. The art here is by Robert McGinnis.

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Intl. Notebook Aug 26 2010
A ROYAL PAIN
Waiting for the Snowdon to fall.

You’d never put blue, orange and yellow together in an outfit, but those colors coordinate nicely on this Uncensored from August 1971. The magazine had launched in 1953 and become a heavy hitter in the tabloid market by the end of the decade, but by now was running on fumes. However, that didn’t stop it from taking swipes at big targets—in this case England’s royal family in the person of Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon.

Born Margaret Rose, the princess had a rebellious spirit and had married late—at age twenty-nine—to a commoner named Anthony Armstrong-Jones. Jones was a photographer, and if you’re going to slander a photographer, of course you call him a pornographer. There’s no evidence Jones—who became Lord Snowdon—was head of a smut ring, as Uncensored claims, but he did shoot his share of nudes, like the image of Gloria Higdon below, dating from 1959.

His marriage to Princess Margaret was known to be on shaky ground, and by the time the above cover appeared, the couple were leading separate lives. Margaret indulged in a series of indiscreet affairs, and had unconfirmed liaisons with the likes of Mick Jagger, David Niven, and Peter Sellers. Snowdon, on the other hand, became a royal favorite, shooting official portraits for the Queen and other family members.

Lord Snowdon and his wife finally divorced in 1978, and Princess Margaret died at the relatively early age of seventy-two after many years of drinking and consuming prescription drugs. We may actually revisit her at some point—her life reads like just the sort of melodrama we're interested in here. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
September 26
1934—Queen Mary Launched
The RMS Queen Mary, three-and-a-half years in the making, launches from Clydebank, Scotland. The steamship enters passenger service in May 1936 and sails the North Atlantic Ocean until 1967. Today she is a museum and tourist attraction anchored in Long Beach, U.S.A.
1983—Nuclear Holocaust Averted
Soviet military officer Stanislav Petrov, whose job involves detection of enemy missiles, is warned by Soviet computers that the United States has launched a nuclear missile at Russia. Petrov deviates from procedure, and, instead of informing superiors, decides the detection is a glitch. When the computer warns of four more inbound missiles he decides, under much greater pressure this time, that the detections are also false. Soviet doctrine at the time dictates an immediate and full retaliatory strike, so Petrov's decision to leave his superiors out of the loop very possibly prevents humanity's obliteration. Petrov's actions remain a secret until 1988, but ultimately he is honored at the United Nations.
September 25
2002—Mystery Space Object Crashes in Russia
In an occurrence known as the Vitim Event, an object crashes to the Earth in Siberia and explodes with a force estimated at 4 to 5 kilotons by Russian scientists. An expedition to the site finds the landscape leveled and the soil contaminated by high levels of radioactivity. It is thought that the object was a comet nucleus with a diameter of 50 to 100 meters.
September 24
1992—Sci Fi Channel Launches
In the U.S., the cable network USA debuts the Sci Fi Channel, specializing in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal programming. After a slow start, it built its audience and is now a top ten ranked network for male viewers aged 18–54, and women aged 25–54.
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