Even the Prince of Darkness needs love.
Italian illustrator Bendetto Caroselli painted this cover for Cuori per Satana, which means “hearts for Satan,” and it was written by Silver Ales for I Capolavori della Serie KKK's series Classici dell'Orrore, and published by Edizioni Periodici Italiani in 1968. Silver Ales was a pseudonym used by Silvano Alessandrini, a prolific poet, playwright, author of twenty-six detective novels, and longtime school teacher. His weird pen name sounds like a category of fancy microbrews, but we approve—it definitely sticks in the head. And of course Benedetto Caroselli was an artistic genius, which you can confirm yourself by looking here and here.
The law of this jungle is steal or be poor.
We don't need to tell you anything about The Asphalt Jungle because you've seen this film classic, right? So today we're all about the poster. Look at this beauty. It was painted by Italian artist Angelo Cesselon, complete with his distinct signature and its supersized “O”. Cesselon worked for many studios and mastered a distinct style featuring large character portraits such as the one you see here. His work is among the most immediately identifiable of the mid-century period. As for the film, when you get John Huston directing a heist story you can't go wrong. Don't let the poster fool you, though—Marilyn Monroe is a bit player. Why is she starring on the art? Because Cesselon painted it a few years after the film's initial release—by which time Monroe was world famous. The Asphalt Jungle premiered today in 1950.
Scenes from a Roman marriage.
1960s and 1970s Italian poster art is consistently great. Even obscure pieces are beautiful. The above locandina style promo is for the drama Seduzione coniugale, which means “marital seduction,” and starred Gabrielle Tinti and Rosemarie Lindt in the story of spouses who hit a rough patch, resulting in the wife enjoying sexual extra- curriculars with a hairy young judo instructor, while the husband scores with the less hairy but more beautiful Gaia Germani. He pays dearly for his straying, though. In fact, you could say he hits another rough patch—at high speed and with irreversible consequences. Directed by Daniel Franco with an excess of style, and assisted by a dreamy title track that's a minor classic of the Italian sexploitation genre, the film is a curiosity but we can't really recommend much about it beyond Germani and the promo poster. It premiered in Italy today in 1974.
She makes lame parties better.
Above, a very nice Italian poster for Raquel Welch's 1975 dramedy Party selvaggio, aka The Wild Party, an alternate promo to one we shared a few years back. The film wasn't good, but hey—it has Welch, and that's never a total waste of time. You can read about it and see the other poster here.
Hi! I'm in the bathroom freshening up. I'll be out in about an hour.
Above, a shot of Italian beauty Maria Fiore taking the world's most incremental bath in her 1952 cinema debut Due soldi di speranza, aka Two Cents Worth of Hope. We have experience bathing without a shower or bathtub, and the easiest way to do it is to use a bucket, pour some of the water over your head and body, thoroughly soap up, apply handfuls of water as needed (pits, crack), then pour the rest over your head to rinse. Even in warm countries the water tends to be uncomfortably cold, so a full drenching reduces the amount of time you spend shivering. Or you can bathe right after you've been outdoors in the heat. Of course, you need drainage for the bucket method, which Fiore seemingly doesn't have. So like she said, she'll be out in an hour.
You're going to like my movies or else. Now sit down and shut up.
Ann Smyrner was born in Denmark as Hanne Smyrner and came to wide attention for roles in cheeseball films such as Reptilicus and Journey to the Seventh Planet. The above photo was made when she filmed yet another cheeseball film—the 1967 Italian flop ...4 ..3 ..2 ..1 ...morte, aka Mission Stardust. These movies call out to us based on their titles alone, so we'll attempt to locate one or two and report back. They sound epically bad. Smyrner, on the other hand, looks epically good.
But I only want to kill my stepmom and take her money. What’s the big deal?
First things first—this poster was painted by Nicola Simbari, yet another genius from the ranks of Italian illustrators, someone who today is thought of as one of Italy’s most important modern artists and has pieces hanging in museums all over the world. He painted the above masterpiece for the Howard Hughes produced Seduzione mortale, known in the U.S. as Angel Face. It's the story of a man who tries to trade up to a richer, flashier girlfriend and ends up entangled in a murder plot. Robert Mitchum stars as the fickle hero, Jean Simmons co-stars as the femme fatale, Mona Freeman is the loyal girlfriend, and Jim Backus—aka Mr. Howell from Gilligan’s Island—is a tough district attorney.
This one is worth watching for the cringe-inducing central killing alone, which ranks top five in the annals of film noir for sheer brutality. Mitchum is good as always, Simmons less so due to her occasional tendency to act! rather than act, but that’s a minor issue. The movie works. It's well scripted by a trio of writers with an assist from Ben Hecht, and nicely directed by Otto Preminger. Best line in the film: “Is rigging a car like he says a very complicated thing? Or could anyone do it? Even a woman?” Ah yes, film noir—sexy and sexist. But there’s a real lesson there—never teach a femme fatale how a car’s transmission works. You’ll regret it.
Angel Face opened in the U.S. in late 1952 and premiered, according to all the sources we checked, in Italy today in 1953. But the poster at top advertises a premiere at a Rome cinema called the Fiamma on 6 May, 1953. Which date is right? Possibly both. April 18, 1953 was a Saturday, which would be a typical day for a film’s run to commence. May 6 was a Wednesday—not typical for launching a wide release. We suspect the poster was made for a special engagement, probably one night only. But we’re only guessing. We may have to slot this question in the unanswered file. There are only so many things you can figure out from a computer terminal after all. We have another poster below, plus two nice promos.
, Seduzione mortale
, Angel Face
, Robert Mitchum
, Jean Simmons
, Jim Backus
, Otto Preminger
, Howard Hughes
, Nicola Simbari
, poster art
, film noir
, movie review
Jane Bond, licensed to thrill.
We thought we’d bring back Georges H. Boskero/Bosckero today. Working for Edizioni Ma-Ga again, he authored Com licenza d’amare, which of course means, “licensed to love.” It was the debut entry for the Ma-Ga’s Jane Bond series, and an eyecatching entry it was.
La Lollo gives a child's toy a grown up workout.
The UPI photo above was shot today in 1959 and shows Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida hula hooping between takes on the set of United Artists' biblical epic Solomon and Sheba. La Lollo was apparently a big fan of the hula hoop—according to the info on the back of the photo she owned this one and brought it from her home in Rome. Interestingly, she was costumed almost exactly like this—in a glittery bra and skirt while showing a bare midriff—in 1950's Vita di cani, 1952's Les belles de nuit, and wore a circus performer's outfit of very similar style in 1956's Trapeze. Her most famous physical trait was her hair (lollo rosso lettuce is so named because it resembles the curly 'do she wore for much of her career), but it seems producers preferred her navel. Can't say we blame them.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1914—RMS Empress Sinks
Canadian Pacific Steamships' 570 foot ocean liner Empress of Ireland is struck amidships by a Norwegian coal freighter and sinks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with the loss of 1,024 lives. Submerged in 130 feet of water, the ship is so easily accessible to treasure hunters who removed valuables and bodies from the wreck that the Canadian government finally passes a law in 1998 restricting access.
1937—Chamberlain Becomes Prime Minister
Arthur Neville Chamberlain, who is known today mainly for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938 which conceded the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany and was supposed to appease Adolf Hitler's imperial ambitions, becomes prime minister of Great Britain. At the time Chamberlain is the second oldest man, at age sixty-eight, to ascend to the office. Three years later he would give way to Winston Churchill.
1930—Chrysler Building Opens
In New York City, after a mere eighteen months of construction, the Chrysler Building opens to the public. At 1,046 feet, 319 meters, it is the tallest building in the world at the time, but more significantly, William Van Alen's design is a landmark in art deco that is celebrated to this day as an example of skyscraper architecture at its most elegant.
1969—Jeffrey Hunter Dies
American actor Jeffrey Hunter dies of a cerebral hemorrhage after falling down a flight of stairs and sustaining a skull fracture, a mishap precipitated by his suffering a stroke seconds earlier. Hunter played many roles, including Jesus in the 1961 film King of Kings, but is perhaps best known for portraying Captain Christopher Pike in the original Star Trek pilot episode "The Cage".
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