Vintage Pulp Oct 17 2014
MORBO FASCINATION
Artist C. Renè makes a bold statement in blue.

Finally, an Italian horror novel that wasn’t illustrated by the incomparable Benedetto Caroselli. This time the artist is someone billed as C. Renè, and he/she’s created a beautiful blue cover for Mark Hawk’s Morbo Azzurro (Blue Disease), opting to show a very detailed eye and set of lips rather than a whole face. Very effective work, we think. This appeared in 1961 and was a ristampa—a reprint—of a 1960 release.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 15 2014
MASTERFUL KEY
Glass Key paperback art is tops thanks to another Italian master.

Brian Donlevy and Veronica Lake’s film noir The Glass Key, which was Hollywood’s second try at Dashiell Hammett’s novel, premiered this month in 1942. To be exact, it opened yesterday in New York City and throughout the U.S. on October 23. The poster most often seen online is the theatrical release version we showed you several years ago, but alternates were produced and two of them appear below. What we really wanted to share, though, is this great paperback cover from UK-based Digit Books. It’s from 1961 and features the art of Italian illustrator Enrico de Seta, who we’ve mentioned before. If you haven’t watched The Glass Key we recommend it, and if you haven’t read the book, just know that it was Hammett’s personal favorite. 

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Vintage Pulp Oct 9 2014
ENTRE NOUS
Deux for the price of one.

The above photos show the wares of one of the vintage booksellers known as “bouquinistes,” Parisian vendors found on the right bank of the River Seine from Pont Marie to Quai du Louvre, and on the left bank from Quai de la Tournelle to Quai Voltaire. Amazingly, they have been there in one form or another since the 1700s. We were lured to this specific bouquiniste by some issues of the weekly Nous Deux and grabbed a couple at half the asking price. Nous Deux was a version of a wildly successful Italian magazine called Grand Hôtel, and was established by the brother of the two men who had launched the Italian imprint. The cover art on Nous Deux is always spectacular. Since it was a reiteration of the Italian magazine, the art was often Italian in origin, mainly by Walter Molino and Giulio Bertoletti, and inside each issue appeared a few more illustrations and twenty pages of photo fiction. This particular cover from 1951 is by Bertoletti for the story “Incident sur la Canebiere,” and features the charming scene of a woman with her heel stuck in a trolley track being rescued by a passing stud. Interestingly, later issues of Nous Deux were illustrated by Aslan, and those are rare indeed.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 9 2014
ROMA AMORE
You can't spell romance without Rome.

Nous Deux was an ongoing concern that spawned dozens of romance novels. Éditions Mondiales-Del Duca put out a Collection Nous Deux, of which the above, Sous les platanes de Rome, aka Under the Trees of Rome, is number 95, appearing in 1958. It was written by Lucienne Peverelly, aka Luciana Perverelli, aka Greta Granor, who penned several Nous Deux novels. Peverelly was possibly the same person as Lucienne Royer, but we’re still trying to confirm that. 

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Vintage Pulp Sep 29 2014
ESOTIK DANCE
It’s exotic, erotic, and psychotic—but is it good?


When Radley Metzger’s softcore movie The Lickerish Quartet was released overseas, its Italian distributors rightly decided that was a stupidish title for a movie and changed it to Esotika Erotika Psicotika. Unfortunately, Esotika Erotika Psicotika sounds glossier and more sophisticated than what you ultimately receive here. What you get is a rich, jaded couple and their surly son who watch 16-millimeter porno loops in their castle for thrills. One night they go out and encounter a motorcycle stunt rider who resembles a woman in one of the loops. They invite her back for what they hope will be a night of debauchery, but which turns out to be less conventional fuck than extended mindfuck. It quickly becomes apparent why the movie opened with a Luigi Pirandello quote pondering the nature of reality, as time and space soon become malleable, leading toward an ending that questions the truth of everything that came before.

The movie received good reviews when released, but we suspect much of that owes to its novelty and Metzger’s previous successes with Camille 2000 and The Dirty Girls. In other words, it hasn’t aged well. It’s like that summer you wore an orange shirt and your friends lauded you for experimenting with your wardrobe, but later you saw a photo of that night and realized you looked like a traffic cone with shoes. Like that shirt, this movie was a bold experiment that made sense at the time but seems a bit silly now. On the plus side, it’s shot on location at Balsorano Castle in L’Aquila, Italy, so at least the audience was able to indulge its fantasies of running away to Abruzzo. Esotika Erotika Psicotika, with Silvana Venturelli, Erika Remberg, and others, premiered in Italy today in 1972. 

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Vintage Pulp Sep 24 2014
RIGHT NUMBER
Sommer isn’t over quite yet.

In June we shared a Japanese poster for Elke Sommer’s 1966 comedy Boy Did I Get a Wrong Number and talked about the movie a bit. Today we have an even better Italian promo for the same film. In Italy it was succinctly retitled Un bikini per Didi, and the art is by yet another Italian talent, this time Tino Avelli, who we haven’t featured before. Another version of the poster appears below, and we’ll have more from Avelli later.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 21 2014
OF RICE AND MEN
We gotta get out of this place if it’s the last thing we ever do.


This great poster was painted by Italian illustrator Dante Manno to promote Riso Amaro, aka Bitter Rice, one of the neorealist movies that came out of Italy during the post-World War II period. If you watch the movie you’ll find that some elements aren't very “real,” but remember that the term neorealism refers to a rejection of the phoniness of Fascist-era film production, rather than a broad description of cinematic properties. Basically, the movie is about two petty criminals, played by Vittorio Gassman and Doris Dowling, who hide from the cops by posing as lowly rice pickers. What’s real here isn’t the rice pickers (whose female ranks are uniformly beautiful and sexily clothed), nor some of the action (typified by a scene in which the workers break into perfect operatic harmony even though the tune they’re singing is being made up on the spot). No, the realism is in the themes and production values. Riso Amaro deals with weighty issues and was made on location by director Giuseppe De Santis in the rice fields of Italy’s Po Valley in crisp, documentary style black and white.

One of Riso Amaro’s rice pickers is the voluptuous Silvana Mangano, who catches Vittorio Gassman’s eye. Since he’s a criminal, he spies opportunity in his circumstances, and while chasing Mangano also plots to steal the entire rice crop while everyone is occupied during an end-of-season festival. Mangano, who has her choice between the slick Gassman and the honest rice picker Raf Vallone, is symbolically torn between American-style and traditional values. Doris Dowling has the same dilemma to a lesser degree. The choice both make will be crucial. Riso Amaro is a good movie, beautifully rendered, and consistently interesting. Tame today, it’s easy to see how provocative it must have been when first released. As with many films, certain elements resonate more over time, and here the secondary theme exploring tensions between legal and illegal workers fascinate. The legal workers resent the presumed loss of jobs, but the illegals must eat somehow and are willing to toil much harder than the legals. All the while the bosses reap the benefits. Sound familiar? Riso Amaro premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in early September and opened in Italy today in 1949.

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Femmes Fatales Sep 4 2014
BEBA FACE
There's nothing like a classic Lončar.

This 1970 photo shows the beautiful Serbian born actress Beba Lončar, who began acting for cinema in the former Yugoslavia and soon found international success in Italy. Her real first name is Desanka, but she began using her nickname Beba professionally in 1961, just a couple of years into her career. We’re pretty sure you can guess what it means, but if not, take another look at her and think about it. 
 
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Femmes Fatales Aug 24 2014
TOLO SOLO
Marilu, Italian style.

Above, a photo of Italian actress Marilù Tolo, who appeared in many movies between 1960 and 1985, including 1964’s Matrimonio all’italiana, aka Marriage Italian Style, and 1966’s Se tutte le donne del mondo, aka Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die. This shot is from a 1966 issue of the French magazine Ciné-Revue

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Vintage Pulp Aug 19 2014
VENUS GUYTRAP
Kill her and she’ll kill you back.


Jesus Franco’s Paroxismus was an Italian erotic mystery known in the English-speaking world as Venus in Furs. Basically, an American jazz musician in Istanbul goes to a party and there sees a woman involved in sadomasochistic sex. Later he finds the same woman’s body on a beach, and at that point flees to Rio de Janeiro. In Rio he plays with a jazz group, but one night sees the dead woman from Istanbul walk into the club where he’s performing. Or is it her? Whoever she is, she seems intent on exacting revenge against those who killed her. Or didn’t. Jesus Franco is a polarizing filmmaker, but if you’re ever going to like one of his films, this may be it. It’s dark and surreal, beautifully shot, has an interesting score, and a compelling cast that includes James Darren, Maria Rhome, and the always arresting Klaus Kinski. The late-1960s hepcat dialogue may amuse or repel, depending on one’s sensibilities, and those hoping for a linear plot or Hollywood ending should give up before even settling into their seats, but as a whole we thought it was quite entertaining.

In terms of understanding the film, it helped when we learned that a chance comment by the jazz trumpeter Chet Baker had been the inspiration for the script. We also discovered, on an unrelated note, that the lead as originally written was supposed to be a Miles Davis type guy, which is to say black, but Franco was shot down because American audiences were thought to be unready to see a black man and white woman in bed together. This led to the ethnic reversals of the lead role into a white jazzman and the character of Rita into his black girlfriend. Too bad for Franco he wasn’t allowed to make the film the way he wanted, but it’s impossible to be bummed with the casting of Barbara McNair as Rita, despite the circumstances. Impossible to be bummed about the art, either. The above promo poster was painted by the awesome Mario De Berardinis, who signed his work MOS, and we also have an ultra-rare alternate poster below, painted by unknown. Paroxismus premiered in Italy today in 1969.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 24
1929—Stock Market Crashes
Black Thursday, a catastrophic crash on the New York Stock Exchange, occurs when the value of stocks suddenly declines and continues to decline for a month. The event leads to a subsequent crash in world stock prices and precipitates the Great Depression. This after famous economist Irving Fisher had declared that stock prices had reached a permanently high plateau.
October 23
1935—Four Gangsters Gunned Down in New Jersey
In Newark, New Jersey, the organized crime figures Dutch Schultz, Abe Landau, Otto Berman, and Bernard "Lulu" Rosencrantz are fatally shot at the Palace Chophouse restaurant. Schultz, who was the target, lingers in the hospital for about a day before dying. The killings are committed by a group of professional gunmen known as Murder, Inc., and the event becomes known as the Chophouse Massacre.
1950—Al Jolson Dies
Vaudeville and screen performer Al Jolson dies of a heart attack in San Francisco after a trip to Korea to entertain troops causes lung problems. Jolson is best known for his film The Jazz Singer, and for his performances in blackface make-up, which were not considered offensive at the time, but have now come to be seen as a form of racial bigotry.
October 22
1926—Houdini Fatally Punched in Stomach
After a performance in Montreal, Hungarian-born magician and escape artist Harry Houdini is approached by a university student named J. Gordon Whitehead, who asks if it is true that Houdini can endure any blow to the stomach. Before Houdini is ready Whitehead strikes him several times, causing internal injuries that lead to the magician's death.

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