|Vintage Pulp||Aug 11 2015|
W.R. Burnett followed up his 1929 gangster novel Little Caesar with 1930’s Iron Man, the story of a boxer named Kid Mason who is laid low not by his ring opponents but by the machinations of unsavory hangers on and a femme fatale—who’s unfortuntately also his wife. We showed you the hardback dust jacket to this a while back. This paperback from Avon goes full pulp with the teaser, promising a “toboggan-slide of passion, a headlong express that rips through the heavens and plunges to the bottom of hell.” That sounds fun, and indeed it was well reviewed, and was adapted into a film in 1931 with Lew Ayres as Mason and Jean Harlow as his wife. The cover art is uncredited.
|Vintage Pulp||May 14 2014|
Exclusive was a digest sized monthly published out of New York City by the appropriately named Digest Publications, Inc. It launched in March 1954, had the usual mix of celebs, scandal, and crime, and folded after two years. This issue has everyone from playboy Shep King to Italian actress (and former Pulp Intl. femme) Sylvana Pampanini to showgirl Julie Bryan, as well as an interesting crime photo essay the editors—distastefully—decided to title “Sexclusive.” That’s not a smart choice when referring to sexual assault. But moving on, the good thing about these pocket magazines is the text was large relative to the page size, which means that when scanned the articles are easily readable even on our website. That being the case we won’t bother describing the contents any more than we already have. We’ve scanned about twenty-five pages below if you’re interested, and we’re going in search of a glass of ice-cold white wine. Enjoy.
|Vintage Pulp||Feb 3 2014|
On this Confidential from February 1965 the publishers give their cut-and-paste artists a month off and grace the cover with a simple portrait of Brigitte Bardot and her famed pout. Inside the editors air out her love life in a way that today would be called slut shaming—pretty much stock-in-trade for Confidential. The suggestion is she won’t come to the U.S. to act because she’s busy Morockin’ around the clock with Moroccan-born producer Bob Zaguri. Elsewhere in the issue you get Romy Schneider, Jean Harlow, Alain Delon, Peter O’Toole, love behind the Iron Curtain, and an outraged report on pharmaceutical companies marking up medicines 200%, 500%, even 7,000%. Yes, medicines cost too much in the U.S. even back then. But don’t take our word for it. Take Confidential’s—their story ends by declaring that drug companies have Americans by the balls and the only way to avoid the drug price racket is to not get sick.
The cruise is eventually reported to the boat rental agency in Miami, whose owner vows that he will never again allow his vessels to be used for such debauchery. The response from the organizer of the cruises was this: “There are approximately one-hundred thousand boats or ships of some sort or another. I think we’ll be able to find some way to balance supply and demand.” Ouch—zinged right in the Econ 101s. Doubtless Confidential expected the congressional switchboard to light up over this outrageous appropriation of boats meant for exclusively heterosexual usage, but whether it happened we can’t say—the story ends there. And Confidential readers were left to endure thirty days of disquiet until the next gay bashing issue came out. We won't wait quite that long—we'll explore this subject in another tabloid soon. More scans below.
|Vintage Pulp||May 12 2013|
Above are six beautiful covers for the magazine Thousand and One Nights, which was published out of Beirut, Lebanon, a city that was once known as the Paris of the Middle East. These issues are all circa mid-1930s, when the country was under French control. We don’t recognize all the actresses, but we can identify Jean Harlow in panel two and Mae West in panel four (no big trick there, since her name actually appears in English). You may remember we shared some covers from another magazine of the same name published in Japan. If you missed that, maybe click over there and have a look. It’s well worth it. As for the Lebanese Thousand and One Nights, we found about two dozen issues and they’re all quite interesting, especially the way the logo design changes each time. We’ll share more of these down the line.
|Vintage Pulp||Apr 23 2013|
One thing about writing Pulp Intl. is it gives us an excuse to fill in blanks in our movie résumé. The Public Enemy, starring James Cagney, Jean Harlow, Edward Woods, and Joan Blondell, was one such blank—until last night. A rags-to-riches-to-ruin story, it was one of the earliest gangster flicks, one that was a big hit but which had suffered the scissors of Hays Code censors. It’s always interesting to note the scenes cut from a post-Code movie, because those say the most about attitudes of the times. For example, the scene in which Cagney is measured for a suit by a gay tailor differs in no discernable way from such scenes in today’s movies. There’s macho discomfort by the lead and effeminate fussing by the tailor that leads to the inevitable inseam measuring, all played for cheap humor. We don’t condemn or endorse this sort of thing—it’s just fascinating to see how little has changed in eighty some years. Two other scenes were cut due to sexual suggestiveness, and those are also quite interesting to watch.
|Hollywoodland | Sex Files||Mar 13 2013|
We’re jumping right into our treasure trove of newly arrived tabloids today with a glance at this issue of The Lowdown published in March 1965. On the cover you see Jean Harlow, Carroll Baker, and Ed Sullivan. We talked about Baker recently and there she is in that crazy gown again (below)—or is she? No, on close examination this is yet another version of the dress. Clearly, the photo was shot on a different night than all the others because her hair and jewelry are different. But the actual dress also looks slightly different from both the Oleg Cassini and Pierre Balmain iterations. A reference in the story clears things up at least a little: “Transparency gowns are another of her big passions and she often wears them.” There you have it. Half naked was a fairly standard look for Carroll Baker. They just don’t make stars like they used to.
You might be curious what the article is about. On the cover the header reads: “The Night Carroll Baker Played a Call Girl,” but on the inside, it says: “The Night Carroll Baker Played a Harlot!” The story goes that she wanted to research her role as a prostitute in the movie Sylvia, so sheventured down to Tijuana, Mexico, toured a few brothels, and somehow disappeared alone for two hours: “We don’t know what happened in the house in Mexico or what sights she could have barged in on, but that is bouncy Miss Baker’s bit.” Lost in a Mexican whorehouse. The mind reels. Do we buy it? Not for a minute.
What was the comedy? Harlow said nothing to the press. But according to Arthur Landau, she told him Paul Bern had spent $200 on a device to increase his manhood. Wearing the contraption he had entered their bedroom intent on finally consummating their marriage. This hope was doomed from the start and the whole plan turned into such a tragic farce that both he and Jean finally gave way to hysterical laughter. That’s probably one of the sadder stories you’ll ever hear. Is it true? It appeared in a biography about Harlow, but we can never know. We can, however, at least answer the question posed by The Lowdown’s story header. No—Jean Harlow’s sex life was not hot at all.
|Intl. Notebook||Jan 11 2013|
We were researching our recent post on fascist-era femme fatale Isa Miranda when we stumbled across fourteen sets of eyes from some of the most famous starlets of the 1930s. They were on a Brazilian fashion blog (seemingly defunct, since it hasn’t been updated for more than a year), and we gather they came from a book—Fashion at the Time of Fascism—which we’d love to read if we could find a copy. Anyway, just a little eye candy for Friday.
|Vintage Pulp | Sex Files||Jan 16 2012|
In our continuing search for rare magazines of high entertainment value (if sometimes dubious quality), we stumbled across the above gem—the first issue of the self-described sexploitation film graphic Flick. Published in the U.S. out of Libertyville, Illinois, it was basically just reviews of x-rated films in tabloid form. The publishers admit in their introductory editorial that the tabloid market is glutted, but insist America needs a magazine that helps porn consumers separate the wheat from the chaff. They do it with utter seriousness and, as a bonus, also throw in some musings on film history, with discussions of Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, Theda Bara, Jean Harlow, and Hedy Lamarr, who all had pre-Hays Code flirtations with screen nudity.
It might be difficult to imagine actors appearing nude on screen during the 1920s and 1930s, but the idea back then was that, because the medium was considered an art form, motion picture nudity was no different from nudity in sculpture, photography or painting. Theda Bara's and Jean Harlow’s screen nudity was merely implied, but Hedy Lamarr went all the way in her 1933 Czech-made romance Ekstase, aka Ecstasy, in which she ran starkers through the woods, giving audiences a gander at her backside and breasts. She was known at the time as Hedy Kiesler, but it’s her. There’s also a non-nude love scene containing what some critics believe is the first cinematic depiction of an orgasm. As you can imagine, Ekstase was controversial. Only four-hundred prints were ever made, and most of those were butchered by censors. By the 1940s, the only complete copy known to exist was in Russia. It had first been Hungarian property and had been exhibited in Budapest in ’33, but because the Hungarians had fought alongside Nazi Germany and helped conquer swaths of Russian territory in the early 1940s, when the Russians reversed those gains and occupied Budapest in 1944, they sort of helped themselves to a few choice cultural treasures.
Elsewhere in this inaugural Flick you get reviews of the adult films A Hard Man’s Good To Get, Sisters in Leather, College Girls, and Jack Hill’s first full-length effort Mondo Keyhole. The editors remind readers that their magazine is a collector’s item. At the time—January 1970—they probably imagined it would be quite valuable in forty-one years. Well, we got it for $4.00. But just for the hell of it, maybe we’ll hang onto it for another forty-one years. You never know. By the way, if you’re curious, you can actually see that famous Hedy Lamarr nude scene here. It is not a complete version, though. We doubt a complete one exists. See ten scans from Flick below.
|Vintage Pulp||Nov 29 2011|
Those scamps at The National Police Gazette are at it again in this issue from November 1971, the cover of which screams: The 3 Ways Wives Murder Their Husbands—and get away with it! What ways would those be, we wonder? Well, murder method one is: Feed Him To Death. Here’s the juicy bit from that section: Women prepare the meals. If the husband is overweight, has high blood pressure, and has been warned by his doctor to avoid certain foods, the truly concerned wife will follow the instructions. But we know of case after case where the wife insidiously fed her husband what he shouldn’t have had, worsening his condition until the fatal heart attack. The scenario runs on for a bit, but you can imagine the rest. Murder method two is: Nag Him To Death. Our favorite line is this: Nothing can weaken a man’s will to live as much as a nagging wife, a leading psychiatrist has stated. She can undermine his health just as surely as an invading virus. What follows are some quotes from various quacks supporting the thesis, backstopped by a bogus study. But we aren’t buying. The Pulp Intl. wives are nothing but rays of sunshine. And we’re not saying that because they’d beat us if we didn’t. Murder method three is: Sex As a Weapon. The money quote: Sexologists have long known that certain acts associated with love play are super tension-producing. Oral sex, for example, can make dangerously inordinate demands on the husband’s blood pumping system. Heh. Blood pumping system. Gazette asserts that the vast majority of murders committed by wives fall into the three categories listed, making them impossible to prosecute. Their advice? Know about the deadly weapons at your wife’s disposal, and develop the proper defenses. No word on what those defenses might be, though not being an asshole and making your wife want to kill you comes readily to mind. Did we mention our wives are rays of sunshine? Elsewhere in this Gazette you get Jean Harlow, Jacqueline Bisset, and more. We’ve uploaded a few scans, and of course we still have a stack of Gazettes to post later.
|Hollywoodland||Jun 8 2011|
Above is the front page of New York’s Daily News, from today 1937, with a headline about the death the previous day of starlet Jean Harlow. Harlow was world famous, and her passing, which came suddenly, or at least seemed to, triggered wild speculation in the tabloid press because of confusion over what had killed her. Left to fill the fact vacuum, the tabs claimed she had died variously of alcoholism, complications from an abortion, over-dieting, sunstroke, poisoning due to her platinum hair dye, and VD. Eventually doctors realized she had died of kidney failure, and had actually been ill for a long time. She had been fatigued for weeks, and the previous year had suffered a bout of septicemia and sustained a bad sunburn—both indicators of kidney dysfunction. But a correct early diagnosis probably would have made little difference, since there was no treatment for kidney related illnesses in 1937—penicillin wasn’t in commercial usage yet, and dialysis was a decade away. Harlow was twenty-six when she died. Below is a selection of publicity photos of the woman nicknamed the Blonde Bombshell. She was one of the first sex symbols in American cinema, and remains one of the most revered.