|Vintage Pulp||Jan 31 2012|
It's been a while since we've had any Bettie Page on the site, so we were pleasantly surprised yesterday to have found some shots of her in a 1953 issue of Carnival magazine. Actually, there were about forty great images of various people, but rather than try to scan all of them, we decided to break the issue into two or more posts. So today, we're uploading only the below shots of Page demonstrating for readers the various legal constraints on disrobement for strippers in different states, with Kansas being the most conservative and Louisiana being the least. We'll have more from Carnival later.
Update: We've posted more images from the magazine here.
|Hollywoodland||Jun 29 2011|
Above are two photos of the Buick Electra 225 actress Jayne Mansfield was riding in when it slammed into the back of a semi on a stretch of road between Biloxi and New Orleans. Visibility was low that night due to a combination of ocean mist and insecticide from a mosquito fogging truck. Mansfield’s driver Ronnie Harrison probably never had a chance to avoid the collision, especially while speeding on a dark, curving road. He and lawyer Sam Brody were killed along with Mansfield. Her children in the back seat survived, but two of her cherished chihuahuas famously didn’t. In the second photo a sheet-covered Mansfield lies in the foreground after being removed from the wreckage by emergency workers. Virtually any website you visit will debunk the myth of Mansfield’s decapitation. They will tell you her blonde wig flew off and either fooled reporters on the scene or inspired them to create malicious urban folklore. Well, we don’t think so. Mansfield wasn’t decapitated, but we suggest the debunkers look up the word “avulsion” in a dictionary. It’s when one part of the body is torn away from another. Mansfield’s death certificate attributes her demise to a “crushed skull and avulsion of the cranium and brain.” So she lost the top part of her head, including brain matter. Does that count as decapitation? Perhaps not. Whatever you call it, it happened today in 1967.
|Femmes Fatales||May 10 2011|
Promo photo of New Orleans-born actress Dorothy Lamour, née Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton, who made many films but is remembered for playing opposite Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in seven zany Road movies. This image was shot during the making of Road to Zanzibar, 1941.
|Vintage Pulp | Politique Diabolique||Jan 21 2011|
This colorful January 1960 Hush-Hush features Gina Lollobrigida, Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor and others, but of special note is an exposé on burlesque queen Blaze Starr and Louisiana governor Earl Long. Sometime in the late 1950s the elderly Long got involved with the buxom young Starr, and it was a scandal for the ages. Starr had a routine in which she wriggled around on a sofa so sensually that it began smoldering (thanks to a hidden smoke machine). The routine had been a hit everywhere she worked, and by the time she appeared at New Orleans’ Sho-Bar she had it down to a science. Governor Long had wandered into the place with several friends and staffers, and when he saw the smoldering sofa routine he was smitten. He made his way backstage and asked Starr out to dinner. She responded by asking if she could trust him. His response: “Hell no.” The two hit it off and, after a few false starts, embarked on an affair. Long was deliriously happy, but others were not, and they used the relationship as grounds to commit him to Southeast Louisiana Hospital—a mental institution. Long couldn’t get out of the bin on his own, but due to a loophole in the law retained his powers as Governor. For a time he ran Louisiana from his hospital room, and eventually devised an escape plan, which involved having the head of the state hospital system fired and replaced with someone who would pressure Long’s doctors to declare him mentally competent. Upon release, Long resumed his relationship with Starr and made plans to run for Congress in the fall. In August 1960 he won a Democratic primary, but just a month later died of a heart attack. The relationship between Long and Starr has been much dissected since then, and some revisionists have denied that it was at all meaningful to Earl Long. Perhaps not, but it meant something to Blaze Starr. Years later she said in an interview with People magazine: “I still dream about stripping sometimes. When I do, Earl is in the audience watching me do my thing. Then I wake up and feel sad. I miss Earl and I miss being on that stage.” You can catch Blaze’s act here.
|Vintage Pulp||Jul 1 2010|
Above is a promo poster from the former Yugoslavia for 1965’s The Cincinnati Kid, with Steve McQueen and Ann-Margret. The movie is actually set not in Cincinnati, but in depression-era New Orleans, with McQueen playing an up and coming poker player whose goal is to be recognized as the best in the world. But one man stands in his way—invincible poker master Lancey Howard, played by Edward G. Robinson. It’s The Hustler with cards. Highly recommended.
|Modern Pulp||Jun 24 2009|
Above is the promo art for the June 24, 1987 Japanese premier of Alan Parker’s supernatural thriller Angel Heart, a movie that happens to be one of our favorites around here. It’s based upon a novel by William Hjortsberg. That novel, a brilliant channeling of Hammett and Chandler titled Falling Angel, was nominated for an Edgar by the Mystery Writers of America. The film version is dark, violent, sexual, and unflinching. Most of the action was transplanted to New Orleans in place of the book’s New York setting, and that decision gave the film an ominous backdrop of jazz, rain, voodoo, bayou, and shadows, with a desperate protagonist wandering virtually lost in the center of it all.
When the film opened in the U.S. reviewers were impressed with the visual tapestry Alan Parker had constructed, but quite a few were unhappy with both Lisa Bonet’s sexually charged role and the lack of sympathetic characters in the narrative. But this is another of those films that has staying power. Mickey Rourke is brilliant as the rumpled detective Harry Angel, Bonet manages a brave performance in a difficult role, and Robert DeNiro is oily and secretly amused as Louis Cyphre, the client who knows so much more than he’s telling. In fact, if not for an almost ruinous special effects misstep in the final minutes, we’d call this movie a perfect piece of pulp cinema. But even with that one colossal error, this kind of hellride doesn’t come along often, which is why we appreciate it as a rare gem, now twenty-two years old.
|Modern Pulp||Apr 2 2009|
If you think this Cat People poster is beautiful to look at, you should see Paul Schrader’s très chic 1982 film. Unfortunately, even the atmospheric New Orleans setting and several sequences of Nastassja Kinski slinking around totalement nu failed to elevate the film to classic status. This is pretty much unforgivable in a remake, which this was. The best thing we can say for it is that, viewing it today, we realized—as we often do with these old films—how unlikely it is any modern American director and actress would take the chances Schrader and Kinski took here. So even if the film isn’t scary, or suspenseful, or even satisfactorily resolved, we give it high marks for boldness. Cat People opened in the U.S. twenty-seven years ago today.