*sigh* Maybe I should have left this outfit back home and packed a raincoat instead.
We talked about the 1953 Rita Hayworth film Miss Sadie Thompson back in December. The source material, written by W. Somerset Maugham, first appeared in the literary magazine The Smart Set in 1921 as “Miss Thompson,” and was published by Dell as Rain in 1951. This edition has beautiful cover art from Victor Kalin, belying the dark story Maugham weaves inside. The movie sticks reasonably close to the book, so if you want to know more about the plot you can check here.
Hayworth hits land and a storm soon follows.
Party girl Rita Hayworth is bound for New Caledonia to start a new job, but makes a stopover on Pago Pago along the way, where her wild ways make a splash at a military garrison and nearby village. A pompous missionary who was on the same boat seems to think Hayworth was run out of Honolulu because she was a prostitute. He has no problem spreading this rumor, but is the point to punish her, save her, or bed her? In style Miss Sadie Thompson is classic Hayworth, with her fun-loving ways raising eyebrows and smiting men around the heart, but in execution the movie falls short of her best. No fault of Rita's, though. She makes the film worth watching, even if it's pretty much guaranteed to leave you going, “Huh?” when the credits roll. Maybe the real value here is the lesson the movie provides about the perils of censorship. Read the W. Somerset Maugham source material and you'll see what we mean. Miss Sadie Thompson premiered in the U.S. today in 1953.
I really don't want to think about what I did in Honolulu.
But I want to think about it. I'm thinking about it right now. That's why I'm using a hat to cover my little missionary.
And Sadie goes.
Avon turns over a new Leaf for a Maugham classic.
Above, pulp art treatment for W. Somerset Maugham by Avon Books for its Modern Short Story Monthly line. The Trembling of a Leaf was a collection of six tales set in Samoa, Tahiti and Hawaii, and dealing the essential incompatibility of colonial Europeans to island life, and a bit about the nature of travel, something Maugham would return to for his immortal novel The Razor’s Edge. It was originally published in 1921 with a more conservative cover, and Avon produced this sexed-up edition in 1946.
Hmph. You’re absolutely right, baby. That new razor left no sign whatsoever of your chick-stache.
Above, the cover of Pocket Books’ 1946 edition of W. Somerset Maugham’s classic novel The Razor’s Edge, with Troop art seeming to depict the moment a woman triumphs over her unsightly facial hair. It’ll grow back, of course, but 5 o’clock is hours away. Kiss her you fool! Seriously though, this is one of our favorite books, and it’s probably at least 25% percent of the reason we keep wandering place to place, country to country. It isn’t pulp, but it’s a damn good read. Highly recommended.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
2011—Elizabeth Taylor Dies
American actress Elizabeth Taylor, whose career began at age 12 when she starred in National Velvet
, and who would eventually be nominated for five Academy Awards as best actress and win for Butterfield 8
and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles. During her life she had been hospitalized more than 70 times.
1963—Profumo Denies Affair
In England, the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, denies any impropriety with showgirl Christine Keeler and threatens to sue anyone repeating the allegations. The accusations involve not just infidelity, but the possibility acquaintances of Keeler might be trying to ply Profumo for nuclear secrets. In June, Profumo finally resigns from the government after confessing his sexual involvement with Keeler
and admitting he lied to parliament.
1978—Karl Wallenda Falls to His Death
World famous German daredevil and high-wire walker Karl Wallenda, founder of the acrobatic troupe The Flying Wallendas, falls to his death attempting to walk on a cable strung between the two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Wallenda is seventy-three years old at the time, but it is a 30 mph wind, rather than age, that is generally blamed for sending him from the wire.
2006—Swedish Spy Stig Wennerstrom Dies
Swedish air force colonel Stig Wennerström, who had been convicted in the 1970s of passing Swedish, U.S. and NATO secrets to the Soviet Union over the course of fifteen years, dies in an old age home at the age of ninety-nine. The Wennerström affair, as some called it, was at the time one of the biggest scandals
of the Cold War.
The federal penitentiary located on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay closes. The island had been home to a lighthouse, a military fortification, and a military prison over the years. In 1972, it would become a national recreation area open to tourists, and it would receive national landmark designations in 1976 and 1986.
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