Vintage Pulp Mar 22 2015
INNER CIRCLE
Anything can happen in there.

Sticking with Italy today for more vintage pulp, above are three covers from the publishing house Arnoldo Mondadori as part of its Il Cerchio Rosso, or Red Circle collection. The art, which nicely portrays all the indispensible giallo elements of violence, fear, menace, and lust, is from Franco Picchioni, a top notch illustrator who you can see at his best here and here. 
 
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Modern Pulp | Vintage Pulp Mar 20 2015
GETTING HAMMERED
Three Italian covers offer three visions of Mickey Spillane’s hard-boiled Mike Hammer classic.

The top cover for Mickey Spillane’s Ti ucciderò was painted by the excellent Giovanni Benvenuti for Garzanti in 1957. You can see the artist’s signature more or less in the middle of the cover. The title Ti ucciderò means “I will kill you,” which is considerably less evocative than the original title I, the Jury, but maybe that just doesn’t translate well in Italy for some reason. The second cover is also from Garzanti and dates from 1972. The shifty eyes at top were a design element on all the Spillane covers from Garzanti during the period. Last you see a 1990 edition of I, the Jury published by Oscar Mondadori, and though we don’t know the artist, it’s interesting to see a book appear so late with a painted cover. The detective on that one, if you take a close look, is the actor Stacy Keach. He was starring as Mike Hammer on an American television show called The New Mike Hammer, from which you see a still at right, and the Mondadori book was a tie-in for when the show hit Italian television. All three covers are nice, but Benvenuti is tops, as always.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 13 2015
BLACK HEAT
They call me Signore Tibbs!

1966 cover for La calda notte di Virgil Tibbs—better known as In the Heat of the Night—from Milan based Edizioni Mondadori for their Il Giallo Mondadori series, number 907. The cool cover art is by Carlo Jacono, who we’ll get back to in a bit.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 5 2015
A REAL WRIST TAKER
Doing her part to take a bite out of crime.

Above is the cover of Bagliori sulla città, written by Roy Parks for S.P.E.R.O.’s series I Gialli Polizieschi Americani, 1957. Parks was actually a writer named Mario Casacci, who also published novels as Bill Coleman, Mario Kasak, Rex Sheridan, and possibly others. Casacci was also a noted screenwriter most famous for inventing, along with Alberto Ciambricco, the figure of Lieutenant Sheridan, who was a staple on Italian television through the 1960s and early 1970s, played by Ubaldo Lay. Casacci also participated on several soundtracks as a lyricist. The art here is from Averardo Ciriello, who we’ll for sure get back to later.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 18 2014
BOND POSSIBILITIES
Two Fleming covers offer opposite visions of how to Live large.

Sometimes we get in the mood for a true classic, so at top is the excellent 1966 Macmillan Publishers edition of Ian Fleming’s Live and Let Die. It’s possible the James Bond books have had more cover iterations than any other series, and most of them are high quality, often trending toward the sort of luridness we love, but we also like the simple, elegant graphics of Macmillan's deep green masterpiece. On the other hand, if we were to go lurid then there’s no better art to be found than on the 1964 cover Vivi e lascia morire from the Italian imprint Garzanti. The variations on Live and Let Die are practically infinite, but the Garzanti edition is our other favorite (though this one is great too). There is no artist info on these, which is criminal, we think. We’ll dig, though, and see what we can find. As a matter of taste, it’s interesting to contemplate which of the two books we would buy, assuming we could buy only one. Tough choice. What do you think? 

Update: the second cover was painted by Giovanni Benvenuti.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 13 2013
GONG! SHOW
The virgin homicides.

Above and below, the cover and assorted scans from Gong! This is an Italian foto giallo from Rome-based publishers Edizioni MEC, first printed in 1967, and what you get inside is a giallo-style crime story in comic book format but with photos of models instead of drawings. As far as we know, only nine editions of these were ever published, which would make you think they’re very expensive, but in fact they generally go for between ten and twenty euros. This one is titled Una vergine per… morire, aka A Virgin for… Dying, and we did our best to identify the models, thinking they might be actual actors, but had no luck there, and they aren’t named in the masthead. If you recognize any of them give a shout. As cool as this thing is, it’s a Sunday, which means we just don’t have it in us to get all sixty-four pages posted. We may keep adding those as the days pass, but in the meantime, we hope you enjoy what’s here now.  

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Vintage Pulp Jun 7 2013
PROFONDO SYMEONI
Sandro Symeoni comes down with a case of Vertigo.


After focusing on Italian paperback artists lately, we thought today would be good for getting back to poster artists—namely Sandro Symeoni, who we’ve marveled at before. Symeoni veered from the realistic to abstract in style, and this very graphic poster for Dario Argento’s Profondo Rosso, aka Deep Red, sees him working in the latter mode, which we’ve also noted on pieces like the Suono Libero album sleeve, viewable in panel four here. This is also a clear homage to Saul Bass’s famed Vertigo poster. For a look at many more Symeonis, just click his keywords below. Profondo Rosso, by the way, premiered in the U.S. this week in 1976, and is well worth a look for fans of Argento and/or giallo. 

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Vintage Pulp Feb 11 2013
TAILS OF THE CITY
Dario Argento’s Code may prove difficult for most to unravel.

Above are three excellent posters for Dario Argento’s Il gatto a nove code, aka, Cat o’ Nine Tails. Only one bears a signature—P. Franco, who in everyday life was Franco Picchioni. We suspect he painted the others as well. With posters this great, plus Argento at the helm, we had to watch the movie, but while it’s a serviceable giallo with an interesting central murder mystery, it’s nothing to write home about. But it does have Karl Malden doing a bang-up job as a blind ex-newspaperman and James Franciscus as a solid lead. And then there’s the heavenly French creature known as Catherine Spaak. You have to work pretty hard to somehow make a love scene featuring this stunner possibly the worst ever filmed, but Argento manages to make her romp with Franciscus as erotic as watching a hardware store clerk stack two wooden planks. Want your kids to avoid premarital sex? Have them watch this scene. They won’t even have a clue what happened. The title of the movie refers to neither a cat nor a nine-tailed whip, but rather to the many leads that need to be investigated before the mystery can be unraveled. It could also describe Argento’s struggle to weave an involving narrative. In the end, even with his stylish direction framing the story, it’s Malden that carries this movie to the finish line. Plus he has a sword cane, which is always a bonus. Many Argento fans use the term “underrated” to describe this effort. That’s a euphemism for strictly average. Il gatto a nove code premiered in Italy today in 1971.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 15 2013
PSYCH WARDH
Vice and virtue in Vienna.

So, quite by coincidence there’s another movie we watched recently that also premiered today, though thirty years later than The Shanghai Gesture (see below). The movie is Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh, which would translate as “The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh,” but was released in the U.S. as Blade of the Ripper. This flick is considered one of the best gialli ever made, and it’s tough to argue the point. It’s intricate, absorbing, unpredictable, colorful, and shot in an array of amazing external locations and inside one of the greatest mid-century modern apartments ever conceived. It also has Edwige Fenech, whose gifts are well known. Taking place mainly in Vienna and climaxing in Sitges, Spain (which happens to be one of our favorite towns in Europe) Signora Wardh is a taleof obssession and infidelity wrapped in a murder mystery. Mrs. Wardh does indeed have a strange vice, but that’s just window dressing. It’s her that’s being hunted throughout the movie—either by a serial killer, a demented ex-lover, or both. Or neither. They say that the only way to keep a secret is if no more than two people know it and one of them is dead. But the only way to commit murder is if the killer has an iron clad alibi, and for that he often needs help. Rule one conflicts with rule two, and that’s the fun of Signora Wardh. Above you see a rare and wonderful Italian promo poster painted by Giuliano Nistri, the younger brother of equally talented Enzo Nistri. We'll get back to both Nistri brothers a little later. Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh opened in Italy today in 1971.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 22 2012
BLOOD MOON
They’ll try flattery, persuasion, bribery, and threats. After that, if you get murdered it’s your own damned fault.


You know what we really like about a lot of older cinema? Color. Have you noticed the blue/gray palette that has taken over modern thriller and action movies? Mario Bava’s body count giallo 5 filles dans une nuit chaude d’été (originally released as 5 bambole per la luna d’agosto, aka Island of Terror, aka 5 Dolls for an August Moon) is merely realistic in the color department, but it looks like a riot of Technicolor compared to modern cinema. That was one of the aspects of it we enjoyed most. The movie was set in and around an amazing mid-century modern beachfront pad right out of an early James Bond movie. So that was cool too. And we also enjoyed Edwige Fenech (that’s her running topless through the woods, below, after discovering a corpse), and Ely Galleani. So that covers the good—great color cinematography, great sets, Fenech and Galleani.

Now for the bad. Let’s just boil that all down to a limp script. Basically, a wealthy industrialist invites some guests to his private island and introduces them to a chemist who has a formula that could be worth millions. The chemist won’t reveal any details of this process, and prettysoon someone is murdered (the houseboy, who Fenech is sleeping with “to do something for the working classes”). Naturally, she’s a suspect, but then there’s another murder. And another. And soon, Fenech is murdered too, rather cruelly. Cut off from police, the guests store all these bodies in a meat locker and try to solve the crimes themselves. But they just keep getting bumped off. Are the killings due to infidelity? Greed? All around perversity?

Consensus is that 5 bambole per la luna d’agosto is not one of Bava’s best films. But all those shots of bodies hanging in the meatlocker confirm that he at least tried to have fun with it. The climax brings more twists, more deaths, and one main takeaway—no matter how filthy rich a man gets he’ll stab you in the back (or front) for a few more dollars. But wealready knew that, didn’t we? Also, women are shady as fuck too—at least, they are in giallo. We’re not going to recommend this film to Bava newcomers, simply because he made others that were so much better. But if you know his work and haven’t seen this one, by all means add it to your queue. Made in Italy and released in 1970, 5 filles dans une nuit chaude d’été/5 bambole per la luna d’agosto premiered in France today in 1972.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
March 27
1958—Khrushchev Becomes Premier
Nikita Khrushchev becomes premier of the Soviet Union. During his time in power he is responsible for the partial de-Stalinization of the Soviet Union, and presides over the rise of the early Soviet space program, but his many policy failures lead to him being deposed in October 1964. After his removal he is pensioned off and lives quietly the rest of his life, eventually dying of heart disease in 1971.
March 26
1997—Heaven's Gate Cult Members Found Dead
In San Diego, thirty-nine members of a cult called Heaven's Gate are found dead after committing suicide in the belief that a UFO hidden in tail of the Hale-Bopp comet was a signal that it was time to leave Earth for a higher plane of existence. The cult members killed themselves by ingesting pudding and applesauce laced with poison.
March 25
1957—Ginsberg Poem Seized by Customs
On the basis of alleged obscenity, United States Customs officials seize 520 copies of Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl" that had been shipped from a London printer. The poem contained mention of illegal drugs and explicitly referred to sexual practices. A subsequent obscenity trial was brought against Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who ran City Lights Bookstore, the poem's domestic publisher. Nine literary experts testified on the poem's behalf, and Ferlinghetti won the case when a judge decided that the poem was of redeeming social importance.
1975—King Faisal Is Assassinated
King Faisal of Saudi Arabia dies after his nephew Prince Faisal Ibu Musaed shoots him during a royal audience. As King Faisal bent forward to kiss his nephew the Prince pulled out a pistol and shot him under the chin and through the ear. King Faisal died in the hospital after surgery. The prince is later beheaded in the public square in Riyadh.

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