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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Vintage Pulp Sep 19 2014
TOMCAT CRUISE
Everyone on this ship is in heat.

It isn’t a top effort, but we still like this cover for Jonathon Ward’s 1964 sleaze romp Cruise for Love from Carousel Books, an imprint of Hollywood-based Frimac Publications. The story involves sexual misadventure among cruise ship passengers, and the rear cover reads: Take an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic, add men and women passengers, with normal and abnormal desires—and you’ve got an explosive package that’s sure to blow up before the ship reaches port. We just hope the cat isn’t involved in any of it. Uncredited art. 

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Vintage Pulp Sep 19 2014
TWO KINDS OF BLUE
Which came first—the nightgown or the nudity?

Above, two Technicolor lithographs of an unknown model against a blue velvet backdrop. These were published separately, with the bottom shot “Blue Mood” appearing in 1951, and the top shot entitled “Red Hot & Blue” appearing much later in 1966. Strange that the clothed image came later, but in any case they complement each other nicely, with the second featuring an almost “ta-dah!” pose from the model. It’s as if she’s saying, “You wanted the nightie gone—it’s gone.” Chronologically speaking, it would be more accurate to say she started naked and got dressed, but where’s the fun in that? Using old negatives was common practice for the makers of Technicolor lithos—Champion Line, U.I. Co., A. Scheer, J.S.I., Corp. A. Fox (also referred to as A. Fox Corp.), and others. It was Fox that published these, and we’ll have more of their output later. You can see about a dozen more Technicolor lithos by clicking here.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 17 2014
DARLING NIKKI
Part angel, part goddess, and part alley cat.

Seems like one good Midwood deserves another, so here’s another effort from them—Don Rico’s Nikki, published in 1963. After years writing for comics, this was Rico’s first novel, and he would later publish other books as Dan Rico, Donella St. Michaels, Donna Richards, Joseph Milton, et al. The back cover text for Nikki is unusually entertaining, so we’ve got that below as well. The excellent art is the work of Robert Schulz.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 15 2014
EASY RADER
I think it’s really cute when a guy wears pajamas, but I have something even more comfortable you can slip into.

This is one of the prettiest Paul Rader covers we’ve seen, which is really saying something considering he painted this and this. But this stellar turquoise and gold effort for Joan Ellis’s Sooner or Later may be our favorite Rader yet. Note how the placement of the girl’s elbow suggests an erection on her tormented brother-in-law. Joan Ellis was in reality author Julie Ellis, and she also wrote as Linda Michaels, Jill Monte, and Susan Richard. She went on to author serious fiction, but even if those later books were better written, we bet none of them looked as appealing as this.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 15 2014
ASSASSIN'S CREED
Sonny Chiba is the Duke of hazard.

Above, a poster for Golgo 13: Kûron no kubi, aka Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon, starring Sonny Chiba, who is better known as Shin’ichi Chiba in his native Japan and the rest of Asia. Chiba plays an assassin named Duke Togo, but codenamed Golgo 13, whose latest contract proves more complex than he imagined. The movie, based on a popular manga, was a Japanese production set in Hong Kong, and was an influence on the excellent crime thrillers that came out of Hong Kong in the 1980s, particularly those by John Woo. Plenty of reviews online so we won’t go into detail, except to say that this one is well worth a viewing, in our opinion. Golgo 13: Kûron no kubi premiered in Japan today in 1977.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 12 2014
STAYING ALIVE
Burnt to a crisp in Berlin? Not even close, according to The National Police Gazette.

This September 1964 National Police Gazette cover is the twenty-fourth we’ve found starring Adolf Hitler within the date range 1951 to 1966. You get the idea here—Hitler didn’t die in Berlin, because he was harder to eradicate than polio, and was instead living in the tropics/Argentina/Antarctica plotting to build a Fourth Reich. We mentioned before that we thought Hitler appeared on the cover of the Gazette twice a year. That’s now confirmed. We found five more covers to bring his total to twenty-nine between ’51 and ’66. When you consider how often other Reich figures such as Adolf Eichmann starred, it becomes clear the Nazis were a cottage industry for the Gazette, which used tales of their dreaded return to induce outrage and fear—and no small amount of newsstand sales. In that way we consider this magazine (and others) to be the precursor to today’s American cable news, where inducing outrage and fear has overtaken responsible journalism as a modus operandi. The Gazette would use Hitler for as long as it plausibly could—we have a cover from 1974 claming he was still alive at age eighty-five—before focusing on other fictional threats, such as the scientific community. That sounds familiar too, doesn’t it? We’ll have more from Gazette and Hitler later.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 11 2014
ALPHA BEAST
Faced with this position surrender is the only option.

Here you see a pose that appears over and over in vintage paperback art—one figure looming menacingly in the foreground as a second cowers in the triangular negative space created by the first’s spread legs. This pose is so common it should have a name. We’re thinking “the alpha,” because it signifies male dominance and because of the a-shape the pose makes. True, on occasion the dominator isn’t male, sometimes the unfortunate sprawled figure is depicted outside the a-shaped space, and sometimes the art expresses something other than dominance, but basically the alpha (see, that just sounds right, doesn’t it?) has been used scores of times with only minor variation. You’ll notice several of these come from subsidiaries of the sleaze publisher Greenleaf Classics. It was a go-to cover style for them. We have twenty examples in all, with art by Bob Abbett, Robert Bonfils, Michel Gourdon, and others.

 
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Vintage Pulp Sep 10 2014
ART OF NEGOTIATION
But baby, sweetie, please, all the other guys are going.


“But I’ll be back early, I promise.”
 
“No.”
 
“I’ll only have a few drinks.”
 
“You mean like last time? Forget it.”
 
“You and I will do something fun tomorrow night.”
 
“No.”
 
“I’ll wash the dishes.”
 
“You’re going to wash the dishes anyway, buster.”
 
Above is one of our favorite Robert McGinnis covers, produced for Vin Packer’s The Damnation of Adam Blessing, a book that has nothing to do with marital negotiations, but rather is the story of a charming psychopath similar to Patricia Highsmith’s famed Tom Ripley. Packer was one of several pen names used by prolific American author Marijane Meaker, and interestingly, she and Highsmith had a romantic relationship for two years in the late 1950s. Using the Packer identity Meaker wrote twenty novels, with this one appearing in 1961.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 9 2014
GANGS OF TOKYO
Crime, mayhem, and murder in Japan.

Above, six Japanese posters for 1950s and 1960s gangster movies. These are, top to bottom, Shichinin no yajû: chi no sengen, aka Return of the Filthy Seven, Sono gosôsha wo nerae: “Jûsangô taihisen” yori, aka Take Aim at the Police Van, Kawaita hana, aka The Pale Flower, Kutabare akutô-domo—Tantei jimusho 23, aka Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards, and finally two versions of Gendai yakuza: yotamono jingi, aka Hoodlum Yakuza 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
September 21
1937—The Hobbit is Published
J. R. R. Tolkien publishes his seminal fantasy novel The Hobbit, aka The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Marketed as a children's book, it is a hit with adults as well, and sells millions of copies, is translated into multiple languages, and spawns the sequel trilogy The Lord of Rings.
September 20
1946—Cannes Launches Film Festival
The first Cannes Film Festival is held in 1946, in the old Casino of Cannes, financed by the French Foreign Affairs Ministry and the City of Cannes.
September 19
1934—Arrest Made in Lindbergh Baby Case
Bruno Hauptmann is arrested for the kidnap and murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr., son of the famous American aviator. The infant child had been abducted from the Lindbergh home in March 1932, and found decomposed two months later in the woods nearby. He had suffered a fatal skull fracture. Hauptmann was tried, convicted, sentenced to death, and finally executed by electric chair in April 1936. He proclaimed his innocence to the end

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