It may be the second version but it’s first rate.
Above is French poster art for La Clé de verre, aka The Glass Key, the second Hollywood adaptation of Dashiell Hammet’s 1931 novel. We’ve shared other Glass Key materials, but never talked about the film. Suffice to say this Alan Ladd/Veronica Lake vehicle is excellent—much better than This Gun for Hire, which starred the same beautiful pair (Ladd and Lake appeared together in seven movies). Complicated, engrossing, and liberally spiced with excellent action and Hammett’s wit—“My first wife was a second cook at a third rate joint on Fourth Street”—The Glass Key is mandatory viewing. It’s also interesting for its cynical look at American politics, portrayed as corrupt, built on lies, and fueled by legalized bribery. That much hasn’t changed. The first Glass Key was made in 1935 with George Raft in the lead, but this remake from 1942 is the one to watch. Its French premiere, delayed for years due to World War II and its aftermath, was today in 1948. France
, La Clé de verre
, The Glass Key
, Veronica Lake
, Alan Ladd
, Brian Donlevy
, George Raft
, Dashiell Hammett
, film noir
, movie review
Staring down the barrel.
When we first saw this we weren’t sure what it was—we were thinking soundtrack sleeve. Turns out it’s a super 8 film box for the 1972 Italian crime thriller Milano calibro 9, aka Caliber 9, and it came from an interesting blog called Passione Super 8. The cover star, who we’ve helpfully enlarged below, is Barbara Bouchet, a Pulp Intl. favorite we’ve talked about once or twice before. We actually haven’t seen this film yet, but now it’s next on the list. You can visit Passione Super 8 at this link.
So, in short, my art uses Hegelian themes to describe the human condition. Are you even listening to me?
Above, another Technicolor lithograph, this one from 1950, entitled Designing Miss. The model is unknown to us. As a side note, did you know Elke Sommer was once quoted in the Police Gazette saying she painted while nude? Just imagine.
They’ve gotten themselves into hot water for the last time.
There’s no safe place in pulp—especially not the bathtub. Below is a collection of vintage covers featuring various unfortunates who chose the wrong time to be naked and defenseless. Art is by Willard Downes, Barye Phillips, Robert Bonfils, and others. See another good example here.
Revista de Policia
, Donald Thompson
, John Dexter
, Harry Gregory
, Andrew Shole
, F. & R. Lockridge
, Rae Foley
, A.S. Fair
, Ross Arnold
, Stuart Palmer
, Alan Hynd
, Willard Downes
, Barye Phillips
, Robert Bonfils
, Maurice Watson
, C.W. Bacon
, cover art
You know, here they really frown on this sort of thing, but if you really can’t wait…
Above, Passion Suburb by Evan Hunter writing as Dean Hudson, published 1962. The suburb in question is called Rustic Acres, and it’s filled with horny women who bed any man who happens along. Or as the local Chamber of Commerce put it on the brochures: If you lived there you’d be boning by now. The cover art is by Harold McCauley.
New girl in town gets local Cajuns ragin’ in 1959 shlockfest.
In Louisiana Hussy Nan Peterson washes up in a backwater bayou town and within seconds every male resident loses his gumbo over her. She’s shady as hell but all it takes is a glimpse of cleavage and a coy smile and the guys forget all that. Ah, for the good old days when men bore no responsibility for their sexual behavior. Here’s a dialogue exchange that takes place between two bumpkins named Pierre and Jacques:
“I should have told Lilly the very first night what she was.”
“Telling your wife that you tried to make love to another woman on your wedding night? It wouldn’t be nice, would it, Pierre?”
“Is that what she told you?”
“She didn’t have to tell me. I saw you myself.”
“She forced her love on me! Jacques, she’s a tramp! A nymphomaniac!”
Yup, we men just go where these things between our legs tell us. You don’t blame a compass for pointing north, do you? Of course not. But you will deserve blame if you watch this movie. It isn’t even a film noir, like some websites claim. It’s just a low rent drama—a tacky one. The poster, on the other hand, is one of the all-time greats.
And speaking of men following their dicks, we recently asked a couple of friends which post on Pulp Intl. was their favorite. Did they pick our informative exposés of mid-century celebs, or erudite true crime articles, or innumerable pieces of rare art? Nope. They picked this one.
Actually, I came in here because I thought you said pancakes. No biggie, though. So, where would I find this pancreas thing?
Above, the cover of East Side General by Frank G. Slaughter, originally 1952, with this Perma Books paperback appearing in 1957. This is no typical New York City hospital. One doctor is an ex-Nazi, and the main plot contrivance involves the arrival of burn victims whose injuries turn out to be caused by radiation, which leads police to seek an atomic serial killer. The book was re-issued several times with different art, but this effort by Verne Tossey is by far the best.
Change is inevitable—especially if you're dealing with Ian Fleming.
Ian Fleming was not an author to be trifled with. We talked about how he shifted the rights for Casino Royale from Popular Library to Signet. Well, here we go again. The above 1957 Perma paperback of Diamonds Are Forever with excellent William Rose cover art is rare because Fleming shifted the publishing to Signet after Perma changed the title of Moonraker to Too Hot to Handle. Since this happened after the Casino Royale fiasco you’d think the editors would have known better.
Perma: Ian, Moonraker is a terrible title. It sounds like a sci-fi novel.
Fleming: You listen here, you sniveling little pup—
Perma: This is my job, okay. I’m telling you a bad title hurts your whole brand.
Fleming: Well, I have an idea for a book called Goldfinger. I suppose you think that’s a bad title too?
Perma: Well, yeah...
Fleming: Why you rotten eel. And Octopussy? You don’t like that either?
Perma: Sounds pornographic. It’s ludicrous.
Fleming: You have two tin fucking ears is what’s ludicrous! And Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang?
Perma: The worst of the bunch, and pornographic. I’m sorry, Ian—
Fleming: Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang? Pornographic? That’s the last goddamned straw, you pimply little Yank!
, Perma Books
, Diamonds Are Forever
, Too Hot to Handle
, Ian Fleming
, William Rose
, James Bond
, cover art
The technology may not be the latest but the customer service is top notch.
Everything about this Technicolor lithograph is great, but the best part of it is the wooden framed television with a planter built into the bottom. Almost makes you want to dump that boring old flatscreen, doesn’t it? The image is called Red Garter and it dates from around 1950.
Well, it was a nice little island while it lasted.
Above, Private Island by Dorian Cole, 1966, from After Hours Books, one of the lower rent practitioners of sleaze lit. The cover art is by Eric Stanton, whose decades of work have been immortalized in two collections by the German art book publisher Taschen. You see one of those at right. Stanton was apparently known as the “Rembrandt of pulp culture,” at least according to Taschen. Them’s mighty bold words, but of course Taschen is trying to sell $50 coffee table books, so what else would they say? In reality, Stanton was a unique comic book artist whose simplicity of style translated nicely to low budget sexploitation paperbacks. Or put another way, based on the above could you see him illustrating Mike Hammer or James Bond books? No, right? But he was a perfect match for sleaze imprints like After Hours. His effort for Private Island is nearly perfect, featuring his trademark elongated figures and bold color usage, and it ranks as a favorite cover for us. As far as his comic book work goes, he specialized in bondage and degradation, so if you go looking you’ve been duly warned.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1938—Alicante Is Bombed
During the Spanish Civil War, a squadron of Italian bombers sent by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini to support the insurgent Spanish Nationalists, bombs the town of Alicante, killing more than three-hundred people. Although less remembered internationally than the infamous Nazi bombing of Guernica the previous year, the death toll in Alicante is similar, if not higher.
1977—Star Wars Opens
George Lucas's sci-fi epic Star Wars premiers in the Unites States to rave reviews and packed movie houses. Produced on a budget of $11 million, the film goes on to earn $460 million in the U.S. and $337 million overseas, while spawning a franchise that would eventually earn billions and make Lucas a Hollywood icon.
1930—Amy Johnson Flies from England to Australia
English aviatrix Amy Johnson lands in Darwin, Northern Territory, becoming the first woman to fly from England to Australia. She had departed from Croydon on May 5 and flown 11,000 miles to complete the feat. Her storied career ends in January 1941 when, while flying a secret mission for Britain, she either bails out into the Thames estuary and drowns, or is mistakenly shot down by British fighter planes. The facts of her death remain clouded today.
1934—Bonnie and Clyde Are Shot To Death
Outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, who traveled the central United States during the Great Depression robbing banks, stores and gas stations, are ambushed and shot to death in Louisiana by a posse of six law officers. Officially, the autopsy report lists seventeen separate entrance wounds on Barrow and twenty-six on Parker, including several head shots on each. So numerous are the bullet holes that an undertaker claims to have difficulty embalming the bodies because they won't hold the embalming fluid.
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