Good sleaze can be like beautiful music.
Above you see a really nice Robert Bonfils cover for Bogus Lover, published by Newsstand Library in 1960. What's bogus, though, is how the author got ambushed on this one. According to mysteryfile.com, Hy Silver—his real name, by the way—originally wrote a standard detective thriller that was converted without consent into a sleaze novel. And what a conversion: “Her hips began to sway in low, rhythmic circles, eager with anticipation, then faster until they were undulating to a restless mambo beat.” Note to aspiring novelists—remember to use Latin American music as a metaphor for really good sex. The rumba works, as do the samba and bolero, and the tango is a really good one, especially when describing the interaction of two tongues. We're giving you this for free. Run with it.
McQueen behind the scenes.
At first we thought this was a promo poster for Steve McQueen's 1971 racing thriller Le Mans, which in Japan was called The 24 Hours of Le Mans, the distributors Towa Co. having opted for an English title, perhaps to make the film sound more exotic. But there's a smaller Japanese title at bottom—栄光のル •マン—which means “Glory of Le Mans.” It was while staring at this bit that we saw John Sturges and Lee Katzin credited as directors. But Sturges had nothing to do with Le Mans—Lee Katzin directed it alone.
It finally dawned on us that this poster is for a documentary about the making of Le Mans, using footage from the movie and, we're guessing, the two Sturges films that starred McQueen—The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven. So this poster represents a bit of a mystery. It promotes a documentary that was seemingly released only in Japan. Note that it isn't for the 2015 doc Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans. That worthy effort was directed by Gabriel Clark and John McKenna.
No this is a different film. And we're pretty sure it's from the period just after Le Mans played in cinemas, for no other reason than the poster has a retro aesthetic, both in layout and font, that you don't find in Japanese promos after about 1980. But we searched everywhere and found no reference anywhere to a Le Mans doc from that time. Or in fact any Le Mans documentary by Sturges and Katzin. So we throw it to the readership. Got any ideas? Let us know.
Alternate theory: Sturges ended up on this totally by accident. It's a typo, and the poster is in fact for the feature film Le Mans.
, Towa Co.
, Le Mans
, The 24 Hours of Le Mans
, Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans
, The Great Escape
, The Magnificent Seven
, Steve McQueen
, Lee Katzin
, John Sturges
, Gabriel Clark
, John McKenna
Some people are just terrible at waiting.
From reliably sleazy Midwood-Tower comes Wait Your Turn, published in 1962 and written by John Plunkett inhabiting the Jason Hytes pseudonym. A soldier returns home from two years away and finds that his virginal bride has not only caved in to another man's advances, but has also been set upon by a trio of local lowlifes who aren't remotely finished with her. Besides the elements of voyeurism and sexual aggression, one thing you could always expect from Midwood sleaze was well-executed cover art, and this one is very nice, but sadly it's uncredited. Should we guess who painted it? Well, we could, but we won't bother, because another thing Midwood was good at was hiring artists who could execute its signature style, which means this cover could really be any of several regular illustrators. Luckily, cover credits tend to come out in the fullness of time thanks to the tireless work of numerous aficionados more dedicated and better connected than us. We'll just have to hope something turns up on this eventually.
Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the barest of them all?
This Technicolor lithograph is entitled “Golden Reflections” and features a model who looks familiar to us—she could be a burlesque dancer or popular centerfold, but we can’t place her. The only thing of which we’re sure is the copyright date—1959. Know who she is? Drop us a line.
I could screw my way to the top but this method is so much more satisfying.
Above you see the covers for the 1958 and 1954 Signet editions of Death Before Bedtime, by Edgar Box, who was in reality literary legend Gore Vidal. This novel is the middle entry of a trilogy—the first is Death in the Fifth Position and the third is Death Likes It Hot. All feature public relations exec/amateur detective Peter Sargeant II, and the story in this one takes place in Washington, D.C., and involves a murdered senator, his promiscuous daughter, his widow, and various figures ranging from pure to corrupt. It owes plenty to Agatha Christie in that the murder—via dynamite, by the way—occurs in a house and everyone who was on the premises is a suspect. Unsurprisingly, there's almost as much sex as sleuthing, but there's also plenty of Vidalian wit. The top cover was painted by Robert Maguire and the second was the work of Clark Hulings.
Lady, if you don't start cooperating, you're going to be sorry, you hear me? Now for the last time—pull my finger!
The 1959 mystery Crime Cop was written by Larry Holden, which was a pseudonym used by author Lorenz Heller. Why he didn't want to call himself Lorenz Heller is the real mystery, as that's about as writerly a name as one could hope to have. Actually, he did publish under his own name one time when he debuted in 1937, but soon chose new identities, including Burt Sims, which was reserved for his television writing. In this novel cops Flavin and Gilman hunt a strangler. The cover art, which is battered but beautiful (just like us!), is by Harry Schaare.
Live like a snake, die like a snake.
Kaidan hebi-onna is known in English as Snake Woman's Curse, or sometimes Ghost Story of the Snake Woman, and it stars Sachiko Kuwabara, who is also known as Yukiko Kuwabara, and whose last name is read informally as Kuwahara. These various designations have caused some confusion online, but whether Sachiko or Yukiko, or Kuwabara or Kuwahara, they're all the same woman. She doesn't star on the poster, though—that honor has been reserved for Yukie Kagawa, who's there because, well, we'll get to that.
The plot here involves a cruel landlord in feudal Japan who overworks a sharecropper couple, bringing about their untimely deaths by illness, causing them to linger as vengeful spirits who regularly pop up and scare the shit out of everyone. The couple's bereft daughter also soon dies, but by her own hand. The landlord and his son begin seeing spirits and snakes everywhere, and even begin to think those close to them are becoming snakes. Kagawa undergoes such a transformation, though only imagined by the villains, and that's why she's on the poster despite her secondary role in the film.
Kaidan hebi-onna is well shot and acted, but the blood efx are amateur hour and the snake sequences mainly consist of the poor creatures being thrown into shots from off-camera. Based on the highly polished look of the film, we'd have thought there was enough budget to get this stuff right, but what do we know? Maybe all the money went into the sets and costumes. Not frightening, but still an atmospheric evocation of classic revenant themes, Kaidan hebi-onna opened in Japan today in 1968. You can see an alternate poster for the film here, and as a double bonus, below are two promo photos of Kuwahara, or Kuwabara. Talk about cold blooded—she must be freezing inside and out. Japan
, Kaidan hebi-onna
, Snake Woman's Curse
, Ghost Story of the Snake Woman
, Yukiko Kuwabara
, Sachiko Kuwabara
, Yukie Kagawa
, poster art
, movie review
Going for the throat.
First rate Harry Barton art of a guy devouring his girl's golden delicious adorns the cover of Ronald Simpson's Eve's Apple, the story of a university student who embarks on a troubled affair with an older woman. Rear cover blurbs are an art form, and this one, using dialogue from the novel, is sublime:
“Well sir, it's a bit embarrassing. There's this married woman..."
“And you've been having an affair with her?”
The professor stared blankly for a moment before committing himself. “Well, Hobie, perhaps I shouldn't say this, but boys will be boys.”
“But—but she's pregnant, sir.”
“Hobie, you really have a problem.”
“No, sir. The problem's yours. You see, it's Eve—your wife, sir.”
We can only assume the professor fails Hobie at that point. 1964 copyright, from Monarch Books.
Getting what you want is all in how you ask.
It seems as if no genre of literature features more characters in complete submission to others than mid-century sleaze. And how do these hapless supplicants express their desperation? They break out the kneepads. Above and below are assorted paperback covers of characters making pleas, seeking sympathy, and professing undying devotion. Though some of these folks are likely making the desired impression on their betters, most are being ignored, denied, or generally dumptrucked. You know, psychologists and serial daters say a clean break is best for all involved, so next time you need to go Lili St. Cyr on someone try this line: “I've decided I hate your face now.” That should get the job done. Art is by Harry Barton, Barye Philips, Paul Rader, et al.
, Aaron Bell
, Alan Marshall
, Mickey Spillane
, Robert Colby
, Philip Tremont
, Ronald Simpson
, Harold Robbins
, John Plunkett
, André Soubiran
, Talmage Powell
, Horace McCoy
, J.X. Williams
, James Hadley Chase
, Greg Hamilton
, Marcos Spinelli
, Dante Arfelli
, Whitfield Cook
, Charles Petit
, Harry Barton
, Conrad Lueger
, Marlene Longman
, Adam Coulter
, Paul Rader
, Barye Phillips
, cover art
, cover collection
Vaudeville goes to outer space.
Occasionally we deviate from pure pulp to share something amazing and this Japanese poster for Abbott and Costello Go to Mars falls into that category. Not that the movie is light years from pulp—it's sci-fi, sort of. The twist is that Abbott and Costello don't actually reach another planet—at least not at first. Instead they accidentally land in New Orleans during Mardi Gras and merely think they're on an alien world. Cute in parts, but stupid as hell in most, the movie is strongly Vaudeville influenced, with everything that term implies. Abbott and Costello Go to Mars, with the lovely Mari Blanchard co-starring in film and on poster, opened in Japan today in 1953.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1957—Paar Takes Over Tonight Show
Today in 1957 Jack Paar begins hosting The Tonight Show
. During Paar's five year stint, his unpredictable antics
and strong comedic style help turn the program into a ratings juggernaut and a national institution.
1981—Charles and Diana Marry
Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer marry at St Paul's Cathedral before 3,500 invited guests and an estimated global television audience of 750 million, making it the most popular program ever broadcast.
1945—Plane Hits Empire State Building
A B-25 bomber crashes into the north side of the Empire State Building, between the 79th and 80th floors. One engine plows entirely through the structure, lands on a nearby apartment building, and sparks a fire that destroys a penthouse. The other engine falls down an elevator shaft. Fourteen people are killed in the incident.
1965—Vietnam War Heats Up
U.S. president Lyndon Johnson commits a further 50,000 US troops to the conflict in Vietnam, increasing the military presence there to 125,000. Johnson says about the increase, "I do not find it easy to send the flower of our youth... into battle."
Film legend Bob Hope dies of pneumonia two months after celebrating his 100th birthday.
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