Vintage Pulp Jun 20 2024
HOW LOW CAN YOU GO
What is it about being deep inside the dark, damp earth that makes me incredibly horny?


We bought Henry Lewis Nixon's 1955 novel The Caves—for which you see an Ace Books cover above with uncredited art—based upon the rear teaser blurb. It told us that the tale was about a group of people who face deadly problems after becoming trapped in an underground cavern system. That struck as unusually high concept for the 1950s, so we took the plunge. The book wastes no time, opening with the group in mid-descent. Trouble strikes immediately, then again, then again, ad infinitum. There's hypothermia, epilepsy, a broken foot, a bottomless pit, and other obstacles. Nixon doesn't let up, and for that he deserves credit. But while the story is interesting and propulsive, there's one major flaw—it's written at a level that feels young reader.

That isn't inherently bad. The Hobbit is written at young reader level, and it's great. But Nixon didn't mean for The Caves to be that way. There are many adult concepts—sexual predation and PTSD among them—but his characters are so cardboard, their ruminations so shallow, their motivations so transparent, that there's no way for them to resonate for adult readers. At least as far as we're concerned. One character loves sex, for example. It would take a very good writer to make her obsession with getting laid—in a freezing cavern and to the detriment of her own safety—anything other than sophomoric. Even the multiple womb metaphors don't make the book less like youth material. It's ironic, but Nixon's story about a fraught subterranean exploration needed to be deeper.
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Vintage Pulp Jun 19 2024
I OF THE STORM
Chaos thy name is woman.


Above you see a Mitchell Hooks cover for the 1951 Robert Standish novel Storm Centre, and yes, from the art alone you can see that once again we've taken the plunge into tropical island fiction. It's impossible for us to resist the stuff. This one is about what happens when a devastatingly beautiful woman named Diana Maynard shows up at an isolated British plantation community in Malaysia. Everyone immediately covets her, particularly John and Adrian, friends and business partners who turn against each other. Even the local orangutan Jimmie is driven to distraction, theoretically because he senses something “primal” in Diana.

The consequences of all this lust are serious. An eye is lost. A skull is fractured. A face disfigured. A suicide completed. It's an interesting story in that there are no villains at first, but rather good people acting increasingly out of character due to obsession. Diana, the titular “storm centre”, is up front from the beginning about not wanting any of the men. Well, until a charming rogue of a Frenchman turns her head. Storm Centre is a surprisingly forward-looking tale by Standish about male toxicity and aggressive attitudes toward beauty. Because he's writing about women to depths that seem a bit beyond him, the story may not ring entirely true for some. But it certainly rings.

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Femmes Fatales Jun 19 2024
NO FRIEND OF DOROTHY
Your Honor, the deceased suddenly swam in front of me before I could react. I never took my eyes off the lake even a for second.


This Paramount promo image shows U.S. actress Dorothy Lamour and, according to the rear, was made while she was boating on Lake Arrowhead taking a break from filming Masquerade in Mexico. That dates the shot as from 1945. By then she had already achieved great fame in several Road movies with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, but some of her biggest box office hits were still in her future, particularly in 1947, when she made My Favorite Brunette, Wild Harvest, Road to Rio, fifth in the Road series. You can see another smiling Lamour here

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Vintage Pulp Jun 18 2024
WORKING IT AT HOME
So I'm getting time-and-a-half for this, right?


Above: cover art for After Office Hours, classic work/office sleaze from author Brian Black and publisher Beacon Signal, copyright 1964. The excellent art is by Ernest Chriacka, who signed this piece as his alter ego Darcy. 

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Vintage Pulp Jun 18 2024
POWER AND PASSION
Mount Naomi erupts with deadly consequences in pinku revenge opera.


The Japanese appetite for pinku films was unquenchable. Conversely, ours is mostly quenched, but when we see a poster this striking we have to share it, and that means glancing at the movie that spawned it. Oryu joen: shibari hada, which premiered in Japan today in 1975, was known in English as Oryu's Passion: Bondage Skin, and it came from Nikkatsu Studios as part of its specialized roman porno line, with the so-called Queen of S&M Naomi Tani in the lead role.

Plotwise, the head of a yakuza clan is assassinated and Tani, his loyal charge, vows revenge. Her search for the killer doesn't go according to the blueprint, and after a betrayal she ends up in a dank bdsm dungeon along with her sister Terumi Azuma, subjected to rope discipline and forcibly dildoed and dp'ed with yam batter as a lubricant. Yam batter. You know how it goes in those pinku dungeons. Note: for novices, roman porno films are not porn. The term is short for “romantic porno,” and they're r-rated, equivalently. Or more likely, they'd not be able to obtain ratings at all under the U.S. system. Just thought we'd reiterate that.

Anyway, Tani eventually slips her bonds with assistance, and her long delayed revenge occurs, bloodily. No spoiler there. You knew it had to happen. We can't recommend this flick. There's really nothing worthwhile about it unless you're a fan of the form. Even then it's middling. Yes, Tani was the Queen of S&M, but she made more than one hundred films, so some will have the feel of going through the motions. Even so, you do get several of the expected roman porno tropes. Like action movies offer gunfire and romance movies offer kisses, it's what you sign up for. Knock yourself out.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 17 2024
A BIG ESQ.
Men's magazines come of age with Esquire.


Esquire isn't a pulp magazine, but it's a seminal U.S. publication that goes back to that era, debuting in 1933 and becoming incredibly popular within only a few issues. Today's from this month in 1945 was given to us by a friend. It was an unexpected and generous gift. It's also an unusual one. Dimensionally it's thirteen inches by ten, a size we've only seen a couple of times before. That meant scanning pages in halves and assembling them digitally, and because Esquire was perfect-bound, the scanning meant the destruction of the issue. Inside, there's fiction from Richard Gehman, James Stern, George Wiswell, Maurice Zolotow, and others, accompanied by nice story art. There are also some brilliant portraits of show business celebrities—including Virginia Mayo, Vera Zorina, Dorothy Hart, Ann Miller, Daun Kennedy, and ballerina Milada Mladova.

But it's the ads that catch the eye. Advertising is a trip back in time, a look at what culture considered important, which is why we have a vintage ad feature in our sidebar. Esquire is packed with ads, chiefly for booze, smokes, and suits. Lots of suits. To think that artists sat at easels in studios producing these illustrations is an amazing thought—and bittersweet, considering how little artistic talent goes into advertising today. We picture the cast of Mad Men refreshing their creative reservoirs with an occasional drink, or even better, Darrin Stevens from Bewitched, struggling over his art pad until Samantha gives him a witchy boost. The ads are mostly signed—by the likes of Frederic Fellander, Jay Hyde Barnum, Robert Goodman, and J.N.C. Fenton. Enjoy the scans. We killed the magazine but it was worth it, we think. And thanks to Alex for the donation.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 16 2024
A CRUEL RULER
I'm going to punish you with the metric side so you understand that this was no arbitrary decision.


Covers featuring corporal punishment aren't rare in mid-century fiction. This one, though, for Helene Eliat's 1951 novel Arena of Love, caught our eye because of the ruler, which hopefully it isn't one of those with a metal strip. Eliat was a German writer who originally published this as Saba besucht Salomo, or “Sheba visits Solomon,” in 1930. It was soon translated into French and English, so it's a significant book, possibly her only one. We aren't curious enough to read it, but it's apparently about a problematic love affair. The art on this Lion paperback edition is uncredited. 

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Vintage Pulp Jun 15 2024
JO COOL
Shishido and his last line of defense.


Jo Shishido fronts this poster for Koroshi no rakuin, aka Branded To Kill, flanked by armed and dangerous sidekicks Mariko Ogawa and Annu Mari. This serves as a second alternate promo to the original, which we showed you years ago. See that here, and the tateken promo here. Koroshi no rakuin premiered in Japan today in 1967. 

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Vintage Pulp Jun 14 2024
FOLLOW-UP EMILE
Modern publishers had no shame when it came to classic Zola.


It's French legend Émile Zola's turn to be pulped again. We already showed you the Ace Books edition of Shame with GGA art published in 1954. Digit Books also re-issued Shame, with its edition of the 1868 classic (originally titled Madeleine Férat) coming in 1961. The Dan Rainey cover art makes it rather nice, we think. 

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Vintage Pulp Jun 14 2024
DOUBLE TROUBLEMAKERS
I'm conflicted. You strangled my husband, but you're the first man who does what I want without me nagging him.


Above: a U.S. six sheet poster and zoom followed by an insert poster for the all-time film noir classic Double Indemnity. If you don't like this one, you don't like movies. It premiered in the U.S.—at a special event in Norman, Oklahoma of all places—today in 1944. We shared its West German poster here, joked about one of its classic sequences here, wrote about its modernized remake Body Heat here, and shared its Australian poster and covered the film in detail here

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 20
1967—Muhammad Ali Sentenced for Draft Evasion
Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who was known as Cassius Clay before his conversion to Islam, is sentenced to five years in prison for refusing to serve in the military during the Vietnam War. In elucidating his opposition to serving, he uttered the now-famous phrase, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.”
June 19
1953—The Rosenbergs Are Executed
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted for conspiracy to commit espionage related to passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet spies, are executed at Sing Sing prison, in New York.
June 18
1928—Earhart Crosses Atlantic Ocean
American aviator Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly in an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean, riding as a passenger in a plane piloted by Wilmer Stutz and maintained by Lou Gordon. Earhart would four years later go on to complete a trans-Atlantic flight as a pilot, leaving from Newfoundland and landing in Ireland, accomplishing the feat solo without a co-pilot or mechanic.
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