Italy becomes a rich source of paperback covers painted by moonlighting movie artists.
We recently turned up some paperback covers by famed Italian movie poster artist Sandro Symeoni. He painted those for Ace Books during the late 1950s and early 1960s. The company had many beautiful covers at that time, but not all were by Symeoni.
We got to wondering whether Ace lured other artists who normally didn't paint paperback covers, and located this effort for Vivian Connell's The Golden Sleep. This came from renowned cinematic illustrator Silvano Campeggi, who painted valuable promos for Casablanca and other classic films. Like the Symeonis we've found, this cover was previously unattributed, but unlike those, there was no sleuthing needed—Campeggi signed this as Nano, his usual nom de pinceau.
We're enjoying this digging, especially because it adds new knowledge to what's already out there, but it eats up more time than we want to expend, so we won't keep it up. We have a few more to show you. In the meantime, you can check out Campeggi's Casablanca posters here. Oh, and Vivian Connell was a guy. For years we assumed the opposite, so we figure many other people probably do too. Just a side note.
Sometimes you find what you're looking for without even trying.
Yesterday, we were running a bit behind and didn't comment on our vacation. We have time today. We did indeed run across some interesting items. In fact, we stumbled upon an entire comic book convention, the 26 Salón Internacional del Cómic de Granada 2021, with guests of honor that included Howard Chaykin and an assortment of accomplished Spanish artists such as Jaime Martin and Pedro Cifuentes. Chaykin looked a little bored in his booth, indulging various fans with autographs and anecdotes, but that's the gig. When it happens to bring you to a beautiful plaza in an amazing city, you can only thank your lucky stars. There were about sixty or seventy booths total, we estimated, so we wandered around and picked up a few vintage items we'll share later.
She was a showgirl, a yellow hat atop her hair, and a pistol out to there...
Lola Falana fronts these collectible posters for the Italian adventure flick Lola Colt, a movie made during the spaghetti western craze of the late sixties, and later re-released in the U.S. during the blaxploitation era as Black Tigress. It tells the classic western story of a town controlled by a ruthless landowner and the town's efforts to topple him. It won't be easy, not least because El Diablo, as they call him, keeps hostages on his ranch. Falana plays a showgirl (with a repertoire of modern musical numbers) who decides to set up El Diablo for a fall. A doctor played by Peter Martell tries to help, but he mostly gets pummeled, which does not set a good example for others concerning potential rewards for bravery. But as always happens in these movies, the townies will be pushed too far eventually, and that happens when the gang shoots a kid. You can guess what happens next—a mass showdown pitting local yokels against evil cowpokes.
But we don't want to dismiss the film. It's not good, but it is significant. We can't think of another western up to this point that has a black woman in the lead (maybe one of you out there in pulpland can correct us). That makes Falana a trailblazer, and while she rewards the filmmakers' risktaking with a game performance, overall we wish the result had been better. Well, at least we have a photo of Falana naked on a horse. If only it had happened in the movie. Lola Colt premiered in Italy today in 1967.
They say you can't buy love, but you just have to know where to shop.
Above: a striking if weathered cover for Gilbert Miller's novelization of the 1957 movie The Flesh Is Weak, which is about how a ring of sex traffickers trick naive women into street prostitution. It stars Milly Vitale, and the painting here by John Richards is a very good likeness of her, despite its cartoonish style. We also like the fur. She must have borrowed it from her pimp. To see our other material on this film just click its keywords below and scroll.
Sekkusu and you shall find.
The above poster was made to promote the Japanese roman porno flick Sekkusu hantâ: Sei kariudo, aka Sex Hunter, and we should note, as we do periodically, that roman porno films are not porn, but imaginative softcore excursions made by very twisted minds. Proving once again that it's amazing what you can imply when frontal nudity is illegal, here you get a tale about an aspiring ballerina (played by pouty Ayako Ôta in her cinematic debut) and her teacher (Erina Miyai looking her very best) who descend into a bizarre bondage odyssey notable for the fact that most taboos you can imagine are shattered, starting with rape and kinbaku-bi, and ending with handicapped sex and incest. In between you get bottle penetrations, a snowballing, an orgy on swings, and other sexual variations. There's a plot, but not one we'll bother to outline, because it's just a framework for one hundred and seven minutes of determined attempts to shock. Even the magical Miyai can't save this one. Sekkusu hantâ: Sei kariudo premiered in Japan today in 1980.
Rolling on down the highways.
We know. We just had an intermission. Well, a friend has flown in all the way from the U.S., so we're going to take a little drive around the region surrounding our new home, stopping in three towns and two countries, then circle back here. As always the first question is: will there be pulp where we're going? We think there may be. We're hopeful. Second question: is there potential for serious trouble? Hey, not just anyone can be threatened with murder by five guys in the Marrakech medina, so we're hopeful on that front too. Barring true catastrophe, we'll be back in five or six days.
Drug enforcement agents and heroin dealers settle their issues Outback.
We just shared a 1950 issue of Adam last week, but since it was too fragile for us to scan it all here's a second one, more completely documented. This hit Aussie newsstands this month in 1975 and you see the bright colors and dynamic art that was its trademark in those years. The cover illustrates Alex Tait's tale, “The Raw Deal,” which has to do with two undercover agents setting up a sale of pure heroin in order to take down a drug ring. The two agents, male and female, are posing as a couple, and as happens in fiction, the posing turns into reality. Interestingly, they have little choice because the villains have installed a two-way mirror in the agents' quarters and are keeping watch. So it's either get busy or blow their cover. The helicopter on the cover is the cavalry coming to the rescue right when it looks like the two agents will be executed. Adam's illustrations, at least from the early 1960s onward, were never generic. They were always tailor-made for a story in the magazine. Since most of the writers were relatively inexperienced, we can only imagine how thrilling it must have been for them to see their work represented this way. We have twenty-eight scans below for your enjoyment.
*sigh* Sure, wild body. Always wild. Dance, dance, dance. You know how this body feels right now? Hung over.
This cover for the 1953 novel Wild Body introduced a new artist to us—Howard Purcell, who produced an illustration better than Manning Clay's novel deserves. Wild Body is the story of a woman named Valerie Browning who's too attractive. That's Clay's formulation, not ours. Valerie's dilemma is summed up by this line about a hundred pages in: The cruelty of nature had endowed her with an exotic body but had forgotten to provide a heart and a soul. So she's kind of like the Tin Man, but stacked. She has starry ambitions, but can only manage to reach the burlesque circuit. As a dancer she quickly becomes jaded and depressed, and in addition to problems with men has a roommate named Lucyanne who gets one gander of Val's goods and decides same-sex action is where it's at. That could make for a good tale, but with low levels of action, eroticism, and drama, Wild Body lacks body and isn't all that wild. We'll keep our eyes open from more art from Purcell, though. This subtly phallic cover is excellent.
You know that fist bump thing? I invented it way back in the ’70s except it was my fist and their faces.
We've commented before about how, generally speaking, actresses from the blaxploitation era don't have much in the way of surviving promotional material. It's possible few promos were ever made. In either case, it means good photos of the genre's stars can be rare. Pam Grier is an exception. She was one of the top performers to come out of blaxploitation, was also an impact presence in the women-in-prison niche, and really, was probably the first woman you could call an action star. We say probably to hedge our bets, but we can't think of a counter example, unless, maybe, we look at Japanese film. But because Grier was an important figure, she was reasonably well photographed. For that reason, previously unseen shots appear regularly. The two images above, which turned up online earlier this year, are excellent additions to her cinematic legacy. They were shot in 1975, and are part of the series that produced the well known image below that appeared inside an issue of New York magazine.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1935—Four Gangsters Gunned Down in New Jersey
In Newark, New Jersey, the organized crime figures Dutch Schultz, Abe Landau, Otto Berman, and Bernard "Lulu" Rosencrantz are fatally shot at the Palace Chophouse restaurant. Schultz, who was the target, lingers in the hospital for about a day before dying
. The killings are committed by a group of professional gunmen known as Murder, Inc., and the event becomes known as the Chophouse Massacre.
1950—Al Jolson Dies
Vaudeville and screen performer Al Jolson dies of a heart attack in San Francisco after a trip to Korea to entertain troops causes lung problems. Jolson is best known for his film The Jazz Singer, and for his performances in blackface make-up, which were not considered offensive at the time, but have now come to be seen as a form of racial bigotry.
1926—Houdini Fatally Punched in Stomach
After a performance in Montreal, Hungarian-born magician and escape artist Harry Houdini is approached by a university student named J. Gordon Whitehead, who asks if it is true that Houdini can endure any blow to the stomach. Before Houdini is ready Whitehead strikes him several times, causing internal injuries that lead to the magician's death.
1973—Kidnappers Cut Off Getty's Ear
After holding Jean Paul Getty III for more than three months, kidnappers cut off his ear and mail it to a newspaper in Rome. Because of a postal strike it doesn't arrive until November 8. Along with the ear is a lock of hair and ransom note that says: "This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits." Getty's grandfather, billionaire oilman Jean Paul Getty, at first refused to pay the 3.2 million dollar ransom, then negotiated it down to 2.8 million, and finally agreed to pay as long as his grandson repaid the sum at 4% interest.
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