They're willing to hustle, side-hustle, and even hustle on their backs to get what they want.
When we stumbled across this Italian poster and saw that it was for a film starring the lovely Catherine Deneuve and her unbeatable hair, we felt a screening was needed. Due prostitute a pigalle is a French/Italian co-production that was originally titled Zig-Zig, with the name changing to Zig-Zag for the U.S. The movie is about two Parisians played by Deneuve and Bernadette Lafont who work as cabaret entertainers, bookies, and prostitutes in order to raise enough money to buy a chalet in the mountains. Their signature song and dance number “Zig Zig” earns them a small measure of fame around Paris, and the dream home seems closer by the day.
However, Deneuve has no idea that Lafont is involved with a gang of cross-dressers who've kidnapped the wife of a prominent politician. When she finds out, she freaks out, and it looks like her friendship with Lafont is cooked and their house will never come to be. The movie has its moments, but jarring shifts of tone from serious to farcical and an insistence upon an ironic and unrealistic ending definitively sink it. Even so, it has Deneuve, and her hair can't be sunk under any circumstances. Due prostitute a pigalle premiered in France in early 1975, and in Italy today the same year.
When America's borders are penetrated the government unleashes a load of C-Men.
This is a pretty interesting poster for the crime drama 'C'-Man, a movie dealing with the intrepid customs men who confiscate contraband passing through U.S. borders and arrest the criminals who broke the law. Though the possibility amuses us in the most juvenile way, we don't think customs men were ever called c-men, and the reason why is obvious. In any case, Dean Jagger stars as a New York City c-man who investigates the murder of his pal and colleague who'd been investigating a ring of jewel thieves. He goes undercover, takes a couple of beatings, and develops an affection for Lottie Elwen, who plays the dupe girlfriend of one of the smugglers.
This is strictly a low budget affair, barely viable even as a b-movie. It was shot fast, all the sound except for one nightclub scene was recorded natively, and it doesn't seem as if retakes were usually an option. There's no doubt the c-men will come out on top, and when you add in the opening thank-you to the “agents of the U.S. Treasury Department, without whose assistance this film could not have been made,” what you have is a cheap propaganda piece, one in which the lauded and noble subjects of the cinematic stroke job don't even come out looking that great. There are infinitely better vintage crime dramas, as well as better propaganda flicks, so in our opinion you can skip this one. 'C'-Man premiered today in 1949.
Ask not for whom the Bell is mistaken.
If you do an image search on the above photo, every website in which it exists (that would include Getty Images, Yahoo, CNN, et al) says it's Paula Kelly, shot during the making of the 1972 blaxploitation movie Trouble Man. There's just one problem—she isn't Paula Kelly. She's actually—and obviously, we think—Jean Bell, who appeared in such movies as T.N.T. Jackson and Policewomen. Bell and Paula Kelly don't look alike, but just the same they're the victims of an IRE™ (internet replication error) that probably will never be corrected. We're not perfect here, but we also don't have a research department like CNN and Getty Images. Because of the misidentification we don't have a copyright on this shot, but it's probably from around 1974.
Could you not smoke? Geez, you're inconsiderate to the very end, aren't you?
We featured an Australian cover for James O. Causey's Killer Take All about five years ago, but have only gotten around to actually reading the book now. The 1957 Graphic edition you see above has Roy Lance cover art, and we like it. We liked the story too. The protagonist was not a cop or criminal, but a golf pro, a guy who tried to make it on the PGA tour but failed. Now he works at a country club, and one day the woman who left him without a word while he was trying to make the big time turns up hitting balls on the range. She's married to another man, and since her husband isn't a nice person that's all the heartbroken hero needs to get neck deep in trouble. His difficulties start with losing fistfights to his rival, progress to a murder rap, and quickly to another, then to a web of deceit involving contraband art, and finally to a full-on Wide Eyes Shut circle of sexual thrillseekers. All in all, the novel is a pretty good journey. And importantly, it features a hero you can root for. He's a bit hapless, but never quite helpless. We'll keep an eye out for more Causey. He hit a lot of good notes with Killer Take All.
All the rules are in her favor.
Kyôko Enami poses here in a promo image made for her crime thriller Onna koroshiya: Mesu inu, known in English as Hitwoman Bitch and The Art of Assassination. Enami was a go-to actress during the 1960s and made about eighty films over the course of that decade alone, eventually ending up with more than one-hundred and sixty film and television credits. With output like that we'll probably circle back to her at some point. This shot was made in 1969.
The greatest trick he ever pulled was convincing the world he was national defense.
Are we still here? We haven't been reduced to incandescent plasma yet? We're continually amazed by that fact. But let's never be complacent. The danger is ever-present. As we've mentioned before, nuclear weapons are part of the unseen—or sometimes seen—backdrop to a fair amount of mid-century crime literature and at least one celebrated film noir, which is why we periodically focus on them. Above is one of the most manifestly revealing nuclear test photos ever made. It was produced today in 1952 during a blast code-named Fox, and captures the essence of what atomic weapons really are—a demonic force unleashed that can't be shoved back into its pit.
She's someone you really don't want to cross.
Above: two excellent posters for Onna shikaku manji, aka Mankiller, aka Eternal Killer Woman, which premiered today in 1969 starring Junko Miyazuno. You notice the swastika-looking graphic and the simlar tattoo on Junko's thigh? It's actually a symbol that predates Adolf and the Hitlerians, as we explained a while back at this post. We've had these posters for several years but had no luck finding the movie, so we finally gave up and decided to just upload the art. We think it's worth sharing even without info about the film, and hopefully you think so too.
If it helps to persuade you, when you're an old woman you'll look back on even your worst one night stands with nostalgia.
Vintage thrillers and films often used Mexico as a setting, and we very much enjoy when that happens, due to our own numerous trips to the country and the many fond memories they produced. Wade Miller's 1950 novel Devil May Care takes readers to Mexico and does a better job of it than most books we've read. The trip happens when soldier of fortune Biggo Venn is sent to Ensenada on a mission that promises to profit him $10,000. Unfortunately, Biggo's contact turns up murdered, and out of caution he decides the smartest move is to wait for the unknown killer or killers to reveal themselves. He lays low and plays the role of gringo tourist. While doing so he meets up with a hard luck American named Jinny and a beautiful local named Pabla, both of whom are romantic interests, though in Jinny's case it's a love-hate dynamic.
Plenty happens with Jinny and Pabla, but Biggo's most portentous encounter is with fellow soldier of fortune Lew Hardesty, who's not only a rival suitor for both women, but keeps trying to horn in on Biggo's caper. The two eventually get into a vicious fight that settles nothing except that Biggo, who's ten years older, is losing his edge (though he dislocates Hardesty's jaw before the man pushes it back into place and comes at Biggo like a whirlwind). It's a good scene in a fun book. In fact, we think Devil May Care is Wade Miller (a pseudonym for authors Bob Wade and Bill Miller) at his/their best. The story is well paced, exciting, sometimes sad, and often funny. The authors use the rough-edged mercenaries-at-large premise brilliantly, as in this exchange between Biggo and Hardesty:
Biggo growled, “I thought you were in Bolivia.” Just because he had met one of his own kind made the outlook no brighter. Hardesty was a comrade but something less than a friend. He had a knack for showing up where he wasn't wanted.
“I was. Now I'm here.”
“Have you ever spent a summer in Bolivia? Very hot.”
Biggo understood the old pattern. Hardesty had been on the wrong side, whichever side happened to be losing that year. “Yes, Lew, I was thinking about you only the other night.”
“I love you too.”
“I know that. I remember the time you let me go out after that tiger in the Malay with a jimmied gun.”
Hardesty laughed. “That was a fine joke. Those man-killers are always old tigers, anyway. You've got more teeth than he had. Was that any worse than shipping me that opium in Transjordan? I sat in that mud jail for two months until one of your shells knocked out a wall.”
Biggo laughed in turn. “That was the gunner's fault. He'd promised me a direct hit.”
Much of the dialogue features similar banter, and not just between the soldiers. Hard luck Jinny can quip with the best of them:
Jinny said faintly, “I thought you went to jail.” She looked ready to be sick. She held a cracker halfway to her mouth, forgotten.
“Can't keep a good man down, honey.”
“What's that got to do with you?”
In the end the killers reveal themselves and Biggo—by now seeking revenge as well as a payoff—brings hell directly to their doorstep, or in this case to their yacht in the harbor. The climax brings a surprise or two, and Biggo's fate hinges upon who to trust, and who not to. Devil May Care is a wide-open sort of tale about dangerous men, but its title proves to be contradictory. Biggo pretends not to care about anything except the next mission and the next exotic port of call, but his acceptance of his own aging and his slim hope for retirement and a restful old age matter—in the end—more than anything else. The book has some moments that might make modern readers quail, but all the portrayals and reactions make sense in context. We loved this one.
What does an athlete do when she becomes the sport?
This poster was made for the Japanese movie Hishū monogatari, known in English as A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness, and strangely, though it gives absolutely no indication, it's a sports movie. Well, in the same way Jerry Maguire is a sports movie. It's a drama wrapped in sports. It deals with a golfer and model played by Yoko Shiraki who's picked by the editor of a sport/fashion magazine to be transformed into a star. She can golf fine. That's not a problem at all. She wins her first tournament—despite fainting twice—and is an overnight sensation. The problems come in the form of pressure, rivalries, crowds, modeling sessions (including in a bikini), television appearances (in a bikini), beauty treatments, elocution lessons, and more, all decided upon by roomfuls of men who see her merely as a profit center (in a bikini).
Some movies are simply ahead of their time. This one hits on an entire spectrum of current conversation, including how the expectations on female athletes are greater in various ways than in men's sports, especially the demand that they be beautiful and charming. But because this is a Japanese film, the plot soon shunts into the realm of the bizarre—a hit-and-run accident and blackmail. The shift in tone is not really a surprise, since the movie was adapted from a manga by Kajihara Kazuki. We liked the sports-focused first half better. Even so, Hishū monogatari is a decent effort, worth a watch, in our opinion. There's some confusion on Western sites about the premiere date, but the Japanese Movie Database has it opening today in 1977. It isn't the first golf-oriented Japanese movie we've run across. See here.
The most inhospitable season just got worse.
Shelley Winters, née Shirley Schrift, was one of the top actresses in Hollywood for five decades. Her notable films are many, and include A Place in the Sun, Night of the Hunter, Lolita, Alfie, The Poseidon Adventure, and even Cleopatra Jones. The above photo sees her in moll mode and was made for her 1948 crime drama Larceny. It's yet another film we haven't seen, but we'll get to it.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1937—Chamberlain Becomes Prime Minister
Arthur Neville Chamberlain, who is known today mainly for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938 which conceded the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany and was supposed to appease Adolf Hitler's imperial ambitions, becomes prime minister of Great Britain. At the time Chamberlain is the second oldest man, at age sixty-eight, to ascend to the office. Three years later he would give way to Winston Churchill.
1930—Chrysler Building Opens
In New York City, after a mere eighteen months of construction, the Chrysler Building opens to the public. At 1,046 feet, 319 meters, it is the tallest building in the world at the time, but more significantly, William Van Alen's design is a landmark in art deco that is celebrated to this day as an example of skyscraper architecture at its most elegant.
1969—Jeffrey Hunter Dies
American actor Jeffrey Hunter dies of a cerebral hemorrhage after falling down a flight of stairs and sustaining a skull fracture, a mishap precipitated by his suffering a stroke seconds earlier. Hunter played many roles, including Jesus in the 1961 film King of Kings, but is perhaps best known for portraying Captain Christopher Pike in the original Star Trek pilot episode "The Cage".
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