The artist is actually the one who's out of this world.
Above is the Italian poster for the sci-fi/horror movie La cosa da un altro mondo, which opened in Italy today in 1952 but originally premiered in the U.S. in 1951 as The Thing from Another World. We talked about it several years ago while sharing its Belgian promo. Today's effort is the work of Italian illustrator Sandro Symeoni, a genius who painted in so many modes he can be unrecognizable from piece to piece. See some of his best work here, here, and here.
Sommer photos paint a portrait of relaxation.
These photos show German actress Elke Sommer painting in the yard of her Los Angeles home. They're obviously staged, because we don't think she'd choose a hard tile surface to sit on while doing her work, but the shots are nice. We don't have a date on them, but if we had to guess we'd say they're from the late 1960s. Sommer began painting when she was young, and continued throughout her film career and afterward. She once told an interviewer, “I am really closest to me being myself with paint. I paint anyplace. When I am at home I paint outside, in the nude, for up to eight hours at a stretch. I paint with acrylics, so when I'm finished I just jump in the pool.” In 1984 Sommer published a book titled Painting with Elke Sommer, and had a television show of the same title during the 1980s, on which she wore clothes, sadly. So, what does Elke paint? See an example below.
Good morning, assistants. Welcome to basic filmmaking. Today's exercise is coffee-brewing for Miss Taylor.
This shot of Elizabeth Taylor could be called playful if it weren't for the somewhat menacing look on her face. We figure she's aiming both her expression and her water gun at the production assistants—aka indentured servants. The photo was made when she was filming her 1954 drama Rhapsody.
Uh... well... I might consider it, Gloria. Would this third naked soul be male or female?
Above is another high quality cover from Quarter Books, this time for 1949's Three Naked Souls by Ross Sloane. The art isn't credited in the book, but it was painted by Fred Rodewald. You see his signature on the original art, rudely covered up by the folks at Quarter. The book is about an upper crust woman named Gloria Ashton trapped in a bad marriage who's tempted by her husband's best friend. According to the title page, it was published earlier as Three Lovers, but we found no reference to it anywhere. Possibly it was credited to a different name, and with such an anodyne title is simply imposible to isolate online. In any case, nice work from Rodewald. If you want to see him at his best look here and here.
They're a sight to behold.
This is a cool little item that's been making the rounds on Twitter lately. It's the VHS box cover art for the horror flick Videodrome, directed by David Cronenberg and starring Debbie Harry and James Woods. As you know, we rarely post box art, but this one needed to be seen. The movie needs to be seen too—to be believed. It deals with a Toronto television producer who stumbles upon an illicit snuff channel, but finds that what's going on behind the broadcasts is even worse. It's Cronenberg at his weirdest. The movie premiered today in 1983.
1950 jazz mystery tries to take a step forward with an innovative approach.
When you maintain a website that discusses vintage paperback art, you stop being amazed when a cover isn't credited. This one for Bart Spicer's 1950 novel Blues for the Prince is unattributed, and that's too bad, because the painter put together a nice scene. What's unique about the novel, as you might guess from the evocative art, is its setting within the black American jazz community (the blonde singer at centerstage does not materialize within the narrative, by the way). The plot revolves around a white detective named Carney Wilde hired to disprove claims that a murdered jazz legend's music was all plagiarized. Wilde at first ignores the homicide because it's unrelated to his assignment of determining the provenance of the songs, but he soon finds that the plagiarism claims and the killing are intertwined.
Fictional detectives are usually idealized creations. They're the toughest, smartest, and most irresistible of men, so why not the most egalitarian too? Wilde is basically color blind, even within his interior monologues—which is to say, he's not faking his lack of prejudice. It's an interesting choice by Spicer, as Wilde moves through an entirely black world, but proceeds without seeming to notice anything in the way of major ethnic or cultural differences. Obviously, this is because Spicer's narrative constructs no differences. He doesn't write of any notable poverty, impactful racism, or police brutalilty. Wilde does, however, see something of a difference in class. The dead musician—Harold Morton Prince, aka the Prince—has left behind a rich family that has plenty to protect. Wilde is firmly on their side, not least because the Prince is one of his idols. But in investigating the crime he learns that legends are humans too, and that scratching the surface of an idol often reveals something beneath the gleam.
The tale benefits from its unusual setting. It's solidly if unspectacularly written, we think, and improves as it progresses, ushered toward its climax by a nightclub scene in which Spicer shows off his musical knowledge by taking nearly an entire chapter to describe a hot jazz set. His approach to the story in general is a question worth exploration. If not for a few descriptions and one or two incidents of specifically aimed language, Blues for the Prince could be like many other mid-century novels set within the jazz world—i.e. these could all be white characters and you'd have essentially the same book. So Spicer really did two nearly opposite things here: he foregrounded black characters in a mid-century novel in a way most authors would not, and he suggested a potential evolution of black-populated fiction to a state of pure entertainment devoid of topical issues. If the novel were just a little better it would probably be widely discussed today. As it is, this jazz mystery is still worth a read.
They won't be playing by themselves for long.
Above are two 1950s-era Technicolor lithographs featuring a pair of models with playing cards. Only the second is playing solitaire. The first seems to be spokesmodeling: “Call now and you can win a deck of enormous cards!” The first litho is called, “Ace of Hearts,” and the second, which has been retouched to the extent that it has the look of a painting, is titled, “No Cheating.” We don't know who the women are. That's true of about half the lithos we share. Occasionally, though, someone emails us with an identification, so feel free. We're always around.
Learn how to be a killer in one easy novel.
Above is a colorful cover for Peter Rabe's Le tueur, a book better known as Anatomy of a Killer. It was published as the latter in 1960, with this French translation from Éditions de la Trevisse appearing the next year. Obviously, there was a better known novel—actually a novela—by John. D. Voelker, aka Robert Traver, called Anatomy of a Murder that was published in 1958 and became an acclaimed Jimmy Stewart movie in 1959. Why did Rabe choose such a similar title? No idea. But the title tells the story: detailed examination of a professional hitman, as the narrative follows him from killing to killing. The art on this is by Jacques Blondeau, who painted numerous book covers during the 1960s. Based on this nice effort we'll stay alert for more of his work.
Not quite a jacket, but not quite a dress.
We were thinking shirt-dress when we first saw this promo image of German actress Marlies Draeger (or Dräger if you prefer), but it isn't really a shirt. It's more like a jacket. So we looked up shirt-jacket and were surprised to learn they exist, but they're called jacket-dresses, and they prove that there's no niche of women's fashion that hasn't been filled. Draeger/Dräger is wearing hers in a shot made for her 1968 thriller Dynamit in grüner Seide, known in English as Death and Diamonds, and she looks amazing.
Some men go head over heels for a woman.
We have another of issue of Adam magazine for you to feast your eyes upon. This one was published in January 1973, and the cover illustrates the story, “Death Rail,” in which author Jack Ritchie asks the eternal philosophical question, “What do men think about when they are falling?” The answer is probably: how to land on the other guy. And what does a woman think about? In the story she congratulates herself for having inherited everything that belongs to her falling husband, and all just by making him erroneously believe she was screwing his business partner, and luring the two into a balcony fight. And the twist, unrevealed until the last sentence, is that it was all a misdirection play. She actually had been cheating, but with the chauffeur, not the business partner. Pretty good work from Ritchie, and another excellent effort from Adam.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1969—Allende Meteorite Falls in Mexico
The Allende Meteorite, the largest object of its type ever found, falls in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The original stone, traveling at more than ten miles per second and leaving a brilliant streak across the sky, is believed to have been approximately the size of an automobile. But by the time it hit the Earth it had broken into hundreds of fragments.
1985—Matt Munro Dies
English singer Matt Munro, who was one of the most popular entertainers on the international music scene during the 1960s and sang numerous hits, including the James Bond theme "From Russia with Love," dies from liver cancer at Cromwell Hospital, Kensington, London.
1958—Plane Crash Kills 8 Man U Players
British European Airways Flight 609 crashes attempting to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport in Munich, West Germany. On board the plane is the Manchester United football team, along with a number of supporters and journalists. 20 of the 44 people on board die in the crash.
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