She's going to get rich even if it costs everything you have.
Lionel White is a solid author, one we've enjoyed several times. In Marilyn K. he sets a challenge for himself. He takes the hoariest cliché—a stranded woman by the roadside with a suitcase—and runs with it as far and fast as he can. She's a mobster's girlfriend, the suitcase contains $350,000, she may have killed someone, she's possibly being chased by dangerous people, the hero should ditch her but she's a real sexpot, etc., etc. This is a film noir-style story in which the protagonist finds himself in deeper quicksand with each passing chapter. And as in film noir, he's moth-to-flame with a femme fatale who seems certain to destroy him. He needs to figure out if he's being set up, avoid murderous mobsters, try not to get arrested, and keep his dick in his pants long enough to have a good long think about all of the preceding. The last challenge is the hardest by far. In the end there's a twist—more of a switcheroo—that you'll see through immediately, after which the book resolves in suitably noir fashion. Despite some lapses this is a decent tale. But when White is on form, he's great. Marilyn K. is from 1960, and the cover art is by Harry Schaare.
Technically it's a two-three punch but who's counting?
Above are Japanese posters for two Hong Kong martial arts actioners from the immortal Bruce Lee—1971's Tang shan da xiong, aka The Big Boss, and 1972's Jing mo mun, aka Fist of Fury. You notice the numbers on these, 2, and 3. They didn't premier in Japan until 1974, which meant they showed there after 1973's worldwide hit Enter the Dragon. So when these two films finally traversed the East China Sea, they were cleverly marketed as Lee's second and third karate epics to fans rabid for more high kicking adventure. There's an alternate Jing mo min poster of far lesser quality than what you see above, but we've included it anyway, below. We have plenty more Lee in the site, so if you're interested click his keywords.
Okay, class, now let's see if you think math is boring.
This photo shows U.S. actress Janis Paige wearing a swimsuit covered with lightning bolts, which we can only assume was made by someone who forgot that water and lightning can be a lethal mix. Paige also has a nifty lightning bolt pointer which she's using to highlight equations having to do with gamma rays. We doubt they're legit, but what actually was legit is Paige's career. It spanned six decades and included several notable films, but her star shone brightest on Broadway, where she was a huge hit in Remains To Be Seen, The Pajama Game, and other extravaganzas. We don't have a date on this photo, but figure around 1950. See another here.
Ugh. The last thing I remember is running out of Jell-O shots then washing down Jell-O powder with straight vodka. Sometimes I'm too smart for my own good.
Elmore Leonard once advised fledgeling authors to not write things readers tend to skip. He meant long descriptive passages and lengthy interior musings. Benjamin Appel's 1934 crime novel Brain Guy has a lot of both. The narrative is packed with paragraph after paragraph of description and rumination, many of them as long as a page. They're all stylishly written, though, so maybe Elmore should have added: “Unless you're really good at that sort of thing.”
His body was host to many disputing beings, walking drunken as if he were striding down some nebulous stairway of dream on queer missions, inevitable, sadistic. His head whirled and it wasn't from fresh morning but late night, his brain sick from wildness, now, suddenly lucid, or regretful, by turns melancholy, exalted, mournful, stolid. And all these moods knew one union, the walking forward of the body containing them.
That's stylish writing. It's also writing that doesn't tell you as much as it should. If this confident prose moved the story or helped us to understand the character better, we'd like it more. But too often neither happens, which means, even as well written as the book's long passages sometimes are, they try the patience.
Still, some of Appel's turns of phrase are epic. In one scene a character is stabbed to death and drops a bottle he's holding. Appel writes that it fell from the man's slack fingers and, “the ginger ale ran out from the narrow neck as if it too had been murdered.” All of this clever prose encompasses a nobody-to-somebody crime story that, at its core, could be more compelling, but we may try Appel again. He's fun to read.
Welch makes world's most unwieldy laundry technique look like a good idea.
This piece of art has two things going for it—it was painted by Italian genius Enzo Nistri, and his painting is of Raquel Welch. We know—we had you already at Enzo. Consider Welch a bonus. El Verdugo is Spanish for “the executioner,” and this is a Spanish poster, despite the artist being Italian. The film is better known as 100 Rifles, a 1969 western about a revolutionary who knocks off a bank to fund the purchase of guns. It's counterculture all the way—Burt Reynolds plays a half-Native American named Yaqui Joe, Jim Brown co-stars as a lawman sent to recover the cash, Welch is also supposed to be Indian, and the subtext of revolution was meant to mirror the social unrest in the U.S. We wrote about it in detail here. Welch takes a shower in the middle of the film, and you see below we have some promo images of that. A clothed shower? It's silly. Welch did not do nudity*, so the filmmakers should have simply left the scene out. Within the script the shower is an ambush so she can get some Mexican soldiers' guards down then ventilate them, but just set up the ambush a different way. Don't know about you, but if we came across someone showering clothed, whatever the circumstances, we'd immediately start looking over our shoulders because it's strange. That said, the photos are fun. They show what a huge sex symbol Welch was. Douse her with water and men got hot and bothered seeing hardly any skin at all. El Verdugo opened in Spain today in 1969. *Regarding Welch nude scenes, there's a nude photo of a woman who resembles Welch and is believed by some to have been taken on a movie set. It's plausible in the sense that back then actors got naked for scenes that were nude in scripts but not meant to be shown nude or fully nude onscreen—such as here and here—but we doubt Welch did it.
The jail hasn't been made that can hold Honey Blake.
Above is a fantastic poster for the women-in-prison flick Betrayed Women, starring Beverly Michaels. The promo art might make you think this is something other than a bottom drawer b-melodrama, but think again. Michaels plays a gun moll named Honey Blake who gets tossed in the pen after being convicted as an accessory to armed robbery, and she immediately starts plotting to cut her sentence short via escape, while a cruel warden is intent on breaking her spirit—and possibly her cranium. Unintentionally humorous lines of dialogue include, “What is this? A cootie inspection?” and, “Ahh, who knows what goes on in this cockeyed world?” and, “I'm telling you that Blake dame's dynamite!” Michaels is the type of actress who somehow always managed to elevate weak material, but even she can do only so much. The movie has its moments, but not enough of them. It will generate a few laughs, though. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1955.
Dashed hopes and bad dreams fuel classic pulp collection.
Above, a cover for Nightmare Town, which is a collection of four short stories Dashiell Hammett wrote for pulp magazines between 1927 and 1933. You get 1924's, “Nightmare Town,” best of the four tales in our opinion, which deals with a tough guy who fetches up in a lawless desert way station and soon finds himself in the middle of violence and murder. It's similar to Red Harvest, Hammett's novel of another town lashed by a bloody hellstorm, except this novella length tale ends almost apocalyptically. The other tales here are 1925's “The Scorched Face,” 1933's “Albert Pastor at Home,” and 1925's “Corkscrew.” All are good, though we think Hammett is better in longer formats. You get illustrations too. Those are not very good, objectively speaking, but you're buying this purely for the fiction anyway. Also, the 1950 Dell edition you see here is a collectible mapback edition, which is a bonus. But no matter what, Hammett always hits the spot—usually a major organ or artery.
What a hypnotic sight. Maybe one day we'll have a Space Force and threaten to rain fire down upon the planet.
In this photo made today in 1969, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and a crowd of others watch Apollo 11 lift off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Back then it must have seemed almost miraculous. A bunch of theoretical scientists in the U.S. and Soviet Union said manned spaceflight would work, the politicians went, “Great—here's some billions of dollars or rubles to make it happen.” And years later it did when Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. But Apollo 11 was the big one, in our opinion. It's one thing to toss a person into space in a hollow cannonball like Sputnik, and another bowl of pancake batter altogether to send people to another world and bring them back alive. Opinions vary, of course, but we think this flight was and remains the most important rung on humanity's celestial ladder. As things are developing, with countries reneging on their promises not to exploit space for monetary or military gain, it would be better for both the cosmos and Earth if there are no more rungs for a while. Neil Armstrong's quote, when he set foot on the moon, was, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” We've taken a giant leap backwards since then.
I've already had nine episodes. Once I have you my season will be complete.
Above you see a cover for Mack Reynolds' Episode on the Riviera, published in 1961 by Monarch Books. If you check Reynolds' Wikipedia profile it tells you that he wrote five sex novels from 1961 to 1964, and that this is one of them. Everyone's got bills to pay, right? Well, we don't know about the other four, but this one isn't a sex novel, or even a sleaze novel. While the language is bit more frank than usual and a couple of then-esoteric acts are implied, it's actually a David Dodge influenced lightweight drama, and it's as confidently put across as anything Dodge ever wrote. Most of the action takes place at French Riviera casinos, beaches, and parties, and in main character Steve Cogswell's travel agency, one of whose customers a particular summer week is Nadine Whiteley, a woman determined to solve what she perceives as her own sexual problem by having an anonymous affair with any suitable swinging dick she stumbles across. Cogswell seems to fit the bill, but he has his own sexual quirks. Just when these two look set to get together, both their exes arrive from the U.S—Nadine's to blackmail her into marriage so he can get his mitts on her money, and Steve's to win him back after she's betrayed him with his best friend. While the sexual problems of both characters are imperfectly handled, overall this one is a winner, an easy and effervescent summer read.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1969—Woodstock Festival Begins
The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, which was billed as an Aquarian Exposition, takes place on a 600 acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York. It would run for three sometimes rainy days and feature thirty-two acts performing at all hours of the day and night. Today the festival is regarded as one of the greatest events in popular music history.
1977—Radio Signal Arrives from Deep Space
An unidentified radio signal, nicknamed the WOW Signal for the notation a scientist made on a computer readout, is briefly detected by the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) project's Big Ear radio telescope. Despite a month of searching the same section of space, the signal is never found again.
1912—U.S. Invades Nicaragua
United States Marines invade Nicaragua to support the U.S.-backed government installed there after José Santos Zelaya had resigned three years earlier. American troops remain for eleven years.
1936—Last Public Execution in U.S.
Rainey Bethea, who had been convicted of rape and murder, is hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky in what is the last public execution performed in the United States.
1995—Mickey Mantle Dies
New York Yankees outfielder Mickey Mantle dies of complications from cancer, after receiving a liver transplant. He was one of the greatest baseball players ever, but he was also an alcoholic and played drunk, hungover, and unprepared. He once said about himself, "Sometimes I think if I had the same body and the same natural ability and someone else's brain, who knows how good a player I might have been."
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