When there's a blonde on the premises anything can happen.
Any movie called Dangerous Blondes is a mandatory watch, if only because it might give us insight into the mind of PI-1, the most dangerous blonde we know. We learned nothing useful on that front, but the movie was entertaining. It stars Allyn Joslyn as a famous mystery author who sometimes helps the cops but mostly gets on their nerves. Does that sound familiar? 1937's Super-Sleuth, which we watched earlier this year, also features a celebrity crimesolver who sometimes helps but mostly gets on the nerves of the cops. And of course there's that Thin Man celebrity sleuth guy. Hollywood, it seems, has always beaten dead horses.
As it happens, though, the filmmakers beat life right back into this particular carcass. Dangerous Blondes is a cut above because of Evelyn Keyes, who'd be interesting to watch even clipping coupons or digging holes in the garden for her spring magnolias—let alone in a meaty role co-headlining a high budget mystery. She plays Joslyn's better half as the two try to solve the murder of a society lady laid low in a photography studio. Simply put, she's tops in screen magnetism and elevates everything she's in.
Nothing else about the movie is exemplary, but all of it is pleasant and competent. You get a locked room mystery, an amusing lead male, a bumbling inspector, a bit of slapstick from the fringe castmembers, and a resolution complete with the classic line, “If it hadn't been for your meddling I'd have gotten away with this.” They don't make 'em like this anymore. Actually, no—strike that. The two Knives Out movies play in these waters, and the Hulu series Only Murders in the Building is exactly what Dangerous Blondes is, but updated for modern tastes. You should probably watch all of the aforementioned. The latter premiered in the U.S. today in 1943.
Vintage shockumentary explores the evils of witchcraft.
The above promo was made for the mondo style occult documentary Angeli bianchi… angeli neri, known in English as Witchcraft ’70 and White Angel, Black Angel. It opened in Japan today in 1970 after premiering the previous year in Italy. In English “mondo” and “shockumentary” are synonymous terms, but foreign web pages sometimes say the latter is a misnomer. They don't explain how it's a misnomer, so until they do, this movie is both mondo and shockumentary. It was one of our first film write-ups, way back in 2008, before we decided PSGP's previous stint as an indie film reviewer gave us the excuse we needed to get all opinionated. Can you imagine us unopinionated at this point? You can experience it here.
Oshida and her friends run riot in the capital.
We're sticking with Japanese posters today. Here's one for the 1970 pinky violence flick Zubekô banchô: yume wa yoru hiraku, aka Tokyo Bad Girls, aka Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams. We showed you two other promos for this film, which were the standard and always fun tateken sizes. This is a rare bo-ekibari.
Maybe it's too soon to bring it up, but if you ever remarry maybe choose someone who isn't a Red Sox fan.
Awhile back we put together a small collection of vintage paperback covers featuring hanging figures. The above cover for Joseph Shearing's The Golden Violet is an addition to that group. Shearing was actually Margaret Gabrielle Vere Long, who earned acclaim writing numerous historical and gothic horror novels, with The Golden Violet part of the latter group. The cover on this Dell edition was painted by Barye Phillips. Side note: the Red Sox are going to miss the playoffs again, and they might even finish last. We're devastated—not. That's for you, Dan. With love, of course.
I just insured them for a million dollars. You think I'm actually going stand on things that valuable?
Trivia time, vintage Hollywood fans. Our subhead tells you all you need to identify the person in this photo, even though she's upside down. Give up? It's Betty Grable, whose famous gams were allegedly insured with Lloyd's of London for a cool milly. It's was her studio Twentieth Century Fox's doing, though some say it was a publicity stunt. Either way it worked. The free ink the insurance (or insurance fairytale) produced was priceless. It continues even today, obviously, as nearly everyone who writes about Grable mentions the policy. Grable once said, “I became a star for two reasons, and I'm standing on them.” But not in this photo.
Cosby and Culp go all out in gritty detective thriller.
Hickey & Boggs is not a good name for a movie unless it's a buddy action/comedy. You'd never look at the title and think: hardcore crime thriller. It makes us think of one time when we were brainstorming with an actor friend, trying to think of the worst possible title for an action/buddy comedy, and we came up with "Jackson and Frisbee." But title notwithstanding, hardcore drama is what you get with Hickey & Boggs. The plot, courtesy of future 48 Hours director/co-writer Walter Hill, follows two down-at-the-heels dicks played by Bill Cosby and Robert Culp as they're hired to locate a missing woman who somehow may hold the key to recovering $400,000 in loot from a bank heist. In typical detective movie fashion, Cosby and Culp deal with cops, crooks, and ambushes as they work their way to the center of a mystery that progresses from danger to personal tragedy.
You'll sometimes see Hickey & Boggs described as a modern film noir, but it doesn't fit the brief. The two detectives are cynical, broke, and alienated, and there are several night sequences, but we're not sure if those elements are enough to automatically make a noir. There's very little high-contrast cinematography, no flashbacks, no narration, no shadowplay, no dream sequences, no extremely skewed angle shots, and no legit femme fatale. Getting into specific iconography, there's no rain, no silhouetting, no mirrors or blinds, no smart aleck bartenders or cab drivers, and virtually no sexual innuendo.
If Hickey & Boggs is a film noir then scores of other 70's crime movies are too, from Serpico to Magnum Force. And if the net is that wide then film noir is a pointless distinction. The American Film Institute, whose categories are expert-derived, calls Hickey & Boggs a drama in the action and detective sub-genres. And, yes, they do categorize neo-noir. Hickey & Boggs didn't make the cut. It's very good, though. It takes an unblinking look at the unglamorous side of Los Angeles and de-mystifies the private dick business—for about the umpteenth time, but very effectively just the same. As long as you're willing to watch Cosby—and we're not suggesting you should be—it's worth your time. It premiered today in 1972.
Cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good.
We enjoyed an excellent tale not long ago in John and Ward Hawkins' natural disaster thriller A Man, a River, and a Girl, which was also published as The Floods of Fear by Corgi Books, as you see above. The striking art on this edition is by John Richards. You can read more about the book here.
I've got the wardrobe. Now I need a ship, a crew, and a parrot.
Above is a fun photo of U.S. actress Gay MacGill, who looks a bit like a pirate here on International Talk Like a Pirate Day, but is actually costumed as a Slaygirl from her only movie, the 1966 Matt Helm spy adventure The Silencers. The Slaygirls appeared in all four movies in the Matt Helm series, though they were barely there in the second entry Murderers' Row, and in The Wrecking Crew, the last movie, they became Slaymates. In either case, you can see some examples we shared from The Ambushers here, and another from The Silencers, here. And of course—arrrrr.
Horwitz Publications perfectly red the paperback market.
For a while we were tracking the possibly unlicensed usage by Australian imprint Horwitz Publications of celebrities on its paperback covers. We fell down on the job a bit. The last one we looked at was two years ago.
The red-haired model used above on Carter Brown's thriller No Halo for Hedy is Playboy centerfold and nightclub performer Colleen Farrington, who was the mother of actress Diane Lane. The book originally appeared in 1956, and the above reprint came in 1959. This photo used for the cover is rare. We've seen no other shot of Farrington in these capri pants. Presumably, at one point multiple frames from the session existed, but time disposes of such items. However, it can't diminish the beauty of this cover. You can see all of our Horwitz celeb covers by clicking here.
Revenge is a dish best served on land. Served at sea it might come back up the wrong way.
Mort Engle art fronts this Dell edition of Frank Kane's 1962 novel The Conspirators, the improbable tale of a tycoon named Howard Carter who takes an ill-fated yachting trip from New York City to the French Riviera and onward toward Crete and Turkey with his wife, lawyer, and various acquaintances. Carter is not a nice guy, while his guests are mainly sniveling, underhanded, and weak. Why then has he invited them onto his yacht? Good question. He plans to hold them helpless while the machinery of revenge churns. They tried to double-cross him on a land deal, which in reality was an elaborate loyalty test/entrapment he set up in the first place. He can't wait to see their faces when he reveals that they've profited nothing except maybe prison terms for embezzlement, and, stuck on the boat, they can do nothing to help themselves—except possibly beg for mercy.
But Carter hasn't considered that this disloyal crowd might fight back. They might, for example, knock him over the head and toss him overboard. We didn't blame them a bit for deep-sixing him. Carter is one of the meanest characters we've come across in fiction. There's an Ayn Randian shading to his portrayal, and you already know we hate Rand's objectivist horseshit. The land swindle was even over a parcel named Galt, just to make Kane's thinking clear. In any case, sending Carter over the side is not the end of the conspirators' problems, but we won't tell you more of the plot except to say that it's malarky. But Kane can write, so the story comes across mostly okay. We can't say we were enamored of him repeatedly describing one of the characters—a blonde woman—as “the snowtop.” That's just bizarre. But all authors have quirks. The Conspirators is an entertaining voyage.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1952—Chaplin Returns to England
Silent movie star Charlie Chaplin returns to his native England for the first time in twenty-one years. At the time it is said to be for a Royal Society benefit, but in reality Chaplin knows he is about to be banned from the States because of his political views. He would not return to the U.S. for twenty years.
1910—Duke of York's Cinema Opens
The Duke of York's Cinema opens in Brighton, England, on the site of an old brewery. It is still operating today, mainly as a venue for art films, and is the oldest continually operating cinema in Britain.
1975—Gerald Ford Assassination Attempt
Sara Jane Moore, an FBI informant who had been evaluated and deemed harmless by the U.S. Secret Service, tries to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford. Moore fires one shot at Ford that misses, then is wrestled to the ground by a bystander named Oliver Sipple.
1937—The Hobbit is Published
J. R. R. Tolkien publishes his seminal fantasy novel The Hobbit, aka The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Marketed as a children's book, it is a hit with adults as well, and sells millions of copies, is translated into multiple languages, and spawns the sequel trilogy The Lord of Rings.
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