Player, hustler, dealer, pimp.
Here's a little something for the blaxploitation bin, an Italian locandina, or playbill, for the 1973 gangster classic The Mack, starring Max Julien, Richard Pryor, and Carol Speed. In Italy it was called Mack - Il marciapiede della violenza, aka, “Mack – sidewalk of violence,” and if anyone saw it based on this poster they must have been surprised by the African American cast. We don't have an Italian release date for the movie, but it opened in the U.S. today in 1973. From our non-professional perspective it's a pretty important flick. You can see what we wrote about it here.
Thirteen classic stories of girl meets corpse.
Originally posted Decrmber 1, 2011
The woman who finds herself standing over a dead (or possibly drugged) man is a classic motif in true crime magazine cover art. Sometimes the woman is responsible for what's happened, while other times she simply has the bad luck to stumble into the situation. Covers of this type, you're probably already aware, fall under the category of Good Girl Art, with the “good” referring to the woman’s appearance, rather than her morals. Above and below are unlucky thirteen examples from mid-century crime magazines, with art from Barye Phillips, Jay Scott Pike, George Gross, Jack Rickard, and others. We borrowed one of these from Fringepop, and most of the rest we culled from online auctions where they’ve been languishing for months if not years. Feel inclined to collect a few classic true crime magazines? There are plenty of choices out there right now. Thanks to the original uploaders.
These little apples are so adorable. They remind me of me before I had my college growth spurt.
It's time once again for a promo photo of U.S. actress Elaine Stewart, a favorite around the sprawling Pulp Intl. mega-complex. Stewart appeared in a dozen films in mostly supporting roles in 1952 and 1953, a pretty fast clip, but tapered off sharply afterward and was out of show business by the time she was thirty-four. She had a child with husband Merrill Heatter around then, and another soon after, so that's probably why her career ended, but we greatly enjoy anytime we see her, whether onscreen or in photos. She will return to grace our website again.
Anything that other Betty does can do I can do better.
Bettie Page wasn't the only mid-century celebrity who made uncredited appearances on book covers. This front for Allan Horn's The Teaser features Betty Brosmer, she of the extreme hourglass figure with its famed eighteen inch waist. This cover appeared at the height of her modeling career, and since Novel Books wasn't a major imprint, we wonder if they paid for her image. We doubt it. The narrative here deals with a young woman who marries a seventy-year-old millionaire, and this is not the first time Horn explored this idea. He used it as the premise for 1966's, The Beast in the Bedroom. He's suspected of being a pseudonym. If so he wrote for several companies—Midwood, Vega/Tropic, Private Editions, and Playtime. That's getting around. We'll keep on the alert for more info on Mr. Horn. Maybe we'll even read one of his books. We saw Whore from Maupin Street cheap, and who can resist a title like that?
Shit. I knew moving up to the behemoth division was a bad idea.
Above is a promo image made of Robert Ryan when he was starring in the gritty boxing noir The Set-Up. There's good news and bad news for Ryan here. The bad news is he's losing. The good news is he'll survive because his opponent only kills to eat. The film premiered today in 1949, and you can read what we wrote about it and see more promo images here.
No time to wallow in the mire.
Above is a poster for the Roger Corman produced b-movie Swamp Women, which starred Marie Windsor, Carole Matthews, Beverly Garland, and Mike Connors, the latter acting under the name Touch Connors. Connors was Armenian-American and thought—correctly, we suspect—that his real name Krekor Ohanian wasn't going to help his show business career. He accumulated at least twenty credits as Touch Connors before he jettisoned it and eventually became the guy everyone remembers from the cop show Mannix.
In Swamp Women Connors plays an oil prospector boating around the Louisiana bayou who stumbles across a group of escaped female convicts searching for a stash of diamonds. Among their number is an undercover police woman charged with finding the stones and apprehending the group. It's fully as ridiculous as it sounds, and with Corman at the helm you know it's cheap, too. Plus this was only his fourth full directing gig. But we give him credit—he really made his cast slog through the Louisiana mire, which means you get realism to offset the use of stock footage.
The thing about Corman is that he always did more with less. But despite his particular set of skills, the script here hamstrings any attempt at making a decent flick. As an example of what we mean, Mike Connors doesn't go into the swamp alone. He takes his girlfriend with him, and she's eaten by an alligator. Hours later he's smooching the undercover policewoman. Not as part of a ruse or escape attempt. Just because he digs her. His girlfriend was a gold digging pain in the ass, but still, you'd think seeing her ripped to pieces would cool his ardor. But they don't call him Touch Connors for nothing. Plenty more fish in the bayou.
If you look on Wikipedia Swamp Women is classified as a film noir. That's purely comical. It's a proto-exploitation flick along the lines of what American International Pictures would routinely do fifteen years later with more skin and better efx. By the time the swamp women finally reach the site of the hidden diamonds and dig up a box, you'll be hoping they open it and find a new script and more investment money. But no such luck. Corman would do better later. Windsor, Matthews, and Garland had done better in the past. That's show business—one day you're at the top, the next you're sinking in the bog. Swamp Women premiered in the U.S. today in 1956.
Everyone knows it's impolite to stare. Well, almost everyone.
When you look out your window there may be nobody on the street, but The Girl Watcher has come to the rescue with some time killing imagery to brighten your lockdown. Only two issues of this magazine were ever published, as far as we know, with this one coming this month in 1959. Inside you get plenty of photos by lensman Earl Leaf, including rare shots of Mamie Van Doren, Susan Harrison, June Wilkinson, Danish model Elsa Sorenson (aka Dane Arden), and some unidentifieds. While meant to be humorous, this magazine is textbook mid-century sexism, something scholars could use to fuel semesters of women's studies classes. It speaks of women as prey to be stalked, ambushed, and captured, and while it's not meant to be taken anything close to literal, it still carries a powerful suggestion that male desire trumps female self-determination. In general this attitude has changed for the better since then, with the result that the American mating game has greatly improved. While in general men still look at women almost anywhere, most understand there are unaccepable and acceptable times and places to do so—bars and parties being good examples of the latter. Men look, and always will. Women look too, and always have, more subtly. And increasingly, both look at digital apps—which is not nearly as much fun as in the flesh, but it certainly confers women more power and safety, even if it's inherently restricting in terms of choice. The Pulp Intl. girlfriends would never have chosen us if we'd had to entice them with online profiles designed to sell us as perfect matches, but when randomly thrust into the same social gathering, the concept of perfect did not apply—it was game over folks! Um, forty-plus scans below.
I knew you were really a guy all along, darling. There were clues—your walk, your love of violent sports, the bulge in your shorts...
We praise paperback art generally. We see merit in most efforts. But it raises the question: What is an unsuccessful piece of art? Well, we think this 1952 Pocket Books cover for Edgar Mittelholzer's 1951 novel Shadows Move Among Them is a major oops from illustrator Tom Dunn. He was better on other covers, but the guy Dunn wrong here. While it would be absolutely awesome if this book were about a love affair with a transvestite, it's actually a whites-in-the-tropics novel, with the overheated land this time being British Guiana.
Mittleholzer was born and raised there, so he was writing what he knew. Plotwise, you have an isolated colony of people, which in an eerie precursor to Jim Jones and Jonestown, is led by a charismatic minister. This person, Reverend Harmston, calls his enclave Berkelhoost, and its inhabitants are there to escape civilization for a more liberated way of living. Into this setting comes the main character Gregory Hawke, who's the reverend's nephew and is sorely in need of a life reset. He's described as a shadow of his former self, and others in the colony are suggested to be mere shadows also.
Mittelholzer is considered one of the most important novelists to originate from the Caribbean (for those inclined to lump a region so geographically and culturally diverse into its own genre). Mittleholzer was a serious, ambitious writer, and he was prolific too, cranking out twenty-six books. While his family was white, some genetic quirk left him “swarthy,” as he described himself, and it was a disappointment to his father. This burden of ethnic inadequacy informed his fiction, and gave his whites-in-the-tropics stories more than the usual emotional heft.
Mittelholzer never made a fortune writing, but he's had a small revival the last twenty years, and many of his books are available. Since he was born in 1905 he never got to experience this increased interest. In fact, he died earlier than he should have, via suicide at age sixty. Apparently, this act was partly caused by his inability to make more than a subsistence living at his chosen profession. It's a fate that's befallen everyone from Sylvia Plath to John Kennedy Toole, so he's in esteemed company. We haven't read Shadows Move Among Them but we may fit it into our reading list, because as foreigners living abroad we identify with these kinds of books. If we do we'll report back.
Who needs sunscreen when you have imagination?
This photo of Italian actress Carla Brait using the local flora to improvise a little shade was made when she was appearing in the 1973 giallo flick I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale. Translated literally that means, “The bodies show traces of carnal violence.” For its U.S. release it was retitled Torso, which we think was a good move. Brait appeared in fifteen movies during her career, and speaking of torsos and good moves, she often played dancers, since that was her other profession. When she eventually retired from cinema she became a dance instructor. We've been watching a lot of giallos the last year or so, which means we may see her in Torso later.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
Winston Churchill resigns as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom amid indications of failing health. He had suffered a mild stroke during the summer of 1949, and another, more severe stroke, in June 1953. News of these events were kept from the public and from Parliament, who were told that Churchill was suffering from exhaustion. After his retirement he suffered yet another stroke in February 1956, but survived for nine more years before finally dying of a fourth stroke in 1965.
1976—Howard Hughes Dies
Eccentric American billionaire Howard Hughes, one of the world's richest men, and a former movie magnate and aviation pioneer, dies on an airplane en route from Mexico to Texas. After years of self neglect, he is almost unrecognisable and fingerprints are used to identify his body. In addition, he is determined to have died without a will, meaning twenty-two cousins inherit his fortune.
2005—Rainier III Dies
Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, whose 50-plus year reign made him one of the longest ruling monarchs of the 20th century, dies of heart and kidney conditions after more than a year of progressively worse health. Rainier is probably best known outside Europe for marrying American actress Grace Kelly, and he was buried in Monaco next to her, twenty-three years after she had perished in a car accident.
1943—Conrad Veidt Dies
German actor Conrad Veidt, who starred in films such as The Man Who Laughs and The Thief of Baghdad, but was most famous for playing the Nazi antagonist Major Strasser in the all-time cinema classic Casablanca, dies of a heart attack on a golf course in Los Angeles, just six months after Casablanca was released.
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