Vintage Pulp Oct 11 2021
TOURIST TRAP
Shit, that waiter is fast! The meal sucked and his service was worse, but maybe we should have tipped him anyway.


This cover for the 1965 Ace Edition of Martha Albrand's 1959 novel A Day in Monte Carlo caught our eye for a couple of reasons. One is the nice art by an unknown, but the other is because we're almost finished with David Dodge's 1952 travel book The Poor Man's Guide to Europe, and it encompasses the south of France. Why read a 70 year-old travel book? We knew it would be like a priceless time capsule—and it is. We'll get to it a bit later, but suffice to say it made us see this cover as two vacationers stiffing a waiter who's now chasing them with a scimitar. As you'd expect, however, this is actually an espionage novel, and a well reviewed one.

But sadly, A Day in Monte Carlo, which you might categorize as romantic suspense, is silly. Its main flaw is that the central relationship between American spycatcher Mark and French dancer Fleur is built on the gimmick of love at first sight. They meet, fall in love within minutes, and agree to marry before half a day has passed. After that point one of the main sources of plot tension becomes: how can Mark carry on a love affair and still chase the great and mysterious Timgad, mastermind behind the Algerian rebel movement, who flits from the Sahel to the Riviera with the ease of a migratory hawk? Well, there's an answer to that, though not a good one.

Albrand was something of an expert at this type of fiction, having published other novels in the same vein, but reputations can deceive. A great writer, perhaps, could pull all this off, but Albrand, whose go-to lines are things like, “Oh, Mark, I was so afraid. Is it really worth it to love this much?” is not a great writer. At least not in this book. We've actually seen her compared to the aforementioned David Dodge, who in addition to travel books wrote fiction classics like To Catch a Thief. But while Dodge wrote with wit, panache, and a touch of romance, he also wrote with gravity and grit. A Day in Monte Carlo needs a dose of the latter two qualities. Onward and upward. 

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Femmes Fatales Jul 27 2021
AND HER LITTLE DOG TOO
I'm off to see my hair stylist, then I'm headed to the pet groomer. Conveniently, they're the same person.


Bet you didn't notice the dog at first, but there he is, such a happy boy, clutched to the bosom of French actress France Anglade. The beautiful mademoiselle Anglade was born in 1942 in Constantine, France, and if you can't quite place that town, that's because today it's in Algeria. See, the French thought of Algeria as just a southerly department of France, which must have made the locals who'd had their land taken over feel a little better about it. Anglade briefly took over French cinema, appearing in an amazing seventeen films from 1962 to 1964. She continued acting until 1994, and when all was said and done had starred in efforts such as Le plus vieux métier du monde, aka The Oldest Profession, 24 Hours To Kill, and Les bricoleurs, aka Who Stole the Body? This amazing photo first appeared in Cinémonde magazine in 1967.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 17 2019
A SHEIK OF THE TALE
Crossing this desert we'll eventually be reduced to wearing filthy, sweat-crusted rags, but I'm glad we started out looking so fabulous.


The pretty Harry Bennett cover art on this paperback won us over. Plus we wanted to read something set in the Sahara. Our trip to Morocco incubated strong interest in vintage fiction set in the region. The Captive of the Sahara was written in 1939 originally, with this Dell edition coming in 1950. British author E.M. Hull—Edith Maud to her friends, we bet—conjures up a tale here that's pure Arabian Nights, one of those florid books filled with words like “insensibly,” and where women suffer from heaving breasts and quickening pulses. This was Hull's realm. She published other books with similar settings, including 1919's The Sheik, which became a motion picture starring Rudolph Valentino

In The Captive of the Sahara virginal one percenter Isma Crichton travels for the sake of adventure to the City of Stones, and there in the trackless Algerian desert lustful Sidi Said bin Aissa decides to make dessert of her. Full disclosure: we're too corrupted to really enjoy books that hint around sex with poetic language. We're pulp guys. We can't help wanting these pale, trembling flowers to get properly laid, three or four detailed times, but that isn't Edith Maud's writerly plan. What happens is bin Aissa forces Isma to marry him, and a battle of wills follows as he tries to convince and/or bully her into relinqushing what he feels is rightfully his—her vagina.

Under these circumstances we were not keen to see Isma laid, properly or any other way. And that's effective writing for you. We had sneered through most of the book but now were rooting for Isma to escape her desert prison and return to dashing David—a childhood friend whose confession of love was the original trigger for her fearful (did we mention that virgin thing?) departure and eventual trip to the City of Stones. We have to give Edith Maud credit—she sucked us into to this tale, and we liked it in most parts, but we certainly shan't (see her influence?) be recommending it. It's overwrought, often silly, and at times viciously racist. But hey, if you're looking for a literary adventure-romance, this might be it.
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Vintage Pulp Jun 11 2016
THE HORNDOGS OF WAR
That's fine, mister—I want the other one anyway. Before the school got bombed she was my sex ed teacher.


This cover depicting a grown man and a pre-teen boy browsing a pair of working girls is kind of creepy, we know, but it's also well executed. Originally titled A Convoy Through the Dream and published in 1948, Torment appeared in this Popular Library edition in 1953. Author Scott Graham Williamson tries for Hemingway with a story set in various sites around the Mediterranean during World War II, including Gibraltar, Algeria, and particularly Palermo, Sicily. Basically, a radio officer on a warship and his wife try to maintain their love and fidelity in a time of chaos and separation. This comes complete with that familiar war novel plot device—one last incredibly dangerous mission before the hero can go back home. The cover art is uncredited.

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Femmes Fatales Oct 26 2011
FENECH OF THE WOODS
If a woman strips in the forest and no one sees her, did it really happen?

Edwige Fenech was born Edwige Sfenek in French-controlled Algeria to Maltese and Italian parents, and went on to become one of the most inspiring sex symbols of the late ’60s and early ’70s, acting in giallos, comedies, and horror films, hosting a chat show in the 1980s, and recently appearing in Hostel: Part II. The striking image above is from the West German magazine Sexy, and it dates from 1971 or 1972. The caption tells us Fenech is the “Traum-Girl der Woche,” or Dream-Girl of the Week. 

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Femmes Fatales Jun 6 2010
TEISSIER ACT

Algerian-born French actress-turned-astrologer Elizabeth Teissier, shown here in a shot originally published in the French magazine Moi, 1970. 

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Intl. Notebook Dec 27 2009
SOUFFLE EN HAUSSE
Rising to the challenge, brighter futures for all.

In February 1960 France detonated this nuclear weapon, known as Gerboise Bleue, in the Algerian desert. In so doing the French defied the wishes of the United Nations and came under intense criticism from the Soviet Union and several African nations. The shot was their first of three in Algeria that year, with the goal of creating a compact nuclear warhead that could fit atop a missile. But it also happened to occur during the Algerian War and was clearly meant to terrify Algerians, who were fighting for independence. In 1999 France admitted it had exposed the local population to nuclear radiation and agreed to pay compensation.     

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 20
1947—HUAC Hearings Begin
The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation into Communist infiltration of Hollywood, resulting in a witch hunt that destroys lives, ruins careers, and makes Senator Joseph McCarthy the most feared politician of the era.
1968—Jackie Kennedy Marries
Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy marries Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. The marriage comes as a total surprise to the American public, and results in a terrible backlash against her and also makes her the number one target of paparazzi for years.
October 19
1989—Guildford Four Exonerated
The men known as the Guildford Four, who were imprisoned for a series of bombs attacks on British pubs that left five dead and 100 injured, are decreed not guilty after an investigation reveals that police colluded in doctoring statements that appeared to incriminate the defendants.
October 18
1968—Olympic Committee Suspends Carlos and Smith
The U.S. Olympic Committee suspends African-American track & field athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos for saluting the crowd with raised, gloved fists during a medal ceremony at the Mexico City games. The salutes represented the black power and civil rights movements in the United States. Both athletes also received their medals shoeless to represent black poverty.
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