Everywhere she went brought a change in the weather.
You know the difference between weather and climate? Los Angeles has beautiful women. That's climate. Dana Wynter stood out in L.A. for being unusually hot. That's weather. Glad we could clear that up. Wynter was born in Berlin and raised in England, but made her name in U.S. movies such as Something of Value and Shake Hands with the Devil. Today she's mainly remembered for Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which we briefly mentioned back in May. Check here.
We're going to have fun. I'm well known as the life of the Communist Party.
This cover for M.E. Chaber's 1952 spy thriller All the Way Down is uncredited but pretty nice. The rear pleases the eye too. If we had to guess we'd say it was painted by Rafael DeSoto, who was often utilized by Popular Library during the early ’50s, but with no interior credit, alas, we cannot know for sure. What we do know for sure is that Chaber's real name was was Kendell Foster Crossen, and under various pseudonyms he wrote pulp fiction and sci-fi, and well as other spy novels. Most of the latter category starred franchise hero Milo March, heavy drinker and quick with a quip, with the above coming second in a series devoted to the character. It was originally called No Grave for March, but the good folks at Popular Library thought All the Way Down was a better fit, and of course when it comes to title changes they're always right.
All the way down where? Why into the underbelly of German communism. At the center of the plot is a superweapon—one of those hilarious sci-fi contrivances unique to 1950s mass market literature. March heads to Berlin bearing microfilm concerning this technological atrocity and poses as a member of the American Communist Party in order to infiltrate the German commies. Chaber's descriptions of post-war pre-wall Berlin, the streets, subways, and parks, are obviously written from experience, and those passages add considerable interest to the proceedings as Milo tries to earn the trust of suspicious enemies, stay alive while doing so, and—best case scenario—keep a low level brandy buzz intact the entire time. And of course there's a love interest. Greta is her name. She's German by birth but American by nationality and a member of the Denver Communist Party. Milo wants to march into her panties, so naturally smalltalk brings him around to asking why she joined the movement. Part of her answer:
“Then in 1942, after we Americans were at war against Hitler, someone wrote a name on the window of my father's store. It was the same name that the Nazis had written on his store window in Berlin—only it was written in English instead of German this time. The next day I became a Communist.”
She joined the Communist Party to oppose fascism. Why do we highlight that quote? Well, let's just say people are becoming confused these days about Nazis. It was once universally known that Hitler persecuted and imprisoned leftists, despite the deliberately deceptive name of his political party. Those episodes are mentioned time and again in All the Way Down, as Chaber makes clear that Nazis and communists were at opposite ends of the political spectrum. He probably never would have believed there would be confusion about this, yet here we are in 2019, and increasing numbers of Americans believe (or at least pretend) Nazism and communism were both leftist movements. In any case, Chaber has written an entertaining book here, in which a skirmish between communists and capitalists is deftly won by the capitalists. That's not a spoiler. In 1952, in a Popular Library paperback, it's obviously the only ending that could ever be.
Crazy for feeling so lonely.
Above, two really nice West German promos for Roman Polanski's quasi-horror flick Ekel, better known as Répulsion, with Catherine Deneuve as a woman who goes crazy in the isolation of her apartment. We talked about this one briefly and shared two Japanese posters for it a while ago. After opening in France and the UK, the film received its debut for German viewers at The Berlin International Film Festival today in 1965.
Is there anything sweeter than a beautiful movie palace?
You probably recognize Grauman's Chinese Theatre, in Los Angeles. These days it's called TCL Chinese Theatre, because it's owned and operated by TCL Corporation—based in China, ironically. Since we write so often about movies we thought it appropriate to discuss the beautiful buildings in which the films were exhibited. Back in the day these were usually purpose-built structures, though some did split duty for stage productions and concerts. While many of these old palaces survive, nearly all surviving vintage cinemas in the U.S. were under threat at some point. Generally, if they hadn't been given historic protection they wouldn't be upright today.
Other times, if a city was poor, real estate costs didn't rise and old buildings stood unthreatened, usually idle. This happened often in the American midwest, where movie houses were neglected for decades before some were resurrected amid downtown revitalizations. It sometimes happens in Latin America too, although occasionally the formula fails. For example, Cartagena's majestic and oft photographed landmark Teatro Colón, located in the historic section of Colombia's most popular coastal tourist city, was torn down fewer than six months ago to make way for a Four Seasons Hotel.
Some of the cinemas below are well known treasures, while others are more unassuming places. But even those lesser known cinemas show how much thought and work was put into making moviegoing a special experience. The last photo, which shows the Butterfly Theatre in Milwaukee, exemplifies that idea. The façade is distinguished by a terra cotta butterfly sculpture adorned with light bulbs. As you might guess, many of the most beautiful large cinemas were in Los Angeles, which means that city is well represented in the collection. Enjoy.
Paramount Theatre, Oakland (operational).
Cine Maya, Mérida (demolished).
The Albee Cinema, Cincinnati (demolished)
Cooper Theatre, Denver (demolished).
Paras Cinema, Jaipur (operational).
Cathay Cinema, Shanghai (operational).
Academy Theatre, Los Angeles (operational).
Charlottenburg Filmwerbung, Berlin (demolished).
Pacific's Cinerama Theatre, Los Angeles (operational).
York Theatre, Elmhurst (operational).
La Gaumont-Palace, Paris (demolished).
Essoldo Cinema, Newcastle (demolished).
Théâtre Scala, Strasbourg (operational).
Teatro Colón, Cartagena (demolished in 2018).
Teatro Coliseo Argentino, Buenos Aires (demolished).
Pavilion Theater, Adelaide (demolished).
El Molino Teatro, Barcelona (operational).
Fox Carthay Theatre, Los Angeles (demolished).
Kino Rossiya Teatr, Moscow (operational).
Nippon Gekijo, aka Nichigeki, Tokyo (demolished).
Cine Impala, Namibe (operational).
Cine Arenal, Havana (operational).
Teatro Mérida, Mérida (operational, renamed Teatro Armando Manzanero).
Ideal Theater, Manila (demolished).
Odeon Cinema, London (semi-demolished, converted to apartments).
Mayan Theatre, Los Angeles (operational).
Rex Cinema, Port au Prince (being restored).
Urania Kino, Vienna (operational).
Tampa Theatre, Tampa (operational).
The Butterfly Theater, Milwaukee (demolished).
De Sade administers shock treatment in new art book from Goliath.
Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade, was a French nobleman, revolutionary politician, philosopher, and author of novels, short stories, plays, dialogues, and political tracts. But he's best known, of course, for his libertine sexuality. Since his death in 1814 he has continued to enthrall scholars, social critics, and historians. Now Berlin based art publishers Goliath, a group always fascinated by the sexually bizarre, have taken their own careful look at de Sade, publishing Marquis De Sade - 100 Erotic Illustrations, a collection of art from various Marquis de Sade books, put together as a hardcover volume.
Goliath points out that everyone knows what sadism is, but nobody actually reads de Sade. They've solved that problem by doing away with text entirely. It's a canny choice, because for all de Sade's renown, critics remain passionately divided over his literary worth. There are those who say his writings were merely a fig leaf for his obsessions. If that's the case his fig leaf has been ripped away in this book, and you get a set of ink drawings that detail everything he loved without trying to intellectualize, condemn, or justify it.
The illustrations are shocking, of course, but de Sade lived to shock. He'd probably be thrilled to know he still manages to do that more than two centuries after his death, as well as to learn of his influence on Japanese roman porno cinema, women-in-prison movies, bondage literature such as Fifty Shades of Grey, and other odd niches of modern media.
Considering de Sade's fame, those who don't know his history might assume that French society was hopelessly depraved to tolerate his acts. Actually, the opposite was true. He spent thirty-two years of his life in prisons and asylums, and escaped having his head and shoulders separated by the guillotine—more than once—due only to political upheaval.
When examined by psychiatrists the diagnosis was that de Sade was “insanely obsessed with vice.” There can be little doubt this diagnosis was spot on, as he gambled away his fortune, consorted with prostitutes, staged orgies, forced servants and maids to perform sexual acts, drugged the unsuspecting, indulged in corporal punishment, and of course engaged in every sexual variation and deviance known.
Though 17th century France didn't find much humor in de Sade, with the passage of two hundred years the illustrations in Goliath's book do provoke a few laughs—from us at least—as lords and ladies relentlessly diddle, fondle, suckle and paddle each other. We don't mean to make light of de Sade's crimes—the French were probably right to stuff him away. But considering the fact that his work has been routinely banned and burned—even by his own son at one point—it's instructive to be able to look at the contents of a mind that has had such an influence on our own weird and depraved age. You can find more information about Marquis De Sade - 100 Erotic Illustrations on the Goliath website.
Marquis De Sade - 100 Erotic Illustrations
It's not perfect, but it's pretty close.
The colorful magazine Mr. was published out of New York City by the imaginatively named Mr. Magazine, Inc., and was in the mold of male oriented publications such as Man's Life or Adventure for Men. This issue is from May 1953 and we grabbed it from the now idle Darwin's Scans website. Queen Cristina of Sweden pops up inside, which surprised us, considering we just learned about her for the first time in our lives less than a month ago and here she is again. You also get contemporary figures such as Billy Graham (the boxer), Kid Gavilan, and Hubert F. Julian, aka the Black Eagle of Harlem.
But the magazine focuses mainly on fiction and true adventure. We like the story about Berlin as a center for vice, with “horrible sex cults flourishing” in the post-war rubble. Ludwig Dietzler writes, “I am one of the few non-Berliners who have witnessed the orgies [snip] which thrive in basements, cellars, and other suitable hiding places.” Hmm... it doesn't sound all that bad to us. Elsewhere in Mr. you get beauty queens Carlyn Carlew and Trula Birchfield, as well as Apache dancer Yvonne Doughty. What's an Apache dancer? You'll just have to look. Scans of that and everything else appear below.
Monroe goes for a spin in Italy.
Marilyn Monroe fronts this RCA soundtrack album sold in Italy featuring songs from the film Follie dell'anno, which originally appeared in the U.S. as There's No Business Like Show Business. There are four numbers written by Irving Berlin here and Monroe handles the vocals. If you want this platter it'll cost you probably a hundred dollars or more, so good luck with that. We're content to enjoy the sleeve. The shot of Monroe turned backward in her director's chair is one we've never seen before.
Even paradise can be improved.
Italian actress Elsa Martinelli makes a beautiful beach look even better in this nice promo image, and we can only assume she didn't go in the water with all those necklaces on, because otherwise she might have sunk and been lost forever. Martinelli was an era spanning star who debuted onscreen in 1953, made numerous excellent films, including The Indian Fighter and Et mourir de plaisir, won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 6th Berlin International Film Festival in 1956, and accumulated more than fifty screen and television credits through 2004. The above photo was shot in Brazil around 1970.
Goliath goes miniature with a new collection of vintage erotica.
Nobody makes erotica quite the way Berlin based art book publisher Goliath does. In the past we've featured its erotic photo volumes Private Pornography in the Third Reich, Strictly Bondage, Kinky Bondage Obsession, and Dirty Rendezvous. Now Goliath has a new collection out called Photographia Erotica Historia, a compendium of hundreds of vintage erotic images compiled in mini-book format. It's leather bound, just about three inches high, close to 400 pages in length, and stored in its own snazzy little slipcase.
The miniature format was chosen by Goliath as homage. Mini books were popular in the late 1800s when erotic images needed to be easily concealable. Such items are collectible today, as are the individual studio photos and naturist shots from which much of Photographia Erotica Historia's content is culled. As a bonus you get some drawings and ink renderings to go along with the photos. The version you see above has French text, but the volume is available in five languages, including English.
Goliath publishes an array of material, but its erotic output is our favorite because it makes people challenge their own assumptions about art, sex, desire, and the idea of the past as a place where people were less devoted to matters of the flesh. Spoiler alert: maybe they weren't, as a scan through Photographia Erotica Historia will illustrate. Our previous Goliath books—which we tend to leave laying around when guests come by—have provided endless hours of conversation and entertainment, and we expect this one to do the same. We have a few sample photos below, and you can visit the Goliath website here.
Photographia Erotica Historica
Hey solider—ever made it in a smoking ruin with the stench of death in your nostrils?
We don't know if there were enough prostitution-in-the-ruins novels written during the postwar period to qualify as a sub-genre, but it seems to us we've seen quite a few of them. We highlighted Scott Graham Williamson's Torment around this time last year, and now we have another—Erika, aka Fräulein, by James McGovern. The book revolves around a woman who is tricked into becoming a prostitute in divided Berlin before finally finding Mr. Right and escaping. She's named Erika Angermann, a symbolic name if ever there was one, hinting at what the men in her life put her through. Erika aka Fräulein was a hit when published in 1956, and became a 1958 movie with Dana Wynter and Mel Ferrer. The book is bit obscure today, but was well regarded in its time. We'll look into how many novels like this are out there and if there are enough maybe we'll put together a group post.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1926—Houdini Fatally Punched in Stomach
After a performance in Montreal, Hungarian-born magician and escape artist Harry Houdini is approached by a university student named J. Gordon Whitehead, who asks if it is true that Houdini can endure any blow to the stomach. Before Houdini is ready Whitehead strikes him several times, causing internal injuries that lead to the magician's death.
1973—Kidnappers Cut Off Getty's Ear
After holding Jean Paul Getty III for more than three months, kidnappers cut off his ear and mail it to a newspaper in Rome. Because of a postal strike it doesn't arrive until November 8. Along with the ear is a lock of hair and ransom note that says: "This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits." Getty's grandfather, billionaire oilman Jean Paul Getty, at first refused to pay the 3.2 million dollar ransom, then negotiated it down to 2.8 million, and finally agreed to pay as long as his grandson repaid the sum at 4% interest.
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.
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