Vintage Pulp Feb 22 2024
CRACK BABY
Aw, look. She's all puckered up and ready for a kiss.

Sure, we went there. Why not? We built our own wesbite so we can write any damn thing we want. Above you see another Europa Books foldout cover, Fritz Jantzen's 1963 sleazer Berlin Bed, which we found on Flickr, then brightened up a bit. The author obviously used a pseudonym, possibly for Charles Nuetzel, who is known to have used the name Jantzen. The art here is by Bill Edwards, identifiable anyway from the style, but doubly so thanks to the band-aid. If you want to see more Europa foldout covers, and learn a little about the company just click its keywords below and scroll. 

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Vintage Pulp Aug 29 2023
INGRID'S IN THE HAUS
Bogart may own the café, but Bergman owns the room.


Since we're checking out European poster art today, above is a nice West German promo for the classic wartime drama Casablanca, with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. We've covered just about all the nice promos for this film: Japanese, Spanish, Italian, and of course the classic U.S. version. Plus we wrote a post about the movie's brilliant set design. But this additional poster is worth sharing because it's the first time we've featured artist Hans Otto Wendt, a well regarded figure who worked during his youth as a draftsman in the newspaper industry, before taking his talents afield and collaborating with Deutsche London Film, Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox, and other major studios. He worked until 1969, at which point he retired due to poor health, and finally died in Berlin in 1979. For the above effort, note that he not only made Bergman the star of the poster, but the star of his handpainted lettering too. Casablanca premiered in West Germany today in 1952. 

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Vintage Pulp Aug 4 2023
SURPRISE PENDING
She could tell them the secret but it would be a bad Korea move.

Holly Roth, who also wrote as P.J. Merrill and K.G. Ballard, originally published The Shocking Secret as The Content Assignment in 1954. This Dell edition came in 1955 with William Rose cover art. The story, set beginning in 1948, deals with John Terrant, a British reporter in Berlin whose American love Ellen Content is a CIA agent who disappears during a mission. Nearly two years later her name turns up in a newspaper story that says she's a dancer in New York City. So Terrant crosses the pond to track her down but ends up in the middle of the Cold War, with bad commies and the whole nine.

Roth infuses her tale with an Englishman in New York fish-out-of-water quality, which is occasionally amusing and adds interest, but in the end the entire enterprise comes across lightweight—which is to say it lacks menace and the proper amount of intellectual heft needed for a book about the political/ideological clash of the era. And another issue, though an admittedly nit-picky one, is that the surprise of the title, which we mostly gave away in our subhead, isn't all that shocking. Dell never should have renamed the book.

Moving on to Roth herself, she's one of those writers whose life had an eerie parallel with her fiction. Her 1962 novel Too Many Doctors is about a woman who falls off a ship and loses her memory. In 1964 Roth disappeared from her husband's yacht one stormy night off the coast of Morocco and was never seen again. Officially, her death was an accident. If we get ambitious maybe we'll read Too Many Doctors. While we can't recommend The Shocking Secret, we wouldn't be surprised if several of her other books are better. Her reputation would seem to suggest it.
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Intl. Notebook Jan 6 2022
BRAVO NEW WORLD
West German magazine tears down the wall.


German isn't one of our languages, but who needs to read it when you have a magazine with a red and purple motif that's pure eye candy? Every page of this issue of the pop culture magazine Bravo says yum. It hit newsstands today in 1957 and is filled with interesting and rare starfotos of celebs like Romy Schneider, Horst Buchholz, Clark Gable, Karin Dor, Mamie Van Doren, Ursula Andress, Marina Vlady, Corinne Calvet, jazzists Oscar Peterson and Duke Ellington, and many others. This was an excellent find.

We perused other issues of Bravo and it seemed to us—more so in those examples than this one—that it was a gay interest publication. After a scan around some German sites for confirmation we found that it was as we thought. The magazine's gay themes were subtle, but they were there, and at one blog the writer said that surviving as a gay youth in West Berlin during the 1960s, for him, would have been impossible without Bravo. We will have more from this barrier smashing publication later. Thirty-five panels below.
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Femmes Fatales Jun 5 2021
GAARD DUTY
Her neck of the woods is not a place you want to be.


Gale Sondergaard, born in 1899 in Minnesota, stands vigil in the woods in this promo photo made when she was filming 1939's The Cat and the Canary. Sondergaard went on to appear in Appointment in Berlin, A Night To Remember, The Invisible Man's Revenge, The Spider Woman Strikes Back, and numerous other films we'd like to watch. We did see The Cat and the Canary though, and talked about it last year. Check this link

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Femmes Fatales Sep 7 2019
A HOT WYNTER
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.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 5 2019
SEX MARX THE SPOT
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.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 27 2019
EKEL AND HIDE
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.

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Intl. Notebook Jan 20 2019
CINEMA ROLL
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).

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Sex Files Aug 7 2018
THE MARQUIS ATTRACTION
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.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 21
1918—The Red Baron Is Shot Down
German WWI fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, better known as The Red Baron, sustains a fatal wound while flying over Vaux sur Somme in France. Von Richthofen, shot through the heart, manages a hasty emergency landing before dying in the cockpit of his plane. His last word, according to one witness, is "Kaputt." The Red Baron was the most successful flying ace during the war, having shot down at least 80 enemy airplanes.
1964—Satellite Spreads Radioactivity
An American-made Transit satellite, which had been designed to track submarines, fails to reach orbit after launch and disperses its highly radioactive two pound plutonium power source over a wide area as it breaks up re-entering the atmosphere.
April 20
1939—Holiday Records Strange Fruit
American blues and jazz singer Billie Holiday records "Strange Fruit", which is considered to be the first civil rights song. It began as a poem written by Abel Meeropol, which he later set to music and performed live with his wife Laura Duncan. The song became a Holiday standard immediately after she recorded it, and it remains one of the most highly regarded pieces of music in American history.
April 19
1927—Mae West Sentenced to Jail
American actress and playwright Mae West is sentenced to ten days in jail for obscenity for the content of her play Sex. The trial occurred even though the play had run for a year and had been seen by 325,000 people. However West's considerable popularity, already based on her risque image, only increased due to the controversy.
1971—Manson Sentenced to Death
In the U.S, cult leader Charles Manson is sentenced to death for inciting the murders of Sharon Tate and several other people. Three accomplices, who had actually done the killing, were also sentenced to death, but the state of California abolished capital punishment in 1972 and neither they nor Manson were ever actually executed.
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