Vintage Pulp Aug 26 2023
VICIEUSE CYCLE
By whatever means necessary.


Above is a Belgian poster for the 1953 film noir Wicked Woman, originally made in the U.S. starring Richard Egan and, in one of her classic femme fatale roles, Beverly Michaels. Generally, because of the predominant languages used in Belgium, posters from there carried both French and Dutch text. In French Wicked Woman was titled La vicieuse, and in Dutch it was De slet (you can guess what that means). Our header for this post is a play on the never ending debate over whether film noir is a genre or a cycle. Either way, what it produced was always vicious. We briefly talked about Wicked Woman some years ago and shared the U.S. poster. This effort is from the presses of S.P.R.L. Belgique and it's signed by Wik, an artist who remains a mystery. Below, you see Michaels pondering the wickedness of her behavior and deciding she's fine with it.
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Femmes Fatales Jul 20 2022
BEVERLY'S HILLS AND VALLEYS
I'm doing okay, thanks for asking. Well, no, come to think of it, not really.


Beverly Michaels looks in reasonable spirits in the first photo in this series made for her 1953 film noir Wicked Woman, but her mood seems to go downhill in the next two shots. That's a progression that occurs nightly in millions of bars across the planet, but particularly in film noir bars, where something nearly always goes wrong. In Wicked Woman Michaels is the thing that goes wrong. She plays a classic femme predator named Billie Nash, who's intent upon corrupting a basically good man. Michaels had only eight credited roles in a short career that ran from 1949 to 1956, but she was highly influential in establishing the bad girl trope in 1950s cinema. Other bad girls followed, but she was one of the first and worst. 

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Vintage Pulp Jul 17 2020
SENTENCE FRAGMENT
The jail hasn't been made that can hold Honey Blake.


Above is a fantastic poster for the women-in-prison flick Betrayed Women, starring Beverly Michaels. The promo art might make you think this is something other than a bottom drawer b-melodrama, but think again. Michaels plays a gun moll named Honey Blake who gets tossed in the pen after being convicted as an accessory to armed robbery, and she immediately starts plotting to cut her sentence short via escape, while a cruel warden is intent on breaking her spirit—and possibly her cranium. Unintentionally humorous lines of dialogue include, “What is this? A cootie inspection?” and, “Ahh, who knows what goes on in this cockeyed world?” and, “I'm telling you that Blake dame's dynamite!” Michaels is the type of actress who somehow always managed to elevate weak material, but even she can do only so much. The movie has its moments, but not enough of them. It will generate a few laughs, though. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1955.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 9 2017
WICKED WITCH
The tune tells the whole tale.


We love when the opening song of a movie tells you everything you need to know about the main character. Wicked Woman stars legendary b-movie femme fatale Beverly Michaels, and here are some choice lines from the intro theme, sung by crooner Herb Jeffries:

Why is a wicked woman a fascinating game,
a thing a good man just can't leave alone?
You know before you start it you'll end up broken hearted,
but still you're like a moth to flame.
What does a wicked woman have burning in her eyes
that casts you in a spell you can't escape?
You know that what she's doin' is sure to cause your ruin
and still you listen to her lies...

Wicked Woman is pure cheeseball melodrama, but it's important because it established the icy cold Michaels blueprint that was copied in later movies—the lure, the scam, and the betrayal, all done unrepentantly. Michaels' fame derives not from acting ability, but from screen presence—i.e. she had that special it needed to play a femme fatale. In fact she's so bad you kind of root for her. Wicked Woman premiered in the U.S. today in 1953, and you can watch the whole thing at this link.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 24 2017
PICKUP LUCK
First rule of plotting a murder: make sure the victim isn't listening in.

Above you see a poster for Pickup, one of the nastier little noirs we've run across our years maintaining this website. Beverly Michaels tries to worm her way into a retired man's affections in order to have the life of leisure she thinks she deserves. But her target, in addition to being old fashioned and a bit obtuse, has some sort of chronic or psychosomatic brain injury that results in confusion and hearing loss. Even so, she manages to marry the poor slob, then sets about figuring how to kill him to obtain his savings of $7,300. When he's hit by a car one afternoon his hearing returns, but Michaels has no idea it's happened and openly plots to murder him, assuming he's still deaf while the entire time he listens in horror. This isn't supposed to be funny, but it is, uproariously. Michaels says the most vicious things about the guy, behind his back and right to his face, day after day, with no idea he can hear every word. These crazy sequences are a big reason why this cheap little b-flick has survived the decades. Plus Michaels knocks her first starring turn over the center field bleachers, playing shrill, wall-eyed evil to the hilt. She was rewarded with more work, including similar gold digger parts in 1953's Wicked Woman and 1956's Blonde Bait. The latter was her last role, making for a short career, but a memorable one. We recommend Pickup, morbid plot, shoestring production values, and all. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1951.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 24
1915—Ship Capsizes on Lake Michigan
During an outing arranged by Western Electric Co. for its employees and their families, the passenger ship Eastland capsizes in Lake Michigan due to unequal weight distribution. 844 people die, including all the members of 22 different families.
1980—Peter Sellers Dies
British movie star Peter Sellers, whose roles in Dr. Strangelove, Being There and the Pink Panther films established him as the greatest comedic actor of his generation, dies of a heart attack at age fifty-four.
July 23
1984—Miss America Resigns
Vanessa Williams, who had been crowned Miss America and was the first African American woman to win the prize, resigns her title after Penthouse magazine purchases and slates for publication a series of lesbian-themed nudes Williams had posed for when she was younger. After resigning she files a $500 million lawsuit against Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione but later drops the suit.
July 22
1992—Cocaine Baron Escapes Prison
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria, imprisoned leader of the Medellin drug cartel, escapes from a posh Colombian jail known as La Catedral after he learns authorities intend to move him to a real prison. His taste of freedom doesn't last—he's killed in a shootout a year-and-a-half later.
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