It's just another case of Bardot being Bardot.
We don't know why, but Japanese posters of Brigitte Bardot movies are always beautiful. We've shared them from four films: Cette sacrée gamine, Une parisienne, La bride sur le cou, and Manina la fille sans voile. All are frameworthy. But today's poster for En effeuillant la marguerite might be the best so far. If you frame this one you'll need a transparent wall, because the rear is interesting too, as you see below. In Japan the movie was called 裸で御免なさい, which means something like “sorry for being naked,” but its English title was Plucking the Daisy. This led to us discovering that the French name Marguerite means daisy. You learn something new every day. The film was also called Mademoiselle Striptease, but we prefer the former, because Bardot always shows plenty of pluck.
Here she plays a rebellious young daisy who secretly publishes racy writing, but is outed to her authoritarian father, runs away to Paris, ends up in dire straits, and tries to make ends meet by winning an amateur striptease contest. Does she manage to generate the funds? Well, you can be sure she generates the fun. She does the sex kitten thing with a breezy verve matched only by Marilyn Monroe, the men stumble-swoon-fall over themselves with lust, and it's all pretty cute. Could the movie headline a film seminar on the objectification of women in mid-century media? Absolutely. But even in that seminar En effeuillant la marguerite would generate a few smiles. It premiered in France in 1956, and reached Japan today in 1959.
Once upon a time there was nobody hotter than Hemingway.
We'd heard that The Gun Runners, which premiered in Britain today in 1958, is the most faithful of the several film adaptations of Ernest Hemingway's novel To Have and Have Not. It isn't that close, actually, but it's Hemingway-hot! according to the promo poster. If we're catching the subtle inference correctly, that must mean it's good. Maybe, but what it really shows is Hemingway was so famous at this time that his mere name was a selling point. Think—how many novelists' names have you seen above the title on a movie poster in recent years? Stephen King comes to mind. Maybe Clive Barker, for a minute there. Michael Crichton? Possibly. After those three we draw a blank.
Well, we like Hemingway, and we love the Bogart/Bacall adaptation of To Have and Have Not, though it has nothing to do with the book. This Hemingway-hot! version stars Audie Murphy—yes, that one, and he's a solid enough actor—as a boat captain working out of Key West who gets ensnared in a dangerous scheme that involves smuggling weapons to Cuba. Eddie Albert as the heavy is as amoral as they come, and in supporting roles you get Patricia Owens, Gita Hall, and Everett Sloane. Sometimes the performances in old movies don't feel quite right to modern sensibilities, but you could transplant Albert's performance note for note into a new movie. Acting that stands the test of time that strongly is rare.
Another thing that stands the test of time are the themes explored here. In the novel, the item some people have that others have not is money and the freedom it brings, but in The Gun Runners what people either have or have not would appear to be scruples. It's no surprise that the structural inequality aspect of Hemingway's text was downplayed—who wanted to hear about that in 1958, when so many Americans could work a simple job yet afford a car, a house, and a family? But people sure have a clear understanding of inequality these days, don't they? For that reason alone, we think this flick will resonate with many. We recommend putting this in your queue. In the end it really is Hemingway-hot!
Ancient Zapotec treasures bring out the tomb raider in everyone.
This poster was made for the 1953 adventure Plunder of the Sun, a title which may sound familiar from David Dodge's 1951 novel. The movie starred Glenn Ford, Patricia Medina, and Diana Lynn, and follows the basic gold hunting theme of the book, but with numerous plot details altered, and the exotic locations around Latin America—particularly Peru—condensed to only Havana and the province of Oaxaca, Mexico. The Havana scenes were shot in Mexico, but the Oaxaca scenes were indeed shot in southeastern Mexico, with location work at the Zapotec ruins in Monte Alban. You can practically hear the head honcho at Wayne-Fellows Productions saying, “I love this book, but we've got to make it cheaper. Why go all the way to Peru when there are perfectly good ruins in Mexico?” The Oaxaca locations are great, though, and extensively used, which really helps the film. Are we saying Plunder of the Sun is good? Well, no we aren't. It doesn't have the depth needed to earn a place in the top ranks of vintage cinema, but it's well shot, and its proto-Indiana Jones feel is interesting enough to keep you watching. We have a few promo images below, and you can learn more about the plot by checking our write-up on the novel here.
French paperback illustrators could teach real world spies all about leaving no clues or evidence behind.
When it comes to French pulp, the cover art will often be uncredited. Such is the case with this attractive front for the thriller Quadrille d'Espions, published in 1956 by Société d'Éditions Général, aka SEG, for its popular series Espionnage/Service-Secret. The book was written by Francis Richard, which was a pseudonym used by Paul Bérato, who also wrote as Yves Dermèze, Paul Béra, er al. We dug deeper into the identity of this artist, to no avail. Someone out there knows, though, and with luck, we'll hear from them.
You think stardom is easy? Try wearing these all day.
British actress Patricia Roc, seen above, is pretty obscure considering her her extensive filmography. That's mostly because despite appearing in movies such as Circle of Danger and L'inconnue de Montréal, aka Fugitive from Montréal, she made only one Hollywood film—1946's Canyon Passage. The photo makes her look like she's regretting having just made that canyon passage on foot, but it's a cool, unusual shot. If you're thinking Roc is a pseudonym, you're right. She was really Felicia Herold. Yes? No? Maybe? Nah—doesn't do it for us either. Yet another good show business name change.
Another valuable Spanish painting is ruined by someone who's all thumbs and no skills.
Spanish art restorers are in the news for the wrong reasons again. You may remember the infamous Ecce Homo disfigurement—the early 20th century fresco by Elías García Martínez that was ruined by amateur restorer Cecilia Giménez. The restoration, which took place in the town of Borja, was so botched that many Spaniards stopped referring to the painting as Ecce Homo—“Behold Man”—in favor of Ecce Mono—“Behold Monkey.” We've posted its Christ figure, angelic before, and afflicted after, below. We think the name change fits, though we think the after Christ also looks a bit like Leatherface.
The Ecce Homo fiasco soon grew to exemplify the divergent incentives of the modern world. The painting was destroyed. Its destruction turned the painting and the town of Borja into a tourist attraction. The restorer now claims she's proud of her work because of the money that tourists bring which can be used for good causes. The fact that these calamity tourists are posing with the painting only because it looks like Giménez restored it using a brush held between her ass cheeks is now immaterial. Only money matters. The money made has absolved her of responsibility for ruining the art.
The latest incident involves a more-than-century-old copy of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo's baroque painting La Inmaculada del Escorial, which you see at top. An art collector in Valencia hired a furniture restorer to clean the painting, but the face of the Virgin Mary was damaged. The collector then hired an art restorer to repair the damage, was forced to hire a second to fix the damage done by the first, and, well, see below. Now look up top again. Now look below.
Yeah, that actually happened. We can't figure out how the second restorer made the painting look even less like the original than the first restorer. Did they not understand why they had been hired? These paintings aren't pulp art, but their destruction is like something from a comical crime novel. Not surprisingly, some Spaniards also consider these blunders criminal, and are now calling for regulation of the art restoration sector, and who can blame them?
Spanish art experts say botched restorations are more common than people know. We searched around and found a couple more, also hilariously awful (see the sculpture of St. George from the town of Estella, below). Generally, these incidents only become public when they're reported to the press or on social media, which isn't the norm, considering the embarrassment involved. But we can't help wondering if, going forward, ancient artworks will be deliberately ruined as a ploy to generate calamity tourism. We wouldn't put it past people. Maybe Behold Monkey should be renamed again, to Behold Money. Maybe Jesus has shown the way—to financial salvation.
Annabella is molto bella from every angle.
Every side is Italian actress Annabella Incontrera's good side, as you can in the four shots above. We should all be so lucky. Despite a name that comes off the tongue like poetry, Incontrera sometimes acted as Pam Stevenson, and well, no offense to any Pams or Stevensons out there, but that pseudonym surely had to be the idea of an unimaginative agent or studio head. In the end it was as Incontrera that she made her mark, appearing in several notable Italian giallo and horror films, including La tarantola dal ventre nero, aka Black Belly of the Tarantula, Sette scialli di seta gialla, aka Crimes of the Black Cat, and Perché quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer?, aka These Italian Movie Titles are Purely Nuts. She also popped up for a moment in Dean Martin's tongue-in-cheek caper flick The Ambushers as a slaymate. Well, she slays us. These photos are undated but from around 1968.
Have a nice flight! See you after you land!
Paperback cover art changed radically with the arrival of so-called good girl art. Popular Library would become one of the foremost practitioners of the form, but Patricia Wentworth's 1941 mystery In the Balance, also published as Danger Point, features old style art. It's still pretty effective, in our opinion. The novel is a murder-for-inheritance tale, fourth in a series of more than thirty capers starring private investigator Maud Silver. But Silver doesn't make much of an appearance in this, instead influencing events from a distance. The star of the story is fragile rich girl Lisle Jerningham, whose wealth is coveted by one or more family members and close friends.
Lisle is really something. We lost count of how many times “the colour rose to her cheeks,” but that sort of stuff—along with pulses racing, feeling faint, and thoughts awhirl—is a package deal with these traditional whodunits. Is the book any good? We enjoyed it. Trembling English flowers are the opposite of our usual femmes fatales, which makes them refreshing changes of pace, especially when well written. You, on the other hand, might feel differently. In the Balance is of its place and time. That place and time is polite, stuffy, upper class Britain before the ravages of World War II. Hard-boiled pulp fans should proceed with caution.
Cardinali sizzles in the south of France.
Our sun is categorized as a G2V type star, and in this blinding photo Italian actress Nuccia Cardinali—sometimes Cardinale, occasionally Karen Carter—is too G2V to be true as she poses for a shot in Cannes, France. Her cinematic career was scant, consisting of a dozen or so films. But that's okay—she personifies summer, surf, sand, and all things good and glowing in this image. It appeared as a centerfold in Ciné-Revue magazine in 1970.
He didn't become a doctor by quitting when things got tough.
Above is an eye catching Italian poster painted by Ezio Tarantelli for Ik. Dr Fu Manchu, aka The Face of Fu Manchu, part of a series of films based on Chinaphobic novels by Sax Rohmer. According to IMDB and other sources this film played in Italy as Fu Manciù A.S.3: Operazione Tigre, but this poster suggests otherwise, or at least suggests it played there under more than one title. There's no known release date, but it would have shown sometime in 1966.
We gave it a look, and plotwise the infamous crime boss Fu Manchu is executed via beheading in the first scene, much to the delight of various police authorities, but they later suspect that a double died—a man with Fu's face, hypnotized into marching to his own death. And of course, they're right. Fu can do most anything he sets his mind to, including setting other people's minds to doing things detrimental to their earthly existence.
Christopher Lee, who specialized in movies of this ilk, occupies the starring slot, with his yellow make-up shading toward a grayish brown. Other cast members include Nigel Green, Karin Dor, Joachim Fuckburger—er, we mean Fuchsberger—and several more white folk pretending to be Asian. You'll have to ignore that and other racist aspects of the film. Or not, at your option. Setting that aside, is The Face of Fu Manchu any good? Umm... no, we wouldn't say so. But you might get a laugh or two from it. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1929—Stock Market Crashes
Black Thursday, a catastrophic crash on the New York Stock Exchange, occurs when the value of stocks suddenly declines and continues to decline for a month. The event leads to a subsequent crash in world stock prices and precipitates the Great Depression. This after famous economist Irving Fisher had declared that stock prices had reached a permanently high plateau.
1935—Four Gangsters Gunned Down in New Jersey
In Newark, New Jersey, the organized crime figures Dutch Schultz, Abe Landau, Otto Berman, and Bernard "Lulu" Rosencrantz are fatally shot at the Palace Chophouse restaurant. Schultz, who was the target, lingers in the hospital for about a day before dying
. The killings are committed by a group of professional gunmen known as Murder, Inc., and the event becomes known as the Chophouse Massacre.
1950—Al Jolson Dies
Vaudeville and screen performer Al Jolson dies of a heart attack in San Francisco after a trip to Korea to entertain troops causes lung problems. Jolson is best known for his film The Jazz Singer, and for his performances in blackface make-up, which were not considered offensive at the time, but have now come to be seen as a form of racial bigotry.
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.
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