Vintage Pulp Sep 28 2023
LAW AND THE JUNGLE
Human nature at its most savage.


This busy promo poster was made by Allied Artists for its drama The Human Jungle, which starred Gary Merrill as a tough cop who tries to whip his Jefferson Heights precinct into shape, both inside and outside the station house. Merill would rather transition out of police work and into the legal profession, but when he's tapped to cleanse the Heights he goes at it with a vengeance. His obstacles include lazy cops, emboldened delinquents, a hostile press, and a set of hardened criminals who feel impervious. Jan Sterling co-stars as a singer and dancer who might hold the key to putting a murderer behind bars. But Merrill will have to turn her first, and she's unwilling, to say the least.

For some people, the hardball tactics used by Merrill might bring to mind all the unlawful force settlements police departments nationwide constantly pay, because innocent people are always caught up in such crusades. For example, New York City paid out $143.2 million in civil rights damages in 2022, this despite the fact that prosecutors refuse to bring charges in about 95% of filed claims. But old movies avoid such sticky issues, and because they operated under censorship rules it's only criminals that hurt people, and Merrill comes out glorified and vindicated.

Add it up and what you get is an unoriginal and one-dimensional police drama that in this day and age feels greatly out of touch. Is there any reason at all to watch it? Maybe. It's pretty well made. It features young Chuck Connors as a heavy. It tries to mix in homelife strife in the form of Paula Raymond as Merrill's wife, and is reasonably successful on that front. The always interesting Sterling does a fun song and dance number that adds a little pep to the middle of the film. And there's a decent climax set in a brewery. Everything else in The Human Jungle is pretty limp. It premiered today in 1954.
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Vintage Pulp Jul 6 2023
A GIRL AND HER ROD
Rubber in the right place and you'll get somewhere fast.


Above is another excellent poster for a b-movie—the gearhead drama Hot-Rod Girl. It's a teen oriented smalltown potboiler about how local do-gooder cop Chuck Connors tries to get reckless hot-rodding youth to confine their racing to a track built especially for the purpose, but despite his best efforts juvenile showdowns and rivalries spill over into the community. When a new racer arrives in town he bullies his way to top dog in the hot-rodding hierarchy and clashes with Connors. Only reluctant racer John Smith has the cred and guts to clip the newcomer's wings, but he's reluctant to get involved after hanging up his driving gloves due to being involved in a fatal accident.

It's a pretty dumb movie. It has nothing in the way of spark, and its final act relies upon the old car chase cliché—the one where the unwillingly pursued keeps speeding up rather than slowing down or stopping, even though the pursuer's only goal is to race: “Maybe I can outrun him!” On the other hand, the movie is interesting because Lori Nelson plays another hot-rodder rather than being relegated to a standard love interest, and Frank Gorshin, who later became the Riddler on the television show Batman, shows off a brand of mobile-faced wise-assery that will remind you of early Jim Carrey. We recommend Hot Rod Girl for car lovers willing to overlook its narrative shortcomings, but all others should probably speed past. It premiered this month in 1956.
Well, Chuck, we're talking port injection, newly stroked, incredible power to weight ratio, maximum torque, and I'm totally single. Car's nice too.

Riddle me this. Actually, maybe it's just a question. Do all our dreams of major stardom lay in ruins thanks to this weak-ass b-movie?

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Vintage Pulp Jun 3 2018
LOST AT SEA
Virginia Mayo and company prove romance and politics don't mix.


We said back in May of last year we'd watch South Sea Woman to see how Virginia Mayo ended up in a crate. Because the movie premiered in the U.S. today in 1953, we've decided to answer the question now. She ended up in a crate because she stowed away in it to follow Burt Lancaster and Chuck Connors across the Pacific Ocean. Lancaster and Connors are two marines accidentally left in Shanghai when their ship sails into battle after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Mayo wants out of Shanghai too, but she also wants to marry Connors. Naturally these three stumble upon the Japanese and are able to do their bit for the war effort even though they're stuck in the middle of nowhere. New York Times reviewer Bosley Crowther called the movie “a rip-snorting glorification of two United States marines.” The movie is indeed supposed to glorify the military. It's also supposed to be funny, so it's too bad it generates zero laughs. Its fatal flaws are that Lancaster plays a throughly reprehensible character, and that as war propaganda it needs perhaps a modicum more subtlety. Also a better adventure would help. And maybe it could use a more involving romance too. In sum, it's a forgettable effort. But at least now we know why Mayo was hidden in a crate. We'll hide South Sea Woman in one too.

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Reader Pulp Feb 24 2010
GOT WOOD?
After this I'll show you how to shoot like I do.

Best comic book cover ever? 

Submitted by Jim

So many things we could say about this, but they all seem wrong somehow, so we’ll just keep it zipped. Thanks for the great share, Jim.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 22
1944—G.I. Bill Goes into Effect
U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Servicemen's Readjustment Act into law. Commonly known as the G.I. Bill of Rights, or simply G.I. Bill, the grants toward college and vocational education, generous unemployment benefits, and low interest home and business loans the Bill provided to nearly ten million military veterans was one of the largest factors involved in building the vast American middle class of the 1950s and 1960s.
June 21
1940—Smedley Butler Dies
American general Smedley Butler dies. Butler had served in the Philippines, China, Central America, the Caribbean and France, and earned sixteen medals, five of which were for heroism. In 1934 he was approached by a group of wealthy industrialists wanting his help with a coup against President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and in 1935 he wrote the book War Is a Racket, explaining that, based upon his many firsthand observations, warfare is always wholly about greed and profit, and all other ascribed motives are simply fiction designed to deceive the public.
June 20
1967—Muhammad Ali Sentenced for Draft Evasion
Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who was known as Cassius Clay before his conversion to Islam, is sentenced to five years in prison for refusing to serve in the military during the Vietnam War. In elucidating his opposition to serving, he uttered the now-famous phrase, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.”
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