Wherever she's headed you can be sure it's not good.
Well, we survived. We didn't mention it earlier, but our recent trip took us deep into the heart of covid. It was too late to back out because we had committed to something important, so away we went even as omicron began peaking and virus cases in general rose. While there, someone we spent an evening with messaged two days later that he was positive and feeling quite sick. We tested and came up negative. We wrote in early December about the virus killing one of PI-1's friends. Weeks later her entire close family caught it. Her elderly parents, her brother, her brother's four-year-old, her brother's girlfriend, and her two kids. All of them. All were physically ill. Even the four-year-old had symptoms, but everyone survived. Seven for seven, which is bucking the odds when two of the seven are over sixty-five.
For this reason, as well as the omicron spread, the virus was on our minds more than usual. We were lucky, but we can't celebrate, because we found out that someone we know went through true hell. We have this acquaintance, who we'll call Nikolai. Russian. Stereotypical. Big, broad, physically imposing, but a very nice, very jovial guy. He has a factory in Kazakhstan, lives here in Spain. His wife, who we'll call Yara, went to Kazakhstan, where covid is a particular problem. While Yara was there she had severe stomach pains, went to a doctor, and learned that she had a large, possibly cancerous mass growing right in her core. Kazakhstan, while having skilled doctors, doesn't have top notch facilities. The doctors told Yara they immediately needed to cut her stomach out. The whole thing.
Nikolai heard this and rushed to Kazakhstan to get Yara the hell out of there. Against doctors' wishes he shipped her back to Spain, where Spanish medicos told her they needed to take only a small part of her stomach. Not bad by comparison. Relief. But Nikolai stayed in Kazakhstan to deal with some factory business and immediately caught covid. He was on a ventilator after a week, and dead a week after that. Yara was scheduled for surgery and couldn't see her husband buried, though common sense prevented a return to covidy Kazakhstan anyway. Two kids lost their dad and Yara's situation remains dire. That's about as fast as things can go south.
The point of the story is simply to remind you that this virus ain't no joke. But moving along, above we have for you an Italian poster for the Diana Dors movie Passport to Shame, which we wrote about a little while ago. In Italy it was called Passaporto per l'inferno—“passport to hell.” Films that played there were scrutinized by authorities for themes considered offensive to Catholic values, and prostitution pretty much topped the list, so it's no surprise Dors received a punishment upgrade from mere shame to fiery hell. The movie is worth seeing, and you can read about it at this link. We have some amazing books, photos, and general pulp fun coming for you in 2022, but for the moment here's wishing for the most amazing thing of all—a world that works better than it did this last year.
Hold on a sec. I dropped my moral compass.
This photo of British star Diana Dors was made as a promo for her 1957 crime drama The Long Haul, and we're sure we don't need to explain our subhead. Or do we? Let's just say Lady Di was no lady, and what she was into back in the day would, in our modern era, land her in prison and on the lifelong sex offender list. See what we mean here.
Victor Mature transports hot merchandise.
One good Victor Mature movie deserves another. Mr. M impressed us so much in Kiss of Death we decided to watch another of his early films. The amazing poster above was made to promote his crime thriller The Long Haul, which is set in Britain and concerns an American ex-soldier who takes a trucking job only to run afoul of an organized-crime syndicate that controls the trucking industry. British star Diana Dors plays the glamorous girlfriend of one of the mobsters, and after a couple's spat she ends up in Mature's truck begging him to drive her to safety. This turns out to be a dangerous decision in two areas—his health, and his marriage.
Because The Long Haul was originally made in Britain it's a bit more frank than the typical American film concerning matters of sex and marriage. There's no vagueness about Mature and Dors doing the mattress dance, which we found refreshing. The family drama sections of crime movies are often throw-ins, but here Mature's marital difficulties really help drive the plot. In the end he needs to deal with these issues, but he also, naturally, has to survive crossing the mob boss, who's not sanguine about losing Dors, nor about other transgressions committed by Mature. It's trouble on two fronts, which makes for a pretty good movie. Decent work from Mature. The Long Haul premiered in Britain today in 1957.
Dors gets caught short of blonde dye.
We always note that one reason mid-century tabloids have historical value is because of their rare shots of significant celebrities, and here's a perfect example. Diana Dors appears on the cover of a National Enquirer published today in 1960, and in this photo we've never seen anywhere else she's sporting deep black Frida Kahlo eyebrows. Dors was one of the most interesting figures of her time, and the blurb on this Enquirer references her marriage to Dennis Hamilton, a union which led to her being lent as a sexual plaything to various producers and leading actors, and which also gave Hamilton the incandescent idea of hiring photographer Horace Roye to make Dors the star attraction of two racy photo collections. One of those was in 3D, and we bet those batwing eyebrows of hers really jumped off the page. For a bit more about Dors' strange and remarkable life, check here.
It's a slippery slope down to the gutter—especially when you're pushed.
This cool British poster was made to promote Passport To Shame, a vice scare flick, a cautionary tale for women about how easy it is to end up a hooker. A number of such films were made back in the day. This one even has some authority figure or other introducing the film in stentorian tones, telling how a dead end life of vice is just one bad decision away. After the oratory, we see how the leaders of a prostitution ring use labyrinthine scams to force women onto the stroll. They frame Odile Versois into debt, lure her from France to London, and convince her she needs a work permit that she can only obtain by marrying a Brit.
The “Brit” is U.S. actor Eddie Constantine, who's being scammed to participate, also by being tricked into debt. We were baffled as to why he needed at all, but hey, it's in the script, so we went with it. The most curious part of the gang's scheme is that they own a boarding house connected to an adjacent boarding house via a secret door. We suppose this portal makes it easy for the ringleaders to get back and forth, but Odile, duly installed in the legit boarding house, finds the secret door to Sodom with the help of her inquisitive kitten, sees all the hookers hooking, and realizes she's been had.
She's going to be had in a different way by multiple men if she can't get out, but it isn't easy. Her keepers threaten her, starve her, and even drug her, which leads to a hallucinatory Spellbound-style sequence in which the addled Odile sees the literal pits of hell filled with half naked guys waiting to ravish her. Yup—she's in deep shit. But somewhere out there Constantine, her sham husband, who agreed to the marriage assuming Odile knew what she was getting into, realizes she's actually a naive young thing in need of help.
Of course the main selling point for film studio United Co-Productions was Diana Dors, an interesting actress, and an outsize personality in real life. Even though she's second billed, and probably third in screen minutes, she gets pole position on the poster because she was who audiences wanted to see. She plays a jaded prostie named Vicki, also in the game against her will, held by the cruelest of means. Her character has a pivotal part in how this drama turns out, but you'll have to watch to movie to find out what that is. We recommend it. Passport To Shame premiered in the UK today in 1959.
Hitchcock says no festival for you this year!
The 73rd edition of the Festival de Cannes, aka the Cannes Film Festival, would have kicked off today in the south of France, but was cancelled a while back. It's just one of a wave of event cancellations that will cascade through the year. Festivals as diverse as Burning Man and San Fermin, aka the Running of the Bulls, have also been shelved. But getting back to Cannes, we thought this would be a good moment to commemorate past fests with some historical photos. Above you see Alfred Hitchcock on a boat with the town in the background, in 1972, and below are about fifty pix from the 1940s through 1970s, documenting various iconic moments, and a few quieter ones. Maybe the Cannes Film Festival will back next year, maybe not. At this point, predicting anything is an exercise in futility. But at least we'll always have the memories.
Edith Piaf sings on the terrace of the Carlton Hotel on the iconic Boulevard de la Croisette at the first Festival de Cannes to be held under that name, in 1946. Back then the event took place in September and October, but would shift to May a bit later. Diana Dors and Ginger Rogers arrive at the fest the only way anyone should—breezing along the beachfront in a convertible, in 1956, with an unknown driver. Kirk Douglas holds court on the beach in 1953, and Brigitte Bardot soaks up rays in the foreground. Michele Morgan poses at the first Festival in 1946. Photo ops of this sort were essential sources of publicity for stars, and would soon become opportunities for non-stars seeking to be discovered. Case in point. Robert Mitchum poses with actress Simone Sylva in 1954. Sylva was allegedly not supposed to be there, but shucked her top and photo-bombed Douglas in an attempt to raise her profile. It didn't work. She made only a couple of credited movie appearances after her topless stunt. Romy Schneider and Alain Delon at the 1959 fest. An unidentified model or actress poses in the style of Anita Ekberg from La dolce vita in 1960. This looks like it was shot at Plage du Midi, which is a beach located a little ways west of the Cannes town center.
A unidentified partygoer is tossed into a swimming pool after La Dolce Vita won the the 1960 Palme d’Or. The Festival is almost as well known for legendary parties as for legendary film premieres. Another unidentified model or actress poses on the boardwalk in 1979. Generally, you don't have to be known to draw a crowd of photographers—you just have to be nearly bare. She's wearing lingerie, so that explains the interest, though this is modest garb for a Cannes publicity stunt. It's never a surprise to see a headline-seeking film hopeful strip all the way down to a string ficelle féminin, or thong, which is the limit of what is legal in Cannes Sidney Poitier and Jean Seberg have a laugh in 1961. This was the year Poitier's flick Paris Blues was released, so it's possible he had jetted down from the capital for the Festival. Philomène Toulouse relaxes on the sand in 1962 while a boy practices the classic French look of disgust he'll be using the rest of his life.
Actor Bernard Blier, 1975.
An unidentified bikini wearer boldly enjoys a lunch in a café on the Croisette, 1958.
Natalie Wood aboard a sailboat in 1962. Grace Kelly, 1955. Kelly times two—Grace Kelly and Gene Kelly, hanging out, also in 1955. Sammy Davis, Jr. poses in front of a billboard promoting his film A Man Called Adam, 1966.
Joan Scott gets sand between her toes in 1955. Scott is obscure. She isn't even the most famous Joan Scott anymore. The IMDB entry for the only Joan Scott near the appropriate age is for an actress born in 1920 who didn't begin acting until 1967. The Joan Scott above doesn't look thirty-five, though, and we doubt she would have been the subject of this somewhat well-known photo without parlaying it into a film appearance before twelve years had passed. So we don't think this is the Joan Scott referenced on IMDB.
Sharon Tate, with Roman Polanski, and solo, 1968. Marlene Dietrich brings glamour to a tiki themed bar in 1958. Tippi Hedren and Alfred Hitchcock release caged birds as a promo stunt for The Birds in 1963. Sophia Loren sits with husband Carlo Ponti, who was a member of the 1966 Festival jury. Raquel Welch poses on a motorcycle in 1966. Jane Birkin takes aim with one of her cameras in 1975.
Dorothy Dandridge frolics in 1955, when she was promoting her film Carmen Jones. Cinematic icon Catherine Deneuve and her sister Françoise Dorléac in 1965. Dorléac died in an automobile accident a couple of years later.
Robert Redford lounges on the beach in 1972. Based on his outfit you'd think he was in Cannes to promote The Sting, but he was actually there for his western Jeremiah Johnson, which screened May 7 of that year. Sophia Loren waves to well-wishers in 1964. Bogie and Bacall paired up and looking distinguished in 1957. John and Cynthia Lennon in 1965, and John with Yoko Ono in 1971. Every story John told on that second trip probably started with, “When I was here with the first love of my life...” until Yoko smacked him across the mouth. Rock Hudson and bicycle in 1966. Unidentified actresses pose on the beach in 1947. To the rear is the Hotel Carlton, mentioned in the Edith Piaf image, built on the Croisette and finished in 1910. George Baker, Bella Darvi (right—your right, not his), and an unknown acquaintance have a surfside run/photo op in 1956. Jayne Mansfield and Russian actress Tatiana Samoïlova enjoy a toast in 1958. Mansfield probably shared the story of how she once made Sophia Loren stare at her boobs, and Samoïlova said, “Cheers to you—well played, you provocative American minx.” French actor Fernandel, whose real name was Fernand Contandin, on his boat Atomic in 1956. Arlette Patrick figures out a different way to generate publicity—by walking her sheep on the Croisette in 1955. A pair of water skiers show perfect form in 1955, as a battleship floats in the background. Jeanne Moreau, for reasons that are unclear, poses on a banquet table in 1958. Most sources descibe this in such a way as to make it seem spontaneous, but we have our doubts. It's a great shot, though. Two unidentified women take in the scene from the terrace of the Hotel Carlton, 1958. This shot is usually said to portray two tourists, but the woman on the left is the same person as in the bikini lunch shot from earlier, which tells us she's a model or actress, and both photos are staged. Like we said, publicity is everything in Cannes.
Danielle Darrieux and Sophia Loren at the 11th Cannes Film Festival, 1958. Italian actress Monica Vitti chills on a boat in 1968. Aspiring stars catch some rays on the Croisette beach in 1955. The two large posters behind them are for The Country Girl with Grace Kelly, and Jules Dassin's Du rififi chez les hommes, both below. The renowned opera singer Maria Callas, 1960.
The hangman comes for Britain's top sex symbol.
A while back we showed you a British poster for Diana Dors' drama Yield to the Night, which tells the story of a woman on death row facing a date with a noose. That poster was a photographic effort. The movie was renamed Blonde Sinner for its U.S. release, and a photo-illustrated poster, which you see above, was issued to promote it. This is a classic piece of movie memorabilia, perfect in every way. The Brits actually got an illustrated poster too, just not this one. Maybe we'll dig theirs up later. After premiering in Great Britain during the summer of 1956 Blonde Sinner opened in the U.S. today that same year.
I know we just get married this morning but I think we should see other people.
Half angel, half devil? This poster sure turned out to be ironic, considering Diana Dors, star of The Unholy Wife, was a sexual predator who set up her house so she could spy on guests while they were boning in her spare bedrooms. They just don't make stars like her anymore. Er, we mean, how depraved and utterly terrible. Right, we'll just quit while we're ahead. The Unholy Wife premiered in the U.S. this month in 1957. Read more about it and see the French promo poster here, and read more about Dirty D's private life here.
Dors takes a shot in the dark.
This beautifully composed and photographed image stars British actress Diana Dors and was made for her 1957 drama The Unholy Wife. We wrote about it a few years ago. Long story short, Dors wants to murder her rich husband. The film is in Technicolor but depending on who you ask falls into the category of film noir. That makes it one of the earliest color efforts to do so, as far we know, but all the promos we've ever seen for it are black and white. This one really shows the power of that medium. In fact, looking at it, it's hard to even imagine it's for a color film, isn't it? This image may actually be the best thing about the movie.
And you think America is polarized today.
The iconic polar bear rug. What can you say about them? Well, it's not a good look nowadays, but back then people thought these sorts of decorations were quite chic. When did that end? Possibly shortly after the three-hundredth Playboy model posed on one, or when many people began to see trophy hunting as the obsession of vain and unsavory millionaires. One of those two. Personally, we blame Hefner. In the shot above Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay take polar bear style to its pinnacle. Just look at that room. Besides the bear they have a copper ceiling, satin curtains, and a white shag rug. It's a pimp's wet dream and all of it must have cost a fortune. We like to imagine what the look on Jayne's face would have been if anyone walked in with a brimming glass of red wine. We bet she'd have turned whiter than the bear.
We have more photos in the same vein below. If you need help identifying the stars, their names are in our keywords in order of appearance. Looking at the entire collection, we tend to wonder if there were three or four bears that ended up in all the photos. You know, like bears owned by certain photography studios or prop departments. Just saying, a couple of them look suspiciously similar. But on the other hand, how different from each other do bears really look? You'll notice that the poor creatures were generally posed to look fierce. But by contrast Inger Stevens' bear, just below, strikes us as a bit reflective and melancholy, which is understandable. Elizabeth Montgomery, meanwhile, gets extra points for wearing her bear. We have twenty-plus images below, including another shot of Mansfield, sans Hargitay.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1949—First Emmy Awards Are Presented
At the Hollywood Athletic Club in Los Angeles, California, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences presents the first Emmy Awards. The name Emmy was chosen as a feminization of "immy", a nickname used for the image orthicon tubes that were common in early television cameras.
1971—Manson Family Found Guilty
Charles Manson and three female members of his "family" are found guilty of the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders, which Manson orchestrated in hopes of bringing about Helter Skelter, an apocalyptic war he believed would arise between blacks and whites.
1961—Plane Carrying Nuclear Bombs Crashes
A B-52 Stratofortress carrying two H-bombs experiences trouble during a refueling operation, and in the midst of an emergency descent breaks up in mid-air over Goldsboro, North Carolina. Five of the six arming devices on one of the bombs somehow activate before it lands via parachute in a wooded region where it is later recovered. The other bomb does not deploy its chute and crashes into muddy ground at 700 mph, disintegrating while driving its radioactive core fifty feet into the earth, where it remains to this day.
1912—International Opium Convention Signed
The International Opium Convention is signed at The Hague, Netherlands, and is the first international drug control treaty. The agreement was signed by Germany, the U.S., China, France, the UK, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Persia, Portugal, Russia, and Siam.
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