Femmes Fatales Mar 21 2021
RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE
We should emphasize our best features. On me that's everything, but I can show this without getting arrested.


Our regularly scheduled tributes to German actress Elke Sommer continue with these two images of her taking bare midriff fashion to its furthest limits. As nice as her stomach looks, a rear angle of this would be worth a lot to us. We suspect butt cleavage big time. And that's always a good thing.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 10 2020
THE IMMORAL OF THE STORY
No dream involving Elke Sommer can be bad.


This Japanese poster features the German perfection known by the earthly name Elke Sommer, and it was made to promote her Cold War adventure The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz. Generally, long foreign titles were shortened, so in Japan this was called simply “Her Immoral Dream.” It isn't a great film, but it may cause you to have immoral dreams about Sommer. We have some promo photos below showing her in all her incomparable beauty. There's no Japanese premiere date for the movie, but it opened worldwide in 1968.

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Vintage Pulp May 13 2020
BRINK OF EXTINCTION
Males top the endangered species list in 1967 spy thriller.


We've shared a lot of art, including a previous Japanese poster, from the James Bond knockoff Deadlier than the Male without ever actually talking about the movie. Today seems like an opportune time, since we're already on the subject of Bond clones. The film, which premiered in Japan today in 1967 after opening in the the UK earlier in the year, starred Richard Johnson, who actually came close to landing the role of Bond thanks to the interest of Dr. No director Terence Young. It didn't happen, though, and Connery as Bond makes more sense when you see Johnson, who's older, skinnier, shorter, and in less pristine shape. But he has panache, and that may be why Young wanted him. Instead he got Connery, and Johnson got the consolation prize of playing Hugh Drummond, a character that originates in H. C. McNeile novels from the 1920s, but who's updated to the ’60s in order to deal with a Cold War plot to steal rockets and divert them for nefarious means.

Like the Bond films, Deadlier than the Male offers a winning combination of action, quips, exotic scenery, and lightweight sexiness, but the film never quite rises to the upper echelons. Without the Bond budget it's hard to bring a truly thrilling vision to life. At least the filmmakers were smart enough to frontload their assets by opening the proceedings with Elke Sommer, who's second billed, but probably more important than Johnson in terms of increasing the film's watchability. She has a physicality that makes her a nice fit playing an assassin in the employ of the film's ultimate villain. Sylva Koscina co-stars as Sommer's klepto sidekick, which doesn't hurt. The pair's nefarious deeds eventually draw Johnson to their mountaintop stronghold, and there viewers are treated to a final throwdown with the evil mastermind involving a mechanized, life-sized chessboard. While Deadlier than the Male doesn't manage to out-Bond Bond, watch it with friends and beers and you'll maximize its potential.
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Vintage Pulp Aug 16 2019
THE DEAN MARTIN SHOW
With special guests the Slaymates of the year.
 
Today we have some beautiful rarities, a set of door panel posters made for the 1968 Dean Martin spy movie spoof The Wrecking Crew. Martin played the wise-cracking and woman-loving Matt Helm, a character created by novelist Donald Hamilton. There have been a lot of loveable drunks in cinema, but Martin certainly was one of the most popular. Boozy Matt Helm was a perfect role for him, and the first film became the launching point for a series that stretched to four entries.

The Wrecking Crew was the last film, coming after 1966's The Silencers and Murderer's Row, and 1967's The Ambushers. The movies were populated by a group of women known as “Slaymates,” and the actresses on the posters below are posing as members of that deadly cadre. They are, top to bottom, Sharon Tate, Elke Sommer, Nancy Kwan, Tina Louise, and a fifth woman no other website seems able to identify, but who we're pretty sure is Kenya Coburn.

These posters are 51 x 152 centimeters in size, or 20 x 60 for you folks who measure in inches, and they caught our eye mainly because of Tate. There's been renewed interest in her, including portrayals in two 2019 films—The Haunting of Sharon Tate and Quentin Tarantino's new effort Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Her poster is definitely one of the nicest pieces of Tate memorabilia we've seen.

We glanced at The Silencers a while back and found it just a little too dumb to consider slogging through the series, but maybe we'll have another go at it. We're sort of newly interested in Tate too, and since The Wrecking Crew was her next-to-last screen role, we want to have a look. Allegedly, Dean Martin quit this highly successful franchise because it felt wrong to go on with it after the Tate–LaBianca murders in August 1969. From what we've read about the era, Martin was far from the only person who felt as if that event changed everything. These days Tate's death makes anything she's in seem ironic and portentous, even, we suspect, a piece of fluff like The Wrecking Crew.
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Hollywoodland Jul 5 2019
CINEFUL WOMAN
It was Elke's world. Everyone else just lived in it.


Below, another treasure from our France trip. Cinémonde magazine published today in 1960 with Elke Sommer in a summery cover shot and interior photos of Marie-José Nat, Roger Dumas, Deborah Kerr, Jeanne Moreau, and more.

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Femmes Fatales Jul 31 2018
ENDLESS SOMMER
It's impossible to be on the fence about Elke.


If you watch an Elke Sommer movie you notice immediately how athletic she looks. It was a trademark, and it made her unlike most of her mid-century peers. In fact, in the film Deadlier Than the Male her co-star Richard Johnson specifically disparages her body, opining, “Well, it's not bad. A little bit muscular perhaps, but then you've got to expect that with the violent sort of exercise you undertake.” Sommer was ahead of her time, that's all. Check here and here to see for yourself. This shot of her is from 1959 and appeared in the West German magazine Smart

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Vintage Pulp Jan 11 2016
A SOMMER ESCAPADE
Elke escapes the East and probably wished she could have escaped the movie.


Even after seeing hundreds of photos of German goddess Elke Sommer over the years, ocasionally you see come across some and have to hit pause. She appeared on the cover and inside the American magazine Escapade in January 1968, posing for a set of photos taken from her comedy The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz, which had premiered in New York City on January 3rd. Sommer plays an East German decathlete who wants to escape to the west, and does so by pole vaulting over the Berlin Wall, which is what the images below depict. Why is she in her underwear? We've seen the movie but we don't remember. We do know it featured Hogan's Heroes cast members Bob Crane, Werner Klemperer, John Banner, and Leon Askin, and that it uses the Hogan's formula, replacing improbably bumbling Nazis with improbably bumbling communists. But before you add this one to your queue, here's something else we recall—it was terrible.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 13 2015
TEAM SPEAR IT
Making the world a safer place one skewered man at a time.

Above and below you see some Yugoslavian promo cards for Opasnije od muškaraca, aka Deadlier Than the Male, a film we’ve talked about a few times before. The text is in Serbian, and you’ll notice it describes the movie as “Američki." Actually, it was British. But Brits, Americans, who can tell them apart, really? We imagine the Yugoslavian distributors of the film knew quite well it came from Britain-based Greater Films Ltd., but that they labeled it Američki to make it more marketable. As if Elke Sommer and Sylva Koscina aren’t sufficient. See more from the film here.

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Vintage Pulp May 27 2015
A SOMMERY FEEL
Aussie publisher spices up thriller with an image of Elke Sommer.


Last week we shared some images of Elke Sommer from the debut issue of the French magazine Stop. Those were a deliberate preface to today's post, which shows the cover for Carter Brown’s, aka Alan G. Yates’ mystery Death of a Doll from Australia's Transport Publishing, the paperback division of Horwitz Publications.

You can see that the designer used Sommer for his inspiration. Her normally blonde hair was changed to match the hair color of the story’s redheaded femme fatale, but what’s really interesting about this cover is the yawning pose. At least a couple of images from the Stop layout would have worked better, we think, but that’s just our humble opinion.  

At first we thought the designer here was Bernard Blackburn, who made many of Horwitz-Transport’s photo-illustrated covers during the mid-1950s, but then we learned that this “reprint by demand” edition appeared in 1960. So we have no idea who created the cover, but he/she had good taste in models, though we seriously doubt Sommer received any compensation for her starring role. Check out the rest of those rare Stop images here and see if you don’t agree about the designer making a weird choice.

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Intl. Notebook May 20 2015
SOMMER BREEZE
She came along like a breath of fresh air.

The French editors of Stop were pretty smart. How do we know? Because they chose a twenty-year-old German ingénue named Elke Sommer to star on the cover of their debut issue in 1960. She also appeared in issues 6, 27, 31, and others. Very smart. Stop was published throughout the 1960s, and since this issue is N˚1, we’ll assume it’s unrelated to the Stop magazine, also French, that published during the 1940s. We have five more rare-ish Sommer shots below, and you can see an issue devoted to Brigitte Bardot here

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Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 15
1905—Las Vegas Is Founded
Las Vegas, Nevada is founded when 110 acres of barren desert land in what had once been part of Mexico are auctioned off to various buyers. The area sold is located in what later would become the downtown section of the city. From these humble beginnings Vegas becomes the most populous city in Nevada, an internationally renowned resort for gambling, shopping, fine dining and sporting events, as well as a symbol of American excess. Today Las Vegas remains one of the fastest growing municipalities in the United States.
1928—Mickey Mouse Premieres
The animated character Mickey Mouse, along with the female mouse Minnie, premiere in the cartoon Plane Crazy, a short co-directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. This first cartoon was poorly received, however Mickey would eventually go on to become a smash success, as well as the most recognized symbol of the Disney empire.
May 14
1939—Five-Year Old Girl Gives Birth
In Peru, five-year old Lina Medina becomes the world's youngest confirmed mother at the age of five when she gives birth to a boy via a caesarean section necessitated by her small pelvis. Six weeks earlier, Medina had been brought to the hospital because her parents were concerned about her increasing abdominal size. Doctors originally thought she had a tumor, but soon determined she was in her seventh month of pregnancy. Her son is born underweight but healthy, however the identity of the father and the circumstances of Medina's impregnation never become public.
1987—Rita Hayworth Dies
American film actress and dancer Margarita Carmen Cansino, aka Rita Hayworth, who became her era's greatest sex symbol and appeared in sixty-one films, including the iconic Gilda, dies of Alzheimer's disease in her Manhattan apartment. Naturally shy, Hayworth was the antithesis of the characters she played. She married five times, but none lasted. In the end, she lived alone, cared for by her daughter who lived next door.
May 13
1960—Gary Cooper Dies
American film actor Gary Cooper, who harnessed an understated, often stoic style in numerous adventure films and westerns, including Sergeant York, For Whom the Bell Tolls, High Noon, and Alias Jesse James, dies of prostate, intestinal, lung and bone cancer. For his contributions to American cinema Cooper received a plaque on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is considered one of top movie stars of all time.
1981—The Pope Is Shot
In Rome, Italy, in St. Peter's Square, Pope John Paul II is shot four times by would-be assassin Mehmet Ali Agca. The Pope is rushed to the Agostino Gemelli University Polyclinic to undergo emergency surgery and survives. Agca serves nineteen years in an Italian prison, after which he is deported to his homeland of Turkey, and serves another sentence for the 1979 murder of journalist Abdi Ipekçi. Agca is eventually paroled on January 18, 2010.
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