Vintage Pulp Aug 31 2011
LOSING AVA
The pain in Spain stays mainly in the brain.

The cover of this December 1956 issue of the American tabloid Exposed offers teasers on Kim Novak, Laurence Olivier, and Hollywood bad boy William Holden, but it's Ava Gardner who's front and center as readers learn about her mingling with Spanish bullfighters. Gardner had been introduced to the spectacle of the plaza de toros several years earlier by Ernest Hemingway, and she became a fixture at both the fights and on the Madrid social circuit. Since she was married to Frank Sinatra, this was of great interest to U.S. readers, not to mention Sinatra himself, and all the tabloids were reporting on it. The publicity didn’t help what was already a stormy marriage. Gardner eventually pursued and bedded matador Luis Miguel Dominguín, and not very discreetly. Everyone knew. Sinatra knew, and it tortured him. His buddy Humphrey Bogart rebuked Gardner, telling her, “Half the world’s female population would throw themselves at Frank’s feet and you are flouncing around with guys who wear capes and ballerina slippers.” Sinatra knew he was losing the love of his life, and he wasn't about to let it happen without a fight. He flew to Spain in a desperate bid to win his wife back, but it was no use—seven months after this Exposed hit newsstands, he and Gardner were divorced.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 28 2011
RIGHT TO DIE
Blame it on the Gardner.

Above, a poster for Robert Siodmak’s Oscar nominated film noir The Killers. Adapted from a short story by Ernest Hemingway about an ex-boxer who meekly accepts his own murder for reasons that only become clear after a detailed investigation by an insurance adjuster, this was the film that gave us the great Burt Lancaster. Why did he let himself be murdered? Well, Ava Gardner had something to do with it. You can see the unusual French poster here, and the Swedish poster here. The Killers opened in the U.S. today in 1946.

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Intl. Notebook Jul 8 2010
RAGING BULLS
Pulp Intl. at the Festival of San Fermin.

The Pamplonistas thought of it, but Hemingway made it famous. It’s the Festival of San Fermin, with its central event, the encierro, or running of the bulls. The shot at top shows it the way Hemingway probably saw it; the subsequent photo shows how many people visit the Festival today. As we mentioned in a previous post, Ernest Hemingway inspired multitudes to imitate his lifestyle. His descriptions of the encierro, which he folded into the narrative of his exquisitely romantic and desolate debut novel The Sun Also Rises, exposed the English-speaking world to Pamplona's signature event. And like the bulls, the people came running.
 
The encierro happens fast. We were camped out near the beginning of the route, where the bulls are released, and they simply blazed by. There is no running “with” the bulls at that point—they rattle past like a freight train. We’ve been told, though, that after this uphill stretch, two tight turns, and some mid-course congestion, they tend to slow down a bit, which invites closer interaction with the runners, aka mozos. We saw none of that. In the few seconds we had we shot three photos, which you see just below. In the first two, the runners are looking back at the approaching horde of men and beasts, and in the third the bulls are a blur.
 
You’ve probably heard that the encierro is dangerous, but the truth of that depends on your idea of danger. Deaths average two per decade, including one last year. That isn't going to get most people quaking in their espadrilles, but injuries are common—this morning there were four minor horn wounds, one broken ankle and, we’d guess, several dozen bruises and scrapes. So the question is, how do you like those odds? The odds for the bulls are not so good—six will be killed in the plaza de toros this evening. We won’t bother with any polemics about the tradition of bullfighting, or animal murder, depending on your view. We’re not from Spain, thus we don’t feel we have the right to comment. How’s that for a refreshing attitude?
 
Below, we’ve expropriated photos of some of San Fermin’s finest cornadas, which we’ll have to take down in a day or two to avoid any copyright issues. In panel 13 you see last year’s fatal goring (a horn through the top of the left shoulder, severing the brachial artery and shredding a lung), and in panel 14 you see a horn piercing the underside of an unfortunate mozo’s chin, though non-fatally. These are both atypical injuries—a bull rakes upward with its horns and usually hooks a human in the groin region (or the ass if you happen to be running away like a sensible person). In the final shot, panel 15, you see how the men of Pamplona separate themselves from the boys—in the plaza de toros they crouch en masse in the bull’s path and force it to leap over them. You want to show you’ve got true cojones? Try that.     

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Intl. Notebook Jul 2 2010
BEYOND THE SEA
Wherever he laid his hat was his home.

Today in 1961, one of America’s great authors, Ernest Hemingway, committed suicide in his house in Ketchum, Idaho, using his favorite shotgun. Hemingway had physical problems, including failing eyesight, that made it difficult for him to write, but he also fell victim to the barbaric treatments for mental ailments that were the norm in the 1960s.
 
Records show that when he checked into a Mayo Clinic in December 1960 seeking help for agitation and paranoia, he received up to fifteen electroshock treatments, sessions that, according to biographer Jeffrey Myers, left Hemingway “in ruins.” He was also given Ritalin and Serpasil, and in a misguided effort to fight the depression the drugs caused he was given another round of shock treatments.
 
On July 2 he loaded his double-barreled shotgun, put the muzzle in his mouth, and pulled the trigger. The massive blast obliterated the entire top half of his head, leaving only his jaw, mouth, and cheekbones. The press was fed a story about the death being accidental, but Hemingway had in fact chosen the same path as his father, and the same path his brother and sister would later take. As it turns out, all suffered from the hereditary ailment hemochromatosis, the effects of which culminate in mental and physical deterioration.
 
Ernest Hemingway’s legacy is beyond dispute. He is one of the most respected and imitated personalities who ever lived, and one of the most influential writers in the English language, someone whose techniques are stylistic ground zero for American authors. Predictably, his influence has also produced a backlash, and today his style is often ridiculed by contrarians, iconoclasts and revisionists. But as we always say, time is the ultimate critic, and by that measure Hemingway towers above his detractors—all of them. The above photo shows him near the end of his life, circa late ’50s.
 
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Vintage Pulp Apr 3 2010
SHADOW OF HER FORMER SELF
If Ava I see your face again.

Above is an unusual one-sheet for Robert Siodmak’s 1946 film noir Les Tueurs, aka The Killers, with Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner. You may remember we showed you the colorful Swedish poster last year. This rather hazy French effort is unusual because it features a photo of one of the stars, which is a promotional technique that wouldn’t become popular until decades later, when retouched (later digitally tweaked) photography replaced handpainted images, forever to the detriment of the art world. We’ve talked about this before, and we still have the same question. Namely, what is it inside of us that made us divorce art from commerce? We’ve embraced the soulless in every form of promotional art from movie posters to book covers to billboards. Is it simply about money? Does capitalism drive us inexorably toward an artless pursuit of profit? We have our theories, but what do you think? Or is this a little too much to be dumping on you on a spring Saturday? Right, we can take a hint. Les Tueurs premiered in Paris today in 1947. 

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Vintage Pulp Mar 7 2009
BURT OFFERING
Lust for a dame brings another man to an unfortunate end.

Here’s a colorful Swedish one sheet for The Killers, which is considered one of the most important noirs. Inspired by an Ernest Hemingway short story, and helmed by director Robert Siodmak, the movie opens with an unresisting Burt Lancaster being snuffed by two hit men, then follows an insurance investigator as he tries to figure out what possibly could have happened in this man’s life that would make him virtually offer himself to his murderers. All roads lead—as all roads must—to the femme fatale. In this case it’s the magical Ava Gardner, in her first starring role as the hard-as-nails Kitty Collins. The art here effectively tells the story of the film in a snapshot—we see Burt beset by his two killers as Ms. Gardner seems to burn in his breast. That pretty much sums it up. The film was a smash hit, and it remains a must-see. It first played in Stockholm today, in 1947.     

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 28
1919—Volstead Act Passed
The U.S. Congress passes the Volstead Act over President Woodrow Wilson's veto, paving the way for alcohol Prohibition to begin the following January. The Act, named for Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Andrew Volstead, was supposed to create a better society but instead helped lead to the rise of violent organized crime gangs. The law wouldn't be repealed until 1933.
1922—Mussolini Comes Into Power
During the second day of the event known as the March on Rome, Fascist leader Benito Mussolini officially takes control of the Italian government when King Victor Emmanuel III cedes power. Supported by a coalition of military, business, and right-wing leaders, Mussolini remains in power until 1943, when defeat in World War II begins to look inevitable.
October 27
1994—U.S. Prison Population Reaches Milestone
The U.S. prison population tops 1 million for the first time in American history. By 2008 the U.S. Justice Department pegs the number of imprisoned at 2.3 million, and the overall U.S. correctional population, i.e. those in jail, prison, on probation or on parole, at 7.3 million, or 1 in every 31 adults.
October 26
1951—Churchill Becomes Prime Minster Again
The Conservative Party wins the British general election, making Winston Churchill prime minister for the second time. Churchill is nearly 76 at the time, making him the second oldest prime minister in history after William Gladstone. Churchill remains PM until 1955, when he steps down at 81 due to ill health.
1964—The Night Caller Is Executed
In Australia, Eric Edgar Cooke, who had earned the nickname Night Caller, is hanged after being convicted of murder. He had terrorized Perth for four years, committing 22 violent crimes, eight of which resulted in deaths. He becomes the last person to be executed in Western Australia.
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