Say it! Say it louder, you swine! With onion soup you should drink only a basic vin blanc or possibly an aligoté!
It's a cliché, but one we've noticed to be true, that the French tend to be polemical in their opinions about artistic matters. Movies, literature, painting, architecture, all of these things are either magnificent or total shit. Which leads to some interesting discussions. The big chasm between us and one of our French friends happens to do with food and drink—typically Champagne versus cava, or rillettes versus paté. So for us, this cover for Coup de main reminded us of those discussions. Just for the record, E.E., here on our website where you can't argue—we think cava and paté are just dandy no matter what you say.
Coup de main is number fifty-five in Éditions du Grand Damier's Espionnage series, published in 1958, and written by Jaques Dubessy under the pseudonym Slim Harrisson. That's a name you see a lot in vintage French fiction because it was credited with nearly one hundred novels, and we assume few if any of them are total shit. In this particular book Harrisson's franchise hero Sam Morgan's adventures carry him from FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. to Tangier, Lisbon, and beyond. The cover art here is by Alain Gourdon, aka Aslan, the towering figure of French paperback and pin-up illustration.
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.
Welch tries to Fathom the spy game in cheeseball ’60s thriller.
This great poster was painted by French artist Vanni Tealdi for the 1967 spy adventure Une super-girl nommée Fathom, originally made as Fathom. The film was based on an unpublished novel by Larry Forrester, and is set in Spain in various beautiful locations around the Costa del Sol, including Nerja, which we discussed not long ago. Sixties icon Raquel Welch plays a member of a skydiving troupe recruited by Headquarters Allied Defenses Espionage and Security—HADES—to locate the fire dragon, which is supposedly a trigger for a nuclear bomb. Mostly the mission involves Welch using her smile and showing off her supernaturel physique, which is the real nuclear bomb, packed with kilotons of destructive power.
She finds herself caught in a web of lies and soon doesn't know who's the good guy, whether the fire dragon is really a nuclear trigger, and whether she shouldn't just run away and catch up with the rest of her troupe. It's all quite lighthearted, and considering what Welch is given to work with scriptwise, she manages not to sabotage herself or the film. However, she was not that great of an actress at this point, so your primary motive for watching this would be to enjoy the scenery—certainly of Welch, but also of Spain. Those two reasons will get you through the film's ninety-nine minutes. Une super-girl nommée Fathom has no known French release date, but it premiered in the U.S. today in 1967, and would have made it to France later the same summer.
Nobody is who they seem in this crime collection.
Above are some covers from French publishers Éditions Baudelaire, specifically four entries from its collection Le Chat Noir, or Black Cat, written by various authors, and with cover art by Jacques Thibésart, who signed his work as Nik. The authors were pseudonyms too—or at least, Georges Méra and César Valentino were, which makes us pretty sure the others were, as well. Sharp eyed readers will notice that Thibésart was inspired by Hollywood's film noir wave. The first cover is definitely Dick Powell, and the male on the third cover has to be Alan Ladd from This Gun for Hire. Right? Or is that just us? Thibésart seems to have switched out Ladd's co-star Veronica Lake, though, because the female figure doesn't look anything like her. Oh, it's all such a riddle with these pen names and borrowed faces. In any case, nice art. These were all published in 1959.
They have a certain je sais exactement quoi.
Yes, we have yet another issue of Cancans de Paris, this time from August 1967, with Teffie Winters on the cover and inside. There are plenty of fun French burlesque and glamour magazines, but Cancans is a particularly convivial one. Generally, these focus strictly on women, but this issue has a horoscope, which we've included for those of you out there who read French. But you don't need astrology to predict the future. Just keep coming back to Pulp Intl. and the future will be filled with fun, films, fiction, and femmes fatales. We have five other issues of Cancans de Paris in the website. They're available various places online, so if you want them for yourself, they're out there for the getting. To see the issues we've shared, click the keywords below and enjoy a leisurely scroll.
Robert Taylor plays the bad cop blues.
Here you see a nice blue promo poster for Sur la trace du crime, better known as Rogue Cop, with Robert Taylor, George Raft, and Janet Leigh. We talked about this last year. Shorter version: decent but not great. It opened in France yesterday in 1955.
I've already had nine episodes. Once I have you my season will be complete.
Above you see a cover for Mack Reynolds' Episode on the Riviera, published in 1961 by Monarch Books. If you check Reynolds' Wikipedia profile it tells you that he wrote five sex novels from 1961 to 1964, and that this is one of them. Everyone's got bills to pay, right? Well, we don't know about the other four, but this one isn't a sex novel, or even a sleaze novel. While the language is bit more frank than usual and a couple of then-esoteric acts are implied, it's actually a David Dodge influenced lightweight drama, and it's as confidently put across as anything Dodge ever wrote. Most of the action takes place at French Riviera casinos, beaches, and parties, and in main character Steve Cogswell's travel agency, one of whose customers a particular summer week is Nadine Whiteley, a woman determined to solve what she perceives as her own sexual problem by having an anonymous affair with any suitable swinging dick she stumbles across. Cogswell seems to fit the bill, but he has his own sexual quirks. Just when these two look set to get together, both their exes arrive from the U.S—Nadine's to blackmail her into marriage so he can get his mitts on her money, and Steve's to win him back after she's betrayed him with his best friend. While the sexual problems of both characters are imperfectly handled, overall this one is a winner, an easy and effervescent summer read.
In a field full of wildflowers she's the wildest of all.
Exotic Tina Aumont, whose father was French actor Jean-Pierre Aumont and mother was Dominican actress Maria Montez, built an appropriately international film career mainly in Italy and France. But surprisingly she was American. In fact, she was born in Hollywood. Some of her films include Salon Kitty, La principessa nuda, aka The Nude Princess, and Satyricon—the Gian Luigi Polidoro one, not the Fellini one. Though she did later star in Fellini's Casanova in 1976. The photo above is from 1975 and first appeared in Italian Playboy.
Come on, one more won't kill you.
Jean David is one of the great French illustrators of the mid-century era, and this cover for Kathy Woodfield's 1955 novel Massacres à l'anisette shows him at his best. Woodfield, as we recently mentioned, was a pseudonym for André Hélena, and he wrote this for the Parisian publisher Éditions de la Seine for its Collection Rafale. David was based in Marseilles and was active from the 1940s and onward, working often with Le Méridional, and specializing in small drawings for V magazine. In our opinion he truly shone on paperback covers. Take a closer look below at how beautifully rendered his female figure is. He did far too few book covers. In fact we've seen only a handful. But you can bet that each time we run into one we'll share it here. We think he's great. You can see some of his mini art here, and another brilliant paperback cover at the bottom of this post.
The best hired guns never miss the mark.
Like clockwork, it's time once more for Jef de Wulf, one of the most reliable paperback illustrators of the mid-century era. Every cover he painted, for whatever company employed him, was stylish and unique. He was automatic. Here's an example of him at his best on this 1952 cover for Faudra cracher au bassinet, by André Helena writing as Kathy Woodfield, for Éditions la Dernière Chance's series Le Roman Noir Féminin. We don't know anything else about the novel except that the title translates as “you'll have to spit in the bassinet,” which is French slang meaning to give reluctantly. It only makes sense once you know that “bassinet” doesn't just mean a baby's bed, as it does in English, but also a church collection dish. Eew. We give unreluctantly more de Wulf here, here, and here.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1955—James Dean Dies in Auto Accident
American actor James Dean, who appeared in the films Giant
, East of Eden
, and the iconic Rebel without a Cause
, dies in an auto accident
at age 24 when his Porsche 550 Spyder is hit head-on by a larger Ford coupe. The driver of the Ford had been trying to make a left turn across the rural highway U.S. Route 466 and never saw Dean's small sports car approaching.
1962—Chavez Founds UFW
Mexican-American farm worker César Chávez founds the United Farm Workers in California. His strikes, marches and boycotts eventually result in improved working conditions for manual farm laborers and today his birthday is celebrated as a holiday in eight U.S. states.
1916—Rockefeller Breaks the Billion Barrier
American industrialist John D. Rockefeller becomes America's first billionaire. His Standard Oil Company had gained near total control of the U.S. petroleum market until being broken up by anti-trust legislators in 1911. Afterward, Rockefeller used his fortune mainly for philanthropy, and had a major effect on medicine, education, and scientific research.
1941—Williams Bats .406
Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox finishes the Major League Baseball season with a batting average of .406. He is the last player to bat .400 or better in a season.
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