Learn how to be a killer in one easy novel.
Above is a colorful cover for Peter Rabe's Le tueur, a book better known as Anatomy of a Killer. It was published as the latter in 1960, with this French translation from Éditions de la Trevisse appearing the next year. Obviously, there was a better known novel—actually a novela—by John. D. Voelker, aka Robert Traver, called Anatomy of a Murder that was published in 1958 and became an acclaimed Jimmy Stewart movie in 1959. Why did Rabe choose such a similar title? No idea. But the title tells the story: detailed examination of a professional hitman, as the narrative follows him from killing to killing. The art on this is by Jacques Blondeau, who painted numerous book covers during the 1960s. Based on this nice effort we'll stay alert for more of his work.
It's said to be the color of love, but it works fine for raw lust too.
It's been a couple of years, but today we're returning to Éditions R.R., one of the French publishers that took great care with its cover art. This one for 1953's Et treize fois impure by René Roques is amazing. The title of the book means, “and thirteen times impure,” which tells you it's an erotic novel, assuming the art didn't already do that. Said art is uncredited. Click the keywords to below to see several more beautiful R.R. covers.
The future is a dead Issue.
Once again we've chosen what we think is the best poster for a vintage film. In this case it's the urban drama Dead End with Humphrey Bogart, and the poster is one painted by Jean Mascii for the French release as La rue sans issue. Bogart features prominently in both the art and film, but the rest of cast includes Sylvia Sidney, Joel McCrea, Claire Trevor, and Wendy Barrie. We're talking good, solid actors—two of them future Academy Award winners—and they make Dead End an excellent movie. In addition it was based on a play by Sidney Kingsley, with the script penned by Lillian Hellman, more top talent. Kingsley had already won a Pulitzer Prize, and Hellman had written many hit plays.
The plot of Dead End covers a day on a slummy dead end street in Manhattan on the East River, and the characters that interact there. The area is in the midst of gentrification, with fancy townhouses displacing longtime residents mired by the effects of the Great Depression. Because of construction on the next block the cosseted owners of a luxury home must for several days use their back entrance, which opens onto the dead end street. Thus you get interaction between all levels of society. There are the lowliest streets punks, an educated architect who can't find work, a woman who intends to marry for security instead of love, a gangster who's returned to his old neighborhood hoping to reconnect with his first love, and the rich man and his family.
There's plenty going on in the film, but as always we like to keep our write-ups short, so for our purposes we'll focus on the gangster, Humphrey Bogart, and his former girl, Claire Trevor. Bogart has risen to the top ranks of crime through smarts and ruthlessness, but to him Trevor represents a cleaner past and possibly a better future. He waits on the street for a glimpse of her, and when that finally happens he's thrilled. Trevor is less so, but there's no doubt she still loves Bogie. When he says he'll take her away from the slum she balks. It soon dawns on Bogie that she doesn't intend to leave, and he's devastated and confused. Trevor is evasive at first, then, pressured by Bogart, finally shouts, “I'm tired! I'm sick! Can't you see it! Look at me good! You're looking at me the way I used to be!” With that she moves from shadow:
Bogart takes a good look, from bottom to top:
And he realizes she is sick. Though it's unspoken, he realizes she has syphilis. All his dreams come crashing down in that devastating moment. He's disgusted, and it leads to an astonishing exchange of dialogue.
Bogart: Why didn't you get a job?
Trevor: They don't grow on trees.
Bogart: Why didn't you starve first?
Trevor: Why didn't you? Well? What did you expect?
Bogart escaped the poverty of that dead end street through organized crime, and killed on his rise to riches. Trevor had to survive through prostitution. Bogart thinks he's better than her; she tells him he's not. In his toxic male world, murder is less offensive than sex. He's the one who's twisted—not her. In addition to a great film moment, it's a clever Hays Code workaround. Nothing about sex, prostitution, or venereal disease could be stated, but through clever writing, acting, context, and direction—by William Wyler—the facts were clear to audiences. The rest of the story arcs are just as involving, and the movie on the whole is a mandatory drama. Dead End premiered in the U.S. in 1937, and in France today in 1938.
Ciné-Revue was the go-to publication for movie stars seeking exposure.
Here's your official Christmas gift, a prime example of that mid-century phenomenon we discuss often, the intersection of mainstream and adult cinema during the sixties and seventies. Ciné-Revue, which was published in Belgium and distributed there and in France, Switzerland, Canada, Portugal, Britain, and the Basque region of Spain, was at the vanguard of that idea. It highlighted both popular stars and their adult counterparts, blurring the line between the two. It wasn't hard to do. Famous performers often acted in sexually oriented films, and Ciné-Revue was a platform that helped cinematic explorations of sexual ideas be taken seriously. The issue you see above is the cover of Ciné-Revue Photos 49, a visual compendium of actresses both world famous and somewhat obscure. The names run the gamut from Anita Ekberg to Marina Marfoglia. Marfoglia gets the cover, while Ekberg gets the rear, and that's exactly what we're talking about—the obscure elevated over the known. Both are also featured in multiple pages inside—but while Ekberg gets seven, Marfoglia gets eight and the centerfold. The issue is about a hundred pages, but we're unable to put together a post that long. Instead, we've selected some of the nicer images to warm up this winter day. Enjoy, and don't worry about us slaving over a computer. We put this collection together last week. Right now, on Christmas, we're traveling with the PIs.
Every time she takes out a cigarette she barely survives a forest of fires.
Above: an interesting of shot of French actress Corinne Calvet made in 1951 when she was filming the anti-communist thriller Peking Express. It was a remake of the 1932 film Shanghai Express starring Marlene Dietrich. Tough shoes to fill but Calvet was a major star in her day, and considered a major beauty. You can't see that in this photo, what with all the smoke, but you can in a shot we shared earlier, at this link.
It's time to stand at attention, boys.
The cover art on Le voyage a Marseille by Alex Cadourcy was painted by someone new to our website. He signed his work as Arrigoni, as you see at lower left. Try as we might, we can't come up with more than that single name, though we did find other nice covers he created. Therefore this particular artist will remain a mystery for now. Cadourcy, though, was no mystery—he was aka André Héléna, and he wrote this for Éditions Le Lucane, copyright 1961.
You're too late. I already pulled it out of the stone, and now I'm in charge of everything.
Edwige Fenech was born in Algeria when it was under French control, had Maltese and Italian parents, and became a film star in Italy, so theoretically she gets to rule all those lands, and possibly England too, since we figure she went there to do the sword pulling. Her first decree as wielder of Excalibur? Better titles for her movies. The photo, which is a colorization of a black and white original, was made for 1969's Alle Kätzchen naschen gern, known in English as All Kitties Go for Sweeties, or alternatively The Blonde and the Black Pussycat. All three of those are terrible names for a film. It was later titled in English The Sweet Pussycats, which is a little better. Obviously, it's a comedy, and if you were to guess it's too stupid to be funny you'd be right. However, anything with Fenech is worth a little something.
….then he ate their livers. Anyway, I think he went that way. You check it out and I'll light your way from back here.
First rule of dark places: make sure you never go in first. Jean Salvetti paints a sinister scene on this cover for 1953's Des clous! by Robert Tachet, which is about crime, smuggling, and espionage in Perpignan on the French/Spanish border. The title, pronounced like “clue,” means “nails,” or maybe “spikes.” In the least surprising revelation imaginable, Tachet was a pseudonym for André Héléna. Why is that no surprise? Because Héléna was a pseudonym machine who also published as—ready?—Noël Vexin, Andy Ellen, Andy Helen, Buddy Wesson, Maureen Sullivan, Herbert Smally, Jean Zerbibe, Kathy Woodfield, Sznolock Lazslo, Clark Corrados, Peter Colombo, Alex Cadourcy, Joseph Benoist, Lemmy West, and C. Cailleaux. He was not only prolific, but was also one of the few mid-century writers to have his books translated into English from another language. Salvetti was prolific too. We have a few more examples of his brushwork if you're interested. Check here, here, here, here, and here.
She's so ready even the book cover is moist.
Above: a simple but striking piece of dust jacket art by French illustrator Jef de Wulf we found on an auction site for André Dinar's, aka, Georges-André Delpeuch's 1968 novel Dévergondée, a title that translates literally as “wanton.” Obviously, the paper got damp at some point, and being us, we ran with that idea for our subhead, and being them, the Pulp Intl. girlfriends told us we're gross. But that's the pulp life. You just gotta roll.
100 pounds of trigger pull weight.
Above is reedy Iso Yban, here pictured with a toy machine gun and not much else. Her various bios say she was born in Essen, Germany, but moved to Paris, where she became a dancer at Le Crazy Horse, and as a model posed under the aforementioned name, as well as Yso Iban, Isi Yban, Marlène Funch, Christina Madison, Belinda, et al. This bold shot was made by French lensman Serge Jacques and it dates from the late 1960s.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1969—Allende Meteorite Falls in Mexico
The Allende Meteorite, the largest object of its type ever found, falls in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The original stone, traveling at more than ten miles per second and leaving a brilliant streak across the sky, is believed to have been approximately the size of an automobile. But by the time it hit the Earth it had broken into hundreds of fragments.
1985—Matt Munro Dies
English singer Matt Munro, who was one of the most popular entertainers on the international music scene during the 1960s and sang numerous hits, including the James Bond theme "From Russia with Love," dies from liver cancer at Cromwell Hospital, Kensington, London.
1958—Plane Crash Kills 8 Man U Players
British European Airways Flight 609 crashes attempting to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport in Munich, West Germany. On board the plane is the Manchester United football team, along with a number of supporters and journalists. 20 of the 44 people on board die in the crash.
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