I didn't know that a girl like you could make me feel so sad...
A couple of weeks ago we shared a Mexican movie poster we weren't 100% sure was actually from Mexico. This time we're sure—this beautiful promo Antonio Caballero painted for the melodrama La red says right in the lower left corner “impreso en México.” In that previous write-up we also talked about how popular locally produced films were in Mexico before the industry was suffocated by U.S. business and political interests, and this effort is an example. It was made by Reforma Films S.A., based in Mexico City, and starred Libyan born Italian actress Rossana Podesta, Costa Rican actor Crox Alvarado, and U.S. born actor Armando Silvestre. Enticing a burgeoning international star like Podesta over from Europe indicates how established the Mexican film industry was in 1953, when La red was made.
Interestingly, when the movie played in the U.S. it was titled simply Rosanna, which makes sense, because it would be nothing without Podesta. It struck us that even though Toto didn't write their song of obsession “Rosanna” about Podesta, they might as well have. The film begins when a group of men botch a robbery, a shootout commences, and one of the bandits, Antonio, played by Alvarado, tries to help his wounded comrade. But the dying man gasps to Antonio, “Save yourself—for Rossana.” So we know she's a special woman even before seeing her. Antonio does save himself and goes to live on the seaside with Podesta, where the two harvest sea sponges. It's idyllic, but as a wanted thief he has to lay low, which means sending her alone to town to sell their catch. And the men in the town are... well... see below:
I am intrigued by this spicy redhead.
I too find myself somewhat taken with this mysterious chile pepper of a woman.
Perhaps I'll invite her to coffee and a cronut. That's a cross between a croissant and a donut, my friend, and living out there on the idyllic seashore as she does, I bet she's never had one.
I wonder if she's a fan of our great romantic poet Salvador Díaz Mirón?
I'm certain she has no idea how quickly European skin can burn in this tropical climate.
I'm admittedly less high minded than other men, and mainly wonder what she looks like naked, and whether the carpet is red too.
What the hell are all these guys staring— Oh. I think it's me.
Clearly, these trips into town are menacing affairs for Podesta. If you were to screen the sequences at an anti-sexual harassment seminar, every guy in the joint would bow his head in shame. Important to note, though, that within the narrative these aggressively pervy guys are depicted in a negative light, with even the soundtrack music growing ominous. When one of Antonio's robbery compatriots shows up in town, he gets into a shootout that leaves two men dead, and therein are sown the seeds of future troubles. We won't say more, save that the film is stagy, stylized, operatic, almost devoid of dialogue, and largely remembered because of Podesta's role. It all worked well enough to earn the Prix International du film le mieux raconté par l'image, aka the Award for Visual Narration, at the Cannes Film Festival.
Moving on to the poster, have a look at a previous Mexican promo we shared last year. It's here. We'll wait. Back? You'd think it was the same person who painted both, but the reason we wanted you to glance at the other one is because it exemplifies the strange phenomenon of artists within the same film industry biting each other's styles. It happened in Italy and Sweden too. Either through direct influence from the studios, or through osmosis due to mutual association, several Mexican artists delved into this art deco tinged style. Check out Leopoldo Mendoza Andrade here. Interesting, right? You'll see what we mean even more clearly when we share posters from other Mexican artists, for example Juan Antonio Vargas. That'll be soon. La Red premiered in Mexico today in 1953.
Okay God, I've done the hard part of sculpting my perfect woman. Your part is easy. Just bring her to life.
Here's another interesting entry for our collection of books with "wanton" in the title—Wanton Venus by French author Maurice Leblanc, who you may remember invented the character Arsène Lupin, aka the French Sherlock Holmes. The story here doesn't involve Lupin. It's about a man who comes across a breathtaking nude statue and searches out who posed for it. He travels all over France and ends up narrowing his suspects down to four beautiful sisters living in a Mediterranean chateau. This is another one of those novels that was spruced up with new art. The original was published in 1935, and the fact that it was pretty daring for the time made it a natural for a Stateside reprinting. This Novel Library edition from Diversey Publishing appeared in 1948 and the fun cover painting is by the great Ann Cantor. You can see more from her here and here.
There's a severe Price to pay for being a bad wife.
This French poster was painted by Roger Soubie for the cheeseball horror flick La nuit de tous les mystères, which was better known as House on Haunted Hill. Basically, Vincent Price offers $10,000 to anyone who can spend the night in a scary house, but in the meantime he hopes to get rid of his not-so-loving wife Carol Ohmart. That's not a spoiler—in the first few minutes of the film he tells her he wants her dead. And she him. The question is will he do it? Will she kill him? Or will they kiss and make up? You could watch and learn the answers, but in our opinion, considering how much more sophisticated horror became, this one is little more than an amusing cinematic curiosity, not worth watching, though it's notable for its exteriors of the iconic Ennis House in Los Angeles (see below). House on Haunted Hill opened in the U.S. in 1960 and reached France today in 1961.
When it comes to fashion she doesn't clown around.
Is there such a thing as too many dots? French actress Leslie Caron tests the limits in the beachy 1965 promo photo at top. A polkadot bikini, we can all probably agree, is cute. But a polkadot bikini with a floppy polkadot hat? Is she possibly violating the dot density rule where the oh so fragile line into clown territory is crossed?
Not that we're fashion gurus, but we think this hat is definitely too garish to look good on most women, at least outside of the Belmont Stakes. Admit it—if your wife, girlfriend or friend were to wear it on the beach you'd be hoping a gust of wind would rip it off her head and carry it into the ocean to be eaten by a moray eel. But on Caron? There's no dotted line to cross—she actually makes this look nice, which is what movie stars do.
You'll also notice this appears to be the world's most versatile hat, because she not only goes for a dip in it, but later pairs it with a high-necked, sleeveless polkadot top—another item you'd be hoping would end up in the ocean if a woman you knew wore it. Well, that's fashion—a thing the Carons of the world can wear and hungry eels don't even come to mind. You can see an interesting National Enquirer cover of her hatless and dotless at this link.
Ladybug sings the blues for French music lovers.
This is a cool little item. It's a record sleeve from famed transgender entertainer Coccinelle, whose nickname is French for “Ladybug.” The record is called Jacques Dufresnoy dit Coccinelle, referencing her pre-trans name, and there are two tunes—“Je cherche un millionaire” on the a-side, and “Avec mon petit faux-cul” on the b. We think both songs are pretty cool evocations of a bygone era of supper clubs, cabarets, and jazzy dance numbers. We were born too late to go to such places, but we can listen to this type of music and pretend. If you want to pretend too, you can listen to the songs here and here.
Lady, if you don't stop blocking my view I'm going to strangle you and leave you buried with the pharaohs.
We never go long without sharing art from French illustrator Jef de Wulf, and here he is again doing cover work for publisher Éditions de la Flamme d'Or and author Jacques Destier, whose Egyptian adventure Nioussia l'insaisissable was published in 1954. Destier was a pseudonym used by Jacques Thinus. If your French is rusty, Nioussia, l'insaisissable means “Nioussia, the elusive.” See de Wulf at his best here and here, and we'll have more from him a bit later.
Legendary thief plays cat and mouse on the French Riviera.
One of our favorite fiction tricks is the hero who has no idea a beautiful pest loves him. In David Dodge's To Catch a Thief the technique is used to good effect as readers are treated to a fun tale about a retired jewel thief known as Le Chat (the Cat) who'll be thrown in a French prison on general suspicion unless he catches an imitator who's robbing one percenters all over the French Riviera. Dodge is a rock solid storyteller, not the type of artisan to win literary prizes, but one to keep you turning pages at a rapid clip, and he's great here as usual. The art on this 1953 edition from Dell Publications is by Mike Ludlow, and even though the bikini clad cover figure for some reason is depicted on a piney lakeshore rather than the beach at Cannes, the image is still a nice match for Dodge's urbane, sun-drenched, Mediterranean mystery. Highly recommended.
You might as well spawn with me. I'm going to tell all my friends we did anyway.
We just learned about French artist Constantin Belinsky, and here he's painted a promo for L'étrange créature du lac noir, better known as Creature from the Black Lagoon. This film is an all-time classic so you don't need us to tell you anything about it. It premiered in the U.S. in 1954 and swam into France today in 1955. See another poster for the film in the collection of aquatic monster promos we put together ten years ago. Yes, ten. Hard to believe. Look here.
We're hooked on this poster—and the movie too.
Le port de la drogue was better known as Pickup on South Street, a movie we raved about a little while ago. Its U.S. poster is pedestrian, but this promo for the French market was painted by Constantin Belinsky, and we think it's spectacular. He actually painted two posters, the second of which—not quite as nice because he was asked to copy the U.S. promo—appears below. We'd never heard of Belinsky before but we'll keep our eyes open for more of his work. Pickup on South Street premiered in the U.S. in 1953 and seems to not have made it to France until today in 1961. We aren't sure why it took so long, but the wait was worth it, because the movie is great. |
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