Whatever the background color she was always red hot.
Above are three images of Tunisian born Italian actress Claudia Cardinale made by Italian photographer Angelo Frontoni. It's difficult to imagine European cinema without Frontoni. He photographed everyone, and he blurred the line between mainstream photography and erotica by collaborating with magazines like Excelsior and Playmen. Cardinale is pretty racy here by her standards. She worked with Frontoni many times over the course of her career, which began during the late 1950s and continues today, encompassing such films as 8½, The Pink Panther, Blindfold, Les pétroleuses, Fitzcarraldo, Once Upon a Time in the West, et al. These shots don't have a copyright date that we could find, but based on appearance we'd say they're from the late 1970s.
Franco Picchioni is bad as in good.
Franco Picchioni's hits keep coming. Above is another cover from the respected Italian artist, this time for Georges H. Boskero's Il genio del male, number twenty-two in the crime series Il Cerchio Rosso from Edizioni MA-GA, 1965. The title translates to “evil genius.” In terms of Picchioni, we'll certainly go with genius. See more from him starting at this link.
He's watching your every move.
Above is an Italian poster for the U.S. drama I, Mobster, a 1959 crime drama starring Steve Cochran that we discussed earlier this year. This promo is different from the U.S. version but still features lettering across Cochrane's eye—though the visual pun of having the actual letter “I” cross his eye is not achievable in Italian. But we still like this for its successful conveyance of mood, and we liked the movie enough to want to circle back to it. It's obscure, but pretty good. Plus it introduced us to Lita Milan.
Vetri obeys neither man nor beast.
Above is a pretty nice find, an Italian promo poster for Quando i dinosauri si mordevano la coda, better known as When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. We've featured the movie several times, and probably will again because it starred Victoria Vetri, aka Angela Dorian, aka Victoria Rathgeb, who fascinates us not merely because she's beautiful in the film, but also because she shot her husband. She appears on this poster with co-stars Magda Knopka and Imogen Hassall. When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth opened in England in 1970, and worldwide the next year. There's no official release date for Italy, but it would have played there during the summer of 1971.
Sometimes you run out of superlatives.
Recently we mentioned, more or less in passing, that Vonetta McGee was very beautiful. We'd already featured her as a femme fatale years ago, but our recent name drop got us thinking about sharing another image or two. We expected photos to be hard to find. Interest acts as a filtering mechanism, and since there are not many people percentagewise who save African American actresses' old photos and slides, fewer who digitize them, and still fewer who place them on their websites, all these factors converge and the result is lowered representation. We see it every day. There are significant and talented black actresses with extensive filmographies, yet they have only a fraction the number of surviving promo photos of non-black actresses who made only a few movies. For that reason we were pretty happy when we not only found the above shot of McGee during her ingénue period, twenty-three years old, but a marvelous shot. A wonderful shot. It was made when she debuted in the 1968 Italian comedy Faustina, and this is what we meant when we said she was very beautiful. After a successful career appearing in films ranging from trendy blaxploitation such as Blacula to high budget features such as The Eiger Sanction, the magnificent McGee died today in 2010.
She never loses that Loving feeling.
Above are two Italian posters for the 1973 sexploitation action flick Ginger il simbolo del sesso con licenza... d'amare, a very long title for something made in English as Girls Are for Loving. It's basically a spy movie, and the Italian translates as, “Ginger the symbol of sex with license... to love.” Hah hah, those horny Italian marketing guys. Well, they're horny for a reason. The main character of undercover operative Ginger MacCallister is played by the uniquely uninhibited Cheri Caffaro. There's no Italian release date known, which is amazing because we bet everyone who saw this movie remembered it for a very long time.
You moved like they do. I've never seen anyone move that fast.
Usually when we share a foreign poster for a film it's because the foreign version is markedly better. The original poster for Bruce Lee's Hong Kong-produced martial arts thriller Tang shan da xiong is actually pretty nice, but the Matrix-like motion capture attempt on this Italian version is just too cool to ignore. In Italy the film was titled Il furore della Cina colpisce ancora, or “China's fury strikes again,” and the art is by Averado Ciriello. It's an inspired effort, which he almost equals on version two, at bottom. There are also two Japanese posters at this link, and it's here that we mention that the movie was titled in English The Big Boss and Fists (not Fist) of Fury.
Bruce Lee movies are not to be watched for their acting or complex plots, and the dialogue in this one is laugh-out-loud bad. The film is a morality play about Lee, an expert fighter, having promised his wise old uncle never to fight again because “violence is never the answer.” Of course he's immediately dropped into a pit of evil when his new job in an ice factory turns out to be a front for drug smuggling. His intervention in the racket comes exactly too late to help his cousin, who's murdered by the villains, but when he finally fights, it's with lightning quickness and almost mystical ability, as he lethally wades through hoards of baddies and cripples the smuggling enterprise single-handedly, or double-fistedly. Maybe violence is the answer after all.
But it isn't quite that easy. These traffickers didn't reach the top of the heap for nothing. Their continued commitment to violence demands that Lee either walk away or willingly descend into the same cycle. As always there's a final showdown with a crafty old karate master who pushes Lee to his limits. His moral progression from purity through temptation, corruption, shame, revenge, and consequences is cheesy but it's also very entertaining, and one thing is clear. He never needed digital help to dazzle the eye. He'd demonstrate his gifts in three more movies, then be gone, at the age of thirty-two, with his final film—his biggest hit Enter the Dragon—released posthumously. Tang shan da xiong premiered in Hong Kong in 1971 and reached Italy today in 1973.
Aliens arrive on Earth to show humanity how killing is really done.
Above is a French edition of the 1898 sci-fi classic The War of the Worlds, published by Éditorial J'ai Lu in 1959 as La Guerre des mondes. H.G. Wells' vision of monstrous invaders with giant war machines, drooling mouths, and a thirst for human blood is still scary even today. The cover on this is by Italian artist Giovanni Benvenuti, a true master we've documented extensively. You can see what we've done on him by clicking here and scrolling down.
Hi, I need an ambulance immediately. There's a man here whose heart has stopped.
In this photo there's something you used to see up until maybe the early 1980s. A lot of people feel great nostalgia for it, though it's large, somewhat unwieldy, and definitely out of fashion now. We're talking of course about the classic bakelite telephone, here being used by the lovely Italian actress Leonora Fani to call an ambulance for her overwhelmed date, who hit the floor seconds after her clothes did. At least that's the way we like to see it. You probably haven't heard of Fani, but she was in about twenty-five movies, including the unforgettable Dog Lay Afternoon. No, that's not a typo. Lay, not Day. The one you're thinking of starred Al Pacino. The one Fani was in starred a doberman and was made in Italy as Bestialità. We could tell you more, but if we did you might end up on the floor too. We shared this photo for one reason. After the 170-page frustration that was The Nude Who Never we figured we'd present a nude who always. Or at least usually.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1920—U.S. Women Gain Right To Vote
The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified despite heavy conservative opposition. It states that no U.S. citizen can be denied the right to vote because of their gender.
1958—Lolita is Published in the U.S.
Vladimir Nabokov's controversial novel Lolita, about a man's sexual obsession with a pre-pubescent girl, is published in the United States. It had been originally published in Paris three years earlier.
1953—NA Launches Recovery Program
Narcotics Anonymous, a twelve-step program of drug addiction recovery modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous, holds its first meeting in Los Angeles, California.
1942—Blimp Crew Disappears without a Trace
The two-person crew of the U.S. naval blimp L-8 disappears on a routine patrol over the Pacific Ocean. The blimp drifts without her crew and crashes in Daly City, California. The mystery of the crew's disappearance is never solved.
1977—Elvis Presley Dies
Music icon Elvis Presley is found unresponsive by his fiancée on the floor of his Graceland bedroom suite. Attempts to revive him fail and he's pronounced dead soon afterward. The cause of death is often cited as drug overdose, but toxicology tests have never found evidence this was the case. More likely, years of drug abuse contributed to generally frail health and an overtaxed heart that suddenly failed.
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