Vintage Pulp Oct 23 2020
SWAMPED AT WORK
A trapper's job turns into a battle of wits and a test of survival.


The movie Swamp Water is based on Vereen Bell's 1941 novel of the same name. We read the book a while back and loved it, so having a look at the movie adaptation was mandatory. Jean Renoir directs a heavyweight cast: Walter Brennan, Walter Huston, Dana Andrews, an eighteen-year old Anne Baxter, and even John Carradine. Brennan is the key character, playing a murder suspect hiding in the Okefenokee Swamp. He's considered an all-time great actor, and here he plays a backwoods good ole boy, mouthing dialogue like, “I bet I been cottonmouth bit a dozen times.” When we heard that line we had to laugh, because it prefigures his famous soliloquy from 1946's To Have and Have Not about being “bit by a dead bee.”

There's more excellent dialogue in this. Our favorite line: “It's gettin' so I don't expect nothin' from you 'cept a bossified tongue and a cussin' out.”

While the script is fun, we didn't think Bell's book would be easily adaptable and we were right. One of the pleasures of the novel is its extensive focus on the geography of the swamp, but there was no way that could fit into the film. The air of deep foreboding and mystery is also missing. For those and other reasons what you end up with is a so-so old movie made from an excellent old book. The script closely follows the source material, so if you want to know a bit more about the plot, we posted a short write-up on the novel here. Swamp Water opened across the U.S. in November 1941, but before its national debut had a special premiere in the town of Waycross, Georgia, where much of the movie was made. That was today, 1941.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 7 2020
HASSLES IN THE SAND
The beach is always fun and games until someone gets burned.


What a coincidence. We were just talking about Joan Bennett a couple of days ago. You remember the story. Her husband tried to shoot her lover in the balls. Or unit. Or really anywhere in the vicinity of his reproductive organs. And he succeeded in hitting the vicinity, but missed all the crucial plumbing. It was a Hollywood love triangle that ended in blood and violence. Woman on the Beach stars Bennett, Robert Ryan, and Charles Bickford, and is also a love triangle that causes violence. The plot concerns a Coast Guard officer who becomes infatuated with a married woman. The woman's husband is an artist who lost his sight in an accident, but the Coast Guard officer becomes convinced the artist isn't really blind, but rather is using it as an excuse to hang onto his wife. Under the careful direction of French auteur Jean Renoir, Woman on the Beach makes for a decent ninety minutes of entertainment. We don't consider it a film noir, by the way, as some crowdsourced sites and blogs suggest. It just doesn't meet the requirements, in our view. AFI.com agrees, and calls it  drama. It premiered in New York City today in 1947.

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Femmes Fatales Apr 13 2016
FIRING BLANCK
Some are on the left and others are on the right, but her position on guns is in the middle.


This image of German born French actress Dorothée Blanck appeared on the cover of France's Cinémonde magazine today in 1965. Blanck died in January at the age of 81 after decades in cinema, including roles in Jean-Luc Godard's Une femme est une femme, Jean Renoir's Elena et les hommes, and Jacques Demy's Les parapluies de Cherbourg. She came from the humblest of beginnings—born in prison in Aichach, where her mother was serving time for political crimes like numerous leftists resistant to the rising Nazis; shuttled around to various orphanages and institutions; not even given an official name for the first two years of her life. Her film career began in 1953 and, with occasional lulls, she worked often throughout her life, appearing in some forty films. Her last project, entitled Jours de France, or Days of France, is in post-production and is slated to hit cinemas sometime this year. 

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Intl. Notebook Apr 30 2013
SOUTHERN INHOSPITALITY
Hell no! We won’t go! Hell no! We won’t go!

The above photos show three bathing beauties picketing a showing of Jean Renoir’s 1945 drama The Southerner. If you’ve ever seen the movie you know there’s really nothing controversial in it, so you won’t be surprised to learn that the picket was a publicity stunt dreamt up by theatrical producer and director Earl Carroll to promote both his theater in Hollywood and his Earl Carroll Girls. Bathing suit picket lines were a favorite Carroll trick. He even once picketed himself, arranging for half a dozen sign-carrying girls to march in front of his own theater. The Southerner premiered today in 1945.  

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
January 21
1950—Alger Hiss Is Convicted of Perjury
American lawyer Alger Hiss is convicted of perjury in connection with an investigation by the House unAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC), at which he was questioned about being a Soviet spy. Hiss served forty-four months in prison. Hiss maintained his innocence and fought his perjury conviction until his death in 1996 at age 92.
1977—Carter Pardons War Fugitives
U.S. President Jimmy Carter pardons nearly all of the country's Vietnam War draft evaders, many of whom had emigrated to Canada. He had made the pardon pledge during his election campaign, and he fulfilled his promise the day after he took office.
January 19
1915—Claude Patents Neon Tube
French inventor Georges Claude patents the neon discharge tube, in which an inert gas is made to glow various colors through the introduction of an electrical current. His invention is immediately seized upon as a way to create eye catching advertising, and the neon sign comes into existence to forever change the visual landscape of cities.
1937—Hughes Sets Air Record
Millionaire industrialist, film producer and aviator Howard Hughes sets a new air record by flying from Los Angeles, California to New York City in 7 hours, 28 minutes, 25 seconds. During his life he set multiple world air-speed records, for which he won many awards, including America's Congressional Gold Medal.
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