|Vintage Pulp||Jun 1 2022|
Reality says she's way out of his league. Entertainment tradition says she isn't.
Above you see a poster for the Marilyn Monroe comedy The Seven Year Itch, which we're taking a close look at today because it's a pulp movie. No, really. It isn't a pulp movie in a standard way, but how can we ignore a film, even though it's a comedy, that happens to be about the pulp industry? Perhaps some of you have forgotten this detail, but co-star Tom Ewell plays an editor at a 25¢ publishing house, where among other important duties he repackages literary classics with sexy, good-girl-art covers. If you look just below, Ewell's secretary Marguerite Chapman displays the company's latest reimagining—a racy makeover of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. They've featured scantily clad women in the art, and added the tagline: “The secrets of a girls dormitory.” So even though thousands of online scribes have written about The Seven Year Itch, its setting in the pulp publishing realm demands that we discuss it too.
But of course, pulp is merely the backdrop; the movie is really all Monroe. We know it comes across as anachronistic to some viewers, but this film is completely modern in at least one important way. The trope of a schlubby everyman scoring with—or at least turning the head of—a woman much more beautiful than him is still a linchpin of American entertainment. Let us count the examples: There's Something About Mary, Big Bang Theory, King of Queens, She's Out of My League, Night Shift, Forrest Gump, Bewitched, Superbad, Knocked Up—in fact, anything with Seth Rogen in it—and not to be forgotten, both Beauty and the Beast and Lady and the Tramp. In all of those, the female love interest, whether human or cocker spaniel, is objectively too beautiful for the lead male. It's a trope that has always worked, and probably always will because it's primarily males who are marketed to in cinema and television.
In The Seven Year Itch the hot girl/ugly guy theme is doubly funny because Ewell's wife is played by Evelyn Keyes, and she's supposed to be, we guess, not out of Ewell's league. Uh huh. Hollywood, right? Keyes is plenty hot, though of course she's no Monroe. Cue eyeroll from our girlfriends. They aren't clear on why so many men find Marilyn attractive. To them she's a little fat, which is no surprise from the perspective of our pint-sized better halves, but the weight of actresses varied greatly during the mid-century era, from the zaftig Jayne Mansfield to the reedy Audrey Hepburn. Marilyn was somewhere in the middle of the voluptuous range—i.e. not fat. However, her weight did fluctuate. In Something's Gotta Give she was thin enough to be about perfect for current sensibilities. She made any level of poundage look good though, because, first and foremost, she was impossibly cute. This look right here:
Those blue eyes of hers that are pointed in slightly different directions. That's hot. That look also captures Monroe's go-to instrument as an actress—an expression that conveys an expectant, scrubbed, and somewhat (but never totally) naive sex appeal. Having watched her dramas as well as her comedies, there's no doubt her gift was for the latter. Her comedies are unimaginable without her, and she was in her own class. Bardot played the same kittenish character at times, and Demongeot, and other actresses, but Marilyn was simply the best. The Seven Year Itch showcases an eternal star shining her brightest, as she plays a twenty-something aspiring actress who moves in upstairs from the klutzy Ewell, whose wife is away for the summer. Monroe proceeds to unknowingly fuel all sorts of male fantasies that—surprise—start to come true, as the lack of air conditioning in the upstairs flat has her increasingly avoiding it in favor of Ewell's.
The way the script is built, with each encounter between Monroe and Ewell another line on the way to potential infidelity is crossed, until the crossed line becomes literal when Monroe discovers that the apartments—which had once been a single two-level residence—are reconnectible by pulling some nails out of the floor where a staircase had been closed off. The possibility of actually living with Marilyn is a delicious dilemma, ingeniously lifted right out of the male id by director/writer Billy Wilder and co-writer George Axelrod. The movie obviously isn't totally wonderful. Some see it as sexist, and certainly its opening sequence of actors painted up like a native American tribe is pure minstrelry, but just like people, movies can harbor out-of-date ideas without being malicious. As long as that line isn't crossed, we can appreciate both The Seven Year Itch, and how far we've progressed since it was made. It premiered today in 1955, and you can see a couple more excellent posters here and here.
New York CityThe Seven Year ItchMarilyn MonroeTom EwellEvelyn KeyesMarguerite ChapmanBilly WilderGeorge Axelrodposter artcinemamovie review
|Intl. Notebook||Sep 14 2021|
No knock on Marilyn but even she's not worth this much to us.
In our continuing efforts to document all things Marilyn, we have today a unique piece of Monroe memorabilia, a life-sized cutout bearing her lovely form. This was made in 1953 as a promo for her drama Don't Bother To Knock, and it's fitting, because she was like cardboard in that flick. We already talked about it, and we think she was one of the greatest stars ever, and a brilliant actress too, but not in that particular psychological snakepit of a film. We're not being iconoclastic. We hate when people do that. We simply accept that every star has dim moments. Bogart made The Two Mrs. Carrolls. Michael Caine made The Hand. It happens.
But memorabilia often stands apart from performances. This cutout of Marilyn would have value no matter which film it was associated with—or even it were not associated with any film at all. You can buy it on Ebay but it'll cost you a small fortune—$1,750, plus shipping. For us, because of where we live, the latter would mean $520 additional mailing costs, plus $513 import fees, all to have the oceanfront humidity here wilt fragile Marilyn like she drank too many martinis. So as much as we'd love to have her, it's a hard no. Also, we never pay more for anything than it costs to fly to Thailand. You gotta to have a code.
|Intl. Notebook||Sep 1 2021|
Monroe counts the days for Japanese film fans.
Above is a September/October calendar page printed by the Japanese film magazine Eiga no tomo, or “friend of movies.” And who is that ushering summer out and autumn in but Marilyn Monroe? As you've surely noticed by now, Monroe was a huge star in Japan. This is just one of many unique items we've located, along with this, this, this, and others. Though the calendar is for 1954, the photo dates from 1951, and a dandy one it is.
|Vintage Pulp||Jul 18 2021|
Monroe finds herself in a room with no space to maneuver.
It says plenty about Don't Bother To Knock that we queued it up last night, popcorn and adult beverages in hand, having forgotten that we already watched it several years ago. That has less to do with the overall film than with Marilyn Monroe, but we'll get to that in a minute. The film was based on Charlotte Armstrong's Mischief, which was serialized in 1950 in Good Housekeeping magazine, and deals with a mentally disturbed babysitter watching over a child in a fancy New York City hotel suite. Along with Monroe it stars Richard Widmark and Anne Bancroft, with their three characters suffering respectively from derangement, detachment, and disillusionment—three ailments suggested to be caused or exacerbated by life in the big city. Widmark as a cynical single looking for easy action and Bancroft as a world weary torch singer working the hotel lounge don't have any problems a change in luck wouldn't solve, but the movie revolves around Monroe, who, thirteen credited roles into her career at this point, gets a chance to stretch her range as a nutty nanny in need of a lot more than just kind words to get back on the beam.
Monroe's performance in this heavy drama is tough to judge. To us it feels a bit flat, but contemporary reviewers generally liked it, and it's fair to say it helped her climb that last rung to the superstardom she'd reach a year later with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Watch that film and you'll see that, while Don't Bother To Knock asked her to stretch, it did so by requiring that she suppress her natural charisma. That's no easy trick for an actor, let alone someone as incandescent as her, and that, in short, is probably why we forgot we'd already watched the movie. Monroe was so big in her other performances that this flick went down the memory hole. Her iconic movies feel as if they could only have starred her. This one feels like it could have starred anyone. Monroe just isn't Monroe in it. But that probably means her performance is a success. Watching it afresh, we can tell you it's certainly a must for Marilyn fans, and will probably work for vintage film fans of all types. But those unschooled in the oldies might walk away from this effort thinking, Meh, I don't get all the Monroe fuss. But the fuss was appropriate and deserved. Don't Bother To Knock—not a film noir as labeled on many sites, by the way—premiered today in 1953.
New York CityGood HousekeepingDon't Bother To KnockRichard WidmarkAnne BancroftMarilyn MonroeElisha Cook Jr.Charlotte Armstrongposter artcinemamovie review
|Musiquarium||Jun 17 2021|
Monroe doesn't even have to be real to steal the show.
Bet you've never seen anything quite like this before. And depending on how you feel about dolls maybe you don't want to see anything like it again. The photo shows Japanese singer Junko Sakurada performing with a terrifying—er, we mean fascinating—doll of film immortal Marilyn Monroe. This is not quite as leftfield a pairing as it looks. Sakurada covered the Monroe song “I Wanna Be Loved by You” on her 1976 live album Nee ki ga tsuite yo, aka Hey! Be Aware, so she's possibly performing that tune with the help of some terrifying—er, we mean appealing—visual accompaniment. Try not to imagine this nightmare version of Monroe being somewhere inside your house when you go to sleep tonight.
|Femmes Fatales||Jun 9 2021|
She always knew how to get her kicks.
Even upside down Marilyn Monroe is instantly recognizable. She becomes the latest to join the celebrity exercise club on Pulp Intl. in these shots made from 1948 to 1952. There are more images of her in this vein, but we think these are the best, except for the one in this post. You can see our other flexible femmes by starting here.
|Hollywoodland||May 22 2021|
It's shocking how many Hollywood stars did smack.
Everybody wants to slap somebody sometime. Luckily, actors in movies do it so you don't have to. The above shot is a good example. Edward G. Robinson lets Humphrey Bogart have it in 1948's Key Largo, as Claire Trevor looks on. In vintage cinema, people were constantly slapping. Men slapped men, men slapped women, women slapped women, and women slapped men. The recipient was usually the protagonist because—though some readers may not realize this—even during the ’40s and 50s, slapping was considered uncouth at a minimum, and downright villainous at worst, particularly when men did it. So generally, bad guys did the slapping, with some exceptions. Glenn Ford slaps Rita Hayworth in Gilda, for example, out of humiliation. Still wrong, but he wasn't the film's villain is our point. Humphrey Bogart lightly slaps Martha Vickers in The Big Sleep to bring her out of a drug stupor. He's like a doctor. Sort of.
In any case, most cinematic slapping is fake, and when it wasn't it was done with the consent of the participants (No, really slap me! It'll look more realistic.). There are some famous examples of chipped teeth and bloody noses deriving from the pursuit of realism. We can envision a museum exhibit of photos like these, followed by a lot of conversation around film, social mores, masculinity, and their intersection. We can also envison a conversation around the difference between fantasy and reality. There are some who believe portryals of bad things endorse the same. But movies succeed largely by thrilling, shocking, and scaring audiences, which requires portraying thrilling, shocking, and frightening moments. If actors can't do that, then ultimately movies must become as banal as everyday llife. Enjoy the slapfest.
Broderick Crawford slaps Marlene Dietrich in the 1940's Seven Sinners.
June Allyson lets Joan Collins have it across the kisser in a promo image for The Opposite Sex, 1956.
Speaking of Gilda, here's one of Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth re-enacting the slap heard round the world. Hayworth gets to slap Ford too, and according to some accounts she loosened two of his teeth. We don't know if that's true, but if you watch the sequence it is indeed quite a blow. 100% real. We looked for a photo of it but had no luck.
Don't mess with box office success. Ford and Hayworth did it again in 1952's Affair in Trinidad.
All-time film diva Joan Crawford gets in a good shot on Lucy Marlow in 1955's Queen Bee.
The answer to the forthcoming question is: She turned into a human monster, that's what. Joan Crawford is now on the receiving end, with Bette Davis issuing the slap in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Later Davis kicks Crawford, so the slap is just a warm-up.
Mary Murphy awaits the inevitable from John Payne in 1955's Hell's Island.
Romy Schneider slaps Sonia Petrova in 1972's Ludwig.
Lauren Bacall lays into Charles Boyer in 1945's Confidential Agent and garnishes the slap with a brilliant snarl.
Iconic bombshell Marilyn Monroe drops a smart bomb on Cary Grant in the 1952 comedy Monkey Business.
This is the most brutal slap of the bunch, we think, from 1969's Patton, as George C. Scott de-helmets an unfortunate soldier played by Tim Considine.
A legendary scene in filmdom is when James Cagney shoves a grapefruit in Mae Clark's face in The Public Enemy. Is it a slap? He does it pretty damn hard, so we think it's close enough. They re-enact that moment here in a promo photo made in 1931.
Sophia Loren gives Jorge Mistral a scenic seaside slap in 1957's Boy on a Dolphin.
Victor Mature fails to live up to his last name as he slaps Lana Turner in 1954's Betrayed.
Ronald Reagan teaches Angie Dickinson how supply side economics work in 1964's The Killers.
Marie Windsor gets in one against Mary Castle from the guard position in an episode of television's Stories of the Century in 1954. Windsor eventually won this bout with a rear naked choke.
It's better to give than receive, but sadly it's Bette Davis's turn, as she takes one from Dennis Morgan in In This Our Life, 1942.
Anthony Perkins and Raf Vallone dance the dance in 1962's Phaedra, with Vallone taking the lead.
And he thought being inside the ring was hard. Lilli Palmer nails John Garfield with a roundhouse right in the 1947 boxing classic Body and Soul.
1960's Il vigile, aka The Mayor, sees Vittorio De Sica rebuked by member of the electorate Lia Zoppelli. She's more than a voter in this—she's also his wife, so you can be sure he deserved it.
Brigitte Bardot delivers a not-so-private slap to Dirk Sanders in 1962's Vie privée, aka A Very Private Affair.
In a classic case of animal abuse. Judy Garland gives cowardly lion Bert Lahr a slap on the nose in The Wizard of Oz. Is it his fault he's a pussy? Accept him as he is, Judy.
Robert Culp backhands Raquel Welch in 1971's Hannie Caudler.
And finally, Laurence Harvey dares to lay hands on the perfect Kim Novak in Of Human Bondage.
Key LargoSeven SinnersThe Opposite SexGildaThe KillersWhatever Happened to Baby Jane?LudwigConfidential AgentPattonThe Public EnemyBoy on a DolphinOf Human BondageQueen BeeBetrayedStories of the CenturyIn This Our LifePhaedraBody and SoulIl vigileThe MayorThe Wizard of OzHannie CaulderVie privéeA Very Private AffairEdward G. RobinsonHumphrey BogartClaire TrevorMarlene DietrichBroderick CrawfordJune AllysonJoan CollinsGlenn FordRita HayworthBette FordJoan CrawfordMary MurphyJohn PayneRomy SchneiderSonia PetrovaLauren BacallCharles BoyerMarilyn MonroeCary GrantGeorge C. ScottTim ConsidineJames CagneyMae ClarkeSophia LorenJorge MistralJoan CrawfordLucy MarlowVictor MatureLana Turner Marie WindsorMary CastleDennis MorganRaf ValloneAnthony PerkinsLilli PalmerJohn GarfieldLia ZoppelliKim NovakLaurence HarveyVittorio De SicaDirk SandersBrigitte BardotJudy GarlandBert LahrRaquel WelchRobert CulpRonald ReaganAngie Dickinson
|Intl. Notebook||May 18 2021|
Palm Springs residents thought they'd seen the last of mega Monroe. They were wrong.
At Pulp Intl. we report on all things Marilyn Monroe, from her life and loves to her alleged porno film, so of course we couldn't let this one slide by. A giant Marilyn Monroe statue inspired by her famous subway breeze scene in The Seven Year Itch is set to be installed in Palm Springs, California. The twenty-six-foot high statue, created by Seward Johnson and called “Forever Marilyn,” already resided in the city from 2012 to 2014, and when she left plenty were happy to see her parachute-sized panties leave town. Now she's scheduled to return to a site near the Palm Springs Art Museum and some locals have their knickers in a twist. There are two objections: that the statue is garish and lowbrow, and that it's sexist. Both complaints inarguably state the obvious—it's garish and sexist. Sort of like Pulp Intl.
In our case, we preserve historical art for discussion and learning. Since plenty of art and literature from the period we highlight is sexist, our website is sexist also—at least to some. We suggest they not visit. But the Monroe statue is a 2011 creation, and as such isn't a piece of history per se, so much as a tribute to it. It's also in a public place, which makes it a matter of public debate. We can't think of any recent item that ties more contemporary issues into a Gordian knot than this statue. Yes, it's garish. Yes, it's sexist. Yes, it's a little creepy in the #metoo era.Yes, in some amorphous way it's tangentially related to the denial of progress and rights for women. Conversely, yes, it's entertaining. Yes, it's a tribute to an icon (a sexualized tribute, as she was a sex symbol—something that barely exists today). Yes, it's a tribute to golden age Hollywood. Yes, it's inspired by a moment from a comedic film that made millions of people, both male and female, feel good. It's a thorny issue, for sure.
But there's a silver panty lining. Monroe has done something the greatest minds and most determined politicians have not been able to manage—unite right and left. When we were younger it was always conservatives who seemed to hate sex and anything that reminded people of it. Fast forward a couple of decades and now liberals are getting the same way. This isn't true of all conservatives and liberals, of course. But as groups, they both let reactionaries dominate discourse, which creates the impression of intolerance within the whole. The people who hate on the Monroe statue at the highest volume come from the sexual conservatism realm on one end of the spectrum, and the women's rights realm on the other. The discovery that they have common interests qualifies as good news.
We see this as a starting point for national healing. Don't get us wrong—in our opinion both conservatives and liberals should simply say, “Whatever,” to “Forever Marilyn,” and move on. But since they seem to be in agreement about blowing everything that hints at feminine sexuality way out of proportion, seems to us the sky's the limit in terms of other potential areas of agreement. We don't know about you, but we're heartened by that. We feel a little better about things. A nation torn nearly asunder has a chance to heal the rift starting with Monroe's granny panties. They're the most magical undergarments since Eva Braun's. Thanks, Marilyn. You may have saved us yet.
|Hollywoodland||Jan 31 2021|
You're not as clever as you think, Clark. I realized you were muffing your lines on purpose way back on take forty.
Who's that mystery woman kissing Clark Gable? Why it's Marilyn Monroe. Not really a mystery though, as she's instantly recognizable from any angle. There's almost no such thing as a new Monroe photo, but there are some you don't see often. This one and the one below fall into that category. They were made when she was filming The Misfits, which premiered today in 1961. The scene that provided these shots also featured a Monroe nude flash when she gets out of bed to dress. Director John Huston cut those frames, and they were thought lost, but were rediscovered (though not made public) in 2018.
This was Gable's last movie. He had a heart attack in November 1960, possibly in the middle of this kissing scene, and didn't survive. Just kidding. He had his heart attack two days after filming wrapped. But we bet he was thinking about Monroe when it happened. This was also her last movie. She was filming Something Got To Give in 1962 but died of an overdose before finishing it. The Misfits was a box office disappointment when released, but was considered to be Gable's best film performance, and one of Monroe's best, as well. We don't fully agree, but you might. It's certainly worth a viewing.
|Vintage Pulp||Dec 22 2020|
Gentlemen prefer blondes. So do elderly billionaires, used car salesmen, and pornographers, but let's leave all that aside for now.
We said we'd get back to Anita Loos and here we are. We said that eleven years ago, but what can you do? Above you see a French edition of her classic comedy Les hommes préfèrent les blondes, better known as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, with Marilyn Monroe—who starred in the movie version—front and center on the cover. We read the book a while back—its full title is actually Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: The Illuminating Diary of a Professional Lady—but haven't talked about it, so we'll just tell you that it's simply ingenious, taking the form of the diary of a somewhat vacuous and entitled socialite flapper named Lorelei, who is to gentlemen what sugar is to flies. Lorelei is a material girl obsessed with wealth and status, who expects adoration and basically plies most of these guys for gifts. But of course she does choose someone in the end.
The novel is built from short stories Loos wrote for Harper's Bazaar in the early 1920s. It was originally published in book form in 1925, with this edition coming in 1959, a few years after film version's French run. Loos' masterpiece wasn't loved by critics, but it was a runaway success anyway and ended up being printed in thirteen languages. Little known factoid—unlike the film version, which takes place on a cruise ship, a chunk of the novel occurs aboard the Orient Express, with Lorelei displaying herself to the crème of European gentlemen from Paris to Budapest. She even meets Sigmund “Froid.” Gentlemen Prefer Blondes obviously isn't pulp style at all, but Monroe had a pulp-worthy life, so that's connection enough for us. If you want a mental break from gunplay and mayhem, this is a good option.