When you little scamps get together you're worse than a sewing circle.
Sex was her weapon! The line isn't about Uma Thurman. It comes from the cover of Harlot in Her Heart, the Norman Bligh novel she's holding in this promo shot made for her 1994 blockbuster hit Pulp Fiction. An interesting factoid about the movie is that it lost the Academy Award for best picture to a slice of saccharine nothingness called Forrest Gump thanks to a pathologically risk averse voter pool. It's an embarrasing miss for the Academy, because Pulp Fiction ranks as one of the most influential American movies ever. It took the disordered narrative structure that had been established in earlier films and elevated it to a new level. It borrowed the box-of-mystery gimmick that had already been turned on its head in movies like Kiss Me, Deadly and Belle du jour, and turned it on its head again. It incorporated a hip, ethnically mixed cast. It was funny as hell. And it placed Thurman at the center of its hyper-masculine narrative as the femme fatale Mia Wallace—who dug criminals, was tough-minded, graceful, impulsive, and smart. Her line about men being gossipy scamps was one of the best in the film. We can't imagine anyone else playing the role. As for Harlot in Her Heart, we may just buy it despite its exorbitant price. If so we reserve the right to use the cover again in a later post.
Admit it—when I walked over and said I was going to sue your pants off you were really worried.
Above, a cover for Norman Bligh's novel Bad Sue, 1950, from Quarter Books. We've always thought this was an unusually pretty cover, but the artist is unknown.
My pa shouldn't be back for hours. But just in case he does show up, do you prefer burial or cremation?
A double shot of rural sleaze today, Norman Bligh's Once There Was a Virgin, 1950 from Exotic Novels, and Gail Jordan's The Affairs of a Country Girl, 1952 from Cameo Books. George Gross provided the art for these covers, which are cropped differently, but between the two you see pretty much the entirety of the original piece. We think this is one of his better efforts. We're putting together a small collection of paperback covers set in barns and haylofts, so consider this a preview, along with the covers here, here, and here.
Can I interest you in a quick hay ride?
Above, another installment of art from the great George Gross, with cover work for Norman Bligh's Play-Girl, 1950, from Venus Books. See more here and here.
Forget my wife—I think I need help regaining feeling in my lower half.
Nursing isn’t easy—especially in mid-century fiction, where in addition to dealing with medical issues you have to dodge the roaming hands of doctors and patients alike. Visiting Nurse, written by Norman Bligh, aka William Neubauer, deals with an angel of mercy sent into the slums who finds herself giving the fellas some unconventional treatments. Why? Because “she has all the weaknesses and yearnings of women, the need to be loved, the aching desires, the mad impulses” and because “she tries and tries again, yet cannot help making mistakes, cannot help the fact that she is a woman.” At this point, we'd note that the weaknesses and yearnings of men have reduced entire countries to parking lots, but that would be a digression. 1953 copyright, with cover art by Ray Pease.
Baby, you are something special. And to imagine I once thought a quality spread only referred to the stock market.
They say money can’t buy love, but it can certainly buy a reasonable facsimile. That’s not our opinion—that’s empirical reality. It works even if you’re even as old as this guy. Gordon Semple, aka William Neubauer, Norman Bligh, et al., explores the theme of love-for-money in Love-Crazy Millionaire, as a rich man gets tangled up with a woman who’s decided it’s time to get ahead in life. It comes from Croydon Publishing Company, and the excellent cover art is by Bernard Safran, who we need to feature more often. 1954 copyright on this.
And now, the top 20 financial terms that sound sexual but aren’t:
20: Backup withholding
19: Tender offer
18: Liquidity put
17: Horizontal acquisition
16: Gypsy swap
14: 30-day wash rule
13: In-service withdrawal
11: Open position
10: Jointly and severally
9: Receipt of deposit
7: Pump and dump
6: Naked straddle
5: Escheat period
4: Fallout risk
3: W-type bottom
2: Front-end load
So I thought I’d wear something really sexy for you this evening and we could— Wait, what’s burning?
Nothing kills romance like having to throw water over your flaming girlfriend. On the one hand you’d have saved her life. On the other, you'd spend the next decade hearing, “I honestly think you enjoyed drenching me.” Luckily that scenario doesn’t actually happen in The Lady Is Taboo. Instead it deals with a woman who believes she’s gotten sexually involved with a killer. Norman Bligh wrote it for Quarter Books in 1951, and the cover art is by the always wonderful George Gross.
I’ll go through it one more time for you. Mine are b’s, but there are also a’s, c’s, d’s, double-d’s...
Above, an excellent George Gross cover, plus the original art, for Bed-Time Angel written by Norman Bligh, aka William Arthur Neubauer, for Ecstasy Novel Magazine, March 1951.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1958—Workers Assemble First Corvette
Workers at a Chevrolet plant in Flint, Michigan, assemble the first Corvette, a two-seater sports car that would become an American icon. The first completed production car rolls off the assembly line two days later, one of just 300 Corvettes made that year.
1950—U.S. Decides To Fight in Korea
After years of border tensions on the partitioned Korean peninsula, U.S. President Harry Truman orders U.S. air and sea forces to help the South Korean regime repel an invasion by the North. Soon the U.S. is embroiled in a war that lasts until 1953 and results in a million combat dead and at least two million civilian deaths, with no measurable gains for either side.
1936—First Helicopter Flight
In Berlin, Germany, in a sports stadium, Ewald Rohlfs takes the Focke-Wulf Fw 61 on its first flight. It is the first fully-controllable helicopter, featuring two counter rotating rotors mounted on the chassis of a training aircraft. Only two are ever produced, and neither survive today.
1963—John F. Kennedy Visits Berlin
22 months after East Germany erects the Berlin Wall as a barrier to prevent movement between East and West Berlin, John F. Kennedy visits West Berlin and speaks the famous words "Ich bin ein Berliner." Suggestions that Kennedy misspoke and in reality called himself a jelly donut are untrue.
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