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 sensation 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.
1981—Ronnie Biggs Rescued After Kidnapping
Fugitive thief Ronnie Biggs, a British citizen who was a member of the gang that pulled off the Great Train Robbery, is rescued by police in Barbados after being kidnapped. Biggs had been abducted a week earlier from a bar in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by members of a British security firm. Upon release he was returned to Brazil and continued to be a fugitive from British justice.
2011—Elizabeth Taylor Dies
American actress Elizabeth Taylor, whose career began at age 12 when she starred in National Velvet
, and who would eventually be nominated for five Academy Awards as best actress and win for Butterfield 8
and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles. During her life she had been hospitalized more than 70 times.
1963—Profumo Denies Affair
In England, the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, denies any impropriety with showgirl Christine Keeler and threatens to sue anyone repeating the allegations. The accusations involve not just infidelity, but the possibility acquaintances of Keeler might be trying to ply Profumo for nuclear secrets. In June, Profumo finally resigns from the government after confessing his sexual involvement with Keeler
and admitting he lied to parliament.
1978—Karl Wallenda Falls to His Death
World famous German daredevil and high-wire walker Karl Wallenda, founder of the acrobatic troupe The Flying Wallendas, falls to his death attempting to walk on a cable strung between the two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Wallenda is seventy-three years old at the time, but it is a 30 mph wind, rather than age, that is generally blamed for sending him from the wire.
2006—Swedish Spy Stig Wennerstrom Dies
Swedish air force colonel Stig Wennerström, who had been convicted in the 1970s of passing Swedish, U.S. and NATO secrets to the Soviet Union over the course of fifteen years, dies in an old age home at the age of ninety-nine. The Wennerström affair, as some called it, was at the time one of the biggest scandals
of the Cold War.
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