|Jul 13 2022
|Nov 10 2018
As the great defense attorney Johnny Cochran once so memorably intoned, “If the panties don't fit you must acquit.” Lawyering is all about snappy rhymes. Robert Traver knew this because he was in reality John D. Voelker, first a prosecutor, second a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court, and all the while the author of numerous novels. The most famous of those was Anatomy of a Murder, which became an Otto Preminger motion picture starring Jimmy Stewart and Lee Remick.
Looking at the odd cover scene above, you probably want to know what's happening. An assistant prosecutor is trying his first case, which centers around a house painter who “did ravish and carnally know” a young woman named Gloria. But it turns out Gloria's mother had interrupted what was actually a consensual encounter, exploded with shame and outrage, and forced her daughter to file rape charges. The case falls apart in court and the young prosecutor is made to look like a fool, so the cover art tries to capture that event. Trouble Shooter was originally published as Trouble-Shooter: The Story of a Northwoods Prosecutor in 1943, with this Bantam paperback edition coming in 1947.
|Dec 5 2016
It's amazing the jams men in film noir get themselves into. Imagine you really like a woman but she wants financial security you can't offer. Would you try to satisfy her by marrying a completely different woman—a trusting nice girl type—with the plan of getting into her bank account, getting the marriage annulled, and walking with the cash? Of course not. You'd know a plan like that would come apart at the seams. But men in film noir don't. In Fallen Angel Dana Andrews craves sexpot Linda Darnell, and while we can certainly see a man losing his bearings over a stunner like her, the idea of her being worth destroying another woman's life is farfetched, especially when that woman is pretty and sweet. But in the capable hands of Andrews and Darnell, with Alice Faye and Charles Bickford co-starring and Otto Preminger in the director's chair, the plot actually works. And that's the beauty of film noir—the problems are often so convoluted you can't imagine how someone could get into them, let alone get out, yet often they do. On the other hand, often they don't. Fallen Angel premiered in the U.S. today in 1945.
|Apr 18 2016
First things first—this poster was painted by Nicola Simbari, yet another genius from the ranks of Italian illustrators, someone who today is thought of as one of Italy’s most important modern artists and has pieces hanging in museums all over the world. He painted the above masterpiece for the Howard Hughes produced Seduzione mortale, known in the U.S. as Angel Face. It's the story of a man who tries to trade up to a richer, flashier girlfriend and ends up entangled in a murder plot. Robert Mitchum stars as the fickle hero, Jean Simmons co-stars as the femme fatale, Mona Freeman is the loyal girlfriend, and Jim Backus—aka Mr. Howell from Gilligan’s Island—is a tough district attorney.
Angel Face opened in the U.S. in late 1952 and premiered, according to all the sources we checked, in Italy today in 1953. But the poster at top advertises a premiere at a Rome cinema called the Fiamma on 6 May, 1953. Which date is right? Possibly both. April 18, 1953 was a Saturday, which would be a typical day for a film’s run to commence. May 6 was a Wednesday—not typical for launching a wide release. We suspect the poster was made for a special engagement, probably one night only. But we’re only guessing. We may have to slot this question in the unanswered file. There are only so many things you can figure out from a computer terminal after all. We have another poster below, plus two nice promos.
|Feb 11 2016
Night Cry is a thriller about a cop who accidentally kills a murder suspect and covers it up by dumping the body in a river. For a cruel guy like him it's not a big deal, until he learns the suspect was innocent. That'll fray the nerves of even the meanest cop a bit. He continues trying to pin the original murder on the presumed-missing-but-actually-dead man, but then the body is found. Whoops. The fact that he ever thought the dead man was just missing starts to look borderline incompetent to his colleagues, but there’s more—the beautiful girlfriend of the deceased now becomes everyone’s prime suspect. We liked this book, so we weren't surprised to learn that it's highly regarded. It inspired the movie Where The Sidewalk Ends, directed by Otto Preminger. The 1954 Avon paperback front above followed an earlier version from 1949, and the art is uncredited.
|May 14 2015
This issue of Paris Frou Frou appeared in 1956 with cover star Marilyn Monroe in costume for her role in the classic comedy Bus Stop. Inside the issue she's garbed for Otto Preminger’s River of No Return, an interesting quasi-western that’s worth a viewing just to see Monroe and her co-star Robert Mitchum together. Elsewhere you get Kim Novak, dancer Vera Bell, and Mamie van Doren. Van Doren and Novak are still with us, and that fact serves to remind that—incredible as it may seem—Monroe would be eighty-nine now if not for her unfortunate suicide (or murder, if you want to go that direction). Considering how long she’s been dead, and how deeply her current-day identity is tied to her death, it’s a bit of a shocking thought. Eleven scans below.
|Dec 2 2013
A while back we showed you the U.S. promo poster for the classic noir Laura. Today’s version comes from Finland, where the film was released today in 1945. December is a dark, chilly time in Finland, and Laura must have seemed an appropriate film, with its dark, spare story of a police detective who falls in love with a dead woman whose murder he’s investigating. The woman has been shotgunned in the face, and is personified in death by a beautiful portrait hanging over her mantel. The detective is completely baffled by the crime, but then a chance encounter brings everything into focus. If you haven’t seen the film, we recommend it highly. Gene Tierney is at her most icily beautiful, and Dana Andrews does good work as a man in love with a woman who no longer exists.
Unfortunately, the poster art actually gives away who the killer is by using a photo-realistic portrayal of the actor brandishing a shotgun. Maybe it’s too small for you to see in this format, so we won’t say more. But what a spoiler for the Finns that the artist—he’s signed the work as R.X.Z.—made that choice, or was told to by the studio. It isn’t as if the actor wouldn’t have been immediately identifiable by them, since he was reasonably famous at the time and in the midst of carving out one of Hollywood’s greatest careers. Total baffler, why it happened. Anyway, excellent movie. If you want to read more about it visit our original post here.
|Mar 1 2011
American actress Natalie Draper had a very minor career in cinema, appearing uncredited in fourteen films before finally scoring a small role as the Countess of Castlemaine in 1947’s Forever Amber. The film was directed by Otto Preminger, and afterward she began dating him. We suspect the relationship was messy, considering Preminger had been married to one of Draper’s aunts, actress Marion Davies. Whatever happened, Forever Amber was Draper’s only real shot in movies. From that point, she disappears into history—or at least the portion of it we can research via internet connection while sitting here 7,000 miles away from Los Angeles. But even if Draper never became a major player in Hollywood, she does a fine job representing March on this 1943 promotional calendar.
|Dec 16 2010
Is it possible to get tired of Marilyn Monroe? We doubt it, especially when so many of the images featuring her are so arresting. Here’s a good example—it’s a Japanese promo poster for her 1954 western River of No Return, a Cinemascope production with Robert Mitchum at her side and Otto Preminger behind the lens. Unfortunately, Monroe and Preminger didn’t hit it off and the movie may have suffered a bit as a result, but it remains a solid effort and even if the story doesn’t rouse you, the Canadian scenery and Monroe’s saloon-singer costumes will. We should issue one warning though—the poster conveys a light-hearted mood, but the film is actually a straight adventure-drama. Still, anything with Monroe or Mitchum is worth a look. Incidentally, we saw this poster for sale at a couple of different websites, but be forewarned before you spend your hard-earned coin that the legit vintage version is double-sided. We’ve posted the reverse below.
|Nov 6 2009