Vintage Pulp Jul 19 2022
GET YOUR AFRIQUE ON
Any port in a storm—except maybe this one.


This French poster for the British made film Port Afrique was painted in a style that made us certain it was the work of Constantin Belinsky. But nope—it's signed by André Bertrand, and it's a very nice piece. As the art indicates, the movie is a North African adventure, a vehicle for Italian rising star Pier Angeli, and it can be described with one word—exotic. The filmmakers turned the E dial up to 11, location shooting in Tangier to create a fictional city of Port Afrique that's part Berber, part French, and part Spanish. Casablanca comparisons are inevitable, but solely in terms of exteriors Port Afrique is greatly superior. There's simply nothing like the real thing. The movie is also shot in color, which adds to its appeal, even if it detracts a bit from its noirish ambitions.

As in Casablanca, much of the action in Port Afrique revolves around a bar, in this case Le Badinage, which seemingly can afford to have more performers than customers. The bar's beautiful chanteuse—there's always a beautiful chanteuse—is played by the elfish Angeli, who's stuck in town without a passport and suffering under the attentions of the proprietor Nino. The threat in his overtures is unspoken but clear—no punani, no passport. Into this situation arrives a wounded American pilot with the unlikely name Rip Reardon, played by future b-movie stalwart Phil Carey. After his onscreen run he would find himself in soap opera purgatory as Asa Buchanan on One Life To Live, but here he gets his chance to help anchor a big drama. Shortly after Rip arrives his wife turns up dead. The cops call it a suicide, but Rip decides to take the investigation into his own hands, with all the usual twists and turns.

Port Afrique has a lot of problems. The script is clunky and improbable, the motivations of its characters murky, and the chemistry between its stars lukewarm. Carey ended up on soap operas for a reason, clearly on display here. He has little range, and none of the heft needed for his role. As for Angeli, she never became the superstar her advocates intended, and again, you can see why. She's better than Carey for sure, yet she still lacks the fire her role needs. But here's the thing—we think, for serious film buffs, the movie is worth watching anyway. It looks amazing, from the cinematography to the production design, and its goal of being a Technicolor noir is worth examination and discussion. But casual film fans may want to steer clear. After premiering in the U.S. in 1956 Port Afrique reached France today in 1957.
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Vintage Pulp | Sportswire May 3 2017
FRIEND IN HIGH PLACES
Somebody up there liked him 67 times. And didn't like him 10 times.

These Italian promo posters were made for the drama Lassù qualcuno mi ama, better known as Somebody Up There Likes Me, the rags to riches biopic of boxer Rocky Graziano, who survived a violent father, street gangs and prison to become a world middleweight champion who finished his career with a 67-10 record. If somebody up there liked him, we'd love to hear why he got his ass whipped ten times, but whatever. Paul Newman played the lead in this after intended star James Dean was killed in an auto accident, and the film went on to earn acclaim and win a couple of Oscars for cinematography and art direction. The posters were painted by Renato Casaro, one of the most important mid-century film artists, a man who produced hundreds of masterpieces and was behind this gem and this racy little number. Casaro is still around at age eighty-one and maintains a website detailing his work and career. Lassù qualcuno mi ama was originally released in the U.S. in 1956 and had its premiere in Italy today in 1957

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Intl. Notebook Mar 31 2016
PIER REVIEW
Experts reach consensus—she was exquisite.


Above is a little artifact from our last swing through Spain, discovered at the Mercat del Vell de l'Estació de Sants in Barcelona. It's an issue of Colleción Idolos del Cine, a magazine that devoted itself each month entirely to one celebrity, with rare photos and personal anecdotes. This one is from 1958 and features Ana Maria Pierangeli, who adopted the lyrical stage name Pier Angeli after debuting on the international cinema scene in Vittoria De Sica's Domani è troppo tardi and winning a Nastro d'Argento, or Silver Ribbon, from the Sindacato Nazionale Giornalisti Cinematografici Italiani. Angeli was a dewy eighteen in that role and looked so young as to be almost half-formed, which was perfect for her portrayal of a teen in the throes of first love. She maintained a youthful and innocent appearance for twenty more years, and is another actress who died young, in her case aged thirty-nine, via drug overdose, though accidental, officially. The printing quality of Colleción Idolos del Cine isn't the best, but the photos are very interesting. Mucho más Angeli below, and we managed to buy five other examples of this magazine, with stars such as Ava Gardner, Analia Gadé, and Belinda Lee, so look for those later.

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Hollywoodland Oct 30 2015
PERFECT TIMING
Sørensen throws Playboy fans off her trail.


Tempo was a pocket-sized celeb and pop culture magazine published bi-weekly out of Atlanta and New York City by Sports Report, Inc. We don’t know how long it lasted—this one is vol. 7, issue 9—but we know we’ve never seen one dated before 1953 or after 1958. When Dane Arden appeared on the cover of this one from today in 1956, she was already famous thanks to her appearance as Playboy’s centerfold just the previous month. But she had posed under her real name Elsa Sørensen, and back then that may have kept most Playboy readers from realizing Sørensen and Arden were the same person. We have no idea if that was her intention, or why she’d have wanted to do it, but it’s curious. Our guess is that Playboy wanted an exclusive association with her Sørensen identity, and pressed her to choose a new name for future modeling. Or perhaps she thought of magazines like Tempo as lower class, and didn’t want to diminish her Playboy image. Strange, considering Tempo had been around longer, but possible. Or maybe she simply thought Elsa Sørensen was a little too Danish sounding for Hollywood. But there’s no evidence she ever had an interest in movies, and if she did wouldn’t she have been sacrificing much of the useful recognition she’d gained as a Playboy centerfold? All we can say is it’s one of history’s little mysteries. Hmm… that has a nice ring. Think we’ll claim that one—History’s Little Mysteries™. More Dane/Elsa below, plus Brigitte Bardot, Shirley Falls, Erroll Garner, Sabrina, the Cleveland Browns, Anita Ekberg, et al.

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Hollywoodland May 7 2010
UGLY SCENE
Ain’t no wrong now, ain’t no right.

May 1956 cover of Behind the Scene, with the scoop on Hitler’s sexuality, boxer Archie Moore’s love of children, Vic Damone’s supposed cheating on wife Pier Angeli, and Joan Collins’ turbocharged sex drive. We can never be sure, because all this happened before we were born, but we think they got three of these four stories wrong. But at least they reassure us by telling us they’re “the magazine you can believe in.” It’s like they think they can get as many facts wrong as they want as long as they have a slogan that tells people they actually got it right. These people are crazy like a Fox.  

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Hollywoodland Jan 12 2010
DARK ANGELI
Just call her angel of the mourning.

Above is a photo of Italian actress Pier Angeli on the cover on France’s Ciné-Révélation. She was originally Anna Pierangeli, but she split her surname, thus giving herself the last name “angels.” A truer pseudonym has yet to be invented. But for as much excitement as attended her arrival onto the Italian movie scene, her career never quite reached the expected heights once she made the leap to Hollywood. She worked steadily in a series of unimpressive films, and had a few love affairs, including one with James Dean that was reportedly nixed by her mother. After twenty years in movies, and two divorces, she died at age 39 of a barbiturate overdose. Though she was depressed during her final years, it is impossible to know for sure whether her death was an accident or suicide. You see her here at the apex of her fame and beauty, January 1958. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 18
1920—U.S. Women Gain Right To Vote
The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified despite heavy conservative opposition. It states that no U.S. citizen can be denied the right to vote because of their gender.
1958—Lolita is Published in the U.S.
Vladimir Nabokov's controversial novel Lolita, about a man's sexual obsession with a pre-pubescent girl, is published in the United States. It had been originally published in Paris three years earlier.
August 17
1953—NA Launches Recovery Program
Narcotics Anonymous, a twelve-step program of drug addiction recovery modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous, holds its first meeting in Los Angeles, California.
August 16
1942—Blimp Crew Disappears without a Trace
The two-person crew of the U.S. naval blimp L-8 disappears on a routine patrol over the Pacific Ocean. The blimp drifts without her crew and crashes in Daly City, California. The mystery of the crew's disappearance is never solved.
1977—Elvis Presley Dies
Music icon Elvis Presley is found unresponsive by his fiancée on the floor of his Graceland bedroom suite. Attempts to revive him fail and he's pronounced dead soon afterward. The cause of death is often cited as drug overdose, but toxicology tests have never found evidence this was the case. More likely, years of drug abuse contributed to generally frail health and an overtaxed heart that suddenly failed.
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