Turns out the French were the first to land on another planet.
It's been a while since we've looked at the output of genius illustrator Raymond Brenot, so today we have a record cover he painted in 1957 for a compilation disc called Party Interplanetaire. This is tasty work in the classic pin-up mode that made him deservedly famous under both his own name and his occasional pseudonym Carols. So who's on this vinyl? That would be Jo Courtin, Otto Rubini, Ray Massey, Conrad Janis, and Los Cangaceiros. Household names, right? Well, we never heard of them. If you have, good on you. If you're unfamiliar and want to hear a few examples, check here and here. But does the music really matter? If you have this just lose the platter and frame the sleeve.
A trapper's job turns into a battle of wits and a test of survival.
The movie Swamp Water is based on Vereen Bell's 1941 novel of the same name. We read the book a while back and loved it, so having a look at the movie adaptation was mandatory. Jean Renoir directs a heavyweight cast: Walter Brennan, Walter Huston, Dana Andrews, an eighteen-year old Anne Baxter, and even John Carradine. Brennan is the key character, playing a murder suspect hiding in the Okefenokee Swamp. He's considered an all-time great actor, and here he plays a backwoods good ole boy, mouthing dialogue like, “I bet I been cottonmouth bit a dozen times.” When we heard that line we had to laugh, because it prefigures his famous soliloquy from 1946's To Have and Have Not about being “bit by a dead bee.”
There's more excellent dialogue in this. Our favorite line: “It's gettin' so I don't expect nothin' from you 'cept a bossified tongue and a cussin' out.”
While the script is fun, we didn't think Bell's book would be easily adaptable and we were right. One of the pleasures of the novel is its extensive focus on the geography of the swamp, but there was no way that could fit into the film. The air of deep foreboding and mystery is also missing. For those and other reasons what you end up with is a so-so old movie made from an excellent old book. The script closely follows the source material, so if you want to know a bit more about the plot, we posted a short write-up on the novel here. Swamp Water opened across the U.S. in November 1941, but before its national debut had a special premiere in the town of Waycross, Georgia, where much of the movie was made. That was today, 1941.
The beach is always fun and games until someone gets burned.
What a coincidence. We were just talking about Joan Bennett a couple of days ago. You remember the story. Her husband tried to shoot her lover in the balls. Or unit. Or really anywhere in the vicinity of his reproductive organs. And he succeeded in hitting the vicinity, but missed all the crucial plumbing. It was a Hollywood love triangle that ended in blood and violence. Woman on the Beach stars Bennett, Robert Ryan, and Charles Bickford, and is also a love triangle that causes violence. The plot concerns a Coast Guard officer who becomes infatuated with a married woman. The woman's husband is an artist who lost his sight in an accident, but the Coast Guard officer becomes convinced the artist isn't really blind, but rather is using it as an excuse to hang onto his wife. Under the careful direction of French auteur Jean Renoir, Woman on the Beach makes for a decent ninety minutes of entertainment. We don't consider it a film noir, by the way, as some crowdsourced sites and blogs suggest. It just doesn't meet the requirements, in our view. AFI.com agrees, and calls it drama. It premiered in New York City today in 1947.
They always get the best seat in the house.
Below, a collection of film stars, in Hollywood and other places, looking large and in charge while seated in director's chairs. In panel three the actress in the “Bonanza's guest” chair is Karen Sharpe. We don't expect you'll need help with the others, but if so our keywords list them in order.
Best ever reason to brave crosstown traffic.
Sultry Puerto Rico born actress Rita Moreno, who many remember from her role as Anita in the 1961 Hollywood adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical West Side Story, is one of the few performers to have won all four major annual American entertainment awards—i.e. the Oscar, the Emmy, the Grammy, and the Tony. She's also won a Golden Globe, been awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom and a National Medal of the Arts, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and been bestowed the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. There are even more awards, too numerous to list, and on top of all of them, she was also awarded some awesome genes, because not only is she very beautiful in the top photo from around 1960, but she still looks good today at age eighty-five.
Tiki bra offers support where others fear to venture.
Last month we showed you a piece of art by Raymond Brenot and noted the eclectic industries for which he worked. Well, he also painted advertisements. The ad above is a very nice piece of tropical themed art, apparently for the technologically advanced Tiki bra, designed according to LOU guidelines, whatever those are, and incorporating innovative side straps, whatever those are. No, we don't know much about bras. But thanks to this ad we learned that one would be called in French a soutien-gorge. At least back then. To us that sounds like some sort of surgical procedure you have on your digestive tract. And in fact if you break the word apart, soutien translates as “support,” which is encouraging enough, but gorge translates as “throat,” which raises terrifying images. Love this piece of south seas island art, though. It's, erm, gorgeous.
One good turn deserves another, and another, and another...
French illustrator Raymond Brenot, aka Pierre-Laurent Brenot painted many magazine covers and pin-ups, and a few paperback fronts, as well. He also painted sleeves for numerous records. You see a beautiful example above for French trumpeter Fred Gérard's Si nous dansions... en 16 tours. The close-up image shows the unique aspect of the art—its mise en abîme element, or what the Dutch call a Droste effect, an identical image within the image, with infinite repetitions implied.
The title of the record translates to “If we danced... 16 turns,” which is weird because there are actually twenty songs. The tunes cover various dance styles, such as mambo, Charleston, foxtot, etc., and we know what you're thinking. You're thinking sixteen dance styles must be covered. No—only nine styles are played, so the 16 tours part of the title is a mystery to us. If you know the answer to the riddle, you know how to reach us. But don't expect an immediate response—we'll be busy foxtrotting.
Update: It is incredibly informative having readers from all over the world. The answer came from Jo B. in France, who informed us: "16 tours is the rotation speed of the record in 1 minute."
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1954—Murrow Blasts McCarthy
In an event that would mark a turning point in American history, newsman Edward R. Murrow blasts anti-communist Senator Joseph McCarthy on a nighttime news show called See It Now. The broadcast used mainly McCarthy's own words to make its case that the senator had abused his position and perverted the rule of law, and, despite McCarthy's power, America agreed, as response to the episode ran 15 to 1 in favor of Murrow.
1959—Barbie Doll Debuts
The Barbie fashion doll, manufactured by the American toy-company Mattel after being designed by Ruth Handler, debuts in U.S. stores. Barbie, whose full name is Barbie Millicent Roberts, was inspired by a German doll called Bild Lilli, and has sold in the hundreds of millions.
1978—Hitchhiker's Guide Debuts
The first radio episode of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, written by British humorist Douglas Adams, is transmitted on BBC Radio 4. The series becomes a huge success, and is adapted into stage shows, a series of books, a 1981 television series, and a 1984 computer game.
1999—The Yankee Clipper Dies
Baseball player Giuseppe Paolo DiMaggio, Jr., who while playing for the New York Yankees would become world famous as Joe DiMaggio, dies at age 84 six months after surgery for lung cancer. He led the Yankees to wins in nine World Series during his thirteen year career and his fifty-six game hitting streak is considered one of baseball's unbreakable records. Yet for all his sports achievements, he is probably as remembered for his stormy one-year marriage to film icon Marilyn Monroe.
1975—Lesley Whittle Is Found Strangled
In England kidnapped heiress Lesley Whittle, who had been missing for fifty-two days, is found strangled at the bottom of a drain shaft at Kidsgrove in Staffordshire. Her killer was Donald Neilson, aka the Black Panther, a builder from Bradford. He was convicted of the murder and given five life sentences in June 1976.
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