|The Naked City||Oct 20 2022|
Everyone said they always did everything together.
More random midcentury aftermath. This photo shows a kneeling priest about to do his thing over the bodies of Thomas J. Hogan and Fred Romer, who together were a murder-suicide. Hogan shot Romer before turning the gun on himself. There's no information about the exact circumstances behind the event. Cops being cops, they probably ruled out the idea of this scene being any sort of willing pact. Romantics being romantics, we at least wonder about it. But alas, we'll never know. Usually these vintage crime photos come from Los Angeles, but lately we've been sharing examples from New York City. This is another one, and it happened today in 1961.
|Vintage Pulp||Mar 31 2022|
Most guys would sell their soul for someone this hot.
The 1965 horror novel L'urlo di Satana, the title of which means “the scream of Satan,” is number twenty-five in Rome based publisher Grandi Edizioni Internazionali's series I Capolavori della Serie KKK Classici dell’Orrore. It's credited to René du Car with a translation from French by Renato Carocci, but when GEI made such attributions what it really meant was that the translator wrote the book under a pseudonym. So this was actually written by Carocci, just one of scores of novels he produced under a long list of names. The art on this is another brilliant effort from Benedetto Caroselli, who we've documented extensively over the years. To see everything you can click his keywords below, or, if you're pressed for time, you can skip to our favorites here, here, here, here, and here.
ItalyRomeGrandi Edizioni InternazionaliI Capolavori della Serie KKK Classici dell’OrroreRené du CarRenato CarocciBenedetto Carosellicover artliterature
|Vintage Pulp||Nov 6 2021|
David Dodge explains how to travel like a boss even if you aren't.
Is The Poor Man's Guide to Europe pulp? Think of it as pulp adjacent. David Dodge was one of the better crafters of crime and adventure fiction during the mid-century, so when we learned that he had written travel guides we knew they were must-reads. His novels were often outward looking. To Catch a Thief was set on the French Riviera; Plunder of the Sun, Mexico; The Long Escape, several Latin American countries including Chile and Peru. And Dodge's first travel book How Green Was My Father dealt with Mexico and Guatemala.
But Europe is the subject here, and accompanied by Irv Koons illustrations, Dodge mines nuggets of valuable info from his continental experience for Americans who cross the pond. As this is a book about getting by on a budget, much of the info has to do with currency trading, a reduced concern these days, but the ins and outs of swapping cash make for some interesting insights into the various countries involved, and Dodge is clever at weaving travel anecdotes while keeping his narrative money focused. Example:
Night was falling with that dull thudding sound it makes when you don't know where you are going to sleep. By bribing the concierge I got three beds at a “first class” hotel across the street. It was terrible—overcrowded, noisy, and operated according to the old army slogan: Don't you know there's a war on, buddy? I got out early the next morning, walked three blocks to the center of town toward the Via Vittorio Veneto, and landed two bedrooms, a sitting room, a bathroom, and a balcony in a clean, old-fashioned, superbly operated Italian albergo with a wonderful cook and waiters who caught dropped napkins before they hit the floor. The patrono, who spoke six languages, took Elva and me to the opera as his guests three nights later while his wife babysat with Kendal, and the overall charge was 8,500 lira a day, about $13, all meals and table wine included.
And that's pretty much what travel is about for us—seizing victory from the jaws of defeat. Other anecdotes had us searching for confirmation, they were so hard to believe. For example, was it really the trend in 1953 for some women on the Cotê d'Azur to wear a cache-sexe? Dodge says it was. It's central to a tale about his friend crashing a rental car into a palm tree after seeing two cache-sexe clad women on the Croisette in Cannes. In case you don't know, this cache-sexe was a thong bottom and stick-on breast coverings that made women look almost nude when viewed from the rear.
We have topless and occasionally unclothed women on our beach, but still, we'd give a lot to see something like what Dodge describes, considering these women were not on the beach, but ambling down the street. We once saw two women in bikinis who had wandered several blocks from our beach to ponder the outside of the local cathedral, and that visual incongruity stuck with us for weeks. The cache-sexe must have absolutely scandalized people. And thrilled them too. Maybe that's why Dodge wrote a sequel guidebook focused entirely on the south of France with the tongue-in-cheek title The Rich Man's Guide to the Riviera. We bought that one too. Stay tuned.
|Femmes Fatales||Oct 2 2021|
This frolic has been sponsored by Off! bug repellent and Nasonex hay fever tablets.
In this centerfold image from the Belgian magazine Ciné-Revue published in September 1972, Barbara Bouchet finds herself in a field of wildflowers and high grasses, and does what comes naturally—sneezes like a maniac until the medication kicks in. Then she frolics, and what a lovely frolic it is. We've featured Bouchet before, which means you already know she's a famously beautiful model-turned-actress who appeared in films like Non si sevizia un paperino, aka Don't Torture a Duckling, Gangs of New York, Casino Royale, and television's Star Trek. Also—and we didn't mention this the other times we wrote about her—she's another celeb who benefitted from a name change. She was born in 1943 in Sudentenland, a part of Czechoslovakia that was occupied by Germany at the time, and grew up as Bärbel Gutscher. That name simply doesn't roll off the tongue, so when she went to Hollywood she chose something that sounded French and the rest is history. These days she lives in Rome, where she still occasionally acts, though probably does a bit less frolicking. See a couple more shots of her here and here.
BelgiumGermanyCzech RepublicItalyRomeCiné-RevueNon si sevizia un paperinoDon't Torture a DucklingCasino RoyaleStar TrekBarbara Bouchettelevision
|Femmes Fatales||Aug 12 2021|
Who does she ruin? Anyone who gets in her way.
Letícia Román was born in Rome as Letizia Novarese, but launched her film career in the most American way imaginable—in an Elvis Presley movie. That was G.I.Blues, which she followed with such films as La ragazza che sapeva troppo, aka The Evil Eye, Russ Meyer's Fanny Hill, and The Spy in the Green Hat. Román never became a big star, but we think this photo is major. It was made as a promo for the 1966 movie Comando de asesinos.
ItalyRomeG.I. BluesLa ragazza che sapeva troppoThe Evil EyeRuss Meyer's Fanny HillThe Spy in the Green HatComando de asesinosLetícia RománLetizia Novarese
|Vintage Pulp||Jun 26 2021|
Umpteenth Bond riff is cuter than most but a lot dumber too.
The Bond franchise could be the most imitated in cinema history. Most of the copycats came during the late 1960s. The serious ones are often unwatchable, but the tongue-in-cheek varieties sometimes manage to entertain. The most entertaining aspect of the Bond inspired Some Girls Do is the theme song by Lee Vanderbilt. Which is not a knock on the movie. It's just that the song is that good. We immediately went searching for a version to have as our very own but there isn't one, at least not one from the film, or one without serious sound issues. We're going to keep looking, though. The movie has another plus—the above promo poster made for Belgium, where it was known by the Dutch title God vergeeft... zij nooit, and the French title Dieu pardonne... elles jamais!
As far as the actual film goes, it stars Richard Johnson as Hugh Bond—er, we mean Hugh Drummond—and he's sent to deal with unknown forces determined to stop the development of the world's first supersonic airliner. You get beautiful women with shady intentions, spy gadgets of dubious efficacy, robot femmes fatales, and a super villain hiding in his (almost) impregnable lair. Johnson is reprising his role from 1967's Deadlier than the Male, another pretty cute, marginally enjoyable Bond copy, but here sequelitis has set in—which is to say, this movie is not quite as charming, nor as funny, nor as thrilling as the first. So ultimately, while some girls do, some movies don't, and most viewers shouldn't. Not unless you have a seriously unquenchable ’60s spy movie thirst. If so, Some Girls Do might do the trick.
BelgiumGod vergeeft... zij nooitDieu pardonne... elles jamais!Some Girls DoRichard JohnsonDaliah LaviBeba LončarSydne RomeYutte StensgaardLee Vanderbiltposter artcinemamovie review
|Vintage Pulp||Jun 10 2021|
Eddie G. never goes down without a fight.
Mid-century Belgian promo art strikes again. This is an epic poster. It was made for the crime drama Black Tuesday, which played in Belgium as Mardi ça saignera (French title) and Dinsdag zal er bloed stromen (Dutch title). Edward G. Robinson and Peter Graves star in the tale of two death row inmates who escape prison and go on the lam. Graves has hidden $200,000 from a bank robbery and Robinson plans to betray him and steal the dough. Unfortunately, Graves is critically shot during the escape and, even as he lies near death, refuses to say where the money is hidden.
This is a pretty nice flick. Virtually any movie with Robinson is worth a viewing. He played many types of characters in his career, but he's known for portraying tough guys, and this is classic Edward G., with all the snarls and sneers fans had come to expect from romps like Little Caesar and Key Largo. And why wouldn't he snarl? Unless a doctor he's taken hostage can save the day the cash he lusts for will never be found. But maybe Graves won't die. Maybe he's tougher than he seems—and smarter too. Robinson never wins in his gangster roles, so it's a question of how he'll lose, not if. But it's always fun watching him fight the bad fight. Black Tuesday premiered in the U.S. in late 1954 and reached Belgium today in 1955.
BelgiumMardi ça saigneraDinsdag zal er bloed stromenBlack TuesdayEdward G. RobinsonPeter GravesJean ParkerWarren Stevensposter artcinemamovie review
|Vintage Pulp||Dec 2 2020|
Unlike a normal lottery nobody wants a ticket, and against all odds you're bound to get picked eventually.
We all know that in cinema no idea lies fallow for long. They're all reused until they've given everything of value, and plenty that isn't. Part of the fun of watching movies is seeing the lineage of ideas. La decima vittima, for which you see a nice Mario de Berardinis poster above, was known in English as The 10th Victim, and resides in the sub-genre of films about humans killing humans for sport and gain. Other movies in the group include 1932's The Most Dangerous Game, 1972's The Woman Hunt, 1975's Death Race 2000, 1987's The Running Man, 2013's The Purge, and others.
In La decima vittima's near future, violence between citizens has been made legal and placed under the auspices of the Ministero della Grande Caccio, aka the Ministry of the Big Hunt. Those who hunt are given the identities of their prey, along with their locations and personal habits. Anyone can be hunted, even those who previously were hunters. The hunted can kill their hunters in self defense, but if they make a mistake and kill the wrong person—easy to do when you're paranoid and an unknown person is stalking you—that's old fashioned murder and off to prison you go. The purpose of all this slaughter? As the film explains, “Why have birth control when you can have death control?”
Ursula Andress, whose looks kill anyway, plays an adept hunter given an opportunity by a big corporation to monetize her tenth (and by law her final) murder. Marcello Mastroianni plays a one percenter who's been computer selected as her prey, and whom Andress' corporate benefactors want to film her assassinating for a tea commercial. Andress has agreed to kill Mastroianni at the Temple of Venus in Rome. Getting him there won't be easy, but the classic honeytrap, with the sun-kissed Andress as the sticky goodness, is a sure bet to work. It'd work on us.
We said the movie is in the same lineage as The Most Dangerous Game, The Purge, et al. Nearly all those films are better than La decima vittima. There are several problems here, not least of which is emotional tone-deafness—the characters love and hate because the script requires it, but there's no spark, no believability. The movie is probably worth watching anyway because of its super sex symbol cast rounded out by Elsa Martinelli, plus its sleek, retrofuturistic ’60s fashions, but don't go in expecting a landmark sci-fi, a brutal social commentary, a cutting satire, or anything of the ilk. In the end, just like the real future, it's so-so. La decima vittima had its world premiere in Rome and Florence today in 1965.
ItalyRomeFlorenceLa decima vittimaThe 10th VictimUrsula AndressMarcello MastroianniElsa MartinelliMario de Berardinisposter artcinemasci-fimovie review
|Intl. Notebook||Oct 12 2020|
Whether by day or night the action was non-stop.
We love vintage nightclub photos, and vintage pix of people partying in general. Since Havana photos are unusually interesting, we're always drawn to them. There's a large number of Havana photos out there, but not primarily because of Cuba's political history. The photos really exist because Cuba was a pioneer of Caribbean tourism, attracting travelers beginning in the 1920s through a heyday of the mid-1950s. The island was promoted as a place of sophistication, mixed with permissiveness, unpredictability, and a touch of the primitive. This prompted various movers and shakers—from New York City businessmen to top musicians to Hollywood stars—to flock to Havana. And where important people went, cameras followed.
Was the Havana image true? Probably, based on what we've read. But it was not unique. During the same period Tangier had a similar reputation, as it attracted writers like Paul Bowles, William S. Burroughs, and numerous gay expatriates. During the 1960s Acapulco was knownas a great place to go for thrills. During the 1980s, Ibiza or Mykonos. The 90s, Thailand or Goa. The 00s, Tulum. Havana wasn't unusual in terms of what it offered. Bigger, yes. More convenient for Americans, for sure. But numerous far flung locales have served as paradises for foreign visitors to lose themselves and get crazy.
Most or all of the aforementioned places are considered to have changed for the worse, whether through ecological damage, destruction of historic architecture, unchecked overbuilding, overtourism, or all four scourges at once. But it was revolution that changed Havana, a fact that gives vintage photos from there a particular poignancy. A typical narrative is that while elites and tourists partied, exclusion, inequality, and poverty helped fertilize the seeds of upheaval. But we don't judge anyone in these shots. We've lived in similar circumstances in Central America. We were even partners in a beach bar in the Caribbean. We were always well aware of the prevailing socio-political problems, and we sympathized greatly with the local populations. But it didn't stop us from partying the nights away.
There's an immense feeling of freedom being in a simpler place—and for all its opulent nightclubs and restaurants, Havana is said to have exuded a primeval sensuality that intoxicated tourists and expatriates. If you live in the U.S. or some other modern nation, that feeling isn't something you can achieve by merely paring down your current lifestyle. The things you give up continue to exist all around you. By rejecting those, you become a weirdo. But by living in a less modern nation your life truly changes top to bottom, and you gain this while still existing above the local mean. That's the paradox, or the injustice, depending on your point of view: your satisfaction derives partly from the ability to take or leave anything you wish, because you are economically able to do so. You live more simply than you did, yet live better than most people around you. It isn't noble, but it's very much an attraction.
Bowles and Burroughs lived well in Tangier because it was immensely cheaper than Europe or the U.S. With the savings gained they hosted parties and had time to hone their literary crafts. They were a part of the local society, but existed in a middle-upper stratum, high above the impoverished, well below the Moroccan elites, benefitting from the general perception that foreigners from rich nations are themselves rich. That's how it was for us too. So there's inequality built into thattype of expatriate experience. It's unavoidable. A friend of ours lived in a stick shack on Cayos Cochinos for an entire year and he was still considered a rich foreigner. Everyone knows you have a choice. The Americans who partied in Cuba could never have been anything but wealthy invaders, no matter the reality of their finances, or the inclusiveness their sensibilities.
Living comfortably means the novelties one experiences seem thrilling or romantic. When we were knocking around Guatemala, El Salvador, and the Bay Islands, we turned washing our clothes by hand into an enjoyable ritual, yet understood quite well that many families' daily water intake literally depended on walking a mile to a river. Buying food from the local fruit and veggie stand was far more convenient than queuing at the supermarket for meat, and we ended up dropping to our college weight, but we were nevertheless aware that many people couldn't afford any food, and would have been disgusted at how pleased we were that our reduced fat intake meant we could show six pack abs at the beach. We helped some local families, both financially and logistically, but when your downsized existence is a choice you can never truly fit in.
But the freedom you feel is real. Offloading the burdens of modern life brings legitimate satisfaction. The pursuit of pleasure takes on a special joy. We hit bars, parties, and gallery mixers continually. As foreigners there's no social stigma to drinking every night. Unless you have a job—and we didn't—it's how you form a social circle. Locals generally disapprove, but their judgements carry little weight. So when welook at Havana partying shots we don't quite see oblivious, entitled people, because we know it isn't that simple. Most of them knew what was percolating. Stability was diminishing fast. There was a dissolved parliament, large protests, a 1953 battle in Santiago de Cuba, and other signposts on the way to change. It was clear the fun could never last.
The assortment of people you see here are caught on film like insects caught in amber, long dead but preserved. They're having a few laughs, enjoying some drinks, executing deft turns on dance floors, making their small, temporary marks on the world, leaving behind images showing them for one sliver of a moment in timeless eternity. Things changed in Havana, and now things have changed for all of us. If circumstances where we can dance and laugh and shout together in hot crowded places without fear of sickness ever return, be sure to embrace them fully. We don't just mean in some far flung tropical enclave. We mean anywhere. Because if it isn't a virus that takes those pleasures away, it'll be the march of years. You'll want to have done your best with this gift called life.
An ice cream vendor patiently waits for potential customers to emerge from the Capri Hotel and Casino, 1958.
Fashion model Jean Patchett and author Ernest Hemingway, who habitually went shirtless, lounge at Finca Vigia, his house in Cuba, 1950.
Above, Constantino Ribalaigua Vert, the "Cocktail King of Havana," inventor of the Papa Doble daiquiri, and owner of the famed bar La Floridita.
Liberace performs on stage at the Tropicana with headline dancer Ana Gloria Varona, 1954.
A Coke and a smile from two soft drink vendors.
Patrons enjoy drinks at La Floridita, 1955.
Cuban writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante stands by while Marlon Brando tries his hand—or both of them—at the conga drum at Hotel Packard, 1956.
Mafia kingpin Meyer Lansky, on the right in this shot, attends the opening of the Hotel Riviera in December 1957.
Famed entertainer Zulema dances the rhumba at the Zombie Club, 1946.
Three women liven up the room from their perch on the bar at Cabaret Kursal.
Cesar Romero and Tyrone Power enjoy a drink and a chat at Sloppy Joe's Bar.
Revelers including Errol Flynn and Desi Arnaz, Jr. form a conga line during the Yoruba festival known as Dia de Babalú-Ayé.
José Abeal Otero, founder of Sloppy Joe's Bar, mixes up a giant batch of liquid magic. No, this isn't the same person as above, Ribalaigua. They were both small, dapper guys.
A firebreather thrills onlookers in front of the Saratoga Hotel, 1949.
This photo shows Nat King Cole and his wife Maria Cole, along with Martin Fox, who was the owner of the Tropicana, accompanied by his wife Ofelia and an unknown fifth party.
U.S. born vedette and movie star Tongolele, aka Yolanda Montes, poses outside the Capri Hotel and Casino, 1958.
Meme Solis and Elena Burke pose at the entrance to the 21 Club, located in the Capri Hotel.
These photos show Silvano Chueg Echevarría, a master of percussion and an iconic musical personage. Let's go back to that Marlon Brando photo for a sec. Brando was an aficionado of percussive instruments. During that 1956 jaunt to Cuba he made it known that he wanted to buy drums from real percussionists. One of the musicians he met was Echevarría. All the Havana percussionists knew of Brando, of course, but thought he was a musical dilettante. At some point he finagled his way onto a nightclub stage, sat in with a band, and truly amazed onlookers with his ability on the conga. He wasn't a master, but he was pretty good. He won respect, and bought his drums.
Raquel Revuelta, Manuel Corrales, and Mariano Rodriguez leave the famed bar Bodeguita del Medio and walk through the Havana night to other locales, other adventures, 1958.
CubaHavanaTropicanaErnest HemingwayJean PatchettLiberaceNat King ColeMaria ColeOfelia FoxMartin FoxTongoleleYolanda MontesAna Gloria VaronaMarlon BrandoGuillermo Cabrera InfanteCesar RomeroTyrone PowerMeyer LanskyRaquel RevueltaManuel CorralesMariano RodriguezJosé Abeal OteroConstantno Ribalaigua VertSilvano Chueg EchevarríaErrol FlynnDesi Arnaz Jr.mafia
|Femmes Fatales||May 1 2020|
For perfect composition start with the basics.
This artful photo shows U.S. actress Paula Kelly, who appeared in such classic films as The Andromeda Strain, Soylent Green, and the blaxploitation comedy Uptown Saturday Night. She was also a dancer and choreographer, which probably helped her nail this pose and make the photographer look brilliant. She just died a couple of months ago at age seventy-seven, an event we totally missed, but we're glad we found this timeless image.