Annabella is molto bella from every angle.
Every side is Italian actress Annabella Incontrera's good side, as you can in the four shots above. We should all be so lucky. Despite a name that comes off the tongue like poetry, Incontrera sometimes acted as Pam Stevenson, and well, no offense to any Pams or Stevensons out there, but that pseudonym surely had to be the idea of an unimaginative agent or studio head. In the end it was as Incontrera that she made her mark, appearing in several notable Italian giallo and horror films, including La tarantola dal ventre nero, aka Black Belly of the Tarantula, Sette scialli di seta gialla, aka Crimes of the Black Cat, and Perché quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer?, aka These Italian Movie Titles are Purely Nuts. She also popped up for a moment in Dean Martin's tongue-in-cheek caper flick The Ambushers as a slaymate. Well, she slays us. These photos are undated but from around 1968.
Sheba Shayne takes aim at Egypt.
Above is an Egyptian promo poster made for Pam Grier's blaxploitation flick Sheba, Baby, in which she played the title character Sheba Shayne (surely one of the best names for a PI ever). We have no Egyptian premier date for the film, but it probably happened well after its 1975 U.S. opening, maybe even as late as ’77 or ’78. Does the figure on the poster look like Grier? Not as much as it could, but we think it's a fun piece of art anyway.
Once upon a time in the Reich there was a sadist named Ilsa.
Ilsa la belva delle SS, as it was called in Italy, is better known as Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS, and it's not hyperbole to describe this naziploitation effort as one of the most widely reviled movies ever released. And for good reason. It's significant as an example of just how out there and taboo shattering the sexploitation genre got during the 1970s. The poster was painted by Luciano Crovato, who produced a number of iconic movie promos, including the second and third pieces in this post. We'll get back to him. If you want to know more about Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS look here. If you dare.
There's a new sheriff on the planet.
This photo has sort of ’50s sci-fi look, but it's actually from the 1980s and shows Japanese actress Naomi Morinaga as the character Annie from Uchû keiji Shaider, aka Space Sheriff Shaider, which aired on Japanese television for one season straddling 1984 and 1985. Morinaga played other roles, but Space Sheriff, which also spawned two movies, a video game, and a video short, is her legacy. By the way, Japan is truly the place for space guns. In fact, we did an entire post on them, though it was so long ago you've probably never seen it. But it's here, if you're interested.
Whoever said the Barr examination is a terrible ordeal is just wrong.
These photos dating from 1957 show burlesque dancer Candy Barr mid-routine, entertaining a crowd with the help of a live band, possibly the Johnny Cola Band, and we suspect these photos were shot at the Colony Club in Dallas, where Barr often performed. Don't quote us on it. We keep meaning to write in detail about Barr but she keeps getting superseded by other subjects. But we will get to her eventually, because she's a very interesting historical figure and fits perfectly into the pulp mold. For now just enjoy these three shots of her shedding her striped costume all the way down to a sequined g-string and striped pasties. See more Candy here.
Everything that can possibly go wrong will.
Nora Prentiss, which stars Ann Sheridan and Kent Smith, has an innocuous title, but it's close to the most ingenious film noir ever made. It's about a mild-mannered doctor who falls for a beautiful nightclub singer and decides he's willing to leave his wife. Exactly how far he's willing to go to accomplish this split is one aspect of what makes the film interesting, but the aftermath of his decision, and how it leads to an ending that is simultaneously literal and metaphorical, is what makes it a top entry in the genre. Reviews of the day complained that the film was not believable, but are any of the pickles leading men get into in film noir believable? The fact that the filmmakers, writers, and actors pull off the plot at all is worthy of praise. We can say nothing more about Nora Prentiss, not even a hint, and we strongly suggest you don't get anywhere near a review before watching it. Just trust us that it's a film noir worth seeing. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1947.
She's fluent in both verbal and non-verbal communication.
English is elegant, artful, inspiring, and amazingly expressive—and the language is great too. The above photo from 1954 shows Marla English, who appeared in Shield for Murder, Three Bad Sisters, The She-Creature, and about a dozen other films. Despite achieving a decent level of fame, an uncredited appearance as a party guest in Rear Window was as close to top tier cinema as she got. For our money her career was way too short, but in the photo she's plenty long. We're going to check out She-Creature. Really, that goes without saying. How can we not watch a movie with a title like that?
When an unknown neighbor commits murder peace of mind is the next casualty.
It's always nice to come across a book with a fresh approach. This book for example, The Woman on the Roof by Helen Nielsen, deals with a disturbed woman who has the key clues to a murder mystery due to being able to see directly into a neighbor's apartment. But she's considered a kook by family, friends, and the police, who've interacted with her before on the occasion of her being committed to a mental institution. Upon her release she wanted nothing more than peace and tranquility, but now she's a murder witness. Socially awkward, afraid of people, obsessive compulsive, and psychically tethered to the garage-top apartment that is her sole safe zone, this killing thing really turns her life upside down.
There's a great sequence where the character gets lost on the streets of L.A., and seeing the city from her point of view, experiencing all its nocturnal strangeness and indecipherable cacophony and perceived danger through her eyes, is tremendously affecting. We can't remember feeling that level of sympathy for a character in a jam in a long time. Not sure many male authors could have pulled it off quite as deftly. Nielsen's good ideas, written well with a unique angle on murder—figuratively and literally—made for a very worthwhile read. It was originally published in 1954, and the Dell paperback you see above appeared in 1956 with excellent cover art by William George.
Albert Camus' fatal 1960 auto accident may have been a KGB assassination.
Italian author Giovanni Catelli has just published a book that claims French writer Albert Camus was assassinated by the KGB, rather than dying in an auto accident, as largely believed. When you say the words “Cold War intrigue,” we're all in, so the story caught our eye. Catelli's theory, which he first began airing in 2011, is that the KGB silenced Camus because he was a globally famous figure who made a habit of criticizing the Soviet Union. The order was allegedly given by Dmitri Shepilov, the USSR’s minister of internal affairs, after Camus slammed him in the French newspaper Franc-Tireur in March 1957. Camus died in 1960, so the killing took three years to come to fruition, according to Catelli.
His book length argument, La mort de Camus, is getting white hot press right now, however it's very interesting to look back at contemporary articles about the crash. Camus was riding as a passenger in a car driven by his publisher Michel Gallimard, with Gallimard's wife Janine and their daughter Anne in the rear seat. Michel Gallimard died, but his wife and daughter survived to describe the crash. Michel was driving fast and had been told to slow down, and had drunk wine at dinner.
A gander at the wreckage of the heavy Farcel Vega HK500 attests to its speed. We checked the various articles popping up online and found none that mentioned either the velocity of the car or the drinking of the driver, but that's how the internet works—a fantastic claim circles the world five times faster than anything resembling balance or a fact check.
Catelli, though, has an answer for the reckless driving theory—the Soviets had attached a device to the car that would puncture a tire only in the event of sufficient speed. If the Soviets came up with the device described, it would not kick in without the added ingredient of driver haste, which often happens in conjunction with alcohol consumption, which in turn is a near certainty when talking about French people, all of which means the chances of a crash with muddied circumstances were pretty high. The device, if it ever existed, was certainly clever. It would be like a device that tied your shoelaces together, but only if you went downstairs in a rush, and you happened to live in a fourth floor flat with a balky elevator.
Catelli's belief that Camus was disposed of via assassination is bolstered by the fact that the car he was riding in somehow careened off a stretch of straight road thirty feet wide. Nobody described Michel Gallimard trying to dodge a hedgehog or pothole, so despite speed and possible drunkenness, some unforeseen factor seems required to send the vehicle into the weeds. On the other hand, three years is a long time to enact a death plot. We've seen Yankees and Red Sox fans patch their shit up in less time. But let's move this death from the settled bin into the mysterious bin, which is where we like everything to be anyway. Camus, the famed absurdist, once wrote that, “There can be nothing more absurd than to die in a car accident.” And if Catelli is correct, nothing can be more convenient either.
I'll be taking all your awards, thank you very much.
Though she looks more blonde than red in this particular photo, Sissy Spacek is one of Hollywood's best known redheads, and one of its most talented too, with six Academy Award nominations and one victory, for Coal Miner's Daughter. All told, she's been nominated for about one hundred awards, netting numerous wins—including taking home four New York Film Critics Circle Awards in five nominations. The above shot was made for Robert Altman's drama 3 Women, in which Spacek starred with Shelly Duvall and Janice Rule. It's from 1977.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
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.
1975—Zapruder Film Shown on Television
For the first time, the Zapruder film of President John F. Kennedy's assassination is shown in motion to a national television audience by Robert J. Groden and Dick Gregory on the show Good Night America, which was hosted by Geraldo Rivera. The viewing led to the formation of the United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), which investigated the killings of both Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.
1956—Desegregation Ruling Upheld
In the United States, the Supreme Court upholds a ban on racial segregation in state schools, colleges and universities. The University of North Carolina had been appealing an earlier ruling from 1954, which ordered college officials to admit three black students to what was previously an all-white institution. In many southern states, talk after the ruling turned toward subsidizing white students so they could attend private schools, or even abolishing public schools entirely, but ultimately, desegregation did take place.
1970—Non-Proliferation Treaty Goes into Effect
After ratification by 43 nations, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons goes into effect. Of the non-signatory nations, India and Pakistan acknowledge possessing nuclear weapons, and Israel is known to. One signatory nation, North Korea, has withdrawn from the treaty and also produced nukes. International atomic experts estimate that the number of states that accumulate the material and know-how to produce atomic weapons will soon double.
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