Intl. Notebook Jun 2 2020
SPANISH FIESTA
Raquel Welch is a one-woman party on the Costa del Sol.


This great photo shows U.S. actress Raquel Welch when she was filming the 1967 adventure Fathom in Spain, specifically in and around the Costa del Sol towns of Málaga, Mijas, Nerja, and Torremolinos. This moment, in which she shows her ability to turn men into drooling lemmings, is actually a scene from the movie in which she walks from her villa to the sea, along the way interrupting an afternoon dance party. We recognized the spot as soon as we saw it. We've been there. It's a path below the tiny historic center of Nerja and an overlook known as Balcón de Europa, leading down to Playa Calahonda, a rocky beach. Below you see the path viewed from its top, and the bottom photo shows the general area, with the Balcón de Europa on the left. As far as we remember there's no plaque or sign commemorating Welch traversing that path to the sea. Local authorities might consider rectifying that. We'd also suggest putting up a giant version of the above photo. It says Costa del Sol in a major way. As for the actual movie, we'll talk about that later.

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Vintage Pulp May 24 2020
TWO COUNTS OF MURDER
Sun, sand, and an unusually high homicide rate.


Of all the covers we've posted on Pulp Intl., these two—the first from U.S. publisher Dell, and the second from British publisher Consul—are among the most interesting. Both illustrate books called Murder in Majorca, both feature a female figure partly obscured by foreground blinds, and both have in the background the lower legs of a man walking into the room. But Michael Bryan and Paul Tabori are different authors, and these are different tales. Is that not weird as hell? We've always wanted to read these books because Majorca, aka Mallorca, is one of the great garden spots on Earth. We've been several times and it always recalibrates us perfectly. Also, there isn't much murder there, despite the titles of these books, which is a nice add-on to the sun, sand, food, bars, architecture and beautiful people.

Michael Bryan was in reality Brian Moore, and also wrote as Bernard Mara. His Murder in Majorca appeared in 1957. Paul Tabori was in reality Hungarian author Pál Tábori, and his Murder in Majorca came in 1961. How did these two uncredited covers get to be virtually identical? No idea. Sometimes when a book was reprinted overseas a second artist was commissioned to do a riff on the original cover, such as here. So maybe the second piece was for a re-issue, but it fell through, and the art was lying around when Tabori wrote his book. That's a wild-ass guess that has very little chance of being correct, but we just know these two fronts can't be similar by coincidence, so that's all we've got by way of explanation. Maybe you have a better deduction, or even the facts. If so, we'd love to know.

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Vintage Pulp May 13 2020
MEDICAL HISTORY
Filmgoers say yes to No and a franchise is born.


Since we've already talked about two movies inspired by Bond today, why not discuss the landmark that started it all? There had always been spy movies. Even the James Bond films, with their focus on high concept action and fantastical super villains, had predecessors. But United Artists, director Terence Young, Sean Connery, and the rest took the basic notes of those earlier efforts, wove them into a fresh composition, and cranked the volume up to eleven. This Spanish poster painted by Macario Gomez was made for the first Bond film Dr. No, which played in Spain as Agente 007 contra el Dr. No. Ian Fleming's novel had been published in 1958, and the film hit cinemas four years later. Like From Russia with Love, which we watched recently, we've seen it more than once, but not for years, and decided to screen it with fresh eyes.

We imagine audiences had never seen a spy movie quite like this, with its opulent production values and near-seamless construction. Set in Jamaica, the exotic locations are beautifully photographed, and while the filmmakers' portrayal of the island isn't necessarily authentic, it's immersive, and makes the required impression of a land of mystery and danger. An altogether different impression was made by the ravishing Ursula Andress, and we suspect once word got out certain filmgoers bought tickets just to see her. Joseph Wiseman's villainous Julius No, a few hi-budget gadgets, and a secret lair filled with expendable henchmen complete the set-up—and establish the Bond template for the future. Add the unflappable if occasionally imperious spy himself and the fun is complete.

The Bond franchise's success inspired scores of imitators, as discussed in the two posts above, but with a few exceptions those movies usually work today on the level of unintentional comedy or eye-rolling camp. Dr. No, despite Bond's interjections of humor, took itself seriously. Viewers were supposed to believe its most fantastic elements were possible. In addition, they were supposed to see Bond as the uber-male, a man who fights and loves hard, is virtually immune to sentiment, and never mourns losses for long. That notion of ideal manhood has certainly changed—for the better we'd say—but even accounting for the tectonic cultural shifts in the interim Dr. No holds up like the best vintage thrillers. It's stylish, charmingly simple, and—if one assesses it honestly—progressive for its time. It premiered in England in October 1962, and reached Spain today in 1963.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 19 2020
GRADUATION DAY
Brigitte earns an advanced degree in espionage.


Above, ten more covers for the spy serial Brigitte in Accion, written by Lou Carrigan, aka Antonio Vera Ramirez, and published by Barcelona based Editorial Bruguera. The artist remains Brazilian illustrator José Luiz Benicio, and Brigitte Montfort, nicknamed Baby, remains the hottest CIA agent of the Cold War. Mid-1970s on these. See the earlier collection here.

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Intl. Notebook | Sex Files Mar 22 2020
LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS
In Barcelona a group decides that desperate measures call for hard times.


COVID-19 has caused many casualties—among them humans, finances, political stability, and baseball season. But one of the biggest casualties has been humor. Consider this next tale, which under normal circumstances could be funny: Friday night Barcelona police thwarted an orgy, an event that was in clear violation of public health measures in Spain mandating that people stay confined to their homes. But in times of isolation sexual caution is one of the first things to go, it seems. Eight people were arrested, but the event would have drawn as many as thirty had it proceeded as planned. Police were not in uniform when they arrived at the rental flat and were at first mistaken for orgy participants, but they identified themselves as real cops, really there to arrest people, and no doubt hard-ons instantly drooped when the news sank in.

You see, that story could be at least a little amusing, but this coronavirus, in addition to everything else it's lethal toward, is a humor killer. One of the detainees had a cough and fever and there's nothing funny about that. He was sent to a medical center for testing, and amazingly, came up negative. But did he know that in advance? Doubtful. Even if the pandemic robs this curious little tale of humor, it's still instructive as a preview of any potential breakdown of human society. People will inevitably divide into camps or tiny nation-states. Cable television has taught us that.

There will be the hardcore military style groups filled with people who all think they're alpha males, and which will descend into violent social hierarchies in which compassion is banished and anyone who coughs is executed on the spot and their body flung beyond the perimeter with a catapult. Then there will be the party-like-it's-1999 groups who figure they're all screwed anyway, so might as well go out on an alcohol, drug, and sex high, and whose ranks are eventually whittled away while foraging for power sources for their audio system. That would be the group from Barcelona.
 
Then there will be the start-anew-in-ecological-harmony groups that cultivate staple crops, eat wild cabbage, weave their own clothes, and include among their leadership ranks a guy who insists on being referred to as “The Teller of Stories.” And of course yet another group will consist of people with no discernible skills save a bottomless capacity for cruelty, and who won't be bothered to organize at all except to capture unlucky strays, return them to their encampments in chains, and set them on fire unless their compadres toss out half of everything they have. Scavengers, we guess you'd call them. That group is where most former bankers and politicians will end up.

What group would we end up in? Good question. The paramilitary group, forget it. We'd rather be shot and catapulted. And the fourth group is out because: bankers and politicians. Also, torturing people and taking their goods just isn't us, though it is, we'll admit, very pulp. So that leaves the second or third groups. Both have their charms. At that Barcelona party, police found, aside from guys with boners, an unspecified quantity of cocaine, speed, and crystal and liquid ecstasy. Could be fun fora while, but the companionship of constant drug users can be tedious. We worked in Hollywood, and we can tell you, get stuck next to a suit who's wired to the hairline and you'll beg for death. So maybe the hippie group is the one for us. It might take a while to adjust to eating veggies fertilized with our own feces, but that Teller of Stories gig actually sounds pretty sweet. We're going to Google some weaving techniques right now so we'll fit in.
 
Edit: Looking at everything we just wrote above, we realize another casualty of this virus must be sanity. We're losing it.
 
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Vintage Pulp Mar 8 2020
THROWING SHADE
Shadows of The Thin Man.


Above, Spanish, French, and German posters for 1934's The Thin Man, featuring interesting shadow motifs. Read about movie here, and the excellent book here.

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Hollywoodland Feb 6 2020
CAPTAIN KIRK
Master of all he surveys.


We wanted to do a small post on Kirk Douglas, who died yesterday at the astonishing age of 103, but we took time to look around for a unique photo. This shot shows him in one of our favorite cities, Donostia-San Sebastian, standing atop Igeldo (or Igueldo), one of the seaside town's several large hills. He's looking toward the Bahia de la Concha with the Torreón de Monte Igueldo at his back. It's a majestic shot, fitting for such an icon, far better than showing him greased up as Spartacus, in our opinion. It was made in 1958 when he was attending the sixth Zinemaldia, aka the San Sebastián Film Festival, which was showing his film The Vikings. We don't generally do posts on Hollywood deaths. Why? Because there are so many. Anyone who loves vintage film knows that significant performers, writers, and directors are dying regularly, and we don't want Pulp Intl. to become an obituary roll. But for Kirk Douglas, one of film's all time greats, a consummate actor, an indispensable film noir bad guy, all the rules must be broken. See another max cool image here.

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Femmes Fatales Nov 24 2019
ALL SHE SURVEYS
I can see forever from up here. Man, the smog over London is really bad.


Raquel Welch stands tall in this pin-up poster made for her prehistoric adventure One Million Years B.C. This was sold in West Germany, where the movie premiered today in 1966. In fact, it was the film's world premiere. It was made by Associated British-Pathé and Hammer Studios, and partly shot on British sound stages (as well as in the Canary Islands), but for some reason the filmmakers chose West Germany for a testing ground. They needn't have been so cautious—thanks to Welch an otherwise ridiculous b-flick became a worldwide smash.

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Intl. Notebook Sep 8 2019
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIU
Pop culture magazine offers a look at post-Franco Spain.


Ages ago we found a stash of Spanish language magazines and books in a neglected closet in a stairwell in our apartment building. They were caked with dust, so we knew they'd been left to rot. We helped ourselves to a few, but didn't scan much of the collection because it was more contemporary than our usual offerings, and because the magazines were in large formats that needed piecing together in Photoshop. But we had a little time today (plus the Pulp Intl. girlfriends want us to clear out some material) so we have some scans from the Spanish magazine Interviu. This issue hit newsstands today in 1977 and features cover star María Carlos, model Virna Lisa, and Swiss icon Ursula Andress, who's the entire reason we did the scans. There's also a feature on nudism in Spain.

On the whole Interviu is a pop culture magazine, but with the crucial difference that it was published in a Spain recently freed from decades of dictatorship. Therefore the focus on politics and conflict is pretty heavy. We found four of these and all them play the dirty trick of placing photos of nude models on the overleaf of pages showing corpses. You're looking at a beautiful woman, then flip the page to see a dude with his skull smashed open. One issue had a photo of a guy torn to shreds by a bomb. We mean no recognizable body at all, just shoes, mangled flesh, and a few bones. In color. If the idea was to force readers to see the consequences of war, mission accomplished. But don't worry—we didn't include any of those scans, so scroll with confidence.
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Hollywoodland Aug 22 2019
JAYNE OF THE JUNGLE
The tabloid media was like a pack of animals and Mansfield was the meal.


We never realized this before, but the editors of Whisper really had it in for Jayne Mansfield. We mean more than usual for a vicious tabloid. Most of the issues we have contain highly negative stories about her, such as this one published in 1962 that calls her and husband Mickey Hargitay “the biggest pair of boobs in the business.” Geez, what did she do to them? Piss in their grits? Dropkick their Corgis? Obviously, the biggest boobs thing is a play on words referencing Mansfield's bust, but they're referencing her personality when they talk about her “false façade” and “up-front ways.” Regardless of whether Whisper approved of Mansfield, it couldn't stop featuring her—a fact the magazine acknowledged. We'll see her in these pages again.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Whisper, the amazing Señor Fidel Castro makes one of his regular appearances. Like Mansfield, the magazine couldn't stop writing about him. According to the editors, the Beard had launched a plot to addict American youth to drugs. We call Castro amazing because according to various mid-century tabloids he was simultaneously training Viet Cong soldiers in Cuba, funneling arms to U.S. inner cities, assassinating JFK, planning to overthrow the Catholic Church, raping teenaged girls, and helping East Germany revive the Third Reich. Talk about great time management skills. If only we were half as organized.

Did drugs flow from Cuba to the U.S.? It's an accusation that has come up numerous times over the years. Considering that since at least 1950 drugs were flowing into the U.S. from Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Afghanistan, Thailand, et al—it would be astonishing if drugs didn't also originate from or transit through Cuba. With what degree of official approval we'll probably never know. Heads of state are notoriously insulated. In fact, the only one we can think of offhand who was definitively tied to drug dealing was Panama's former strongman Manuel Noriega, who was doing it with the help of the CIA,, but we can probably safely assume he wasn't the first national leader to peddle drugs.

Whisper isn't aiming for investigative journalism in its Castro piece. That would require actual work. Its story is 90% lollipop, 10% stick. But the ratio of fiction to fact is meaningless as long as the writing fits the brief: focus obsessively on the sensational, the frightening, and the infuriating. That's why we call mid-century tabloids the cable news channels of yesteryear. Though people were doubtless highly agitated about what they read in these quasi-journalistic outlets, the passage of decades makes them harmless fun for us to explore. Maybe one day a future website—or whatever passes for one ages from now—will be able to make jokes about the things agitating us. Let's hope so. We have a bunch of scans below, and more tabloids than we can count inside the website. Look here. 
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
January 21
1950—Alger Hiss Is Convicted of Perjury
American lawyer Alger Hiss is convicted of perjury in connection with an investigation by the House unAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC), at which he was questioned about being a Soviet spy. Hiss served forty-four months in prison. Hiss maintained his innocence and fought his perjury conviction until his death in 1996 at age 92.
1977—Carter Pardons War Fugitives
U.S. President Jimmy Carter pardons nearly all of the country's Vietnam War draft evaders, many of whom had emigrated to Canada. He had made the pardon pledge during his election campaign, and he fulfilled his promise the day after he took office.
January 19
1915—Claude Patents Neon Tube
French inventor Georges Claude patents the neon discharge tube, in which an inert gas is made to glow various colors through the introduction of an electrical current. His invention is immediately seized upon as a way to create eye catching advertising, and the neon sign comes into existence to forever change the visual landscape of cities.
1937—Hughes Sets Air Record
Millionaire industrialist, film producer and aviator Howard Hughes sets a new air record by flying from Los Angeles, California to New York City in 7 hours, 28 minutes, 25 seconds. During his life he set multiple world air-speed records, for which he won many awards, including America's Congressional Gold Medal.
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