The Naked City Aug 26 2023
A RAINY NIGHT IN THE BOWERY
Even in the height of summer New York City can be a cold, cold place.


In this photo made today in 1930, a policeman stands over the body of Louis Riggiona, who had been shot twice in the heart by two gunmen as he and his brother Joe exited a restaurant in New York City's Bowery district. Joe fled and avoided injury, while the gunmen dropped their weapons (one pistol is visible in the foreground) and escaped. Louis Riggiona had become the latest casualty in what was known as the Castellammarese War, a Mafia power struggle whose opposing figureheads were Salvatore Maranzano and Joe Masseria. Maranzano was from Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, thus the name of the conflict. He won the war, but got to be capo di tutti i capi for only five months before he too was murdered. 

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Femmes Fatales Jan 11 2023
AGUA CALIENTE
Uh, Stella. I know it sucks to be filthy. We all feel that way. But that was our drinking water.


The incomparable Stella Stevens takes a bath in a 55-gallon drum while on location in Mexico for the 1966 thriller Rage. The movie is about a man (Glenn Ford) who contracts rabies, and owing to its desert setting Stevens spends a lot of time looking sweaty—which is where this moment might come in, though it's also possible it's a pure promo shot with no corresponding scene in the film. The photo is often mistaken as coming from 1970's The Ballad of Cable Hogue, a movie in which Stevens also bathes outdoors. But she's in a large wooden cask in that one. We have a couple of other excellent Stevens promo images for you here and here

Edit: We got a quick and short e-mail from our friend Herman: "It's in the movie." And he sent the below screenshot. So there you have it. Stella gets wet, and that's always a good thing.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 16 2022
SLAUGHTER'S HOUSE
There's only one rule: walk away or be blown away.


Above: an alternate poster by George Akimoto for the Jim Brown blaxploitation movie Slaughter, which first hit cinemas today in 1972. We've talked about it twice: here and here. Shorter version: All work and no play makes Jim a dull boy, which is why it's good Stella was totally down for some fun and games. 

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Intl. Notebook Aug 30 2021
PARTY NEVER STOPS
All the best people showed up.


The West German pop culture and celeb magazine Party, which was produced in Hannover by Lehning Press, is an obscure publication. It's very vivid, with bright color, many full page photos, and many film celebrities represented. Equal time is given to unknowns too, for example, the cover features Annelies Niessner, who was... we have no idea, and inside a color page is given to Cornelie, identified only as a “millionärstochter geht eigene wege,” a millionaire's daughter who goes her own way.

In terms of celebs you get Carol Lynley, Jane Russell, Sandra Dee, Stella Stevens, Laya Raki, a beautiful portrait of Jane Fonda, numerous shots of Ursula Andress, and many others. This publication didn't waste words, even on the copyright date. The cover tells us this is issue eight, so we're going to say it came in August, and we're thinking it's from 1967. Though it may be short on info, Party is an appropriate name, because it's a very fun magazine. We have several more issues, so look for those later.

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Femmes Fatales May 24 2020
REMAIN PERFECTLY STELLA
Don't change a thing for anybody.


You know we're Stella Stevens fans here. Though we prefer the thirty-plus version of her, she first turned heads as a model in her early twenties, posing for a Playboy centerfold published in 1960, sessions from which the above shot originates. Stevens had begun acting before then, appearing in three films released in 1959. The next year she won a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year, and eventually appeared in dozens of films and television shows. She was always a good actress, but never scored prestige roles. She did, however, grace some low budget classics, foremost among them the blaxploitation flicks Slaughter and Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold. Mixed in were cheeseball hits like The Poseidon Adventure and The Silencers, and an occasional good movie, such as The Ballad of Cable Hogue. All in all she's had an amazing career, on pause since 2010. But she'll never be on pause on this website. More Stella here and here.

Edit: We recieved an e-mail from Herman, a man who knows a thing or two about mid-century celebs and has helped us with corrections, and he wanted to remind us:

I certainly appreciate that image of Stella. Although I have been a fan of PB since the mid 50s as a boy, I don't believe I have seen this particular photo. Of course, I have to say I believe you left some important points out of your commentary about her.  I believe you said once you are not a particular fan of Elvis Presley (that may have been someone else) but without the 1962 Girls, Girls, Girls appearance I don't think she would have caught on so quick. Don't forget that the reason PB recognized her in the first place was because of her appearance in Li'l Abner in 1959. I know you didn't set out to do a biography on her, but these were points I think are important in her chronology.
 
Agreed, H, Stevens has a long and interesting story. We didn't set out to write a biography, as you said, but we may need to spend a little more time on her to give her proper due. She's not a subject we'll tire of easily.

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Intl. Notebook Sep 30 2019
ENTER CONTINENTAL
For British movie lovers Continental Film Review was their ticket across the English Channel.


Continental Film Review was first published—as far as we can discern—in November 1952. We decided on that month because we saw a copy from February 1953 numbered Vol. 1 Issue 4, and the masthead said the magazine was published the first week of every month. CFR would go on to become one of Britain's most popular film magazines, exposing English language readers to the wide variety of foreign movies being made across continental Europe. The above issue appeared this month in 1966 with cover star Maria Pia Conte, and numerous film personalities inside, including Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Bates, Rossana Podesta, Evi Marandi, and more. We have other issues we'll get around to sharing at some point. In the meantime see more here, here, here, and here.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 14 2019
CIAO STELLA!
Dobson welcomes a guest to her poster but there's still only one queen.


Above are two gorgeous Italian posters for the blaxploitation classics Cleopatra Jones: licenza di uccidere and Operazione casinò d'oro, better known as Cleopatra Jones and Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold. The first poster is obviously a photo-illustration, but the second was painted by Robert Tanenbaum. It's an iteration of his original U.S. poster, which you see here as well, just below.
 
On the U.S. version star Tamara Dobson stands alone, but for the Italian promo a second figure appears to her right, representing we know not whom. You'll notice the Italy Dobson figure has lighter skin than on the U.S. poster, and lighter skin than her new sidekick. Was this a deliberate switcheroo? Were Italian moviegoers supposed to think the figure on the left, who was Dobson in the U.S., now represented co-star Stella Stevens? They probably did, even though Stella's face is present on both posters at about thigh level to the main figures. But we don't think Tannenbaum had any of that in mind. We think the second figure represents nobody and came out of his fertile imagination.

Something else interesting about these—Tannenbaum had no trouble reproducing Stella's face, but you'll notice none of the figures look like Tamara Dobson. Not unless you squint. Hmm. Well, even if he had trouble with Dobson's likeness, he did an amazing job on these pieces, which is no surprise considering he's a major
contributor to cinematic art who painted promos for The Sting, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and other big budget releases. There are no known Italian release dates on these Cleopatra movies, but ballpark, figure summer 1974 and winter 1975. Read about them here and here

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Vintage Pulp Dec 25 2017
PINK VELVET
Italy shows its appreciation for Lindberg's mouth (and the rest of her too).


Above is a poster for Bocca di velluto, which you may know better as the Christina Lindberg film Anita: Swedish Nymphet, or possibly just Anita. In Italian Bocca di velluto means “velvet mouth,” and what can you say about that as a re-title for the Italian market except, you know, it's Italy. Lindberg's lovely mouth plays no role beyond framing dialogue, but we bet busloads of Italians didn't find that out until after they ponied up for the film. We don't have an Italian release date, but Anita had its world premiere in Sweden today in 1973. We already talked about the film in detail, so if you wanna know, go. And below, as a bonus, we have a promo photo of Lindberg. It comes from an unlikely source—a 1973 issue of the Japanese magazine Heibon Punch.

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Femmes Fatales Nov 8 2017
STELLAR STEVENS
Brown is the new blonde.

Above, a promo image of U.S. actress Stella Stevens, who we love for her stalwart presence in numerous lightweight but highly entertaining films such as Slaughter and Cleopatra Jones & The Casino of Gold. We don't have a date on this rare shot showing her with brown hair (blonde has always been her primary color), but 1973 seems a reasonable guess.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 29 2017
FURIOUS VENGEANCE
He's an extinction level event all by himself.


The two Italian posters above and the accompanying production photos below are from Jim Brown's violent 1972 blaxploitation flick Slaughter, a movie we talked about in detail last month. Short version: we really need to hit the gym. The photos show Brown, Stella Stevens, and Marlene Clark. The last two aren't frames from the film—in the film Brown's and Stevens' characters meet for the first time at a swimming pool, but there's no kissing, only wary flirtation. Those two photos show them getting along quite swimmingly between takes. Stevens has given the impression in interviews that sparks flew between her and Brown, and the images seem to confirm that. You can check out our original write-up on the movie here.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
March 04
1969—The Krays Are Found Guilty of Murder
In England, twins Ronald and Reginald Kray are found guilty of the murder of Jack McVitie. The Kray brothers had been notorious gangsters in London's East End, and for their crimes both were sentenced to life in prison, and both eventually died behind bars. Their story later inspired a 1990 motion picture entitled The Krays.
1975—Charlie Chaplin Is Knighted
British-born comic genius Charlie Chaplin, whose long and turbulent career in the U.S. had been brought to an abrupt end when he was branded a communist and denied a residence visa, is bestowed a knighthood at London's Buckingham Palace. Chaplin died two years later and even then peace eluded him, as his body was stolen from its grave for eleven weeks by men trying to extort money from the Chaplin family.
March 03
1959—Lou Costello Dies
American comedian Lou Costello, of the famous comedy team Abbott & Costello, dies of a heart attack at Doctors' Hospital in Beverly Hills, three days before his 53rd birthday. His career spanned radio and film, silent movies and talkies, vaudeville and cinema, and in his heyday he was, along with partner Abbott, one of the most beloved personalities in Hollywood.
March 02
1933—King Kong Opens
The first version of King Kong, starring Bruce Cabot, Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray, and with the giant ape Kong brought to life with stop-action photography, opens at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The film goes on to play worldwide to good reviews and huge crowds, and spawns numerous sequels and reworkings over the next eighty years.
1949—James Gallagher Completes Round-the-World Flight
Captain James Gallagher and a crew of fourteen land their B-50 Superfortress named Lucky Lady II in Fort Worth, Texas, thus completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight. The entire trip from takeoff to touchdown took ninety-four hours and one minute.
1953—Oscars Are Shown on Television
The 26th Academy Awards are broadcast on television by NBC, the first time the awards have been shown on television. Audiences watch live as From Here to Eternity wins for Best Picture, and William Holden and Audrey Hepburn earn statues in the best acting categories for Stalag 17 and Roman Holiday.
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