Hollywoodland Mar 21 2024
ON BENDED KNEES
Strange ideas from the minds and lenses of mid-century promo photographers.
A while back we shared a promo photo of Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame from 1953's The Big Heat that was meant to imply oral sex (it absolutely was, and you can see for yourself here). We commented on its weirdness, and noted that an actress would probably not be asked or made to pose that way today. The shot got us thinking about whether there were other kneeling promo shots from the mid-century era, and above you see two others from The Big Heat.
 
Below we have more such shots, and while none are as jarring as that previous promo, they're all interesting. We assumed there would be few if any featuring kneeling males, but we found a couple. Even so, there are probably scores more kneeling actresses that we missed. While many of shots took the form they did to highlight the criminal/victim themes in their parent films, you still have to wonder what else—consciously or not—was in the various photograhers' minds. Anyway, just some food for thought this lovely Thursday. Ready, set discuss!
Rod Taylor and Luciana Pauluzzi swap subordinate positions for 1967's Chuka.

Edmund O'Brien goes for the time honored hair grab on Marla English for 1954's Shield for Murder.

Marilyn Monroe swoons as Richard Widmark snarls for Don't Bother To Knock, 1952.

Inger Stevens and Terry Ann Ross for Cry Terror, an adaptation of a novel we talked about a few years ago.

Kim Hunter soothes an overheated Marlon Brando in a promo for 1951's A Streetcar Named Desire.

George Raft menaces Marlene Dietrich in the 1941 comedy Manpower.

As promos go, these actually make sense. They show three unidentified models mesmerized by vampire Christopher Lee for 1970's Taste the Blood of Dracula.

Glenn Ford is at it again, this time looming over Rita Hayworth for the 1946 classic Gilda.
 
Aldo Ray and Barbara Nichols for 1958's The Naked and the Dead.

This one shows less domination and more protectiveness, as Humphrey Bogart prepares to defend Ida Lupino for High Sierra, 1941.

Humphrey once more. Here he's with Lizabeth Scott for Dead Reckoning, 1947.

This shot shows Brazilian actress Fiorella Mari with an actor we can't identify in a movie we also can't identify.

Shelly Winters and Jack Palance climb the highest mountain together for I Died a Thousand Times, 1955.

As we said, we didn't find as many examples of kneeling men, but we found this gem—Cappucine makes a seat of director Blake Edwards on the set of The Pink Panther in 1963. Does this count, though? While Edwards is subordinate, he isn't kneeling and it really isn’t a legit promo.

And lastly, in a curious example, Hugo Haas seems to tell Cleo Moore to stay in a shot made for 1953's One Girl's Confession

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Femmes Fatales Aug 17 2022
CARDINALE BLUE
Whatever the background color she was always red hot.


Above are three images of Tunisian born Italian actress Claudia Cardinale made by Italian photographer Angelo Frontoni. It's difficult to imagine European cinema without Frontoni. He photographed everyone, and he blurred the line between mainstream photography and erotica by collaborating with magazines like Excelsior and Playmen. Cardinale is pretty racy here by her standards. She worked with Frontoni many times over the course of her career, which began during the late 1950s and continues today, encompassing such films as , The Pink Panther, Blindfold, Les pétroleuses, Fitzcarraldo, Once Upon a Time in the West, et al. These shots don't have a copyright date that we could find, but based on appearance we'd say they're from the late 1970s.

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Femmes Fatales Feb 5 2021
AFTERNOON BREAK
Why go out for coffee when there's a warm Capucine already waiting?


In this photo French model-turned-actress Capucine looks as relaxed as a lounging cat, which is appropriate for a woman whose film roles included The Pink Panther, Trail of the Pink Panther, Curse of the Pink Panther, Jaguar Lives!, What's New Pussycat, The Lion, and Bernard and the Lion. Just to break things up she also was in Fellini – Satyricon. Yet another one name star from the mid-century period, she was born Germaine Lefebvre but early in her modeling career took the name of a type of flower. After some years in fashion, during which she worked for Givenchy and Christian Dior, the silver screen beckoned and the results were a success. This shot is from 1962.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 1 2020
FIRST COME, FIRST CAST
Girls Come First but Lindberg came last.


Above you see a promo poster for the wacky British sex comedy Girls Come First, which premiered this month in 1975. The movie deals with a rich magazine owner named Hugh Jampton who hires a debt-wracked artist played by hunky ex-physique model John Hamill to paint nude portraits of the hostesses that work at the Swinger Club, which Jampton owns. This is a short film, only about forty-five minutes, so that's the entire plot, other than Hamill getting laid. Our main interest in this was determining whether Christina Lindberg is in it. She's not on any cast lists you find online, but she's right in the middle of the poster. Could she be in the film but be absent from cast lists? Absolutely. Thanks to the dreaded internet replication error, she's listed everywhere as appearing in 1974's Teenage Playmates, which she doesn't, so we wouldn't be surprised if she isn't credited for a movie she's actually in. So we took a detailed look and we can say without doubt that—like technical values, genuine laughs, acting ability, and a sense of shame—Lindberg is nowhere to be found here. The producers obviously figured she'd make a great addition to the poster and borrowed her for that purpose.

After getting over that disappointment, we noticed British-Chinese actor Burt Kwouk playing Jampton's chauffeur. His presence is worth mentioning because, in a way, he's a film icon, a sort of symbolic stand-in for stereotyped Asian characters in cinema. He played the bumbling Cato in four Pink Panther films, and here he plays a bumbler named—wait for it—Sashimi. Can you imagine? Kwouk personified the dilemma confronting all actors, but particularly actors of color, throughout film history. In the real world a paycheck is nothing to sneeze at, but the resulting work survives for future generations to ridicule and/or revile. Kwouk said in 1981 about the parts he played, “If I don’t do it, someone else will. So why don’t I go in, get some money, and try to elevate it a bit, if I can?” If Kwouk's work was the elevated version you'll break into a cold sweat imagining what his roles could have been like. In any case, we've solved the Lindberg mystery, and now we'll move on. Below are a couple of shots of Hamill and Longhurst for your pleasure.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 23 2010
DRIVE YOU CRAZY
A group of reckless truckers gear up for trouble.


Above is a beautiful poster for Hell Drivers, a working class thriller set in England dealing with an ex-convict who takes a trucking job for a gravel company and begins risking life and limb trying to break another driver's speed record. It has something of the feel of 1947's They Drive By Night mixed with a British road rally. It also has film noir legend Peggy Cummins in a co-starring role, along with Herbert Lom from the Pink Panther movies, and lead actor Stanley Baker. Oh, and a guy named Sean Connery. And there's a truck crash with a brutal body ejection. But it's this amazing purple promo that prompted us to talk about the movie. We love this art. The manhandling moment depicted, by the way, precedes a kiss, as the thin narrative line between masculine anger and lust is crossed yet again in a mid-century film. Hell Drivers premiered in London today in 1957.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 14
1935—Dust Storm Strikes U.S.
Exacerbated by a long drought combined with poor soil conservation techniques that caused excessive soil erosion on farmlands, a huge dust storm known as Black Sunday rages across Texas, Oklahoma, and several other states, literally turning day to night and redistributing an estimated 300,000 tons of topsoil.
April 13
1953—MK-ULTRA Mind Control Program Launched
In the U.S., CIA director Allen Dulles launches a program codenamed MK-ULTRA, which involves the surreptitious use of drugs such as LSD to manipulate individual mental states and to alter brain function. The specific goals of the program are multifold, but focus on drugging world leaders in order to discredit them, developing a truth serum, and making people highly susceptible to suggestion. All of this is top secret, and files relating to MK-ULTRA's existence are destroyed in 1973, but the truth about the program still emerges in the mid-seventies after a congressional investigation.
April 12
1945—Franklin Roosevelt Dies
U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies of a cerebral hemorrhage while sitting for a portrait in the White House. After a White House funeral on April 14, Roosevelt's body is transported by train to his hometown of Hyde Park, New York, and on April 15 he is buried in the rose garden of the Roosevelt family home.
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