High quality poster art for a high quality film noir.
As far as posters go for the seminal Gene Tierney film noir Laura, this, we think, is the best of the lot. It's the West German promo, a real work of art, signed, but illegibly. We scoured the internet for hours for clues to the creator of this, but with no luck, so put it in the unknown file. Laura premiered in the U.S. in 1944, and reached West Germany today in 1947.
Bad guys turn island of delights into gangster's paradise.
L'ultima isola del piacere is the Italian title of a West German flick originally made as Die Insel der tausend Freuden, and known in English as Island of 1000 Delights and Triangle of Venus. Filmed in Mauritius, this is a disjointed sexploitation thriller about a tennis pro who squanders his fortune due to bad gambling habits, which culminates in him losing his wife in a poker game against an evil casino owner who is also a—wait for it—white slaver. You may ask yourself why the wife agreed to be wagered. The answer is she sort of hates her husband. Hubby has a mistress, so he isn't too broken up about the outcome of the bet either. Unfortunately, his sidepiece is a greedy sort who convinces him that murdering his own aunt for her fortune might be a good idea. Meanwhile Olivia Pascal plays a private investigator working for the aunt and charged with investigating the casino owner's trafficking ring. The two plot threads weave together shabbily at best, with the murder plot taking an unexpected turn.
We watched this flick solely for the beautiful Pascal, but we have good news for our female readers: although these ’70s sexploitation movies usually have male stars of dubious physical grooming and charms, this time the male lead is Philippe Garnier, and we're pretty sure you'll like him. Unfortunately, he plays a total asshole, plus in order to see him—or Pascal for that matter—you'll have to wade through bad editing, terrible acting, a mean-spirited script, several scenes of torture, and, worst of all, an almost continuous Euro disco soundtrack. We certainly can't recommend this one, but we do like the poster. The production photos, few of which hint at the ugly subtext of the film, are interesting too. Maybe just look at those and call it a day. Die Insel der tausend Freuden premiered in West Germany today in 1978, and reached Italy at an indeterminate date sometime thereafter.
Bogart finds himself stuck on Key Largo when hurricane Edward blows into town.
Above is a West German poster for Hafen des Lasters, which translates as “port of vice,” but is better known as Key Largo. We love this piece of art. It's imitative of earlier posters, particularly a Belgian promo from 1949. But that one is by Wik. This one is signed by a different artist, but illegibly, so we can't tell you who painted it. We'll work on that. We've uploaded the signature in case you have an idea what this scrawl says. This is simply a great film, a crime drama set in a hurricane. Many books using the same idea were written later, such as Theodore Pratt's Tropical Disturbance and Russell Trainer's No Way Back. Whether they were inspired by Key Largo or earlier works like W. Somerset Maugham's Rain we can't say, but any writer will tell you never let a good gimmick go to waste. In any case, Key Largo premiered in the U.S. in 1948 and reached West Germany today in 1950.
McGinnis sells sea tale with a seashore.
West German publishing company Heyne Bücher makes good use of art by Robert McGinnis on the cover of Der Flamingo Mörder, which was a translation of Charles Williams' 1958 novel The Concrete Flamingo, aka All the Way. This beachy painting originally appeared in Argosy in April 1961 as an illustration for Ed Lacy's story "The Naked Blanco,” but it's a perfect match for Williams, who became a gifted crafter of oceangoing thrillers, among them Dead Calm, And the Deep Blue Sea, Scorpion Reef, and Aground. And yes, we know, by the way, that technically (not even technically, but actually) a fowl is a bird domesticated for its eggs, which flamingos aren't, but you try thinking up headers for these posts for eleven straight years. Anyway, the entire McGinnis painting from which the cover art was borrowed is below. And as always you can learn more about everyone involved by clicking their keywords at bottom.
Looking back at one of the solar system's hottest celestial bodies.
Anita Ekberg's film noir Screaming Mimi opened in West Germany today in 1960. We've had a look at one West German poster, but today we've decided to share another one. This version is similar to the U.S. promo, but the unusual color palette makes it seem like a completely different design. We think's it's really beautiful.
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.
Haven't we seen her somewhere before?
Looks like West German publisher Paul Feldmann Verlag was yet another company that jumped on the celebrity photocover bandwagon, using an image of of British actress Diana Rigg for Auf den Spuren des Syndikats, which means “in the footsteps of the syndicate.” Rigg is, of course, best known for playing ass kicking Emma Peel on the beloved British television series The Avengers, and the photo used here was borrowed from a promo image made for the series.
Auf den Spuren des Syndikats was part of Feldmann's series PFV-Krimi. Author Henry C. Scott was credited with numerous books, but we knew he was a pseudonym just based on his improbably vanilla name. Color us surprised to learn that rather than a German author masquerading as a yank, it was a guy named Walter Arnold. Seems like Walt could have just written using the vanilla name he was born with, but what do we know?
We found this book cover on the German blog Leihbuchregal, which you can visit at this link, if so inclined. It will be helpful if you can read German. Paul Feldmann Verlag published many other books with borrowed celebs, which if you visit here regularly you know is a phenomenon we've noted, um, auf den. See a couple of good examples here and here. 1969 copyright on the above.
Woman, 20, seeks man any age. Must be open minded. Sex guaranteed. No commitment. Emotional masochist preferred.
Above is a West German poster for the French sexploitation flick Laura, originally titled Laure, starring the sexiest elf in cinema history, Annie Belle, in the tale of a minister's libertine daughter trekking around the Philippines, getting laid with whomever while her boyfriend-later-husband watches and sometimes films. We talked about this one in detail a while back but wanted to share this nice poster. Notice Emmanuelle Arsan is credited as the director? What happened was the actual director Louis-Jacques Rollet-Andriane quit and refused to allow his name to be attached to the film because he didn't get to delve more deeply into his philosophy of freedom and swinging. Which is funny because the movie is almost entirely about freedom and swinging. But give a Frenchman six inches and he'll demand a mile. Read more here. Laura premiered in West Germany today in 1976.
Crazy for feeling so lonely.
Above, two really nice West German promos for Roman Polanski's quasi-horror flick Ekel, better known as Répulsion, with Catherine Deneuve as a woman who goes crazy in the isolation of her apartment. We talked about this one briefly and shared two Japanese posters for it a while ago. After opening in France and the UK, the film received its debut for German viewers at The Berlin International Film Festival today in 1965.
The doctor is out—of his freaking mind.
Above, a poster for Arzt und Dämon, aka Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which premiered in West Germany today in 1949. The art here is by Heinz Schulz-Neudamm, whose most famous piece is the poster he designed for the expressionist sci-fi movie Metropolis. It once sold for $1.2 million, which made it the most valuable movie promo in existence at the time, but this Hyde effort shows Schulz-Neudamm's skills in a totally different light. We think it's top shelf work for a top shelf flick. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1948—Paige Takes Mound in the Majors
Satchel Paige, considered at the time the greatest of Negro League pitchers, makes his Major League debut for the Cleveland Indians at the age of 42. His career in the majors is short because of his age, but even so, as time passes, he is recognized by baseball experts as one of the great pitchers of all time.
1965—Biggs Escapes the Big House
Ronald Biggs, a member of the gang that carried out the Great Train Robbery in 1963, escapes from Wandsworth Prison by scaling a 30-foot wall with three other prisoners, using a ladder thrown in from the outside. Biggs remains at large for nearly forty years.
NBC radio broadcasts the cop drama Dragnet for the first time. It was created by, produced by, and starred Jack Webb as Joe Friday. The show would later go on to become a successful television program, also starring Webb.
1973—Lake Dies Destitute
Veronica Lake, beautiful blonde icon of 1940s Hollywood and one of film noir's most beloved fatales
, dies in Burlington, Vermont of hepatitis and renal failure due to long term alcoholism. After Hollywood, she had drifted between cheap hotels in Brooklyn and New York City and was arrested several times for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. A New York Post
article briefly revived interest in her, but at the time of her death she was broke and forgotten.
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