Continental Film Review ties modern cinema up in a tidy little package.
Above and below, the cover and assorted interior pages from Continental Film Review, with all the rare imagery and erudite commentary from the European cinema scene readers had come to expect. The cover features German actress Brigitte Skay bound with rope, and those of note inside include Anna Gaël, Romy Schneider, Alain Delon, Serge Gainsbourg, Jane Birkin, and Edwige Fenech. Skay and Gaël are featured because of their roles in the 1969 sci-fi film Zeta One, aka The Love Factor, which it happens we discussed way back in 2010. Shorter version: Barbarella it ain't. Continental Film Review had a secondary focus on non-performance visual arts. This issue looks at animation from Sweden and talks about some hot illustrators of the time, including Jan Lenica and Per Ahlin, drawing comparisons between them and famed painters like René Magritte. All of that and more in thirty-plus scans.
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.
Widmark/Peters noir looks great and packs a punch.
It wouldn't be a film noir festival without at least one anti-commie thriller and Pickup on South Street is it. The movie stars Richard Widmark as a two-bit pickpocket who lifts a wallet during an NYC subway ride and unexpectedly ends up with a priceless government secret meant to be given to commie spies by a cabal of sweaty traitors. Widmark sneers his way into a position where he thinks he can sell the stolen info for fifty grand. He's got another think coming.
Best line: If you refuse to cooperate you'll be as guilty as the traitors that gave Stalin the A bomb!
Well, Stalin had help from spies but we don't think any gave him the bomb like a borscht recipe. He had help on other fronts as well, including from captured German scientists and homegrown Russian knowhow, but this is film noir, so go with it. The good team vs. bad team dynamic continues throughout, and numerous people try to convince Widmark to put his own interests aside and play for the home squad. They're wasting their breath.
The movie co-stars Jean Peters, a good actress and amazing knockout who's been a bit forgotten, even though she was in a few other good films and went on to marry nutball billionaire Howard Hughes. Her opening scene on a humid subway will stick with you. Sadly, she harbors yet another inexplicable film noir infatuation with a male lead who's about as nice as a sack of cold dick tips, but this is film noir so go with it. Ditto for the pushing and slapping Peters endures. She's even knocked cold by Widmark in their initial encounter. Deliberately.
His apology: You okay or did I bust something?
These sly flirtations increase Peters' ardor. The female heart wants what it wants, at least in the minds of wannabe-tough-guy Hollywood screenwriters. That screenwriter would be Samuel Fuller, who actually was acquainted with the underworld from his days as a crime reporter. So it could be that he knew more about gutter love than we do, but we doubt it. Here's what really matters—Peters absolutely kills her role, and does her own stunts too. Thelma Ritter, later of Rear Window, also gets a pivotal turn and nails her part as a tired older lady just trying to get by.
In the end Pickup on South Street comes full circle. While it's about patriotism, and trying to survive in New York City with zero means, and a weird kind of masochistic 1953 infatuation we'll never really understand, it starts with pickpocketing and eventually returns, in a symmetry that feels very modern in screenwriting terms, to that idea for the excellent climax. With Fuller directing and Joe MacDonald handling the cinematography, the final result is a knockout in both senses of the word—looks great, packs a punch.
Continental Film Review was a leading voice of foreign film in Britain, as well as a leading source of cheap thrills.
We’re showing you this August 1966 Continental Film Review for one reason—Raquel Welch. She appears in both the front and back of the magazine, and the latter photo was made while she was in the Canary Islands filming One Million Years B.C. That photo session featuring a blonde, windblown Welch was incredibly fruitful, at least if we’re to judge by the many different places we’ve seen frames from the shoot, including here, here, here and especially here. There had not been a sex symbol quite like Welch before, and in 1966 she had reached the apex of her allure, where she’d stay for quite a while.
On the cover of the magazine are Christina Schollin and Jarl Kulle, pictured during a tender moment from the Swedish romantic comedy Änglar, finns dom? aka Love Mates. Inside you get features on the Berlin and San Sebastian film festivals, Sophia Loren, Nieves Navarro, Anita Ekberg, and more. CFR had launched in 1952, and now, fourteen years later, was one of Britain’s leading publications on foreign film. It was also a leading publication in showing nude actresses, and in fact by the 1970s was probably more noteworthy for its nudity than its journalism. The move probably undermined its credibility, but most magazines—whether fashion, film, or erotic—began showing more in the 1970s. CFR was simply following the trend, and reached its raciest level around 1973, as in the issue here. Fifteen scans below.
Continental Film Review mixed serious cinema scholarship with cheesecake.
We located this July 1965 copy of the British cinema magazine Continental Film Review, and found two good reasons to post it—the great Sylva Koscina cover shot, and the adverts for London’s x-rated Compton Theater, at bottom. In between you get Ugo Tognozzi, Rossana Podesta, Luciana Gilli and more. CFR was actually one of the most serious and informed film magazines of its era, but instead of sharing scans of pages and pages of text, we posted the photos. However, in this issue are articles on the San Sebastian and Berlin film festivals, Canadian and Québécois cinema, and near-scholarly treatments on Italian neorealist director Vittorio De Sica, and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s award winning biblical film The Gospel According to St. Matthew. Doesn't that all sound great? See a CFR with Christina Lindberg here, and Laura Gemser here.
Was it journalism, pornography, or both?
Here’s one of our favorite old magazines, the great Continental Film Review, with a cover shot of one our favorite vintage actresses, Christina Lindberg, who you may remember from our post about Sex & Fury a while back. CFR was published in Britain and, like other magazines of its ilk, such as France’s Cine-Revue, purposely blurred the line between journalism and smut by publishing sober reviews and features, while not-so-incidentally showing acres of skin. Their wry, we’re-not-really-porn approach was a roaring success across four decades, from 1952 until 1983. We have some racy interior pages below, featuring more Lindberg, as well as Marion Forster, Gabriela Grimaldi, Veronique Vendell and others. And at bottom, in the final panel, we've located the orginal image upon which CFR based their cover image. Enjoy.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1943—First LSD Trip Takes Place
Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann, while working at Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, accidentally absorbs lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD, and thus discovers its psychedelic properties. He had first synthesized the substance five years earlier but hadn't been aware of its effects. He goes on to write scores of articles and books about his creation.
1912—The Titanic Sinks
Two and a half hours after striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean on its maiden voyage, the British passenger liner RMS Titanic sinks, dragging 1,517 people to their deaths. The number of dead amount to more than fifty percent of the passengers, due mainly to the fact the liner was not equipped with enough lifeboats.
1947—Robinson Breaks Color Line
African-American baseball player Jackie Robinson officially breaks Major League Baseball's color line when he debuts for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Several dark skinned men had played professional baseball around the beginning of the twentieth century, but Robinson was the first to overcome the official segregation policy called—ironically, in retrospect—the "gentleman's agreement".
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.
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