Think your boss is bad? Then you've never dealt with a mob boss.
Falling into the category of pleasant surprises, The Mob, for which you see an evocative promo poster above, stars Broderick Crawford as a cop sent to infiltrate an organized crime syndicate. You've seen the idea before. He works his way up the ladder and brings the bad guys down, but this iteration comes with brisk pacing, a set of unpredictable twists, and a supporting cast that includes Ernest Borgine, Richard Kiley, and Lynn Baggett. If you keep your eyes open you might even spot Charles Bronson.
Crawford had already won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for 1949's All the King's Men, so he unsurprisingly does a bang-up job in this film, instilling his deep cover cop with believable toughness and a gruff but relatable humanity. Crawford would later appear in such excellent films as Scandal Sheet, New York Confidential, Born Yesterday, and Human Desire, but The Mob may be his underrated classic.
The only flaw with this film, in our opinion, is a goofball denouement. We suppose, after ninety minutes of almost nonstop high tension, the filmmakers wanted audiences to leave smiling, and we're sure they did, because the scene, while dumb, is pretty funny. But in any case, we recommend giving The Mob a whirl. You'll enjoy it. It opened nationally in the U.S. in late September, but had its actual debut at special premiere today in Dayton, Ohio (why, we don't know) in 1951.
Botched Casablanca clone makes a lot of wrong turns.
Above is the U.S. promo poster for Port Afrique, which we've shared today to follow up the French poster we shared last year when we talked about the movie in detail. Shorter version: plenty of style, not enough substance, and nowhere near enough character. You can blame the latter problem on the casting of the male lead. But that French poster is nice, so you should have look. It's here. Port Afrique premiered today in 1956.
Danger there's a Shakedown dead ahead.
If only real life were bounded by the same rules as mid-century cinema. In real life you can screw someone completely to succeed and in many quarters you're hailed as an amazing talent and can even run for president, but in vintage cinema anyone who succeeds had better do it via fair play or the screenwriters will punish them. In Shakedown, Howard Duff plays an ambitious photographer symbolically named Jack Early, who takes shortcuts to success in San Francisco. He talks his way into a job at a local newspaper, and during his duties quickly reveals himself to be not only ambitious, but amoral. He generates a pile of off-the-books cash with various hustles, and reaches a point where he's full of himself, reckless, and dressing like he runs a stable of hookers on the side.
It's not a surprise when, at this point, in an act of utmost hubris he pits two deadly gangsters against each other by using photos of one engaged in a criminal act. When his blackmail results in one crook blowing the other up with a bomb, Early is right there with his camera and is almost killed too. But he gets the photo. It earns him upper tier status among San Fran lensmen, and the best assignments. But even that isn't enough for him. When one magazine editor offers him top rates for his services, his response is: “The top's too low.”
Clearly someone suffering from this level of egomania is headed for a mugshot session or a mortuary—the mid-century movie censorship regime demanded it. The only question is how exactly does Early go down. We'll only tell you that his journey is entertaining, if unlikely, and the film on the whole is a better than average vintage drama, bolstered by the rock solid Peggy Dow in a supporting role, along with Brian Donlevy and Lawrence Tierney as Gangster A and Gangster B. When it's all over you'll believe the corrupt always lose—on the screen anyway. Shakedown premiered in the U.S. today in 1950.
Russell sets the screen aflame in one of her iconic roles.
This French promo for The Revolt of Mamie Stover, which opened in Paris today in 1956 after being retitled Bungalow pour femmes, is yet another fantastic effort from the brush of Russian illustrator Boris Grinsson. Jane Russell starred in the film, and we especially like the poster's emphasis on her red hair. We talked about Mamie Stover as well as its complicated source novel last year. Check here for the movie and here for the book. We'll put together a larger collection on Grinsson later.
Bogart may own the café, but Bergman owns the room.
Since we're checking out European poster art today, above is a nice West German promo for the classic wartime drama Casablanca, with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. We've covered just about all the nice promos for this film: Japanese, Spanish, Italian, and of course the classic U.S. version. Plus we wrote a post about the movie's brilliant set design. But this additional poster is worth sharing because it's the first time we've featured artist Hans Otto Wendt, a well regarded figure who worked during his youth as a draftsman in the newspaper industry, before taking his talents afield and collaborating with Deutsche London Film, Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox, and other major studios. He worked until 1969, at which point he retired due to poor health, and finally died in Berlin in 1979. For the above effort, note that he not only made Bergman the star of the poster, but the star of his handpainted lettering too. Casablanca premiered in West Germany today in 1952.
By whatever means necessary.
Above is a Belgian poster for the 1953 film noir Wicked Woman, originally made in the U.S. starring Richard Egan and, in one of her classic femme fatale roles, Beverly Michaels. Generally, because of the predominant languages used in Belgium, posters from there carried both French and Dutch text. In French Wicked Woman was titled La vicieuse, and in Dutch it was De slet (you can guess what that means). Our header for this post is a play on the never ending debate over whether film noir is a genre or a cycle. Either way, what it produced was always vicious. We briefly talked about Wicked Woman some years ago and shared the U.S. poster. This effort is from the presses of S.P.R.L. Belgique and it's signed by Wik, an artist who remains a mystery. Below, you see Michaels pondering the wickedness of her behavior and deciding she's fine with it.
No matter how many it took Lynn and Donovan would get you there.
Digging into our collection of Japanese promo posters for American porn movies once again, we found this one for 1984's Too Good To Be True, which was headlined by Ginger Lynn and Stacey Donovan. Other performers included... well, all the performers that were usually in such films. The Japanese title—花唇の相続—translates to something along the lines of, “inheritance of flower lips.” Needless to say, we absolutely love that. Japanese distributors were really good with retitles of U.S. adult movies. The final results tended to be poetic, yet there was never any doubt that what was being offered was smut. Of course, it was censored in Japan—no flower lips shown, but even so, what a fun title. As we've mentioned before, because it was the videocassette age movies such as these didn't have official premieres in the U.S., however they apparently did in Japan, and that was today in 1989.
If you were stuck in this movie you'd go mad too.
Today we've uplaoded an uncredited but striking poster—as well as a second one at bottom—for Mania, a low budget Italo horror movie directed by fright specialist Renato Polselli. It starred Eva Spadaro, Brad Euston, and Isarco Ravaioli, with Euston playing the double role of visionary madman Professor Brecht and his (not mad?) identical twin brother Germano. Professor Brecht has developed the ability to control living matter. While he's busy making honeybees stop flying in mid-air, his wife Spadaro is sharing her honey with Brecht 2. The discovery of this affair triggers violence, a murder attempt, and a lab fire that incinerates Brecht and severely burns 2.
Flash forward a year or so and Spadaro is convinced her husband has come back from the grave to haunt her. Her headshrinker recommends that she return to the house where the violence took place as a means of confronting her fears, and she takes this terrible advice and drives out there—harassed and pursued at one point by a driverless car. 2 still lives in the old house with his burns and bitterness, which is surprising considering the place suffers from numerous issues that for sure would kill its value in the Rome real estate market, from weird noises to spectral invaders to eels on the loose.
Whenever a pair of twins occur in an Italian giallo or horror movie, you can confidently assume there's a switcheroo involved, and that's the case here, as it was not Brecht who died in the fire, but 2. Spoiler alert. Damn—we keep reminding ourselves to put the warning before the spoiler but we screw it up every time. Anyway, we learn that Brecht is trying to drive Spadaro mad for cheating on him. You won't care, because the movie is a blisteringly bad, dirt cheap assault against all that is good and admirable about filmmaking.
The only real thrill in this rickety scaffolding of a movie is a nude wrestling match between Mirella Rossi and Ivana Giordan, followed by further gratuities, including multiple scenes of them both running around in only men's dress shirts. We understand that these days we aren't supposed to say nudity is the highlight of a film, but it's the gospel truth, because this shock-horror failure has virtually nothing else to offer—except laughs if you can get past the ineptitude on display. We absolutely, positively, can't recommend a disaster of this magnitude, but we do recommend Rossi and Giordan. Mania premiered today in 1974.
I decided to change my look with this blonde wig. Really brings out the claylike undertones in my skin, don't you think? I dream of having a claylike complexion. Instead I have this terribly painful infected burn. And this crunchy hand! Look at it! Just look!
Mmph... Gasp... Bacony... Mmph...
Aaaaand... casually exit stage right while this lunatic is losing his shit like a howler monkey.
I'm healing nicely, don't you think? Yeah. You look... uh... those skin creams have made you smooth as a baby's bottom. I have a sinking feeling this will be my only film role.
Bermuda, Barbuda, anyplace will do, as long as there's plenty of pizza.
Over the years of watching Santo movies we've made numerous jokes about the legendary El enmascarado de plata—who was played by Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta—being in less than ideal shape. We've even made a few heart attack jokes. Today, for reasons having to do with nothing, we actually sought Huerta's bio and learned that he did in fact die of a heart attack in 1984. We don't feel bad about the fat jokes, cholesterol jokes, and pizza jokes. And in truth Huerta was in decent shape. A bit high in body fat, but with a thick layer of muscle underneath. Wrestling, while fake, takes athleticism, and Huerta had it. The only reason we make fun of him is because we consider him fat for a movie superhero. So the heart attack thing, in the context of all our quips, is ironic.
Misterio en las Bermudas came close to the end of Huerta's career, and finds Dr. Chunkenstein™ dealing with yet another MacGyverish mad villain. This one, who's named Dr. Gro, has a device that allows him to abduct people, objects, or even entire aircraft while producing storm effects, causing authorities to blame the disappearances on the Bermuda Triangle. Initially, Santo and sidekicks Blue Demon and Mil Mascaras know nothing about this and are on protection detail, watching over a Middle Eastern princess played by Gaynor Kote. A trio of women are sent to honeytrap the heroes, but in the midst of this effort, one of them is kidnapped by teleporting aliens. Later there's a political assassination attempt, an underwater lair, a long lost father, and a nuclear explosion. In addition, all of this occurs within a framing device suggesting that this is Santo's—if not humanity's—final outing.
Yeah, it's as bizarre as it sounds. It's as if a card sharp shuffled the script pages then threw every fifth one into the vortex. And the low budget doesn't help the filmmakers make South Texas, where the movie was shot, look like Bermuda. In any case, the creators of the Santo series had a formula and they stick closely to it for this late entry. There's less in-the-ring wrestling action than usual, but we always considered that to be the most expendable part of the movies anyway. Bottom line: if you like Santo you'll like this. Rodolfo Huerta may have been long in the tooth at this point, but the man could still wear a gimp mask with style. Misterio en las Bermudas premiered in Mexico today in 1979.
I'm skeptical about wearing masks in this heat, Santo, but maybe you're right. Maybe they'll make the chicks sit up and take notice. Groovy masks, guys. Those won't, uh, restrict the mobility of your tongues in any way, will they? Well, boys, was I right, or was I right? Question, plot related. So what the fuck was all that alien stuff?
Wait, don't kill me! I can be useful! I can teach you this lindy hop I learned in my dance class!
We said last week we'd get back to British actress Susan George. Above you see her on a poster for Die Screaming Marianne, along with the claim that the movie is the ultimate in suspense. Well, if that's the case, how could we say no? George plays a nightclub dancer hiding out from her father, a former judge who took bribes during his long career. He lives in a villa in Portugal with George's half sister. When George turns twenty-one she'll receive her mother's inheritance, which is in a Swiss bank account along with papers proving her father was a crook. Her half sister wants the money, which amounts to $700,000, and her father wants the documents. Both decide that killing George is the only way to achieve their goals.
The filmmakers, including cult horror director Pete Walker, primarily come at all this via a somewhat elliptical route that brings to mind giallo cinema, where you aren't sure what's significant, or really what's even going on at first. But by halfway through, it all begins to make sense and the story boils down to the very conventional question of whether George's father and half sister can get away with murder. We won't answer that, but we'll tell you we can't fully recommend the movie because of its obtrusively oddball style. George definitely made better films, a few of which we mentioned in our previous post on her. That being the case, we'll see her again. Die Screaming Marianne premiered today in 1971.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1955—James Dean Dies in Auto Accident
American actor James Dean, who appeared in the films Giant
, East of Eden
, and the iconic Rebel without a Cause
, dies in an auto accident
at age 24 when his Porsche 550 Spyder is hit head-on by a larger Ford coupe. The driver of the Ford had been trying to make a left turn across the rural highway U.S. Route 466 and never saw Dean's small sports car approaching.
1962—Chavez Founds UFW
Mexican-American farm worker César Chávez founds the United Farm Workers in California. His strikes, marches and boycotts eventually result in improved working conditions for manual farm laborers and today his birthday is celebrated as a holiday in eight U.S. states.
1916—Rockefeller Breaks the Billion Barrier
American industrialist John D. Rockefeller becomes America's first billionaire. His Standard Oil Company had gained near total control of the U.S. petroleum market until being broken up by anti-trust legislators in 1911. Afterward, Rockefeller used his fortune mainly for philanthropy, and had a major effect on medicine, education, and scientific research.
1941—Williams Bats .406
Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox finishes the Major League Baseball season with a batting average of .406. He is the last player to bat .400 or better in a season.
It's easy. We have an uploader that makes it a snap. Use it to submit your art, text, header, and subhead. Your post can be funny, serious, or anything in between, as long as it's vintage pulp. You'll get a byline and experience the fleeting pride of free authorship. We'll edit your post for typos, but the rest is up to you. Click here
to give us your best shot.