Femmes Fatales May 28 2020
PROTECTIVE COVER
It's not an N95 mask but it's all I've got.


Visual references change. This is obviously a veil, but when we saw it the first thing that came to mind was mask. It's an elegant, somewhat erotic shot, which is no wonder, as veils are generally seen as sexy. Masks, meanwhile, are not, but might that change? There's already mask porn. Doesn't do anything for us, but maybe we're just not cutting edge enough. Anyway, this rare photo was made to promote the 1947 Groucho Marx comedy Copacabana, and the face behind the veil is that of legendary Portuguese-born Brazilian singer Carmen Miranda. We know what you're thinking. This can't be Carmen Miranda. But it is. In the film she's trying to hide her identity, which is why she's made-up so pale and is wearing a blonde wig. Her ruse worked, and not just in Copacabana—websites have misidentified this shot as everyone from Chili Williams to Lili St. Cyr.

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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, Girl, 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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Femmes Fatales May 20 2020
WHERE THERE'S SMOKE
Rita Hayworth does tall, dark, and treacherous.


We've done a lot on Gilda, but it's one of our favorite movies of the 1940s, and we'd be remiss if we didn't show you this beautiful promo image, basically the best of the lot from this flick. Gilda had everything—an exotic Argentine location (shot on a backlot), a story of danger (done many times before), and a tough, cynical leading man (nothing new for the time period). So then, what made Gilda great, if it was so derivative? Two things—Hayworth, playing a jaded and suspicious femme fatale; and a good script that skirted that bounds of what was allowable in terms of expressing feminine sexual liberation. Co-star Glenn Ford had perfect chemistry with Hayworth, too, which counts for something, but any man would have that. No, it's Rita's show. And though she didn't live forever, Gilda will. Or at least, it'll live as long as humans watch anything that can be classified as cinema.
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Femmes Fatales May 15 2020
PARKER AROUND BACK
Deliveries go in the rear. And get your mind out of the gutter.


American actress Jean Parker, who enjoyed a long film career that ran from 1932 to 1965 and comprised more than seventy screen appearances, watches over some crates in this promo photo made for the 1954 crime drama Black Tuesday, in which she co-starred with Edward G. Robinson. Must be something very valuable in those boxes for her to be armed and ready to ventilate somebody. Is toilet paper still the valuable currency of the moment? It's never been scarce where we live but we heard people in other places were ready to kill for it a few weeks ago. We'd prefer if the cargo here were good booze, possibly Bulleit bourbon. Well, let's flip them upside down and...
Aha. So, they're items made in occupied Japan. We embarked upon the digital superhighway, conjured up several synopses for Black Tuesday, and using search-find on keyword “Japan,” so we wouldn't spoil the plot by actually reading any details, got no hits. Probably the crates are just props that had been sitting around RKO-Pathé Studios, where the movie was shot. But we can't be sure. It's just these sorts of small mysteries that influence our movie queue. We'll screen this and report back.
 
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Femmes Fatales May 10 2020
HELLO BEAUTIFUL
Without a doubt seeing you is always the best part of my day.


This cute photo shows U.S. actress Joan Blondell, who started her showbiz career in Vaudeville, and later made numerous pre-Code films, including The Public Enemy and Blonde Crazy. It was shot when she was making the 1936 film Stage Struck, in which she starred with her husband Dick Powell.

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Femmes Fatales May 4 2020
DAMN, THE TORPEDOES
The things we put ourselves through in the name of fashion.


What we've subjected ourselves to over the ages in order to be alluring is astounding. Bone corsets, Victorian wigs, thongs, bikini waxing, back waxing, ball waxing, nostril waxing (which we recently learned is a thing), stiletto heels, and the list goes on. Obviously, women have it far worse than men. We don't want to sound unduly incredulous, because we get that all the things we do to ourselves show how important the mating game is. If a fashion trend gets you that partner you seek for a night, a lifetime, or any time between, is there really any length that is too far? Still, though, from our generational perspective, the torpedo bra is among the strangest of all fashion items, and this shot of model Donna Reading shows how extreme the look could get. It comes from an issue of Daily Girl and dates from around 1970. Reading, who was also known as Donna Marlowe (sometimes Marlow), acted as well as modeled, and appeared in a dozen or so television series, including The Benny Hill Show and Monty Python's Flying Circus. The real circus act was wedging herself into this medieval device. We've expressed our wonder concerning this subject before, here and here. Meanwhile, below, Marlowe bans the bra.

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Femmes Fatales May 1 2020
GRACEFUL KELLY
For perfect composition start with the basics.


This artful photo shows U.S. actress Paula Kelly, who appeared in such classic films as The Andromeda Strain, Soylent Green, and the blaxploitation comedy Uptown Saturday Night. She was also a dancer and choreographer, which probably helped her nail this pose and make the photographer look brilliant. She just died a couple of months ago at age seventy-seven, an event we totally missed, but we're glad we found this timeless image.

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Femmes Fatales Apr 27 2020
ANNIE GOT HER GUNS
There's a new sheriff on the planet.


This photo has sort of ’50s sci-fi look, but it's actually from the 1980s and shows Japanese actress Naomi Morinaga as the character Annie from Uchû keiji Shaider, aka Space Sheriff Shaider, which aired on Japanese television for one season straddling 1984 and 1985. Morinaga played other roles, but Space Sheriff, which also spawned two movies, a video game, and a video short, is her legacy. By the way, Japan is truly the place for space guns. In fact, we did an entire post on them, though it was so long ago you've probably never seen it. But it's here, if you're interested. 

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Femmes Fatales Apr 23 2020
MAYORITY RULES
Bailiff, dispose of the deputy mayor's corpse. Anyone else got complaints about how much time I spend in the jacuzzi?


Above, a nice 1967 photo of award winning Turkish actress Fatma Girik, who appeared in almost two-hundred films. We featured her as a femme fatale long ago, back in 2009, and as we noted then she left acting to become a politician. Her political career spanned 1989 to 1994, when she was mayor of Şişli, which is one of thirty-nine districts of Istanbul, or so we're informed by the internet. We suspect she ruled with an iron rod.

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Femmes Fatales Apr 21 2020
CUT THE CARDS
She just about lost her shirt gambling.


This is a brilliant promo photo of Japanese actress Kemi Ichiboshi. During an amazing cinematic run she appeared in more than sixty films in six years spanning 1966 and 1972. And for all that output, we don't remember noticing her before this photo popped up, but we'll try to check her out. If that happens we'll for sure report back.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 10
1940—The Battle of Britain Begins
The German Air Force, aka the Luftwaffe, attacks shipping convoys off the coast of England, touching off what Prime Minister Winston Churchill describes as The Battle of Britain.
July 09
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.
July 08
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.
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