Vintage Pulp Oct 15 2021
FIGHT OR FLIGHT
Drug enforcement agents and heroin dealers settle their issues Outback.


We just shared a 1950 issue of Adam last week, but since it was too fragile for us to scan it all here's a second one, more completely documented. This hit Aussie newsstands this month in 1975 and you see the bright colors and dynamic art that was its trademark in those years. The cover illustrates Alex Tait's tale, “The Raw Deal,” which has to do with two undercover agents setting up a sale of pure heroin in order to take down a drug ring. The two agents, male and female, are posing as a couple, and as happens in fiction, the posing turns into reality. Interestingly, they have little choice because the villains have installed a two-way mirror in the agents' quarters and are keeping watch. So it's either get busy or blow their cover. The helicopter on the cover is the cavalry coming to the rescue right when it looks like the two agents will be executed. Adam's illustrations, at least from the early 1960s onward, were never generic. They were always tailor-made for a story in the magazine. Since most of the writers were relatively inexperienced, we can only imagine how thrilling it must have been for them to see their work represented this way. We have twenty-eight scans below for your enjoyment.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 14 2021
WILD CHILD
*sigh* Sure, wild body. Always wild. Dance, dance, dance. You know how this body feels right now? Hung over.


This cover for the 1953 novel Wild Body introduced a new artist to us—Howard Purcell, who produced an illustration better than Manning Clay's novel deserves. Wild Body is the story of a woman named Valerie Browning who's too attractive. That's Clay's formulation, not ours. Valerie's dilemma is summed up by this line about a hundred pages in: The cruelty of nature had endowed her with an exotic body but had forgotten to provide a heart and a soul. So she's kind of like the Tin Man, but stacked. She has starry ambitions, but can only manage to reach the burlesque circuit. As a dancer she quickly becomes jaded and depressed, and in addition to problems with men has a roommate named Lucyanne who gets one gander of Val's goods and decides same-sex action is where it's at. That could make for a good tale, but with low levels of action, eroticism, and drama, Wild Body lacks body and isn't all that wild. We'll keep our eyes open from more art from Purcell, though. This subtly phallic cover is excellent.
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Vintage Pulp Oct 13 2021
NEAR MRS.
It's a tough job but somebody's got to do her.


Wright Williams' 1948 novel Hired Husband came in a group of pulp novels we bought, and clearly isn't a crime or adventure novel, but a sleazy romance. And what vintage sleazy romances typically do is get the female protagonist laid, but not entirely due to her own efforts. In this case Laurette and John want to have a child, but can't get married because John's wife is wasting away comatose in a hospital, could continue doing so indefinitely, and divorcing a sick spouse who can't speak for herself isn't legal. So John is stuck. But he and Laurette feel they have no time to waste in pursuit of happiness and family, so they hire Latham to marry Laurette, so that John can impregnate her and the child will be so-called legitimate. After John's wife finishes withering to oblivion, Laurette will divorce her platonic hubby Latham, marry the widowed John after a respectable interval, and presto, instant family. What could possibly go wrong? Hah hah, plenty. Hired Husband is preposterous, and only marginally well written, but it kept us engaged. Also engaging is the cover art by Bill Wenzel, a guy we've featured before. See more here.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 13 2021
AFTER HOURS
Everything that matters happens while the city sleeps.


This poster for The Sleeping City says it's the exciting successor to The Naked City. That's a mighty bold claim, considering The Naked City was directed by the legendary Jules Dassin and was selected for permanent preservation by the U.S. Library of Congress's National Film Registry, while The Sleeping City was directed by the not-quite-legendary George Sherman, who mostly helmed westerns and received a Golden Boot Award for his contributions to the Western film genre. Both were skilled at their craft, no doubt. But there's a big difference between the National Film Registry and the Golden Boot.

The Sleeping City is a New York City based crime thriller, and it starts with a cheeseball introduction in which lead Richard Conte pays tribute to Bellevue Hospital and its doctors and nurses. It was tacked onto the finished picture after city officials learned that the public already viewed the hospital negatively, and a crime thriller set there might make those perceptions worse. But it was still a silly thing to do—Bellevue was a public hospital. It wasn't like it was going to lose ad revenue from bad publicity. In any case, we're glad these sorts of “the story you're about to see” preambles didn't last long in Hollywood.

Once the movie gets started, Conte plays a cop sent undercover to solve a murder at the hospital. He's posing as a doctor and has some medical experience, but is by all means to avoid being roped into a situation where he actually has to do any doctoring. If he gets in a jam of that sort he's supposed to sacrifice his cover, and as reliably as the turn of a script page, he gets trapped into treating a case of diabetic shock. He decides to forge ahead rather than step aside. One could ponder his ethics, but luckily he gets through by the skin of his teeth. Whew.

Conte sticks his long nose in various nooks and crannies around Bellevue, makes goo-goo eyes with ward nurse Coleen Gray, and finds himself roomed with a hothead doctor named Steve. The murder mystery eventually lands right in his lap when his roommate turns up dead—lucky break that—and an important clue is provided by a nurse played by Peggy “Wow*” Dow. We won't tell you how the plot unspools from that point. We'll just say The Sleeping City is a functional thriller worth a watch. With Conte and Gray on board, it's pretty hard to fail. The film premiered this week in 1950.

*Not her official nickname. That's just how we think of her.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 12 2021
DEMONIC POSSESSION
She wasn't really all that nice even before the demon showed up.


The tateken style poster you see above was made for the Japanese actioner Yôen dokufu-den: Han'nya no Ohyaku, aka Ohyaku: The Female Demon, set in Edo era Japan, and starring Junko Miyazono, Tomisaburô Wakayama, and Kunio Murai. Miyazono plays woman who as little girl survived when her prostitute mother jumped with her off a bridge, and as an adult carries a scar on her back from this traumatic suicide. She's grown up to be an acrobat, but is treated shabbily by men just as her mother was.

She flees her circus life and hooks up with a handsome young samurai, only to learn that he plans to steal gold being transported via caravan from a government mint. She begs to help her young lover, as he also takes on a partner who tried to rob the same mint twenty years earlier, losing an arm in the process. His knowledge will hopefully be key, but like any heist, there are hidden dangers. It's a given some will come from the protectors of the coveted goods, but sometimes they come from partners in positions of trust. That's all we'll say about the plot, except that Miyazono is never actually possessed by a demon. What happens is she gets a demon tattoo on her back, which we guess symbolizes her transition from somewhat shady to fully vengeful.

The movie was made by Toei Company and was the first in a trilogy of films that are often cited as precursors to the studio's famed pinky violence cycle. We can certainly see the similarity, though this film is black and white rather than the vivid color you get with pinky violence. But all that really matters is that it's entertaining, starting fast, incorporating nice sword action, and covering a lot of thematic ground. Very enjoyable stuff. It premiered in Japan today in 1968.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 12 2021
GONE ARAI
Qipao! Qipao! The cheongsam killer strikes.


Two companies, same release date, but we've confirmed it with our Japanese sources, so don't blame us if it's wrong. Onna mekura hana to kiba, aka Blind Woman: Flower and Fangs also premiered today in 1968, starring Koreharu Hisatomi, Isao Yamagata, Ken Sanders, and Chizuko Arai, who you see fronting the poster in a killer silk cheongsam. For the boys out there, that's a traditional dress of Chinese origin also known as a qipao. Hope that enriched your day. Arai plays a blind woman on a vengeance spree. We couldn't find a copy to watch, but the poster sure makes us curious.
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Vintage Pulp Oct 11 2021
TOURIST TRAP
Shit, that waiter is fast! The meal sucked and his service was worse, but maybe we should have tipped him anyway.


This cover for the 1965 Ace Edition of Martha Albrand's 1959 novel A Day in Monte Carlo caught our eye for a couple of reasons. One is the nice art by an unknown, but the other is because we're almost finished with David Dodge's 1952 travel book The Poor Man's Guide to Europe, and it encompasses the south of France. Why read a 70 year-old travel book? We knew it would be like a priceless time capsule—and it is. We'll get to it a bit later, but suffice to say it made us see this cover as two vacationers stiffing a waiter who's now chasing them with a scimitar. As you'd expect, however, this is actually an espionage novel, and a well reviewed one.

But sadly, A Day in Monte Carlo, which you might categorize as romantic suspense, is silly. Its main flaw is that the central relationship between American spycatcher Mark and French dancer Fleur is built on the gimmick of love at first sight. They meet, fall in love within minutes, and agree to marry before half a day has passed. After that point one of the main sources of plot tension becomes: how can Mark carry on a love affair and still chase the great and mysterious Timgad, mastermind behind the Algerian rebel movement, who flits from the Sahel to the Riviera with the ease of a migratory hawk? Well, there's an answer to that, though not a good one.

Albrand was something of an expert at this type of fiction, having published other novels in the same vein, but reputations can deceive. A great writer, perhaps, could pull all this off, but Albrand, whose go-to lines are things like, “Oh, Mark, I was so afraid. Is it really worth it to love this much?” is not a great writer. At least not in this book. We've actually seen her compared to the aforementioned David Dodge, who in addition to travel books wrote fiction classics like To Catch a Thief. But while Dodge wrote with wit, panache, and a touch of romance, he also wrote with gravity and grit. A Day in Monte Carlo needs a dose of the latter two qualities. Onward and upward. 

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Vintage Pulp Oct 11 2021
PRIME UNSUSPECTED
For your own good trust nobody.


Above: a poster for the thriller The Unsuspected, a movie you apparently can't foresee or forget, starring Claude Rains, Joan Caulfield, Audrey Totter, and Constance Bennett, directed by Michael Curtiz of Casablanca fame. We shared two nice Italian posters for this, and talked about it in detail. Check here, if interested. The Unsuspected premiered in the U.S. today in 1947. 

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Vintage Pulp Oct 10 2021
SAILOR TAKE WARNING
Abandon all boats ye who enter here.


This issue of Adam magazine published this month in 1950 was in delicate condition, so we were able to scan only a small selection of pages. The cover illustrates the story, “Swamp Bait,” by Leslie T. White, which deals with a sailor who manages to get his schooner trapped in a South Carolina swamp and is offered help by a ragtag stranger who turns out to be an escaped murderer planning to steal the boat and sail it to Brazil. Swamps have hungry gators, venomous snakes, toxic plants, and deep quicksand, but it's the humans you really need to be careful of. That's true anywhere, though, we guess. The protagonist has about twelve hours to think of a solution or he's fish food.

This is a very early Adam—in fact it may the earliest one we've bought. Hang on a sec. Yep, it's the earliest one, and because of the time period its focus is almost solely on fact and fiction. The cartoons and models had yet to dominate. There are exactly two photos of women, and four cartoons. However, the stories are of consistently better quality than during later decades. We'd love to pretend this magazine has value, but we doubt we could sell it in the condition it's in. Still, it's a nice addition to the collection, which is well beyond a hundred issues now. That means we'll share more Adam soon.
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Vintage Pulp Oct 8 2021
UNLUCKY 13
When commies get their hooks into you it's forever.


The Woman on Pier 13, for which you see a very nice promo poster above, had a pre-release title that tells you everything you need to know about it. That title was I Married a Communist. What you get here is a melodrama about Laraine Day, whirlwind married to successful San Francisco industrialist Robert Ryan, an exemplar of American free enterprise, but who was once a member of the communist party back in New Jersey. Uh oh.
 
Long before meeting and marrying Day, he exited the party without even thanking his hosts for the snacks, moved to Frisco, and changed his name. Married life is going wonderfully until the commies track him down and threaten to expose him if he doesn't give over two fifths of his salary each month and sabotage labor negotiations between San Fran shipping magnates and striking dockworkers. They kill a guy in front of him, just so he knows they mean business. The sneaky, thieving, blackmailing, murdering rats. They're cruel squared. All they needed to be worse were monocles and riding crops. And maybe a handy tray of stainless steel dental hooks. And speaking of hooks, wait until you see what what Ryan can do with one. The Woman on Pier 13 is well made and pretty fun, but it's less useful as cinema than as a time capsule of anti-commie propaganda. It premiered today in 1949.

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Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 15
1945—Laval Executed
Pierre Laval, who was the premier of Vichy, France, which had collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, is shot by a firing squad for treason. In subsequent years it emerges that Laval may have considered himself a patriot whose goal was to publicly submit to the Germans while doing everything possible behind the scenes to thwart them. In at least one respect he may have succeeded: fifty percent of French Jews survived the war, whereas in other territories about ninety percent perished.
1966—Black Panthers Form
In the U.S., in Oakland, California, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale form the Black Panther political party. The Panthers are active in American politics throughout the 1960s and 1970s, but eventually legal troubles combined with a schism over the direction of the party lead to its dissolution.
October 14
1962—Cuban Missile Crisis Begins
A U-2 spy plane flight over the island of Cuba produces photographs of Soviet nuclear missiles being installed. Though American missiles have been installed near Russia, the U.S. decides that no such weapons will be tolerated in Cuba. The resultant standoff brings the U.S. and the Soviet Union to the brink of war. The crisis finally ends with a secret deal in which the U.S. removes its missiles from Turkey in exchange for the Soviets removing the Cuban weapons.
October 13
1970—Angela Davis Arrested
After two months of evading police and federal authorities, Angela Davis is arrested in New York City by the FBI. She had been sought in connection with a kidnapping and murder because one of the guns used in the crime had been bought under her name. But after a trial a jury agreed that owning the weapon did not automatically make her complicit in the crimes.
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