What goes up must come down.
These pin-up paintings by Jay Scott Pike continue the quirky 1950s theme of women's panties falling. We were told by someone who was around back then that this was actually a thing, due to elastic sometimes becoming fatigued. Who knew? Earlier we looked at prints of a similar style by Art Frahm, and you can see those here and here.
Everything that can possibly go wrong will.
Nora Prentiss, which stars Ann Sheridan and Kent Smith, has an innocuous title, but it's close to the most ingenious film noir ever made. It's about a mild-mannered doctor who falls for a beautiful nightclub singer and decides he's willing to leave his wife. Exactly how far he's willing to go to accomplish this split is one aspect of what makes the film interesting, but the aftermath of his decision, and how it leads to an ending that is simultaneously literal and metaphorical, is what makes it a top entry in the genre. Reviews of the day complained that the film was not believable, but are any of the pickles leading men get into in film noir believable? The fact that the filmmakers, writers, and actors pull off the plot at all is worthy of praise. We can say nothing more about Nora Prentiss, not even a hint, and we strongly suggest you don't get anywhere near a review before watching it. Just trust us that it's a film noir worth seeing. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1947.
To a true hunter everyone is prey.
Richard Stark's, aka Donald E. Westlake's The Hunter, which was also published as Point Blank, is a landmark in crime literature, a precursor to characters like Jack Reacher. The standout qualities of this novel are its brutality and its smash cuts from set-piece to set-piece. As an example of the former, the main character, named Parker, basically scares a woman into committing suicide, dumps her body in a park, and slashes her face post-mortem as a way of foiling police attempts at identification. The latter quality, the narrative's disorienting transitions, is exemplified by a chapter that ends with Parker's hands mid-murder around an enemy's throat, and the next opening with him sitting in another enemy's house, holding a gun on him as he walks through the door. Westlake stripped away every bit of transitional prose he could in order to create breakneck pacing and heightened menace. Parker is not only dangerous, but is also emotionally barren. He feels nothing beyond the need to best his rivals. Permanently. Westlake's publisher knew The Hunter was something special, and convinced him to turn what was supposed to be a stand-alone novel into a series. Twenty-four entries in that series speak to its success. This first of the lot is highly recommendable. It came from Perma Books in 1962, and the excellent cover art featuring Parker's lethally large hands is by Harry Bennett.
This is a Ride you should refuse.
Not every old movie survives because it's good. If you doubt us, check the contemporary reviews for The Devil Thumbs a Ride. They're disastrous. What you have here is a clunky RKO b-noir, only sixty-seven minutes long, about a bank robber who hitches a ride with an amazingly naive driver and proceeds to drag him into the worst trouble of his life. The pair and two women they pick up during a pit stop eventually end up in a secluded house where the villain reveals his true nature as a liar, bully, sexual predator, and worse. You have to feel bad for these dullards victimized by the hitchhiker, but you'll feel worse for the audiences that paid money to see the movie. Way back in 2009 when we featured the film's other promo poster we hadn't yet seen it, but now that we have we can't recommend it. Its terribleness does verge on humor at times, though, which is something, and movie buffs might be interested to know that it stars Lawrence Tierney, who's these days best known for having played Joe Cabot in Reservoir Dogs. But still, not the best vintage Hollywood has to offer. The Devil Thumbs a Ride premiered today in 1947.
Age is just a number—except when it comes to vintage memorabilia.
Often when a vendor sells Technicolor lithographs online they just make up a copyright date. Older is obviously considered better, so there's a strong incentive to lie. For instance the lithograph above, entitled “Fun Loving,” was listed as being from 1956. Since there's no easy way for potential buyers to confirm the age of these things, that's a nice, safe date. Old enough to be collectible, but not so old someone can immediately see that the model can't possibly be from that era. But sometimes these obscure models are actually identifiable, and in this case the woman pictured is without doubt Australian model Deanna Soutar, who we just saw a few months ago inside a 1971 Police Gazette. If this litho were really from 1956, Soutar would be six years old in the photo, which she clearly is not. She began modeling around 1970 when she was twenty, so we can safely say this particular litho dates from between ’70 and ’72. If you visit our website a lot you know how hard it is to identify litho models, so we have to call today a victory.
The key to a successful assassination? Time management.
Just that quickly we have another Adam for you today. This issue is from this month in 1978, with a cover illustrating Norman G. Bailey's story, “The Assassination.” We're still trying to make sense of this take on the classic international hitman motif. If we understood it correctly, a highly skilled killer is hired for a hellishly difficult hit on a head of state in the fictional country of Damahomey. He travels by plane, boat, and train, cases the job, beds the femme fatale, pulls off the job, and returns home carrying a valise bulging with Damahomeen currency. But once back in the U.S., he finds he can't exchange this money for dollars because it went out of usage in 1930. Well, that's weird, considering everyone was using it in Damahomey. He subsequently finds that the man he assassinated was killed in 1930. So, seemingly, unbeknownst to him—or the reader—he traveled back in time and shot a guy. All without a machine or any bells and lights of any sort. We went through the tale again to see if we missed the part where he pushed a big red button marked, “Press Here To Travel Back in Time,” but nope, wasn't there. So the assassin was hired by time travelers, and somehow also time traveled through no agency of his own. Fine, we guess. Give Bailey credit for thinking outside the box. We have thirty-plus scans below, including rarities of Sharon Tate and members of the Manson Family, accompanied by Adam's take on the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders.
He promised her a smashing time on safari but this was nothing like she had in mind.
Adam magazine's covers are nearly always the same—two to four people and a pivotal action moment. This front from February 1970 is a typical example. It shows an unfortunate hunter learning that elephants sometimes won't simply stand still and let you shoot them through the heart so you can turn their tusks into paperweights. The nerve, really. The painting is great. It's probably by Jack Waugh, but it's unsigned, so there's no way to know. He did sign a couple of the interior panels, though. The cover was painted for Ken Welsh's story, “Dirge for a Darling,” which deals with a woman on safari who wants her hunting guide to kill her rich, alcoholic husband. Risky, but when you stand to inherit fifty million dollars, what's a little risk?
We try to avoid spoilers, but since you're never going to have a chance to read this obscure story, we'll just tell you what happens. The husband is a terrible guy, and he spends his days shooting badly at wildlife, and his nights drinking himself into a stupor. The fact that he's always insensate by dark is what allows the wife to start bedding the hunter right in camp in the first place. Once the hunter has been convinced to do the job, he realizes he must devise a foolproof yet suspicion free murder. He plans and schemes for days, looking for an angle, and finally tells the wife he has an idea, but the less she knows the better. Her job is to convincingly play the grieving widow when it happens, so for the sake of realism it's better if she's in the dark.
One morning the hunter comes to fetch the husband for a foray into the bush. Elephants are near. Today is the day the husband will finally get a big tusker. But the husband is hung over like never before. He wants a trophy, but can't possibly go shooting. He asks the hunter to bag an elephant for him. As the cover depicts, the hunter gets trampled to death. When the news comes to camp, the husband smiles evilly. The hangover had been an act. He'd discovered his wife's affair and, while she and her lover were otherwise occupied, had filed down the firing pin on the hunter's rifle. The gun didn't work when needed, resulting in a squashing.
The husband has a celebratory drink and forces his wife—who hates liquor—to join him. The husband cramps, convulses, and dies in excruciating pain. The wife realizes the hunter's foolproof murder method was to poison her husband's beloved liquor in such a way as to make authorities think it had been a bad batch. Then she cramps, convulses, and dies in excruciating pain too. The story ends: “It was all very sad when you considered the talent of those involved, but there it was. The principals, no doubt, went to hell. The $50,000,000 went to charity.” We've read a lot of Adam stories, and this was one of the more entertaining efforts. We have numerous scans below, with Claudine Auger in the second panel, and more Adam coming soon.
No secrets here—de Wulf is de best.
Above is a cover from French publisher Éditions R.R., for Secrets, by author René Roques. Easiest way to get published: own the publishing company. We discuss that and other things about Roques in a bit more detail at this link. The art here is by Jef de Wulf, whose work we've shared numerous times. We love him. There's a lightness and ease to his pieces that few paperback artists achieve. We'll have more from him later.
Landis brings her usual touch of glamour to a not-quite film noir.
Above is a poster for the Carole Landis vehicle Behind Green Lights, a mostly forgotten film that she headlined in 1946. When the body of a shady private dick turns up outside police headquarters, the resulting investigation pulls in a prominent politician's daughter (Landis), and gets the city tabloids scenting scandal. As the plot unfolds, it becomes clear that influential people want Landis arrested so her father's re-election campaign will be derailed, which forces Gargan to fight his way upstream to crack the case. Landis may be top billed and better known than Gargan, but she's criminally underused and her role is one-note all the way. It's Gargan who gets most of the screen time and is tasked with bringing a tough edge to the movie. He mostly succeeds, and Landis is fine too, as far as she's allowed to go, but on the whole Behind Green Lights is nothing special. It's categorized on many websites as a film noir but—and you know what we're going to say next, because we say it all the time—it isn't really. Yes, it's on the borderline, but it's basically a procedural police drama with a few flashbacks shot in film noir style. The American Film Institute agrees—it categorizes the film as a police drama. Noir fans should approach this uncomplicated little thriller with tempered expectations. Behind Green Lights premiered in the U.S. today in 1946.
Thank you for your service, girls.
We have a special treat for you on Valentine's Day (which doesn't exist where we live, but we're living up to the International part of Pulp International). Above is the cover of a 1951 photo magazine called G-Eyefuls, which was marketed in the U.S. to the Korean War generation, specifically soldiers. We suspect it was sold in drugstores in military towns, possibly in military base exchanges, and the like. It's credited to a guy named Bill Boltin, who also authored a little-known 1952 novel called Witch on Wheels. Boltin didn't write much for G-Eyefuls, just a foreword and some cheesy captions for the pix.
We consider it unfortunate that Boltin took time to write captions for nearly every photo, but identifed no models. Since the photos are almost certainly handouts, it's possible Boltin had no idea who most of the models were. However, burlesque queen Lili St. Cyr appears twice, which suggests he at least recognized her. We assume you do too, but if not she appears in panel seven below, with a close-up in panel eight, and she recurs in the third-to-last panel, with another close-up below that. At sixty-four pages, we ran out of patience to upload this entire magazine, but we have a representative selection of forty scans. Happy corporate holiday, Valentiners.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1945—Flag Raised on Iwo Jima
Four days after landing on the Japanese-held island of Iwo Jima, American soldiers of the 28th Regiment, 5th Marine Division take Mount Suribachi and raise an American flag. A photograph of the moment shot by Joe Rosenthal becomes one of the most famous images of WWII, and wins him the Pulitzer Prize later that year.
1987—Andy Warhol Dies
American pop artist Andy Warhol, whose creations have sold for as much as 100 million dollars, dies of cardiac arrhythmia following gallbladder surgery in New York City. Warhol, who already suffered lingering physical problems from a 1968 shooting, requested in his will for all but a tiny fraction of his considerable estate to go toward the creation of a foundation dedicated to the advancement of the visual arts.
1947—Edwin Land Unveils His New Camera
In New York City, scientist and inventor Edwin Land demonstrates the first instant camera, the Polaroid Land Camera, at a meeting of the Optical Society of America. The camera, which contains a special film that self-develops prints in a minute, goes on sale the next year to the public and is an immediate sensation.
1965—Malcolm X Is Assassinated
American minister and human rights activist Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam, who shotgun him in the chest and then shoot him sixteen additional times with handguns. Though three men are eventually convicted of the killing, two have always maintained their innocence, and all have since been paroled.
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