Vintage Pulp Jan 24 2023
CAPTAIN HOOK
He doesn't have a hook for a hand yet, but he's always practicing for that day.

The first thing to know about Naked Paradise is that it's an early Roger Corman movie, made by Sunset Production and distributed through American International Pictures, companies he helped establish. Corman also directed, so it's safe to say he had near-total control of the movie on and off the set. While he's made some real stinkers over the years, by his standards Naked Paradise isn't terrible. That doesn't mean its good. It's still laughably dopey in parts, the type of movie you can riff on from start to finish, but narratively it hangs together reasonably well and a couple of the actors practice their craft with competence.

Plotwise, three criminals led by Leslie Bradley travel to Oahu disguised as pleasure cruisers to try lifting a massive pineapple and sugar cane plantation's payroll. Their escape is via the same method as their arrival, unbeknownst to their boatmates, who at first are too busy sunning themselves and romancing to realize there are three dangerous criminals in their midst. Tensions between the boat's captain Richard Denning and the crooks soon come to a frothing head when the lead heister and his arm candy Beverly Garland acrimoniously split from each other.

The group are then stuck together during a tropical storm, a plot turn which brings to mind Key Largo. In fact we can hear screenwriter Robert Wright Campbell's pitch to Corman: “You see, it's Key Largo, sandwiched on one side by deep backstory showing the audience why Johnny Rocco and his henchmen are on the run, and on the other by an extended aquatic climax.” That's exactly the movie Corman made, though doubtless done far more cheaply than Campbell ever envisioned.


Corman has a genius for conjuring final results that are better than their shoestring budgets should allow, and he certainly is an unparalleled wrangler of nascent talent. He's given opportunities to directors such as Coppola, Demme, Scorsese, and Ron Howard, and performers like Jane Fonda and William Shatner. If there's such as thing as a pulp filmmaker he's the guy. His stories nearly always aim for the gut by focusing on action with a hint of innuendo, and rely upon the most standard of cinematic tropes. Naked Paradise is quintessential Corman. Is it good? Not really. But it's certainly watchable. It premiered this month in 1957.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 23 2023
DESTINY CALLS
Why yes, thank you, ma'am. I'd very much enjoy a dance with you. Do you suppose the band could play a waltz?

We've seen a lot of whites-in-the-tropics covers, but this 1958 Popular Library paperback effort for Peter Bourne's 1947 Haitian drama Drums of Destiny gets across the essential dilemma better than most. Such books always suggest there's something deadening and restrictive about modern civilization, but always come to the eventual conclusion that if life at home sucks, total freedom overseas sucks worse. We've read no books in the sub-genre where the main character stays in tropical lands happy, but surely they exist. They must. We'll dig around. One of those would be an interesting read. As for the tropical culture clash books we've already read, if you're interested we can point to several (but by no means all): here, here, herehere, here, here, and here.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 21 2023
MIDWAY TO TROUBLE
You say I'm beautiful now. But when you find out I have an unabsorbed twin attached to my abdomen you'll change your tune just like every man.


Yup, it's Amos Hatter again. He makes yet another appearance here, this time with his 1952 carny novel Girl of the Midway. This was a natural: we love carny novels, and Hatter specializes in sleazy quasi-romances, which we also like. In this one a naive young woman named Margy Brophy, who works for her father's merry-go-round concession at an amusement park called Dreamland, gets involved with a man named Bill Tanner who plans to bring a big stage show onto the premises. The carnies fear the show will put some of their concessions out of business, so Margy's affair is an uncomfortable case of consorting with the enemy. However, Tanner has no intention of stealing customers. He tries but can't convince the carnies that, given time, his show will actually increase the patronage at their concessions. The battle lines harden, then the most recalcitrant of the carnies is murdered.

The homicide aspect of the book isn't much of a mystery. You merely have to look past the obvious red herring and choose the next most unpleasant carnival denizen, which you'll do automatically. But Hatter isn't a mystery writer anyway. His jam is sexual titillation, and though he does that reasonably well here, at this point we have to accept that he'll probably never again approach the heights of his Hawaii-based novel Island Girl. Of course, in general, you're not looking for nail-biting thrills, deep insight, or remarkable literary style with these types of books. They're meant to give you a semi-boner or three. There are no boners, semi or otherwise, caused by Girl of the Midway. But there's a good amount of carnival atmosphere, and that was enough for us to enjoy the book. Even so, we can't recommend it. We do, however, recommend that you appreciate the cover art by Rudy Nappi. It's perfection. 

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Vintage Pulp Jan 19 2023
A TOUCH OF PINK
It's said to be the color of love, but it works fine for raw lust too.

It's been a couple of years, but today we're returning to Éditions R.R., one of the French publishers that took great care with its cover art. This one for 1953's Et treize fois impure by René Roques is amazing. The title of the book means, “and thirteen times impure,” which tells you it's an erotic novel, assuming the art didn't already do that. Said art is uncredited. Click the keywords to below to see several more beautiful R.R. covers. 

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Vintage Pulp Jan 19 2023
MAMA'S GIRLS
Unlike mama's boys, they're fully able to take care of themselves.

Ages ago we shared a Turkish poster for the blaxploitation flick Black Mama, White Mama, with Pam Grier and Margaret Markov. Today we're sharing the U.S. promo, as well as a nice production photo of the stars. The movie, which premiered today in 1972, was a regendering of The Defiant Ones, but done with a lot more skin and a lot less budget. Even so, it was pretty fun, as women-in-prison flicks go—if you start with modest expectations. You can see more promos from the film here.
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Vintage Pulp Jan 18 2023
SEAFOOD STEW
There's something very fishy going on.


This promo poster just screams winner, don't you think? If it isn't a good movie, it's got to be deliciously terrible. It was made for L'isola degli uomini pesce, known in English as The Island of the Fishmen, a movie that starred Richard Johnson, Barbara Bach, and Claudio Cassinelli. No surprise what it's about, thanks to the title, but nothing is spoiled—the fishmen show up within the first few minutes of the film when a group of convicts in a lifeboat are attacked and the five survivors end up stranded on a swampy island. Since the fishmen hunt there, the attrition rate on this parcel of land is a bitch. Two cons are killed almost immediately upon arrival, and a third barely survives a pit trap. They soon learn humans live there too—paranoid misanthrope Richard Johnson, his companion Barbara Bach, their servant Beryl Cunninghman, and others, all residing in and around a baroque slave plantation house.

Johnson, who is a quack scientist, is trying to train the fishmen for what shall here remain undisclosed purposes. It involves going deep underwater where humans can't survive—but strangely, not so deep that Johnson can't simply drop down in his unpressurized wooden submersible and watch them at work. It's all a crock, even for bad sci-fi. But there are three points of note with the film: first, you can actually see that some budget went into creating the fishmen; second, Johnson speaking in a constipated Dick Dastardly voice is flat hilarious; and third, Barbara Bach is Barbara Bach. Or maybe we should have listed her first. The producers at Dania Film, perhaps realizing Fishmen was a total woofer, rode Bach hard, putting out a bunch of skinful promotional photos and getting her a Fishmen-themed nude shoot in Ciné-Revue. There's always a silver lining in 1970s exploitation cinema—and on Pulp Intl. L'isola degli uomini pesce premiered in Italy today in 1979.
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Vintage Pulp Jan 17 2023
BAD AS IN GOOD
Fontaine returns for another deadly installment of the hunger dames.


It's official. William Ard, in all his incarnations, is a trusted author. In 1960's When She Was Bad, the follow-up to 1959's As Bad As I Am, Danny Fontaine is now a fledgeling detective on his first case. Many mid-century detectives are ladykillers, but Fontaine is on a level that silences rooms when he enters. He's what women these days might amusingly call a “dilf”—a detective I'd like to fuck. His job is to locate a missing minor royal, a thrillseeker who's caused a ruckus from Grand Bahama to New York City but now may be in trouble way over her head. Fontaine mixes with women ranging from a marquess related by marriage to the Queen of England to a trio of top rank call girls, and they all fall hard for him. His efforts to earn his wings as a private operator under these circumstances are often funny and always exciting. Simply put, Ard's got skills. The cover art on this Dell edition is by Robert McGinnis, and he's got skills too.
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Vintage Pulp Jan 15 2023
RESCUE AT SEA
Don't worry! I'm going to get the three of you out of there!


Our girlfriends—affectionately PI-1 and PI-2—rolled their eyes at this one, and why wouldn't they? We did too, but we work with what we're given, and we certainly couldn't ignore the fact that this January 1969 Adam magazine features a cover of a woman whose gravity defying breasts are directly in the center of the art. Men's magazines, those concoctions of macho fantasy set to print, are inherently sexist, but we are mere documentarians of mid-century art, literature, and film—and crime, and weirdness, and sex—in the various forms they take. This one is a particularly eye-catching example.

While literary magazines published prestige fiction, men's mags like Adam carried on the pulp tradition, giving authors without highbrow leanings opportunities to expose their work to wide audiences. Without the efforts of such publications, modern literature might look very different. Stephen King, for example, published many of his early stories in Gallery, a middle-tier smut monthly nobody would have mistaken for Playboy. Speaking of which, Playboy published early works from Ian Fleming, Ursula K. Le Guin, and even serialized the entirety of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 in 1954, a year after its initial publication landed with a thud.

As far as we know Adam didn't produce any major writers except James Lee, aka Jim Aitchison, whose Mr. Midnight books were recently made into a series now streaming on Netflix. But failing to graduate lots of future bestselling authors doesn't change what Adam was—a publication that aimed for mass male appeal by merging all the elements of what was once known as pulp. Those elements included mystery, crime, war, exotic adventure, risqué humor, and a dose of relatively tame sexual content. We have all that and more below in thirty-plus scans, and something like seventy-eight issues of Adam embedded in our website.
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Vintage Pulp Jan 14 2023
DEATH WISH
And please do so filled with crushing regret and in prolonged pain. Now get lost.


Above: an uncredited cover for Jo Pagano's 1958 novel Die Screaming featuring art of a femme fatale giving the male figure the exact look your wife or girlfriend gives you when she's absolutely over your shit. This first appeared in 1947 as The Condemned, which was adapted into a 1950 movie called The Sound of Fury, and in turn re-released as Try and Get Me!, before reverting back to literary form and becoming what you see above. We like Die Screaming best as a title, but Try and Get Me! is actually more descriptive, as the book deals with an everyman who at his lowest point finds himself in thrall to a vicious criminal, leading to a murder, a manhunt, and the inexorable enactment of justice. We may check out the movie later. 

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Vintage Pulp Jan 13 2023
A SHOT AT SURVIVAL
Sometimes you have to hunt for something fun to do.


After watching the 1932 hunter-stalks-humans flick The Most Dangerous Game a few months ago we stumbled across a 1972 variation on the theme titled The Suckers. Both movies, surprisingly, were derived from the same source, a 1924 short story by Richard Connell. The Suckers stars Richard Smedley, Steve Vincent, Laurie Rose (aka Misty Dawn), and Sandy Dempsey, and the aforementioned variation is sex. We knew that going in, and we were thinking, hell, this might be fun—a classic pulp story adapted for the sexploitation-happy ’70s. But we were wrong. It turns out The Suckers had a $30,000 budget—which is infinitesimal even for a grindhouse flick—and the lack of expenditure shows across the entire spectrum of production, from acting, to staging and blocking, to pacing, to screenwriting and more.

In Connell's short story and the 1932 adaptation the unfortunate guests land on an evil guy's desolate island because their yacht runs aground. In The Suckers, the guests—who are models, an employee of the modeling agency, and his wife—show up voluntarily after being invited. They're soon running for their lives after being told by their host that their sole purpose for visiting is to be stalked by professional hunters. Obviously, there comes a point when they realize survival means fighting back. But they seem unlikely to manage that effectively. Why? Did we mention that they're models? And that the agency guy is a total schlub? Luckily, great white hunter Richard Smedley and his monobrow side with the prospective prey. He's a lardass but at least he has a rifle. With his help, the fashion plates just might make it back to the Garment District alive.

Even though The Suckers is a sexploitation movie, we expected the ratio of skin to action to be roughly equivalent, but the hunting scenes take up only about twenty minutes, while sex consumes about thirty minutes, a couple of sexual assaults take about ten, and bad dialogue fills out the rest of the running time. Except for one sex scene that manages to get pretty steamy the movie is a waste of all those aforementioned minutes. The film's main value, to us anyway, is as an example of what we're referring to whenever we point out that it wasn't just Japanese studios that explored unsavory themes during this period. The difference is those films were artfully made. The Suckers is just gratuitous and haphazard. Its failure is probably why it was later released as The Woman Hunt—because a certain segment of the male population would see it based on that title alone. Those who did were—you guessed it—suckers.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
February 04
1906—NYPD Begins Use of Fingerprint ID
NYPD Deputy Commissioner Joseph A. Faurot begins using French police officer Alphonse Bertillon's fingerprint system to identify suspected criminals. The use of prints for contractual endorsement (as opposed to signatures) had begun in India thirty years earlier, and print usage for police work had been adopted in India, France, Argentina and other countries by 1900, but NYPD usage represented the beginning of complete acceptance of the process in America. To date, of the billions of fingerprints taken, no two have ever been found to be identical.
1974—Patty Hearst Is Kidnapped
In Berkeley, California, an organization calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnaps heiress Patty Hearst. The next time Hearst is seen is in a San Francisco bank, helping to rob it with a machine gun. When she is finally captured her lawyer F. Lee Bailey argues that she had been brainwashed into committing the crime, but she is convicted of bank robbery and sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, a term which is later commuted.
February 03
1959—Holly, Valens, and Bopper Die in Plane Crash
A plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa kills American musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper, along with pilot Roger Peterson. The fault for the crash was determined to be poor weather combined with pilot inexperience. All four occupants died on impact. The event is later immortalized by Don McLean as the Day the Music Died in his 1971 hit song "American Pie."
February 02
1969—Boris Karloff Dies
After a long battle with arthritis and emphysema, English born actor Boris Karloff, who was best known for his film portrayals of Frankenstein's monster and the Mummy, contracts pneumonia and dies at King Edward VII Hospital, Midhurst, Sussex, England.
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