Joan Collins finds herself shipwrecked on Temptation Island.
Our Girl Friday is not by any stretch of the imagination anything close to pulp style, but we stumbled across the film and figured we'd briefly expand our scope. This one premiered in Great Britain today in 1953, and played in the U.S. in 1954 retitled The Adventures of Sadie. In this day and age it's considered uncouth to perv over an actress but we don't care, so here goes: the only reason to watch this is for the all-too-brief moments of Joan Collins in a bikini. She's an absolute goddess, spun from seafoam, illuminated by moonlight, and delivered to Earth by cherubs and songbirds. Otherwise the movie is a waste of time.
Basically, it's about four people who get stranded on a deserted island. You have Joan and three guys of widely varying type—nervous geek/uneducated cad/debonair yuppie—who all want to sample her tropical fruit. There's a moment when it seems she won't choose any of these chumps, and that would have been a nice lesson to impart about never settling for less, but this is the 1950s, which means somebody is going to get her. Who she chooses and why doesn't matter and you won't care. The truth is no mortal human could deserve her anyway.
Joan Collins was defined for us when we were kids by her late-career television roles. Back then we never even had a notion of her as a young woman. Thanks to maintaining Pulp Intl. we've been able to correct that omission, because, while she was pretty hot as a fifty-year-old troublemaker on Dynasty, she's really something as an ingénue. The other thing about this film that's worthwhile is its British promo poster, above, rendered largely in lovely sky blue. The depiction of Collins is nice, as well. We don't know who painted it, but they did a bang-up job.
There are some places even sleaze novels shouldn't go.
Above you see a cover for Din Andrew's 1965 novel Big Orvie. All the other websites we've visited have this art as by an unidentified person, but all the other websites have a slightly different cover (which we posted below) on which the woman is wearing a longer dress, the sky has an impressionist texture, and—crucially—the signature is simply missing. Our version is signed at bottom right by Clement Micarelli. Look there in the tree bark. See it? So we can officially rescue this from the unidentified bin. We always planned to share more art from him. Having found something not previously known to have come from his brush is a nice bonus. Our work is done for today.
On second thought, maybe not. There's the actual book to consider, isn't there? Was it banned at any point? Probably not, but we have to wonder. We expected Big Orvie to be lightweight sleaze. How foolish of us. This countrified taboo smasher dealing with a mentally disabled and oversexed bumpkin named Orville Stroup goes beyond mere sleaze. Some might even call it irresponsible, with its unflinching (but mercifully brief) forays into pedophilia. In fact, it's a book that, assuming its contents were widely known to the general public, you'd have a hard time explaining to your friends why you have it. Consider yourself advised. Now our work is done.
Murder is in the eye of the beholder.
Above are three beautiful posters for L'occhio che uccide, or “the eye that kills,” which premiered in Italy today in 1961. The movie was originally called Peeping Tom when released in Britain in 1960. The second and third posters are signed by Renato Casaro, while the top one is unsigned. But it resembles his work, so what the heck—let's say he painted all three until someone corrects us. This movie was a career killer, a bizarre and confounding thriller that irreparably damaged the ambitions of director Michael Powell, but which today has ardent advocates. In the mood for a voyeur mass murderer who tries to turn his killings into art? See our write-up here, and check out a Japanese poster for the flick here.
What do the mice do if the cat's never away?
This was an unexpectedly awesome find. It's a Swedish poster for En fasansfull natt, better known as The Cat and the Canary. This promo gave us a laugh, because if you translate the Swedish title it's “a horrible night.” That's so Swedish, so no-nonsense, so to the point. You'd think a direct translation Katten och kanariefågan would have worked, but maybe not—we once chatted with someone from Sweden who said they didn't get bananas until the ’80s, so maybe the title was changed because nobody knew what a canary was. After premiering in the U.S. En fasansfull natt opened in Sweden today in 1939.
She's not the sharpest ho in the toolshed.
Lana, by Joan Ellis, is sleaze fiction about a fifteen-year-old girl with poor critical reasoning skills. Which is to say she's D-U-M. Basically, she falls for an older guy who pimps her out. Her rationalizations around this are hilarious. Prostitutes often form co-dependent bonds with their pimps, so we hear, but Ellis didn't handle that aspect with sufficient skill, instead making poor Lana flat-out superficial. But hey—it's a sleaze novel. You don't go into it expecting Les Miserables. This is copyright 1960 with Paul Rader cover art (of a figure that looks a lot like Elsa Martinelli). By the way, if for some reason you don't know the term “ho,” look here.
The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world it was an adventure film.
Above, a beautiful poster for John Huston's love-it-or-hate-it comedic African film Beat the Devil, which premiered in the U.S. today in 1954 and starred Humphrey Bogart, Gina Lollobrigida, Jennifer Jones, and Peter Lorre. This poster, while cool, is completely misleading. Beat the Devil is not an adventure. When it was made there was no category for it, but today such movies are called "camp." Only over time have audiences come to understand it. We wrote about it awhile ago and shared a Belgian poster, here.
I can see forever from up here. Man, the smog over London is really bad.
Raquel Welch stands tall in this pin-up poster made for her prehistoric adventure One Million Years B.C. This was sold in West Germany, where the movie premiered today in 1966. In fact, it was the film's world premiere. It was made by Associated British-Pathé and Hammer Studios, and partly shot on British sound stages (as well as in the Canary Islands), but for some reason the filmmakers chose West Germany for a testing ground. They needn't have been so cautious—thanks to Welch an otherwise ridiculous b-flick became a worldwide smash.
Judge, jury, executioner. Rinse out the blood and repeat.
Red-Headed Sinners was originally published in 1953, with the above edition coming from Lancer Books in 1963 fronted by uncredited art. Jonathan Craig, aka Frank E. Smith, writes simply, without much in the way of flourishes, but his stories hit hard. Sinners features a detective drummed off the King City police force for beating a female witness. The cop hopes he can redeem himself and be reinstated, but he has a drinking problem which under certain circumstances unlocks a childhood trauma that sends him into a red haze of violence. This trauma thing is handled by Craig in a ham fisted way, but the book is a gripping thriller starring a cop on the edge of self destruction—and the destruction of others. It's definitely one for pulp fans to read.
It's always darkest just before the dawn.
Celia Fremlin's 1958 novel The Hours Before Dawn was lauded by the Mystery Writers of America. You can see that for yourself by looking at the cover of its 1961 Dell paperback edition. You would assume, then, that the book is a murder mystery or thriller. Yes and no—it's really more of a domestic drama about a British woman named Louise who's overwhelmed by her three kids and husband. She's tired, stressed, unhappy, unlaid, and unlikely to find space for a breather or a recharge. Into this mix comes a woman who rents the family's vacant upstairs room and adds to Louise's problems by proving to be one weird bird. Who is this woman, where did she come from, and why does it seem as though her presence is not a random event? Yes, there's a mystery, but the vast bulk of the narrative is about Louise's daily life, her struggles with child rearing, her nosy and obtuse neighbors, and the problems caused by her accumulating lack of sleep.
Even without the mysterious renter angle this would be a good book. We thought we understood, basically, what it meant to be a mid-century housewife, but we were wrong. Fremlin brings Louise to life by dissecting her challenging existence, baring every bit of it for the reader's increasingly sympathetic inspection. Love is not the issue. Nor is desire. The issue is simply time. And rest. And peace. No wonder then that her boarder is able to embark upon an insidious plot without very much worry of close observation, and of course when Louise begins to understand something is truly amiss—and is not just the imaginings of her weary brain—she finds it devilishly difficult to find an ally, within her household or without. A mystery novel? Well, yes, but not of the type that can be puzzled out by readers. A highly effective depiction of all the ways in which a woman can work so hard and so thanklessly? One of the better ones you'll read.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1968—Tallulah Bankhead Dies
American actress, talk show host, and party girl
Tallulah Bankhead, who was fond of turning cartwheels in a dress without underwear and once made an entrance to a party without a stitch of clothing on, dies in St. Luke's Hospital in New York City of double pneumonia complicated by emphysema.
1962—Canada Has Last Execution
The last executions in Canada occur when Arthur Lucas and Ronald Turpin, both of whom are Americans who had been extradited north after committing separate murders in Canada, are hanged at Don Jail in Toronto. When Turpin is told that he and Lucas will probably be the last people hanged in Canada, he replies, “Some consolation.”
1964—Guevara Speaks at U.N.
Ernesto "Che" Guevara, representing the nation of Cuba, speaks at the 19th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City. His speech calls for wholesale changes in policies between rich nations and poor ones, as well as five demands of the United States, none of which are met.
2008—Legendary Pin-Up Bettie Page Dies
After suffering a heart attack several days before, erotic model Bettie Page, who in the 1950s became known as the Queen of Pin-ups, dies when she is removed from life support machinery. Thanks to the unique style she displayed in thousands of photos
and film loops, Page is considered one of the most influential beauties who ever lived.
1935—Downtown Athletic Club Awards First Trophy
The Downtown Athletic Club in New York City awards its first trophy for athletic achievement to University of Chicago halfback Jay Berwanger. The prize is later renamed the Heisman Trophy, and becomes the most prestigious award in college athletics.
1968—Japan's Biggest Heist Occurs
300 million yen is stolen from four employees of the Nihon Shintaku Ginko bank in Tokyo when a man dressed as a police officer blocks traffic due to a bomb threat, makes them exit their bank car while he checks it for a bomb, and then drives away in it. Under Japanese statute of limitations laws, the thief could come forward today with no repercussions, but nobody has ever taken credit for the crime.
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