Femmes Fatales Oct 31 2014
KENT STATE
She started her career rigid with fear but later became a big star.

This shot featuring Canadian actress Barbara Kent nicely captures the spirit of Halloween. Kent was born Barbara Cloutman, and began her rise to stardom by winning the 1925 Miss Hollywood Beauty Pageant. Her first parts were in Prowlers of the Night and Flesh and the Devil, but her later roles were often comedic in nature. In all, she appeared in thirty-six films, which sounds impressive until you wonder how well she might have done had this black cat never crossed her path.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 31 2014
HELL AND BACK
Amid medieval Japan’s manners and restraint, how can a person tell the difference between love, honor, and duty?


Above is a poster for Teinosuke Kinugasa’s masterwork samurai drama Jigokumon, which was known in English as Gate of Hell. It was the first Japanese film shot in color, via the process Eastmancolor, which was a leap beyond three-strip Technicolor, and one that makes Jigokumon blaze like a supernova. The story, from a play by Kan Kikuchi, concerns a Heian-era samurai named Moritoh whose bravery during a battle is rewarded by his lord granting him anything he desires. What he desires is the Lady Kesa. Problem is she’s married to another samurai. The lord mistakenly grants Moritoh’s wish, which is soon revealed to be impossible, but Moritoh resolves to have Kesa anyway, by any means necessary—trickery, bribery, even all-out murder. What develops is not just a thriller about entitlement and lust, but a meditation on honor, love and, especially, social strictures.

Jigokumon was a sensation. A hit in Japan, it was a revelation to foreign audiences. It took home the Palme d’Or from the 1954 Cannes Film Festival, a 1955 special Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, an Oscar for Best Costume Design in a color film, and more prestigious nods. Along with Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, Kimisaburo Yoshimura’s Genji Monogatari, Kenji Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu Monogatari, and other films from the early 1950s, it marked the emergence of Japanese cinema onto the international scene. We’ve posted a large group of screen grabs below—perhaps overkill, considering how many—but the film just looks so damn good and the shots are so spectacular that we couldn’t help ourselves. Jigokumon premiered in Japan today in 1953.


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Vintage Pulp Oct 31 2014
REMEDIAL READING
What’s scarier than National Informer Reader? Actually reading what's inside.


On the opposite end of the tabloid spectrum from yesterday’s Top Secret, we have an issue of National Informer Reader published today in 1971. You may remember our previous entries on National Informer Weekly Reader. What you see above is simply the earlier, monthly iteration of the same rag. You wanna be scared on Halloween? Just peel back the cover on this baby.

Reader editors start by donning their anthropology hats and telling readers that by the year 2000 there will be 2.5 women on Earth for every man. You know what that means right? “In the year 2000 men will be catered to by women as in no other era in the history of mankind. Every week will be a special week dedicated in some way to the male sex. For instance, one week will be called National Sex Week, and if a man gives at the office he doesn’t have to give at home. 2000 is the start of the era when men will have the whip hand.”
 
Because men need more control, right? Well, if that prospect isn’t frightening enough, Reader tells us California is a breeding ground for devil-worshipping cults, drugs are destroying family life by osmosis from bad neighbors, virgin women are lamentably impossible to find anymore, and psychopathic outlaws and sex perverts have invaded America’s freewheeling outdoor music festivals. Readers also get to solve a murder mystery (which you can try below). All very scary.
 
Elsewhere in the issue, readers get Raquel Welch (just below) in a promo shot from Myra Breckenridge, and two photos of Malta-born British twins Mary and Madeleine Collinson, who posed together for Playboy’sOctober 1970 centerfold and were the first (but not last) identical twins to do so. Both also appeared in movies, always together, because, well, twins. Their most remembered feature is Hammer’s schlock vampire classic Twins of Evil (although only one twin is a vampire in the movie). Sadly, Madeleine Collinson died last month on Malta
 
Lastly, Sophia Loren urges women to have sex before marriage. Loren describes women as “ridiculously moral. So they go out and marry a man without having a love affair first to find out if they are compatible.” Any potential husband, she says, might be anything from a sadist to a eunuch, and she recommends premarital sex, trial cohabitation, and state mandated probationary marriage that doesn’t legalize until three years have passed.

We have a few scans below, about fifteen issues of National Informer and National Informer Weekly Reader we’ve already shared (we’ll get you started in the archives here, here, here, and here), and we have nine more issues we hope to get through eventually. If that prospect doesn’t scare you nothing will.


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Reader Pulp Oct 31 2014
DOMINANT GINA
The one nature selects above all others.

This is the first time a reader of the site has sent us a celebrity photo, but that’s fine, because what a nice image it is. Luca uncovered this shot of Gina Lollobrigida (and dozens of other pulp-related images) and zapped it over to us a few days ago. We think it’s a colorized version of a black and white shot and it’s probably from 1955, right around the beginning of her box office dominance in international cinema. Thanks Luca.

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Hollywoodland | Vintage Pulp Oct 30 2014
SECRET AGENDA
The mission statement was simple—take cheap shots at every star in the firmament.


Top Secret is in fine form in this issue from October 1962 as it goes after all the biggest celebrities in Hollywood and Europe. Treading the line between journalism and slander is no easy feat, but take notice—Top Secret’s editors and hacks manage to pull off a high wire act. And of course this was key to the tabloids' modus operandi—they had to present information in a seemingly fearless or even iconoclastic way, yet never actually cross the line that would land them in court.

For example, there’s this dig at Frank Sinatra: “Mr. Snarl, Mr. Nasty, Mr. Do-You-Want-A-Belt-In-The-Mouth was as gentle as a lamb. Gone was the usual sneer, the wise-guy leer. Was this the same surly singer whose idea of a good morning’s exercise had been to watch his bodyguards work over a photographer?
 
Grace Kelly takes a few arrows: “It’s a pretty good bet that the immediate bust-up of the marriage won’t come in the next few months, but it sure as shooting looks like her six-year reign as the glamorous princess of that silly little kingdom on the Mediterranean is going to blow up in her prim face.”
 
Christina Paolozzi gets roughed up thusly: “If anything, Christina in the buff is proof that clothes are an underdeveloped girl’s best friends. Therethe Countess stands with a pleased expression that seems to say, ‘Aren’t I something, Mister?’ But all it takes is one quick look to see that there isn’t really anything to get excited about—unless [you love] barbecued spareribs.”
 
Anita Ekberg receives this treatment: “[La Dolce Vita] was something like a peek into the boudoir antics of its star—the gal with the fantastic superstructure that looks like nothing less than two tugboats pulling a luxury liner into port.”
 
And what tabloid would be complete without Marilyn Monroe? Top Secret says she’s dating writer José Bolaños (who the magazine calls a Mexican jumping bean). Editors opt to unveil the news this way: “It seems that this bold bundle of blonde has suddenly gone on a strange Mexican hayride!!! Si, amigo, MEXICAN!”
 
And then there’s cover star Elizabeth Taylor: “And she acted wilder than ever, satisfying all her most urgent urges for Dickie in the most wide open ways. [She] had jumped from tragedy right into disgrace by having a wild fling with Eddie Fisher a mere six months after hubby Mike Todd had been planted six feet under. ‘Mike is dead, and I’m alive,’ she said cynically after running off for a riotous romp in the fall of 1958 with the guy who just then happened to be married to Debbie Reynolds. 'I’m not taking anything away from Debbie, because she never really had it,' luscious Liz sneered."

This issue of Top Secret is, succinctly put, a clinic in mid-century tabloid writing—alliterative and spicy, insinuative and sleazy, but never quite legally actionable. How could Ekberg argue that the tugboat similie wasn’t interpretable as a compliment? Could Christina Paolozzi deny that her ribs show? Could Sinatra claim that his bodyguards neverslugged a photographer? The magazine skirts the edge a bit with Taylor—did you catch how the editors paired “urges for Dick(ie)” with “wide open ways”?—but was she misquoted or truly slandered? Highly doubtful. Top Secret is pure, trashy genius. Magazines don’t have such writing anymore, and that’s probably a good thing—but it sure is fun to look back at how things were. More scans below.


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Vintage Pulp Oct 29 2014
LA VIA BENVENUTI
Giovanni Benvenuti shows the way.

We thought we’d revisit the awesome work of Italian illustrator Giovanni Benvenuti. We shared a set last month, but just had to do another. These are once again part of the La Chouette collection published by the French imprint Ditis during the 1950s and 1960s.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 29 2014
WIDE-EYED SURPRISE
When the photographer called her a living doll she didn’t suspect he’d turn her into one.

This is a really striking Technicolor lithograph. Produced by Corp. A. Fox (or Fox A. Corp, or Copr. Fox A.) in 1955, it could be mistaken at first glance for a painting, but it’s actually a retouched photo—the details in the towel give it away. Even though the image is arresting, we don’t think the photographer/artist quite got the look he/she was seeking. To us, there’s an unpleasant and sinister edge to the scene, mainly due to the model’s expression shading more into horror than mere surprise. Don’t think so? Take a closer look below. Now imagine that face when you turn out the lights to go to sleep tonight. But if you think she looks horrified now, just try to imagine her expression when she saw the final result and realized she’d been turned into a lifeless porcelain figurine. 

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Vintage Pulp Oct 29 2014
WRY SMILES
Probably the women smiled a bit less than the men.

The five covers below all feature the work of American cartoonist and painter Bill Wenzel, who worked for many men’s and humor magazines during a long career. These are all from around sixty-five years ago, and as such register as somewhat sexist to our sensibilities, but hey—it was the ’50s. The art is undeniably great.


 
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Vintage Pulp Oct 28 2014
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
La Vie Parisenne offers readers an enticing mix of cinema, illustration and photography.


Above, La Vie Parisienne #202 of October 1967—more than one hundred years into its existence by this point—with an uncredited cover star, and interior photos of Gina Lollobrigida, Dany Carrel, Terry Martine, Jane Fonda, Slovenian actress Sceila Rozin, aka Spela Rozin, and other celebs. There’s also a shot of Talitha Pol from Barbarella, and some of you may remember she married the fast living John Paul Getty, Jr. (he of the kidnapped son, though not Pol’s) and later died of a heroin overdose. You also get some truly excellent ink illustrations by the diverse James Hodges, not to be mistaken for contemporary artist Jim Hodges. James Hodges was a French pin-up artist of the 1960s who also became a magician and illustrated magic books, painted playing cards, and designed stage sets. See more from La Vie Parisienne here.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 26 2014
A LESSON IN MANNERS
Keeping his eyes on the objective.

We love this cover. It looks very much to us like the man who’s being choked was staring at a woman’s breasts and can’t take his eyes off them—even while being choked. That’s dedication. Y’en a marre… p’tite tête, by the way, means something like “fed up… little head.” Presumably that’s another of those French terms you have to be French to really understand. We'll await illumination via e-mail.

Update: Jo B. comes to the rescue again: "Petite tête" means that you have no brain, that you forget everything you've got to do or that you've been told. It means also that you're absent minded. On the contrary, "forte tête" which means "strong head" is used to design a person with a rough character, who doesn't like rules, who contests everything, doesn't like discipline and is always against the law. In roman noir, he's a bad boy, quite a gangster, the guy who doesn't tell anything to the police even if he's tortured or beaten. As the expression is used on a roman noir cover, I would say that the "petite tête" is used to design a bad guy who ain't got any future in gangster life, who will never be a "forte tête," who will be a loser and say everything to the police if he's arrested. It's pejorative and insulting.

Thank you again, Jo. You've been a great help, and thanks so much for continuing to visit the site.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 31
1984—Indira Gandhi Assassinated
In India, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by two of her own Sikh security guards in the garden of the Prime Minister's Residence at No. 1, Safdarjung Road in New Delhi. Gandhi had been walking to meet British actor Peter Ustinov for an interview. Riots soon break out in New Delhi and nearly 2,000 Sikhs are killed.
October 30
1945—Robinson Signs with Dodgers
Jackie Robinson, who had been playing with the Negro League team the Kansas City Monarchs, signs a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers to become the first African-American major leaguer of the modern baseball era.
1961—Soviets Detonate Super Nuke
The Soviet Union detonates an experimental nuclear weapon called Tsar Bomba over the Arctic Circle, which, with a yield of 100 megatons of TNT, was then and remains today the most powerful weapon ever used by humanity.
October 29
1901—William McKinley's Assassin Executed
Leon Czolgosz, the assassin of U.S. President William McKinley, is executed at Auburn State Prison in Auburn, New York by means of the electric chair. Czolgosz had shot McKinley twice with a cheap revolver and the President had lingered for several days before dying. After Czolgosz is executed, he is buried on prison grounds and sulfuric acid is thrown into his coffin to disfigure his body and result in its quick decomposition.
1982—Lindy Chamberlain Convicted of Murder
In Australia, Lindy Chamberlain is found guilty of the murder of her nine-week-old daughter. The baby was killed during a camping trip in the Australian interior. Chamberlain claimed a dingo had taken the baby, but a jury decided Chamberlain cut the infant's throat and buried her. The body was never found, but forensic experts played a large role in the conviction. Four years after the trial the baby's jacket is found inside a dingo lair, backing up Chamberlain's claim, and she is released from prison.

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