Wild time leaves man with splitting headache.
The cover of this September 1970 issue of Australia's Adam magazine illustrates W. A. Harbinson's story “The Swinging Hep-Cat,” in which a man and woman spend most of their brief marriage fighting. He eventually strangles her. Or thinks he does. She actually survives and he only learns of this fact in jail from the cops who arrested him, as they laugh about it and reveal that she's fled for Paris—and the arms of another man. Much of the fiction in men's adventure magazines is disposable, for lack of a kinder term. We love it, of course. Men's magazine fiction would be nothing without hack writing. But Harbinson actually shows some skills in “The Swinging Hep-Cat,” as well as a muscular style. A sample:
We fought considerably during those early days of our marriage, bouts of most regal proportions, plates, knives, hair-brushes and antiques flying across the bedroom on fierce winds of abuse, she raging naked against the French windows in full view of the tourists below, me crouching back toward the door wondering how to tackle this bitch who had eaten my peace—a farce, a pantomime, a lunatic performance on both sides, always dissolving in the bed.
Or this little description:
Francisco Antonio D'Costa Pegado, a glorious dark beast of a man, rich as sin, tight as a drum, an incredible neurotic lover.
We checked after finishing the story, fully expecting Harbinson to have an extensive bibliography and we were right. He's written several dozen novels, mostly sci-fi, under his own name and that of Shaun Clarke. Not every good wordsmith manages to carve out a strong career—or any career, for that matter—so we were pleased Harbinson did well, because he actually knows how to use language in a way that brings it to three-dimensional life. At least he did in “The Swinging Hep-Cat.” He's still around and was last published in 2012, but we'll probably mine his earlier material, his stuff from the 1970s. We have high hopes. Elsewhere in Adam is fiction from Jack Ritchie, Austrian actress Senta Berger on the table-of-contents page, and plenty of cartoons. We have twenty-eight scans below, including a mega Berger in the final panel for your enjoyment.
Mid-century tabloid hits all the familiar tabloid notes.
Lowdown makes the rounds in this issue published in May 1965. Inside, Ann-Margret claims she doesn't want to be a tease (fail), editors ask if women are more immoral than men (which they really are, once you take war, genocide, faithlessness, and generally violent tendencies off the table), and June Wilkinson's photo is among those used in a story about women supposedly receiving insurance covered breast implants from Britain's National Health Service.
Probably the most interesting story concerns Swedish actress Inger Stevens disappearing for a week. Lowdown hints at an alcohol binge, which is nothing special (hell, we do those) but while there are plenty of sources citing a 1960 suicide attempt, we found no other mention anywhere of Lowdown's missing week. The story is notable because Stevens would die at age thirty-five of a drug overdose.
Elsewhere you get nude skiing in Austria, Richard Chamberlain and his hit television show Dr. Kildare, the sex powers of mandrake root, and Belgian born actress and dancer Monique Van Vooren endorsing regular exercise. Scans below—oh, and sorry about the quality. Lowdown's printing process caused scanner problems. It's never happened before, so hopefully we won't encounter the issue again.
Horwitz uses another rising celebrity as a cover star.
Last month we shared a reprint-by-demand Horwitz cover for Carter Brown’s Death of Doll that featured a young Elke Sommer. We got to wondering if other celebs had been used on Horwitz covers and decided to have a look. Above you see Brown’s Swan Song for a Siren, which Horwitz printed in 1958, and the face staring out at you is that of Austrian actress Senta Berger. That’s her, right? Full lips. Sensuous eyes. Hawk eyebrows. Gotta be. Like they had with Sommer, Australia-based Horwitz appropriated Berger’s image when she was barely famous, having appeared in only four films to that point, none in starring roles. We have a photo of Berger below for comparison, and we think you’ll agree it’s her. We’ll dig up a few more of these Horwitz celebrity covers later.
I call this move “the giraffe.” Nice, right?
Judging by all available evidence, burlesque dancer Miriam Kartis spent her entire life in this position. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but she must have really liked it at least, because look—there she is below striking a similar pose. She’s one of the thousands of burlesque dancers who don’t have an online presence today, so we can’t tell you anything about her except that most of her surviving photos were shot by famed Austrian lensman James Kriegsmann. We’re guessing around 1960 on these.
Sex and cinema in an open age.
When we went to Paris a couple of months ago we mentioned that we found a stack of Ciné-Revue magazines in Le Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen. Their dimensions make for extra work because we have to scan every page in two pieces and put them together in Photoshop, and even more daunting, any two-page spreads have to be scanned in four pieces and assembled (this is actually true for all the tabloids we post). That’s why we get a bit lazy about it sometimes. Yeah, yeah, we know—get a bigger scanner. Easier said than done, unless someone wants to mail us one. Anyway, we managed to get some pages together from the above issue of Ciné-Revue published today in 1973.
Ciné-Revue originated out of Belgium in 1944 and was the premiere French-language cinema magazine there and in France for many years. Today it remains popular, making it one of the longest-lived cinema magazines as well. On the cover of this one you get German softcore and hardcore actress Karin Schubert, and inside you get John Wayne, Pia Giancaro, Brigitte Bardot, Jean Gabin, and an artful nude shot of impossibly handsome Austrian actor Helmut Berger. You’re welcome, girls, but please don’t start doing internet searches trying to find out what he looks like now—you won’t be happy. Berger also appears on the back of the mag.
Regarding the Schubert cover, the line between mainstream cinema and porn was never blurrier than back then, and Ciné-Revue reflected that with its features of hardcore and softcore performers. Could you imagine such actresses routinely appearing in, say, Rolling Stone, and being given equal standing with mainstreamers? Nevertheless, popular American media is heavily porn-influenced, even if the seed, so to speak, goes unacknowledged. What is a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue about, for example, with its models wearing not swimsuits, but rather paint on their fully waxed bodies?
When cinema first developed into an industry many filmmakers thought of movies as simply a motile version of photography, or painting, or sculpture. Nudity was a regular occurrence onscreen during the pre-code 1920s, but a funny thing happens when you add motion and character development to the static nude—Michelangelo turns into Brazzers. Today, all nudity in American cinema is on some level political. No? Then why is it that only in American cinema there is such a proclivity for the clothed sex scene? It raises a question. Is it possible for both men and women, gay and straight, to celebrate their sexuality without conflict? Maybe, but only with more economic equality for women, less stigmitization of homosexuality, less racism, and more understanding that we are—male and female, gay and straight, green and purple—biologically driven by sexual desire.
Looking at the Schubert image above, we’re reminded of a time (in which we were basically zygotes, but go with us here) during which mainstream movies asked questions about freedom for versus exploitation of women, and how commerce in an age of mass media impacts women’s security versus the ideal of sexual freedom. For instance, how do we have sex and sexual aspiration but also have a safe pressure release for the millions who aren’t having sex in any given week or year? Can sex and porn safely co-exist? No idea. Option two is to beat the need for sex out of every man and woman on the planet. Not our preferred solution, but we can talk about it. Why did we write all this? Probably because there’s nudity/exploitation in the next two posts, so these questions just came into our minds.
On another note, we had to go back to France on short notice, but to Bordeaux this time, and we’re there at this moment. So maybe hanging out with the always philosophical French made us write this missive. Possibly some fine red wine has contributed. Anyway, we will scour Bordeaux for more wine—er, pulp—but especially Ciné-Revue, as we’re very interested in 1970s international movie stars, and this magazine gave them as much exposure as any publication we’ve seen. We have eighteen scans below, and more from Ciné-Revue to come.
It probably should have been the Tail end of her career.
Another Italian movie that premiered today is Pasquale Festa Campanile’s prehistoric comedy Quando le donne avevano la coda, aka When Women Had Tails. The above promo shot shows Austrian star Senta Berger in full costume for her role as Filli, the cavewoman captured by a clan of seven men who have never seen a woman. They quickly learn that she doesn’t, in fact, have a tail, and shortly thereafter uncover other anatomical curiosities. The movie’s so bad it’s miraculous Berger ever worked again, but you have to love this ’70s glam rock look. And if not, she appears as a normal human below.
Vice and virtue in Vienna.
So, quite by coincidence there’s another movie we watched recently that also premiered today, though thirty years later than The Shanghai Gesture (see below). The movie is Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh, which would translate as “The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh,” but was released in the U.S. as Blade of the Ripper. This flick is considered one of the best gialli ever made, and it’s tough to argue the point. It’s intricate, absorbing, unpredictable, colorful, and shot in an array of amazing external locations and inside one of the greatest mid-century modern apartments ever conceived. It also has Edwige Fenech, whose gifts are well known. Taking place mainly in Vienna and climaxing in Sitges, Spain (which happens to be one of our favorite towns in Europe)Signora Wardh is a tale of obssession and infidelity wrapped in a murder mystery. Mrs. Wardh does indeed have a strange vice, but that’s just window dressing. It’s her that’s being hunted throughout the movie—either by a serial killer, a demented ex-lover, or both. Or neither. They say that the only way to keep a secret is if no more than two people know it and one of them is dead. But the only way to commit murder is if the killer has an iron clad alibi, and for that he often needs help. Rule one conflicts with rule two, and that’s the fun of Signora Wardh. Above you see a rare and wonderful Italian promo poster painted by Giuliano Nistri, the younger brother of equally talented Enzo Nistri. We'll get back to both Nistri brothers a little later. Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh opened in Italy today in 1971.
The fact that she’s not even a real blonde is the least of her surprises.
Austrian writer Vicki Baum, née Hedwig Baum, is probably best known for her 1929 novel Menschen im Hotel, which became the smash Greta Garbo/John Barrymore/Joan Crawford movie Grand Hotel. Mortgage on Life, which was originally called Verpfändetes Leben, came in 1946, and tells of a show business love triangle set in Manhattan against the backdrop of Times Square and Broadway. We’ve never seen this particular cover for the book, which is why we’re sharing it, but it’s uncredited, sadly.
National Star Chronicle had a catchy slogan, but occasionally had a hard time living up to it.
This National Star Chronicle published today in 1965 forgoes its usual cheesecake cover in favor of screaming text about a torturer. The person in question is Alfred Poettinger, who indeed tied a nude woman to his bed and tortured her the last three days of December 1964 in the village of Studl-Paura, Austria. The torture took the form of whippings, followed by insertions of red hot needles. It’s at this juncture that the Chronicle’s account veers into pure fiction. In the real world, the woman, Monika Einoeder, managed to slip her bonds and flee naked to an adjacent house, where she called the police. Cops arrived at Poettinger’s only to find that he had hanged himself. But in Chronicle world, Poettinger didn’t die, but rather was trundled off to jail, where Chronicle house scribe Ernst Brookman allegedly scored an interview. The point of such a blatant lie, we presume, was to convince readers that the Chronicle had a network of intrepid reporters blanketing the world. It probably worked, too, but then this little thing called the internet came along and now we can look up articles from Jan 2 1965 and read for ourselves over and over that Poettinger was swinging from the rafters when police found him. So much for the Chronicle’s motto: True Stories About True People. Well, at least they got half of it right, and to their credit the editors didn’t forget the cheesecake entirely. Inside, it takes the form of Evi Marandi, Pilar Pellicer, Janis Paige, and Paola Penni, all of whom you see below. More from National Star Chronicle later.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1934—Queen Mary Launched
The RMS Queen Mary, three-and-a-half years in the making, launches from Clydebank, Scotland. The steamship enters passenger service in May 1936 and sails the North Atlantic Ocean until 1967. Today she is a museum and tourist attraction anchored in Long Beach, U.S.A.
1983—Nuclear Holocaust Averted
Soviet military officer Stanislav Petrov, whose job involves detection of enemy missiles, is warned by Soviet computers that the United States has launched a nuclear missile at Russia. Petrov deviates from procedure, and, instead of informing superiors, decides the detection is a glitch. When the computer warns of four more inbound missiles he decides, under much greater pressure this time, that the detections are also false. Soviet doctrine at the time dictates an immediate and full retaliatory strike, so Petrov's decision to leave his superiors out of the loop very possibly prevents humanity's obliteration. Petrov's actions remain a secret until 1988, but ultimately he is honored at the United Nations.
2002—Mystery Space Object Crashes in Russia
In an occurrence known as the Vitim Event, an object crashes to the Earth in Siberia and explodes with a force estimated at 4 to 5 kilotons by Russian scientists. An expedition to the site finds the landscape leveled and the soil contaminated by high levels of radioactivity. It is thought that the object was a comet nucleus with a diameter of 50 to 100 meters.
1992—Sci Fi Channel Launches
In the U.S., the cable network USA debuts the Sci Fi Channel, specializing in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal programming. After a slow start, it built its audience and is now a top ten ranked network for male viewers aged 18–54, and women aged 25–54.
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