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.
Bargains are few when the best flea market in Paris becomes the trendiest, but there's always hope for pulp diggers.
Vintage book seekers in Paris often focus their efforts on Le Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, or the Saint-Ouen Flea Market. Operating since 1870, as you see in the vintage postcard above, the seventeen-acre site is located north of the 18th arrondissment, outside the Boulevard Périphérique encompassing the historic center of the city. Here thousands of vendors sell every item imaginable—furniture, board games, musical instruments, électrodomestiques, vinyl records, jewelry, art and more. There are also many cafés on site, and the combination of all this makes the market a popular destination. If you’re headed to Paris we recommend the place. Some unfavorable reviews focus on the prices, which we agree are not low, but this is less a true flea market than a rarities market—i.e., bargains are thin on the ground. But for pulp diggers it’s nice. Even sellers who don’t specialize in vintage publications sometimes keep a stash of books and magazines around because they’re just the sort of low cost items that bring browsers into the stalls.
Also on the subject of reviews, we saw some suggesting the market is unsafe. You have to scratch your head at some people’s fears. 120,000 people visit the Saint-Ouen during its busiest weekends and in no part of it could you manage to be more than twenty feet from other shoppers. It’s possible pickpockets may lurk, but that's true in any crowded spotin any big city in any country. Take the standard precautions, and then enjoy yourself—that's the only advice needed here. Oh, and bring good shoes. If this is indeed a flea market—disputed, as we mentioned earlier—then it's the largest in the world.
So, what did we buy? We came across a huge stack of Paris-Hollywood magazines, several tattered issues of Ciné-Revue, and plenty of old books. Budget mattered, but luckily the books and magazines were reasonably priced and every vendor we interacted with bargained willingly, even cheerfully. In the end we managed some good purchases, supplemented by crisp digital photos of the covers of items we couldn’t afford to acquire. A tweak in Photoshop and they’re almost as good as scans. We’ll share all of those in upcoming days.
Marilù, Italian style.
Above, a photo of Italian actress Marilù Tolo, who appeared in many movies between 1960 and 1985, including 1964’s Matrimonio all’italiana, aka Marriage Italian Style, and 1966’s Se tutte le donne del mondo, aka Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die. This shot is from a 1966 issue of the Belgian magazine Ciné-Revue.
Sommer time and the living is easy.
Above is German actress Elke Sommer, looking her stunning best in two scans from Belgium’s Ciné-Revue that we stumbled across in an online forum. The issue was published forty years ago today, during a period when the magazine was upping its skin quotient. In this case, they wisely chose photos by Angelo Frontoni, who was one of the foremost glamour photographers of the day. Ciné-Revue still exists, more or less, as Ciné-Télé-Revue. We’ve been meaning to do an entire feature on the publication, because it has a tangled history we haven’t quite puzzled out yet. It definitely began in Belgium during the mid-1940s, but also published in France for a time. Also, there was another Ciné-Revue published in France back in the 1920s, but we aren’t sure if it has the same provenance as the one above. We’ll figure all that out later, now that these great images have reminded us to do so.
I’d rather go naked and wear fur.
German-Czech actress Barbara Bouchet, from a July 1976 issue of the Belgian film mag Ciné-Revue.
That girl from Paris.
Ciné-Revue with Brigitte Bardot on the cover, published today in 1957, with a shot from her film Une parisienne.
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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