It could be worse, I guess—I could be working at Wal-Mart.
Georges Arnaud’s 1952 thriller Le salaire de la peur, aka The Wages of Fear has one of the great set-ups in literary history—four desperate men agree to drive two truckloads of nitroglycerine through the treacherous Guatemalan mountains to where it’s needed to put out an oil well fire. Mud, rain, potholes, steep inclines, hairpin turns, and fallen boulders are bad enough on their own, but for men strapped into rolling bombs each of these is a deadly test of both luck and nerves. Arnaud’s masterpiece sold more than two million copies worldwide, which is why if you seek out a vintage copy you’ll find many versions, including this Corgi edition from 1960 with uncredited but excellent cover art. This book has always resonated for us because we lived in Guatemala for two years, which made it mandatory reading. But you’ll appreciate it even if you’ve never been there.
Need the FBI? Talk to ERP.
FBI Fichiers Secrets was a series of crime novels published in France by Rome-based Editions ERP during the early 1960s. The authors’ names are all pseudonyms—the books were really written by guys like Pino Belli, Aldo Crudo, Gualberto Titta, Nino Giannini, Gianfranco Parolini, and others. Above you see ten covers with top art from Mario Ferrari. You can see more masterworks from Ferrari here, here, and here.
, Editions ERP
, Pino Belli
, Aldo Crudo
, Gualberto Titta
, Nino Giannini
, Gianfranco Parolini
, Joe Vivard
, Mike Chandler
, Sten Cooper
, Janil Niggin
, Johnny West
, Simpson Greene
, cover art
Actually, I like wearing it—except I have to run for shelter whenever lightning is in the area.
French actress Maria Latour had a relatively minor career, appearing in four films in 1967 and several television shows between 1965 and 1973, but there’s nothing minor about this shot of her rocking a metal bra. It’s doubtless uncomfortable, but it’s also great in a low rent sci-fi way. The shot is from 1968.
Nobody’s Faut but her own.
Above is a great piece of Jef de Wulf art of an amorous sailor and an interested woman for Jacques Marlène’s Faut que tu y passes, cheri!. The book appeared in 1952 from Lutécia Editions à Lyon as part of their Pour lire la nuit collection. We gather the novel was censored in France in 1955. The title Faut que tu y passes, cheri! translates to something like “You have to pass it, darling.” Here again we have a French phrase that doesn’t quite translate into English. Usually we get e-mailed about these, but our e-mailer is down, and we’re well aware of it. We’ll get to fixing that soonish, along with the pulp uploader. In the meantime, you can still contact us at email@example.com if you care to explain this title more fully.
Update: So we got several reponses to this question.
From the blog oncle-archibald.blogspot.com we learned that the title translates roughly to, "I will have my wicked way with you, darling!" This is in reference to the French expression "
passer a la casserole," which has a sexual interpretation and translates, "to have his wicked way with you."
From our friend Jo B. we get a similar interpretation. He says it's a way of saying, "You’ve got to make love with me, you’ve got no way to escape this... (faut que tu y passes). He explains further: In French, they also say, “Il faut que tu passes à la casserole,” which means, "You’ve got to go in the saucepan." Strange, ain’t it ? Sometimes, we also say that for people who want to get a job (at the television, for example or in a company).
So there you go. We're giving serious thought to learning this language. There are thousands of French speakers around here anyway, and it would come in handy. Oncle Archibald has lots of similar book covers, by the way, and we recommend clicking over there for a look.
Americans may have perfected the art, but the French got there first.
During the last few months we shared three Technicolor lithographs with glassine overlays of clothing that could be peeled back to reveal a nude model, and mentioned we thought the technique originated in France with Paris-Hollywood, a cover of which see above. The magazine began publishing déshabillable—i.e. undressable—pin-ups in 1950, whereas the American undressables we’ve found date from no earlier than 1953. Though Statesiders may have been latecomers to the party, once they got the technique down they churned overlay pin-ups out by the hundreds. You can see three here, here, and here, and we’ll share more later.
The artist responsible for painting the centerfold in this issue of Paris-Hollywood was Roger Brard, and he was the brush for most of those the magazine featured, but at least one other artist was involved too. Elsewhere in the issue you get showgirls, showgirls, and more showgirls, including a three page spread on la vagabonde Cirque Z dancer and world traveler Katrina, a Venice carnival-inspired set involving a model wearing a lace mask (she also gets the back cover), and a weird photo essay with knives and six-shooters. All of this is from 1952. We have twenty scans below, and you can see many more issues of Paris-Hollywood by clicking its keywords at the bottom of this post.
Jean de la Hire’s truth is stranger than fiction.
The French sci-fi novel L’Invisible was written by Jean de La Hire, aka Espié Adolphem, for Éditions Jaeger et Hauteville’s Fantastic series in 1953. The set-up is ingenious here—basically, H.G. Wells’ famous novel The Invisible Man was a disguised factual account, and this book reveals the truth about the man Wells fictionalized. He develops an invisibility potion, uses it to make a fortune, and later faces a choice between continuing on his path or giving it up for love. The cool cover art is by René Brantonne.
Everybody who was anybody got inside.
Above and below, scans from the French show-biz and showgirl magazine Paris-Hollywood, issue 26, from 1948. The front cover features Marguerite Chapman, the rear Arlene Dahl, and in between you get Cyd Charisse, Patricia Roc, Martha Vickers, Alexis Smith, Anne Jeffreys, Luce Feyrer, Edwige Feuillère, Marlene Dietrich, and other luminaries. That's quite a collection of celebs. In upcoming years the magazine would spend more time on cabaret dancers, but its early issues were all about international stars. We picked up a few of these in Paris a while back and we’ll get to some detailed scans of those soon. In the meantime, you can see more from Paris-Hollywood here, here, and here.
, Marguerite Chapman
, Arlene Dahl
, Cyd Charisse
, Patricia Roc
, Martha Vickers
, Alexis Smith
, Christiane Ardennes
, Claude Carmoin
, Edwige Feuillère
, Anne Jeffreys
, Luce Feyrer
, Marlene Dietrich
Let your love take flight.
Jef de Wulf really outdid himself here. This cover is from 1958 for René Roques’ romance novel La Fille de Monseigneur, and we think this is by far the best we’ve seen from de Wulf. The central balloon reads “love,” of course, and all the others have the two syllables making up the French word “rire,” or laugh, creating an image of heartlifting joy. Sublime stuff. Check out some of de Wulf’s other covers by clicking his keywords directly below.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1947—Heyerdahl Embarks on Kon-Tiki
Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl and his five man crew set out from Peru on a giant balsa wood raft called the Kon-Tiki in order to prove that Peruvian natives could have settled Polynesia. After a 101 day, 4,300 mile (8,000 km) journey, Kon-Tiki smashes into the reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands on August 7, 1947, thus demonstrating that it is possible for a primitive craft to survive a Pacific crossing.
1989—Soviets Acknowledge Chernobyl Accident
After two days of rumors and denials the Soviet Union admits there was an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Reactor number four had suffered a meltdown, sending a plume of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and over an extensive geographical area. Today the abandoned radioactive area surrounding Chernobyl is rife with local wildlife and has been converted into a wildlife sanctuary, one of the largest in Europe.
1945—Mussolini Is Arrested
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, his mistress Clara Petacci, and fifteen supporters are arrested by Italian partisans in Dongo, Italy while attempting to escape the region in the wake of the collapse of Mussolini's fascist government. The next day, Mussolini and his mistress are both executed, along with most of the members of their group. Their bodies are then trucked to Milan where they are hung upside down on meathooks from the roof of a gas station, then spat upon and stoned until they are unrecognizable.
1933—The Gestapo Is Formed
The Geheime Staatspolizei, aka Gestapo, the official secret police force of Nazi Germany, is established. It begins under the administration of SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police, but by 1939 is administered by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, or Reich Main Security Office, and is a feared entity in every corner of Germany and beyond.
1937—Guernica Is Bombed
In Spain during the Spanish Civil War, the Basque town of Guernica is bombed by the German Luftwaffe, resulting in widespread destruction and casualties. The Basque government reports 1,654 people killed, while later research suggests far fewer deaths, but regardless, Guernica is viewed as an example of terror bombing and other countries learn that Nazi Germany is committed to that tactic. The bombing also becomes inspiration for Pablo Picasso, resulting in a protest painting that is not only his most famous work, but one the most important pieces of art ever produced.
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