Femmes Fatales Oct 3 2015
In tip top shape from stem to stern.

Above is a promotional photo of Italian actress Edy Vessel, who was born in Trieste as Edoarda Wessellovsky, a fact that neccessitated a name change before she achieved reknown in such films as Psycosissimo and Federico Fellini's . This photo from the French magazine Stop dates from 1962.


Femmes Fatales Oct 1 2015
October 1st marks the second rare lunar event this week.

Two years ago we shared a very rare Japanese promo poster from the 1976 Italian romance Laure, also known as Forever Emmanuelle. The calendar image above from the Japanese cinema and celebrity magazine Roadshow doesn’t directly promote Laure, but it comes from the same photo session, and like the earlier image features French actress Annie Belle doing her imitation of Monday’s supermoon. Both are amazing events, but this one, happily, features fewer craters. 


Vintage Pulp Sep 10 2015
The deadliest shot in Tinseltown.

Above, the cover of Calibre 45… et culottes de soie, by George Maxwell for Éditions le Condor’s collection La Môme Double Shot. The English title of this would be something like “Calibre .45 and silk panties,” and if you’re thinking only a Frenchman could come up with something like that you’d be right, because Maxwell was, of course, a pseudonym. It was inhabited by numerous writers, but in this case was used by Georges Esposito to pen a story set in Hollywood and starring the character Hope Travers, whose skill with a sidearm makes her someone not to be trifled with—hence “Kid Double Shot.” There were twenty-two books in the series. The cover art on this one and most of the others is by Salva, aka Jean Salvetti, who we’ll have more from later. The book appeared in 1953 


Vintage Pulp Sep 1 2015
Where the pleasure never seems to end.

Though they are at a glance aesthetically very different, the pulp era and the art deco era were contemporaneous, both in full bloom during the 1920s. Above you see the dreamy cover of a 1925 issue of the art deco style magazine Paris Plaisirs, i.e. Paris Pleasures, which was published from 12 Rue Georges-Berger in Paris. The cover star is dancer Isabelitta Ruiz, shot by R. Sobol. It looks to us as if Sobol provided the original image, but it was tinted by a second artist in the employ of the magazine. At least that’s our suspicion. We think that because we can see a second signature on the cover at lower left—it looks like, maybe, Cuaillant? No, that sounds wrong even for French. Maybe C. Jaillant? Better, but still quite possibly wrong. Here we go again with these French artists. And the magazines never seem to bother with masthead credits either. Too prosaïque maybe. We can hear our French friends say, “Comment typique! You Americans, always wanting to know exactly who did what. Learn to embrace uncertainty!” Okay, then. Twenty-two scans below, and you can see a lot more Paris Plaisirs art at the excellent webpage aucarrefouretrange.


Vintage Pulp Aug 24 2015
A new woman for a new era.

This issue of Paris Magazine features a beautiful Louis-Charles Royer cover of Ziegfeld star Claire Luce, one of the most popular celebrities of her time. Her heyday was the 1920s and ’30s, a period during which—though this is little remarked upon today—substantially more women began to have sex before marriage. By the time the first surveys took place in the 1940s about 50% of women admitted to having pre-marital sex. Anecdotally, during the 1920s probably at least one in four women had sex as singles. Claire Luce was a pioneer of the female right to choose. A mere eight-year span of her diary describes sixty lovers.

Luce very much personifies a seismic shift in the values of Western women. Many scholars say it happened because they moved into the university and the workplace around that time, and that was indeed an important factor because it brought women and men into mutual contact outside of family and church situations. But it’s clear the prime mover was the trauma of World War I and the loss of 37 million lives in a conflict that taught those who came of age around then that life could be short and joy could be fleeting. This factor is nearly always downplayed in studies of that time, though we have never understood why. It is too obvious?
Even with their numbers increasing, relatively few women were in the university and workplace. But virtually no Western family went untouched by the war. Those 37 million deaths reached deep into every town, every enclave, every social class. Nearly everyone had lost a father, a brother, an uncle, or at least a family friend. And if a loved one actually survived battle, they often returned to preach the futility of war to the generation below them—or by their mere broken presence serve as a warning. Ernest Hemingway captured this in The Sun Also Rises, which focuses on Jake, prevented by a war wound from having sex, and Lady Brett, who loves Jake but must constantly seek lovers elsewhere.

Of course, there are many factors behind any social shift, but rapid change typically derives from chaos. Ask any neo-con or disaster capitalist. The primary effect of war or warlike events upon society is to alter how it views life, death, and personal freedom. In the past, the spectre of death made people want more freedom to live as they saw fit; in our present era, traumatic events have resulted in people agreeing to sacrifice their personal freedom (thanks to powerful suggestions and hard work by opportunistic governments).

Anyway, just an interesting digression concerning Paris Magazine’s cover star. Like predecessors such as Dorothy Parker, and peers like Tallulah Bankhead, she was a sexual trendsetter, a new type of woman for a radically reordered Western world. She’s also about as pulp as it gets. We may get back to Claire Luce a bit later, but in the meantime we have a bunch of interior scans from Paris Magazine below, and more issues available at the click of a mouse. This edition, number 34, appeared in 1934. 


Hollywoodland Aug 18 2015
Paris Match offers a retrospective of Monroe from childhood to superstardom.

Marilyn Monroe was perhaps the most photographed celebrity of her era, so when she died it was only natural that scores of magazines released tribute issues. One of the most comprehensive was published by Paris Match today in 1962, just shy of two weeks after Monroe’s death, and it featured a thirty-six page retrospective of her life and career. Above you see the cover of that issue, and below you’ll find all of the accompanying photographs, including several that have been less widely seen, such as those near the bottom showing her making faces while doing acting exercises. We have scans from another Monroe tribute issue made just after her death—this one by Italy’s Epoca—and you can see those here.


Femmes Fatales Aug 17 2015
I learned this look from my cat—except on her it means she's thinking about killing somebody.

Above, a shot of prizewinning French actress Corinne Marchand, whose films include Cléo de 5 à 7 and the gangster flick Borsalino, seen here giving her best come hither stare in an image used on the front of the magazine Télé 7 Jours, 1970.


Vintage Pulp Aug 6 2015
To Caledonia and back again.

We have more from Editions S.E.G.’s Espionnage Service-Secret collection today, this time Paul Berg’s 1964 thriller Ça chauffe,,, en Calédonie, which translates to “Things Are Getting Hot… in Caledonia.” This one was issued twice by S.E.G., and you see both covers above, one of considerably higher artistic quality than the other, but both by unknowns. Berg was a pseudonym used by French writer André Jammet, who also wrote twenty years later under the name Celine Jammet for Fleuve Noir’s Femme Viva collection. We’ll have more from S.E.G. a bit later.


Vintage Pulp Jul 27 2015
You should have seen it. It was unbelievable. From base to tip it was like this. I swear.

Originally published in 1952, this paperback edition of Hank Janson’s Conflict came from British publisher Alexander Moring in 1957. The art is uncredited and unsigned, but it’s undoubtedly Reginald Heade, who stopped putting a name to his work after seven of Janson’s books brought about an obscenity trial and guilty verdicts. Though Janson’s writing was racy, we doubt that this cover is supposed to convey what we imply. But you have to admit—it’s a really curious pose from the female figure. See a bit more Heade here.


Vintage Pulp Jul 17 2015
Vintage paperback violence gets up close and personal.

We have another collection today as we prepare to jet away on vacation with the girls. Since the place we’re going is known for rowdy British tourists (what place isn’t known for that?), we thought we’d feature some of the numerous paperback covers featuring fights. You’ll notice, as with our last collection, the preponderance of French books. Parisian publishers loved this theme. The difference, as opposed to American publishers, is that you almost never saw women actually being hit on French covers (we’d almost go so far as to say it never happened, but we’ve obviously not seen every French paperback ever printed). The French preferred man-on-man violence, and when women were involved, they were either acquitting themselves nicely, or often winning via the use of sharp or blunt instruments.

Violence against women is and has always been a serious problem in the real world, but we’re just looking at products of the imagination here, which themselves represent products of the imagination known as fiction. Content-wise, mid-century authors generally frowned upon violence toward women even if they wrote it into their novels. Conversely, the cover art, stripped of literary context, seemed to glorify it. Since cover art is designed to entice readers, there’s a valid discussion here about why anti-woman violence was deemed attractive on mid-century paperback fronts, and whether its disappearance indicates an understanding of its wrongness, or merely a cynical realization that it can no longer be shown without consequences. We have another fighting cover here, and you may also want to check out our western brawls here.


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 10
1971—London Bridge Goes Up
After being sold, dismantled and moved to the United States, London Bridge reopens in the resort town of Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
1975—Burton and Taylor Marry Again
British actor Richard Burton and American screen star Elizabeth Taylor secretly remarry sixteen months after their divorce, then jet away to a second honeymoon in Chobe Game Park in Botswana.
October 09
1967—Ché Executed in Bolivia
A day after being captured, Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara is executed in Bolivia. In an attempt to make it appear as though he had been killed resisting Bolivian troops, the executioner shoots Guevara with a machine gun, wounding him nine times in the legs, arm, shoulder, throat, and chest.
October 08
1918—Sgt. York Becomes a Hero
During World War I, in the Argonne Forest in France, America Corporal Alvin C. York leads an attack on a German machine gun nest that kills 25 and captures 132. He is a corporal during the event, but is promoted to sergeant as a result. He also earns Medal of Honor from the U.S., the Croix de Guerre from the French Republic, and the Croce di Guerra from Italy and Montenegro. Stateside, he is celebrated as a hero, and Hollywood even makes a movie entitled Sergeant York, starring Gary Cooper.
1956—Larsen Pitches Perfect Game
The New York Yankees' Don Larsen pitches a perfect game in the World Series against hated rivals the Brooklyn Dodgers. It is the only perfect game in World Series history, as well as the only no-hitter.

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