Intl. Notebook Jun 6 2014
MIXED SIGNALS
The divide between fact and propaganda is never so clear as in hindsight.


Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day—the Allied landings in Northern France—and since most observances take the same form, we thought it would be a good opportunity to look at the event from a different angle by sharing something you might not see anywhere else. So above and below are some front and back covers of Signal, a German propaganda magazine printed from 1940 to 1945 and distributed in neutral, friendly, and occupied countries. These are from Yugoslavia, and their text is Croatian. Glancing at the images is to marvel at the always yawning chasm between propaganda and reality, for though Signal showed Hitler’s soldiers defeating foes while winning hearts and minds, when most of these were printed his army was not only the most hated entity in the Western world, but was already in the process of being fatally smashed in the crucible of a bitter Russian winter against a hardened foe that had always considered ice, snow, wind and frostbite its most important allies.

Once the other allies, led by the U.S., dragged the Germans into a two-front war, defeat was assured. That outcome could have been forestalled perhaps by the development of advanced technology, particularly a German atomic bomb, but it never quite happened. And yet under the direction of the Wehrmacht and Hasso von Wedel, winning imagery kept spinning from the web of German presses, depicting beautiful frauen cavorting in the homeland and smiling soldiers abroad doing the tough but necessary work of unifying Europe. But the intended recipients of these messages had begun to understand the truth—the Germans were finished, and the devastation they had wrought on foreign lands was coming home to roost. When bombs finally fell like rain on Berlin and enemy soldiers stormed the ramparts east and west, Hitler’s imagined 1,000-year Reich was over. It had lasted barely five years.

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Musiquarium May 27 2014
EASY BREEZY
Music for a Sommer day.

It’s pretty much a bylaw around here to occasionally feature Elke Sommer on the site, so above we have a collection of German record sleeves featuring one of that country’s greatest exports. While her beauty is timeless, her music isn’t, but it certainly is on trend for the period—i.e. a bit cheesy, a bit camp, such as her 1962 western ballad “Georgie.” Not our cup of tea, but if you want to hear it for yourself follow this link.

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Vintage Pulp Mar 13 2014
CRAZY KIND OF LOVE
A change of title helped turn an overlooked film into a revered classic.

Above, a West German promo pamphlet for Gefährliche Leidenschaft, which was the American thriller Gun Crazy. If you read German, then you know the German title means “Deadly Is the Female,” and that’s in fact what the film was called in the States upon its initial release. But after lackluster box office, King Brothers Productions changed the title and marketing campaign, and success followed. Today the movie is in the U.S. Library of Congress’s National Film Registry, an honor reserved for movies of special cultural, historic, or aesthetic significance. This pamphlet was made by Illustrierte Film-Bühne, and you can see more examples of that company’s work here and here. Gun Crazy premiered in the U.S. in 1950, and in West Germany today in 1951. 

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Vintage Pulp Mar 12 2014
SUICIDAL TENDENCIES
When it comes to suicide there’s nothing like the real thing.


It’s been a few months, so we’re bringing Hitler back on The National Police Gazette. This example from March 1951 is the twenty-first Hitler cover we’ve located, all of them from the 1950s and 1960s, which means he starred for the Gazette at least yearly for two decades. But of course, that’s just an average based on the issues we’ve found so far. We know for certain there were others, and ultimately we’ll probably determine that he was featured closer to twice a year. As you can see yourself, this time Gazette is concerned with Hitler’s fake suicide, which journo Harvey Wilson says was propaganda put out by the Soviets to cover for their failure to capture him as Berlin burned.

Leaving aside the question of who’s really doing the propagandizing here, it’s a clever little pivot by the Gazette, which went from merely claiming Hitler had escaped to blaming the escape on Moscow, resulting in a nifty mash-up of two of post-War America’s biggest boogeymen—Hitler and Khrushchev. Later the Gazette would claim Hitler or his henchmen were tight with other enemies of the American power elite, including Abdel Nasser and Juan Peron. One year after the above issue came out, Gazette turned around and in its May 1952 issue, at right, blamed Hitler’s escape on the Allies. And let's not forget the infamous Hitler-in-Antarctica story, truly one of the all-time creative highlights of mid-century tabloid journalism. Well, wherever Hitler fled, the Gazette’ll straighten it out for us in due time. We just have to keep digging up issues. Meanwhile, a couple of scans below, and more from the Gazette to come.


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Vintage Pulp Feb 18 2014
A HARD DAY'S NIGHTMARE
Have you ever had a terrible dream and couldn’t wake up?


This West German poster for Der Scharlatan, aka Nightmare Alley shows Twentieth Century Fox pretty boy Tyrone Power in his role as The Great Stanton, a conniving psychic. Power felt constricted by the romance and adventure parts he’d played up to that point, so he bought the rights to William Lindsay Gresham’s novel and dirtied himself up. He plays a lowly carnival barker who realizes that an ingenious verbal code is the key to reaching the heights of fame. The code allows a seer to work in tandem with an assistant to correctly answer the questions of spectators. You know the drill: “I’m sensing that there’s a Mr. Abernathy here and he’s... wait… it’s coming… Sir, you’re concerned about your wife’s health. Isn’t that right? Well let me tell you, she’s already on the mend. You’ll get good news from the doctor tomorrow!” Though the code’s owners aren’t using it, they plan to sell it to fund their retirement, and that looks to be some years off. This forces Power to either to steal it or sweet talk his way into it. As it turns out, he doesn’t have to do either, but once he has the code and has built an act around it, the fame and riches it brings fail to quench his greed.
 
Nightmare Alley was not warmly reviewed upon release, but many of those reviews simply found the movie too gritty. Such criticisms tend to make their authors look out of touch. For example, Bosley Crowther was demoted from his position as the New York Times’ main critic in large part for slamming Bonnie and Clyde in three separate articles, despite the film’s obvious quality. Nightmare Alley had similar detractors—it was just too downbeat for some, even for a film noir. But within its fictional milieu it's highly successful. Our world has every kind of depravityand cruelty, and movies that depict them must be judged on their own terms. So ignore the haters—Nightmare Alley is excellent. Power puts on an award-worthy performance, and Joan Blondell and Colleen Gray are great in support. There’s a pivotal moment in the film when it seems possible Power’s character has some actual psychic ability. Too bad he can’t see his own future. Nightmare Alley premiered in 1947, and finally made its way to West Germany today in 1954.
 
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Musiquarium Jan 12 2014
GOOD FOR WHAT AILS YOU
Aslan art makes unlikely appearance on Cure album sleeve.

A couple of weeks ago we said we’d get back to more Alain Gourdon, aka Aslan album sleeves, so above is a rather eye-catching one for a collection of Cure songs entitled The Spell’s Unbroken. It’s a live release that was recorded in Birmingham, England in 1985 and pressed in Germany in 1986, and it’s got such Cure goodies as “Kyoto Song,” “Let’s Go to Bed,” and the excellent “In Between Days,” as well some more obscure tracks. The album is unofficial—or a bootleg, if you prefer that term—so in theory it was pressed and sold without the band’s participation. We also assume Gourdon hadn’t a clue about the art. And wouldn’t you know it—the record sells for exorbitant amounts of money, routinely over a hundred dollars. We don’t know about you, but that’s enough to cure us of any urge to buy it.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 20 2013
VENGEANCE IS MINE
Always be careful or you may get carried away.

Today we have the November 1971 issue of our favorite vintage magazine—Australia’s Adam—with a cover illustrating Anthony Barker’s story “The Double Cross.” The scene shows the climax of Barker’s tale, when a torrent of water bursts through the wall of a mine and carries the hero’s two betrayers away. Inside the issue is the usual mix of fact, fiction, and cheesecake, and of special note is a three-page photo feature on Uschi Obermaier, who was already well known as a scion of West Germany’s political group Commune 1 and was on her way to even greater fame as a model, actress and rock groupie. As the latter she bagged two Rolling Stones, and of Jimi Hendrix once said, “He was the most beautiful of all my men. Making love with Jimi was one of the most profound experiences for me.” We bet it was pretty profound for him too. The photos we’ve scanned of Obermaier, which you’ll see at the bottom of the post, come from a famous beach session, images of which appeared in several magazines in the early 1970s. But these Adam shots have never been uploaded to the web before. So that’s our big accomplishment for today. See those sultry pix and thirty more scans below

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Vintage Pulp Nov 11 2013
BERLIN WALL ART
 
Before moving back to items from other countries, we thought we’d share a few more pieces related to Germany—this time vintage posters. Below are seven excellent examples of thriller and film noir promo art that appeared in that country from 1932 to 1955. They are, top to bottom, Highway 301, Night and the City, Thunder Road, Notorious twice, because both posters are great, Night of the Hunter and Blonde Venus.
 

 
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Femmes Fatales Nov 10 2013
INI MOMENT NOW
Actually, we’re more legmen ourselves...

Above, German actress Ini Assmann—yes, Assmann—who appeared in such films as Blonde Köder für den Mörder, aka The Blonde Connection and Schulmädchen-Report 6, aka Campus Pussycats, seen here on the rear cover of Girls of the World magazine circa 1970.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 8 2013
WILDWEST GERMANY
All work and no gunplay makes Joe a very dull boy.

We have more German goodness for you today. Above is a cover of Big Joe’s Wildwest-Abenteuer number 5, Joe gründet eine ranch, which means Joe Sets Up a Ranch. We know little about this series, except that it debuted in 1955, and Joe was usually chasing and shooting guys, rather than doing chores. Most of these seem to have been written by someone calling himself Glenn Stirling, but others were the work of Marc Relling. We found no references to the series in English, so we’re assuming these are West German originals, rather than reprints of American work, and judging by the €2 asking price these are not particularly rare. We’ll see if we can find out more, and whatever we uncover we’ll certainly share.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
September 02
1967—Nation of Sealand Established
The Principality of Sealand, located on a platform in the North Sea, is established under the rule of Prince Paddy Roy Bates. Proving that paradise is a pipe dream as long as humans are involved, Sealand has already endured a coup, a war, and a hostage crisis since its formation.
1973—J.R.R. Tolkien Dies
British fantasy novelist J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, dies at the age of 82.
September 01
1902—French Go to Moon
Georges Méliès' Le voyage dans la lune, aka A Trip to the Moon, is released in France. It is the first science-fiction film ever made.
1939—Germany Starts World War II
Nazi Germany, along with the Soviet Union and Slovakia, attack Poland, beginning the chain reaction that leads to war across Europe.
1972—Fischer Beats Spassky
In Reykjavík, Iceland, American Bobby Fischer beats Russian Boris Spassky and becomes the world chess champion. The match had been portrayed as a Cold War battle, and thus was a major propaganda victory for the United States.
August 31
1948—Mitchum and Leeds Snared in Drug Raid
Actor Robert Mitchum and actress Lila Leeds are arrested in a Hollywood drug raid and convicted of criminal conspiracy to possess marijuana. Mitchum serves 43 days in jail, but in 1951 the conviction is overturned when it is exposed as a set-up. The entire episode has zero effect on his popularity. Leeds, conversely, becomes a heroin addict while behind bars and is never able to rekindle her career.
1997—Princess Diana Killed in Accident
Princess Diana dies after a car crash in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris, along with Egyptian jet-setter Dodi Al-Fayed, and driver Henri Paul, who loses control of the car while attempting to elude paparazzi. Despite lengthy resuscitation attempts, including internal cardiac massage, Diana dies at 4 a.m. local time. Her funeral six days later is watched by an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide.

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