Well, he says his name is Manny Slaughter, but for some reason I don't think he's as harmless as he seems.
Elizabeth Daly fashioned herself as a U.S. version of Agatha Christie, writing the same kind of mysteries but setting them in New York City. We gather that she was even Christie's favorite mystery author, which is quite an accolade. Murder Listens In is seventh in Daly's Henry Gamadge series—the main character being a sleuth who writes mystery novels—and he's drawn into this puzzle by a crumpled note with his name and address on it found by a postman outside an Upper East Side mansion, and is soon dealing with a client who insists on anonymity to the point of throwing him notes out a window. Someone in this house filled with distant relatives and servants is in deep trouble, and Gamadge, with the help of his wife Clara and his sidekick Schenck, has to figure it out before someone (else) dies. Exceedingly well reviewed, and deservedly so. Originally published in 1944 as Arrow Pointing Nowhere, with this Bantam paperback appearing in 1949 graced by Harry Schaare cover art.
In vintage fiction you really need to watch your step.
The first step is a doozy, as they say, but in vintage fiction so is the last one and all those in between. Below are assorted paperback covers featuring characters who've had a bad time navigating stairs, a few due to accidents but most via ill intent from third parties. We also have one hardback dust sleeve we added at the bottom because it was so interesting. Just scroll down, but do it carefully.
, Robert Maguire
, Anita Boutell
, Glyn Jones
, Doris Miles Disney
, Leslie Ford
, Red Burger
, H.H. Lewis
, Leslie Charteris
, Agatha Christie
, Day Kenne
, Bob Abbett
, Kriss Lelerc
, Talmage Powell
, Lawrence G. Blochman
, E. T. French
, Maurice Procter
, Alan Fair
, André Héléna
, Helen McCloy
, George Bellairs
, Michel Gourdon
, cover art
, cover collection
Spillane thriller gives new meaning to getting in too deep.
This cover for Mickey Spillane's The Deep comes from the UK imprint Corgi Books, which gave Spillane's entire catalog similar minimalist—and uncredited—treatment. Spillane had a couple of gaps in his publishing career, and this book came in 1961 after a nine year break following his indoctrination into the Jehovah's Witnesses in 1952. It has a main character named Deep and he's on a revenge spree, so there's the title for you. Though the cover isn't credited we suspect it was painted by Renato Fratini. It looks like his work, and he did a Spillane series for Corgi during the early 1960s.
What are they rebelling against? What have you got?
Bad girl biker Anne Neyland encourages a rivalry between good boy biker Steven Terrell and bad boy biker John Ashley and the results are disastrous. Motorcycle Gang isn't original or compelling, but it may be worth watching for fans of ’50s hipster lingo and for admirers of Ashley, who later starred in numerous terrible-but-funny Eddie Romero b-movies filmed in the Philippines. Regardless of Motorcycle Gang's lack of quality, the promo poster is absolutely wonderful. The movie premiered in the U.S. today in 1957.
Red-headed femme fatale looks mighty familiar.
Gary Lovisi's guide to mid-century paperback cover art Dames, Dolls and Delinquents: A Collector's Guide to Sexy Pulp Fiction attributes this cover to George Gross but many online sources say it's the work of Howell Dodd. Though the internet is incredibly useful for replicating errors, we think the onliners are right this time. While the femme fatale here has some Gross-like elements to her, she has the fiery red hair that was a Dodd trademark. We think we even know her face. Doesn't it belong to legendary red-headed actress Ann Sheridan? Yup, it's her—right down to the little bump in her classic nose. And he used her more than once, we think. A basically identical face appears in several other pieces of his. We're taking full credit for this discovery. Unless of course we're wrong, in which case we deny making any Sheridan related statements. Hey, if it works for presidential candidates it can work for us, right?
If only she knew what was going on in his head.
Above, a colorful poster for Fûten Rôjin nikki, aka Diary of a Mad Old Man, with Sô Yamamura as a man recovering from a stroke and Ayako Wakao as the occasionally towel-clad young daughter-in-law whose presence inflames his libido. Far better and more serious than it sounds. The movie premiered in Japan today in 1962. We have a couple more promo images below, and you can see a few more Wakao posters for a different movie here.
Tabloid dunks readers in a pool of vice.
Exposé for Men is a new tabloid for us, which is saying something, since we've posted about 350 inside Pulp Intl. You can pick your way through those at our tabloid index. Exposé was originally launched as Sensation by Skye Publishing of New York City. The rebranding came sometime in 1959. This issue, which was published this month in 1960, flogs similar themes as other tabloids, including the blaming of women for rape in an article by criminal specialist Robert Mines where he proclaims that “frequently it's not the perpetrator but the victim of a [sex] crime who is most responsible for it.”
You'd think one article of this type would be sufficient, but Exposé offers up another piece called “The Weird Love-Hatred That Binds a Prostitute to Her Pimp.” This time the male expert on female minds is Joseph Le Baron, but at least his reasoning makes sense—i.e. prostitutes feel they need pimps around to protect them from “house dicks, bartenders, [and] vice cops out to shake them down and get tricks for free.” We'll buy that part, but we don't buy that the choice is voluntary, which is how Le Baron makes it sound.
Elsewhere readers learn that women have a natural propensity to lie, Mexico is wonderful because every man can afford a mistress, and insomniacs can't sleep because they're thinking about sex all night. Exposé also has celebrity gossip, including the claim—first we've heard of it—that Diana Dors' 1956 fall into a swimming pool was actually a publicity stunt. Considering the fact that the subsequent brawl generated terrible press we doubt the veracity of this one, but you never know. We do like the photo of Dors wet. Scans below, and more tabloids to come.
New York City
, Skye Publishing Company
, Exposé for Men
, Diana Dors
, Marie McDonald
, Anita Ekberg
, Robert Mines
, Joseph Le Baron
, Vikki Dougan
, Zsa Zsa Gabor
, Porfirio Rubirosa
This bird is more impressive every time you see it.
The Maltese Falcon is considered by most scholars to be the first major film noir. It was also one of the best, with legendary talents John Huston, Humphrey Bogart, and Peter Lorre coming together to make magic. Mary Astor was excellent too. This must-see film premiered in the U.S. today in 1941, but the poster above—one you don't see often—was made for its run in Australia. Put this film in the queue if you haven't seen it. And if you have, well, watch it again.
, The Maltese Falcon
, Humphrey Bogart
, Mary Astor
, John Huston
, Peter Lorre
, Sydney Greenstreet
, Elisha Cook Jr.
, poster art
, film noir
You have the right to remain naked.
Pretty tame by today's standards, 1959's Sex Life of a Cop is the book that turned into a legal nightmare for publisher Sanford Aday when he shipped copies to Michigan and was convicted in 1963 of interstate trafficking of obscene material. The story deals with two small town cops named Dempsey and Thorne who give a fat helping of nightstick to any woman whose path they cross, everyone from the hot new dispatcher to a female reporter who goes for a ride along. Ahem. The action starts right on page one outside the police station and doesn't let up. Aday, who was also the author of this as the pseudonymous Oscar Peck, earned himself a $25,000 fine and twenty-five years in prison, a sentence that was eventually overturned.
Sex Life of a Cop later caused legal reverberations all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was ruled not obscene in 1967. This was a stroke of good luck for publisher Reuben Sturman (the genius behind It's Happening), because he too was arrested and charged with obscenity when Cleveland police liberated more than 500 copies of the book from his warehouse. The Supreme Court ruling cleared him of wrongdoing. All this for a book that differs little from other sleaze of the era save that it stars two cops. But therein lies the lesson. When you cast aspersions upon law enforcement they'll move heaven and earth to punish you, first amendment be damned. We have covers for the original 1959 edition and the 1967 reprint.
That was great. Send in the third mate when you go. And tell the fourth and fifth mates to get warmed up.
Love Me Sailor was originally published in 1945 by the Australian imprint Georgian House and what a bombshell it was. After much legal wrangling it was banned in 1948 and author Robert S. Close was tossed in prison. His sentence was three months but he served only ten days. He's the only Australian ever jailed for writing a book. After his release he left in disgust for France and didn't return for twenty-five years. Even then he stayed only briefly before leaving again and living the rest of his life on Mallorca.
So what was the fuss about? Love Me Sailor tells the story of a male crewed windjammer that takes on a single female passenger in the form of Emma Miller. The men soon want to slide their dinghies into her cove but because she likes both sex and variety they're soon at each others' throats. Men, right? As a hurricane spins up, the question that arises is whether the crew can function well enough to survive. The book is a serious effort at literature and is highly regarded by many. The edition above from Popular Library appeared in 1952, and the cover art is by unknown.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1919—Volstead Act Passed
The U.S. Congress passes the Volstead Act over President Woodrow Wilson's veto, paving the way for alcohol Prohibition to begin the following January. The Act, named for Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Andrew Volstead, was supposed to create a better society but instead helped lead to the rise of violent organized crime gangs. The law wouldn't be repealed until 1933.
1922—Mussolini Comes Into Power
During the second day of the event known as the March on Rome, Fascist leader Benito Mussolini officially takes control of the Italian government when King Victor Emmanuel III cedes power. Supported by a coalition of military, business, and right-wing leaders, Mussolini remains in power until 1943, when defeat in World War II begins to look inevitable.
1994—U.S. Prison Population Reaches Milestone
The U.S. prison population tops 1 million for the first time in American history. By 2008 the U.S. Justice Department pegs the number of imprisoned at 2.3 million, and the overall U.S. correctional population, i.e. those in jail, prison, on probation or on parole, at 7.3 million, or 1 in every 31 adults.
1951—Churchill Becomes Prime Minster Again
The Conservative Party wins the British general election, making Winston Churchill prime minister for the second time. Churchill is nearly 76 at the time, making him the second oldest prime minister in history after William Gladstone. Churchill remains PM until 1955, when he steps down at 81 due to ill health.
1964—The Night Caller Is Executed
In Australia, Eric Edgar Cooke, who had earned the nickname Night Caller, is hanged after being convicted of murder. He had terrorized Perth for four years, committing 22 violent crimes, eight of which resulted in deaths. He becomes the last person to be executed in Western Australia.
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