This art is both a Sym-ulation and the real deal.
Italian illustrator Sandro Symeoni signed this 1959 Ace Books cover for Peter Cheyney's He Walked in her Sleep just “Sym,” but however he marks his work, we'd know it at first glance. For years we thought he was a movie poster and record sleeve artist only, then we suddenly started finding his paperback covers. All are brilliant. Oh, and speaking of brilliant, this is an awesome title for a thriller. It was originally published in 1946 as part of the Cheyney collection He Walked in Her Sleep and Other Stories, but Ace got hold of it and typeset it to novel length. More from Cheyney and Syemoni soon.
Hello? Hello? Are you still there? What was that loud thump? Hmph. The line's gone dead.
We get nearly all our crime scene shots from the USC digital archive, but today we have a different source. This one comes from the Los Angeles Police Museum and shows a man named Raymond Gross, who died today in 1953 after overdosing on barbiturates. The shot is unusual because, as you can see, he died while talking on the phone. Gross had gotten the drugs by prescription to alleviate pain caused by a brutal beatdown he'd received months earlier at the hands of a sailor named Lee Roy Collins. Collins broke Gross's nose, jaw, and inflicted a subdural hematoma. The two had met out on the town, Gross invited Collins back to his apartment, and at some point the encounter became violent. Possibly Collins always intended to beat and rob Gross, or he got the idea after a disagreement. In any case, police were able to find Collins thanks to evidence he'd dropped while fleeing. He was arrested and tried for the beating, but acquitted. That's no surprise. Gross was gay, and beating a gay man was not really considered a crime in 1953. Collins may have been gay too, but you can be sure his story in court was that Gross made a shocking and unexpected sexual overture. Back then a story like that would have been like using a get-out-of-jail-free card. Months later, still taking pain pills because of that violent attack, Gross ended up the way you see him above. Suicide? Accident? That remains unknown.
How do you get famous in Hollywood? Start with good usage of punctuation.
Chili Williams née Marian Sorenson, seen in a nice shot above, was a U.S. model who appeared in a 1943 issue of Life magazine in a dotted bikini, received 100,000 pieces of fan mail, and became known as the Polka-Dot Girl. Subsequently she was almost always photographed in dots. She might as well have had a permanent case of measles, so dominated her life was by dots, but thanks to them she was discovered by Hollywood. Her cinema career didn't quite take off, though, so she next posed covered with commas, indicating that she wasn't done yet. And when that failed she posed covered with ampersands, which she felt was a bolder way of saying she wasn't done yet. And finally, having hit rock bottom, she posed with money signs in a clear cry for help. Later she was arrested for breaking and entering. Only one of the four previous sentences is true. Can you guess which one? Anyway, by the mid-1950s Chili was out of Hollywood, but many excellent photos like the two here survive.
Hayworth takes front and center on classic poster, while Ford is lucky to be included at all.
Above is an alternate poster for Affair in Trinidad, and co-star Glenn Ford even gets to be on this one. The look here is simple and classic, and bespeaks a studio with total confidence it has a hit on its hands. The movie, which premiered today in 1952, wasn't actually that good, but it made money anyway because Hayworth was pure gold at this point. Ford? Well, he was mainly along for the ride, which is why he's second billed and standing behind Hayworth—and a pole too. You can read what we wrote about the movie at this link.
She's dangerous, untrustworthy, and cruel—but hey, what beautiful woman doesn't come with a little baggage?
We'd been meaning to get to Milton K. Ozaki, aka Robert O. Saber for a while, and when we came across Murder Doll we took the plunge. Plotwise, Chicago private eye Carl Good finds himself in the middle of an out-of-town gangland takeover. This is no ordinary invasion—the head honcho is rumored to be the beautiful ex-mistress of an eastern mobster. The problem is nobody knows exactly who she is. Good is hired to find this bombshell criminal, as he coincidentally acquires both a hot new secretary and a hot new girlfriend. Hmm... Maybe one of them is not what she seems. This is a mostly unremarkable mystery that even a trip to a nudist colony can't elevate, but it started well, with a clever nightclub murder, and it's very readable in general, so we'll give Ozaki a pass for this lusterless effort and hope he dazzles us next time. It came from Berkley Books in 1952 and the cover artist unknown.
I'm off to see my hair stylist, then I'm headed to the pet groomer. Conveniently, they're the same person.
Bet you didn't notice the dog at first, but there he is, such a happy boy, clutched to the bosom of French actress France Anglade. The beautiful mademoiselle Anglade was born in 1942 in Constantine, France, and if you can't quite place that town, that's because today it's Algeria. See, the French thought of Algeria as just a southerly department of France, which must have made the locals who'd had their land taken over feel a little better about it. Anglade briefly took over French cinema, appearing in an amazing seventeen films from 1962 to 1964. She continued acting until 1994, and when all was said and done had starred in efforts such as Le plus vieux métier du monde, aka The Oldest Profession, 24 Hours To Kill, and Les bricoleurs, aka Who Stole the Body? This amazing photo first appeared in Cinémonde magazine in 1967.
Keeping your problems bottled up is sometimes the best solution.
We had to watch this film. There was no choice. The poster removed all free will. When we first saw this art about ten years ago the movie wasn't available, but that's been fixed. This was painted for the roman porno drama Binzume jigoku, aka Hell in a Bottle, which premiered in Japan today in 1986. You may have noticed a similarity to this poster, and indeed it was painted by the same artist, who signed it at lower left but is still unknown to us. Looking at the art, you're probably thinking there's no way it can be literal, but you'd be wrong, as the screenshots below will show. We always wonder about the genesis of bizarro films like these. In this case: a 1928 story by author and Zen priest Yasumichi Sugiyama, who wrote as Yumeno Kyusaku.
The movie stars Chiyoko Ogura, Jun Numaoka, and the lovely Hitomi Kobayashi, who in addition to being an actress was popular as a photobook model, headlining at least ten. Plotwise, what you get here is a tale of forbidden attraction between siblings Numaoka and Ogura. They're on an isolated island along with Numaoka's girlfriend, played by Kobayashi, who is pretty much gobsmacked when she realizes the brother/sister attraction she's witnessing might actually come, so to speak, to fruition. She threatens her reckless boyfriend with a gun at one point, but nothing can stand the way of feverish incestuous fantasy, and eventually Numaoka and Ogura cast Kobayashi adrift in a bottle. That's a spoiler of course, but what are we to do when the poster art gives it away? If we told you she didn't end up in a bottle would you even bother to watch the movie? The good news is that imprisoning Kobayashi isn't the only use of bottles, so there's more to see than just her hallucinatory departure.
We're not sure what the point of the movie is. The plot is foreshadowed by another unfortunate incestuous love that took place in the past, ended in tragedy, and is described in an old diary, so the point could be that history repeats—particularly within families, since the previous diary was left by Numaoka's dead father. Does this original sin angle mean that Binzume jigoku is something more than just a piece of lowbrow exploitation? Sure, we guess. Is it recommendable? Are you kidding? Recommend a movie about unquenchable carnal desire between a brother and sister? Not a chance. This is roman porno, which generally leaves us adrift like Kobayashi in her bottle, even when it strives for deep metaphor. Watch the movie if you wish, but don't pretend you got the green light from us.
Whatever the problem is Bogart will solve it.
Above are two Italian posters for the Humphrey Bogart film Damasco '25, which is better known as Sirocco, and is yet another Casablanca clone. The U.S. poster even promises flat-out that the movie, an adventure about Syrian freedom fighters and French colonials in Damascus circa 1925, is “beyond Casablanca.” We'll see about that a bit later. These pieces were painted by the great illustrator Anselmo Ballester, whose work we've highlighted here. We'll get back to him later too. Sirocco opened in the U.S. in 1951, and premiered in Italy today in 1952.
Commuters run to work after latest round of NYC budget cuts eliminates subway cars.
Andrew L. Stone may be unique in the realm of vintage literature. His 1958 thriller Cry Terror is a novelization of the film of the same name, which he wrote, directed, and co-produced. Cry Terror wasn't the first time Stone wore multiple hats. Two years earlier he had written and directed the thriller Julie, and written the novelization too. The screenplay earned him an Academy Award nomination. He racked up thirty-seven directorial credits during his career, and among his output was Stormy Weather, The Hard-Boiled Canary, Highway 301, Confidence Girl, and A Blueprint for Murder. He ended up with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Another reason we wanted to highlight Cry Terror today is because of the excellent cover art by Robert Maguire. It was modeled after a promo shot from the film of lead actress Inger Stevens. You see that below. We were thinking about buying the book, but digging up all this info has revealed the entire plot to us, so we won't bother. Also, the copies that are currently out there are going for fifty dollars and up. As we mentioned before, we don't go that high for anything we'd be tempted to swat flies with. Plus we have a ton of books piled up. We may watch the movie, though. Less time, less expense. If we do we'll report back.
A group of reckless truckers gear up for trouble.
Above is a beautiful poster for Hell Drivers, a working class thriller set in England dealing with an ex-convict who takes a trucking job for a gravel company and begins risking life and limb trying to break another driver's speed record. It has something of the feel of 1947's They Drive By Night mixed with a British road rally. It also has film noir legend Peggy Cummins in a co-starring role, along with Herbert Lom from the Pink Panther movies, and lead actor Stanley Baker. Oh, and a guy named Sean Connery. And there's a truck crash with a brutal body ejection. But it's this amazing purple promo that prompted us to talk about the movie. We love this art. The manhandling moment depicted, by the way, precedes a kiss, as the thin narrative line between masculine anger and lust is crossed yet again in a mid-century film. Hell Drivers premiered in London today in 1957. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1964—Riot Stops Stones Concert
The Rolling Stones play in Belfast, Northern Ireland, but the show is stopped after twelve minutes because of violence in the audience. Some fans are carried away in straitjackets.
Penguin Books is launched by Allen Lane and begins publishing cheap, no-frills paperbacks. Lane's idea of selling books not just in bookstores, but in train stations, pharmacies and corner stores, quickly revolutionizes the publishing market.
1957—Paar Takes Over Tonight Show
Today in 1957 Jack Paar begins hosting The Tonight Show
. During Paar's five year stint, his unpredictable antics
and strong comedic style help turn the program into a ratings juggernaut and a national institution.
1981—Charles and Diana Marry
Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer marry at St Paul's Cathedral before 3,500 invited guests and an estimated global television audience of 750 million, making it the most popular program ever broadcast.
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