Vintage Pulp Jul 16 2023
WHY, IT'S ELEMENTARY
Look, I've found something! I bet this advances the plot!


Here's another nice panel length poster for the 1937 mystery comedy Super-Sleuth. The term "door panel," which is a commonly used designation, is a bit deceptive. These are nowhere near the size of a door. The dimensions are twenty by sixty, or sometimes fourteen by thirty-six—in any case around three times taller than wide. The dimensions of this one aren't actually quite there. It's closer to two-point-five-to one. Close enough, as far as we're concerned. Anyway, we've been unearthing a lot of this style of promo lately, and we like them because the arrangement of visual elements and text are pleasing to our amateur eyes.

In the movie, an egotistical actor played by Jack Oakie, whose signature character is a sleuth, criticizes the LAPD and ends up in a press feud with them. He's been critical because he and other Hollywood stars have been receiving threatening letters from “the Poison Pen,” but the cops have no idea who's sending them. Oakie gets his chance to prove whether he can be a real life sleuth when there's a shooting on his movie set. While Super-Sleuth is billed as slapstick mystery, the mystery part is not delivered. There's only ever one true suspect. We suppose it's difficult to write in red herrings and twists when a film is 75 minutes long. Still, having the sinister and secretive weirdo be the murderer is a little too elementary.

Though many of the characters, including Oakie, are buffoons, there's also, it must be noted, a ridiculous black stereotype played by Willie Best, who sometimes acted under the moniker Sleep 'n' Eat. He's often reviled for his portrayals now, but in a 1934 interview he said, “What's an actor going to do? Either you do it or get out.” It's the dilemma of all actors—do your level best with what you're given or end up on the do-not-hire list. Super-Sleuth doesn't give its actors a lot to work with, but Oakie, Best, the beautiful Ann Sothern and the rest put their all into it and the result is a passable slapstick (non) mystery with a handful of genuine laughs. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1937.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 19
1953—The Rosenbergs Are Executed
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted for conspiracy to commit espionage related to passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet spies, are executed at Sing Sing prison, in New York.
June 18
1928—Earhart Crosses Atlantic Ocean
American aviator Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly in an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean, riding as a passenger in a plane piloted by Wilmer Stutz and maintained by Lou Gordon. Earhart would four years later go on to complete a trans-Atlantic flight as a pilot, leaving from Newfoundland and landing in Ireland, accomplishing the feat solo without a co-pilot or mechanic.
June 17
1939—Eugen Weidmann Is Guillotined
In France, Eugen Weidmann is guillotined in the city of Versailles outside Saint-Pierre Prison for the crime of murder. He is the last person to be publicly beheaded in France, however executions by guillotine continue away from the public until September 10, 1977, when Hamida Djandoubi becomes the last person to receive the grisly punishment.
1972—Watergate Burglars Caught
In Washington, D.C., five White House operatives are arrested for burglarizing the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate Hotel. The botched burglary was an attempt by members of the Republican Party to illegally wiretap the opposition. The resulting scandal ultimately leads to the resignation of President Richard Nixon, and also results in the indictment and conviction of several administration officials.
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