I'm no doctor, but if a man isn't moving and isn't snoring, he's probably a corpse.
Above: a cover for Drury Lane's Last Case by Ellery Queen, who was actually Daniel Nathan partnering with Manford Lepofsky. It's originally 1933, with the above edition from Avon coming in 1952.
Juvenile delinquency—it isn't just for juveniles.
Jean Moorhead, Joanne Cangi, Theresa Hancock, and Lee Constant look like they're ready for trouble—or planning to break into a dance number—in this photo made for the 1956 drama The Violent Years. The violent years, if we go by the age of the actresses, apparently occur in one's twenties. And how violent do they get? They rob a gas station, shoot a cop dead, take some hostages, crash a car through a plate glass window, and sexually assault a guy. So... pretty violent. We may circle back the film later.
The foreign property thing is not as easy as they make it look on television.
We've been a little light with postings of late, but it isn't our fault. We've been trying to buy a house, and naturally some of the free time we give to Pulp Intl. has been consumed by that activity. We made an offer—and had that offer accepted—on a lovely old pile of stone and tile built in 1840. Later the sellers backed out of the deal because— Well, we don't know why. It seems as if they wanted us to assume all the risk, while assuming none themselves, and therefore refused to sign a contract committing them to the sale even though we were giving them a hefty deposit. They wanted us to give them a deposit that we had no chance to recoup if they backed out. And we thought—are these fucking people high?
However, pulp and house hunting occasionally meet, and it happened again yesterday when we came across a shelf of old paperbacks in a home we toured. The place hadn't been occuped by humans since the 1970s, and at the moment is home to a lot of spiders and a litter of kittens. We're looking for a house requiring a bit less rehabilitation, but it was an interesting place. We weren't able to snag any of the books there (like we did that other time we ran across some in an old house), which is too bad, because there were a few vintage Spanish crime novels and some Agatha Christie. Anyway, once we get this house thing done we'll devote more time to reading, scanning, and such, but for the moment, please bear with us.
Wake-up calls at the Hiltons' are murder.
We were drawn to Il sesso della strega, aka Sex of the Witch, because of its excellent posters painted by Lamberto Forni, an artist whose work you've seen here before. But as often happens, the movie didn't live up to the promo imagery. The strange tale begins with Sir Thomas Hilton, a wealthy wine grower, who dies of old age. His family gets a surprise when the will is read: all those closest to Hilton, including his secretary, benefit from the profits of his holdings, but nothing can be broken up or sold, his sister gets nothing, some heirs don't benefit immediately, and if anyone dies their share is distributed among the others. Basically, the will is a blueprint for the Hiltons to start murdering each other. When that happens, the spurned sister is suspected of being a witch. But is she?
None of it matters. The movie is an merely excuse for a lot of overlong softcore sex scenes of the worst kind. You know the ones we mean—interminable slow wriggling devoid of even a hint of erotic heat. You have to really drop the ball to make naked people boring—especially naked Italian women from the ’70s, with their enormous bushes*—but director Angelo Pannacciò, aka Elo Pannacciò, accomplishes that here, in his debut. It's impossible to care about the movie's central mystery, and despite Pannacciò somewhat giallo visual stylings there's just nothing to get enthusiastic about. Except those posters. Nice work, Forni. Il sesso della strega premiered in Italy today in 1974.
*We love enormous Italian bushes, both tactilely and visually. This one is large, but not stupendous. You know when a bush is really big? When the moment it's revealed you think there's suddenly been a citywide blackout.
Obscure men's magazine roars but has no bite
Tiger was a Chicago based men's magazine launched in 1956 by George Fox, Jr. that had as its premise the dubious idea that great men are tigers. It had features on “tigers of the past,” and “modern tigers,” and we suppose this was Fox's attempt at clever branding. Sounds a bit forced, right? It didn't seem to work for the public, because though Wikipedia claims that the publication lasted into the mid-sixties, we found no evidence anywhere that it lived past 1957. But we'll keep an eye out and see if we're wrong about that.
In the meantime, above you see the front of an issue that hit newsstands this month in 1957, and the cover star is famed nudist and model Diane Webber, aka Marguerite Empey, who we've seen a whole lot of around here. She's also featured in four pages at the back of the issue, and along with her are photos of Zahra Norbo, Gunnar Gustafson, obscure actress Melinda Markey, an unknown model lensed by Russ Meyer, and shots of Nona Van Tosh by Earl Leaf. In the writing department, Fox swapped out his editor/publisher hat for a journalist's fedora and contributed a profile on George S. Patton, one of those so-called tigers of the past. If Tiger was anything like the magazine we once ran, Fox probably wrote the story in a panic to fill space after one of his writers torched a deadline. His writing is fine, but overall the magazine doesn't have any spark, literarily, artistically, or pictorially. We hate to say it, but it's a pretty tame tiger. But it's worth a look just because of Webber's presence. You'll find thirty-some scans below.
Everyone says I can't sing, I can't dance, and I can't act. But I must have something because I keep getting hired.
1959's Broadway Bait is a slightly better than average—for the sleaze genre, that is—tale of two ambitious actresses, the owner of a prestigious acting school, and the scam that his financial benefactors are running behind his back. Once the owner of the school realizes he's been funded not because of his elevated teaching techniques, but because the school makes a perfect clearing house for stolen goods, he decides to investigate, and his top two students are caught in the middle.
There's some Broadway atmosphere here that feels authentic, but in the end the book is nothing to write home about as a thriller, and is tame sexually. What it does have, though, is a fantastic piece of cover art, which is—you know what's we're going to say next—uncredited. Chariot Books seemingly never gave credit. The only reason anyone knows which artists painted some of their covers is because of visible signatures, which is not the case here, unfortunately. But for the seven dollars we paid we're happy to have this one in the collection.
I'm an excellent deal. Plus there aren't even 10,000 men on my odometer yet.
Above: the uncredited front cover, plus the rear cover, of the very first issue of Ecstasy Novel Magazine, November 1949, with Trudy Hamilton's A Body To Own inside. We added the rear just to show how digest novels self-promoted their output. Readers typically bought their first in a bus station or drugstore, but thereafter were prodded to buy by mail, discreetly, to get their rocks off. Not that these novels were in any way pornographic. But they did get racy at times, depicting women who definitely weren't waiting for marriage before hitting the sheets. Often, the heroines even bedded two or three men. There was hardcore literary porn around, but it was harder to find and as a rule terribly written. Digest publishers employed competent authors, though they would never be mistaken for masters of the craft. Some, though, such as Jed Anthony, N.R. De Mexico, and Val Munroe, wrote good books. We have plenty of digests sitting around, so you'll continue encountering them on our site. You can see a couple more examples from Ecstasy Novel Magazine here, here, and here.
Petroleum reserves discovered deep in the jungle.
No wonder the world can't get off petroleum. Photos of slippery actresses keep the addiction going. Above you see Maria Mari, who has starred in some of the most interestingly titled films you can imagine. Nympho Diver: G-String Festival may be her crowning achievement, but she also appeared in Lusty Transparent Man, Apartment Wife: Lust for Orgasm, and Do It Again: Like an Animal. All of those sound like much-watch flicks, and we did indeed watch and write about a couple, here and here. Mari appeared in five other films in a busy three-year career before moving onward to parts unknown. You can see another shot of her here, and more shiny actresses here, here, here, here, and here. Try not to become hopelessly depedent on oil.
I don't care if his schedule is packed today. I found him and I'm keeping him.
This nice image shows U.S. actor Woody Strode and Italian actress Vittoria Solinas posing together at the Lido in Venice, Italy, in 1967, probably during the Venice Film Festival. Solinas acted in only five films, but was a popular magazine model, and later became a singer and author. Strode is somewhat forgotten today, but was a prolific actor who appeared in more than sixty films, most in small roles, though many were noticeable, such as when he played the gladiator Draba who fought Kirk Douglas in Spartacus. Strode's calling card—as if you couldn't guess—was a body he'd honed as a college athlete and professional wrestler. Think of him as the original Rock, with the main difference being that his neck was smaller than his head. Other movies of his include Genghis Khan, Black Jesus, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and Colpo en canna, aka Loaded Guns. We hope he and Solinas had a lovely afternoon.
I am with child. Your diving for lobsters and snaring rabbits must end. I hear the new Burger King on the island is hiring.
We appreciate when genre authors think outside the box, so first off we have to give credit to Charles Runyon for trying to throw readers a curve with his thriller Color Him Dead. It was published in 1963 and has a premise that's unusual. A man breaks out of prison and flees to the fictional Caribbean island of St. Patricia, set on revenge against the person who framed him and got him a life sentence for murder. That person is Edith Barrington, wife and virtual prisoner of her husband Ian. Our anti-hero, whose name is Drew Simmons, plans to murder Edith.
But when Drew finally finds her, he discovers she has total amnesia, the result of a breakdown and electroshock treatment. So he decides he can't kill her until she remembers what she did to him. He needs that recognition to make his revenge sweet. That means restoring her memory. And the only way he can figure out to do that is to have an affair with her. Maybe some deep dicking from a penis out of her past will jog her memory. Offbeat, no?
The plan hinges on one of the hoariest clichés in genre fiction: we'll call it the beat-and-switch. Ian keeps Edith guarded around the clock by a fearsome brute named Doxie. The end product of a century-old slave breeding experiment (we won't even get into that), Doxie is supposed to keep Edith from enjoying any extracurriculars with island visitors, and since he's castrated he's perfect for the job. But when Drew beats the shit out of Doxie, Ian fires his loyal aide and gives Drew the job of guarding his wife.
That's a completely stupid move, not least because Drew has a penis that works, yet more than a few thrillers are built around the device of a foolish man placing an enemy in control of that which he wants most protected. It rarely passes the credulity test, and it doesn't pass here either. In addition to this, Drew gets caught up in a revolution. In fact, he somehow becomes central to it, as often happens to tough guy protagonists in mid-century fiction. We won't get into that either, because it's stupid also.
Runyon tried something different, and we'll also note that he took advantage of the loosening censorship standards of the 1960s to write a tale that's more sexual than most, but he needed better conceptualizing and execution—particularly to get at the core of Drew's conflict over using sex as an avenue to murder. At least the paperback has nice Robert McGinnis cover art—which in mood is very much like this one. McGinnis goes topless with his female figure, probably one of the earlier instances of nudity on a Gold Medal novel. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
2011—Elizabeth Taylor Dies
American actress Elizabeth Taylor, whose career began at age 12 when she starred in National Velvet
, and who would eventually be nominated for five Academy Awards as best actress and win for Butterfield 8
and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles. During her life she had been hospitalized more than 70 times.
1963—Profumo Denies Affair
In England, the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, denies any impropriety with showgirl Christine Keeler and threatens to sue anyone repeating the allegations. The accusations involve not just infidelity, but the possibility acquaintances of Keeler might be trying to ply Profumo for nuclear secrets. In June, Profumo finally resigns from the government after confessing his sexual involvement with Keeler
and admitting he lied to parliament.
1978—Karl Wallenda Falls to His Death
World famous German daredevil and high-wire walker Karl Wallenda, founder of the acrobatic troupe The Flying Wallendas, falls to his death attempting to walk on a cable strung between the two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Wallenda is seventy-three years old at the time, but it is a 30 mph wind, rather than age, that is generally blamed for sending him from the wire.
2006—Swedish Spy Stig Wennerstrom Dies
Swedish air force colonel Stig Wennerström, who had been convicted in the 1970s of passing Swedish, U.S. and NATO secrets to the Soviet Union over the course of fifteen years, dies in an old age home at the age of ninety-nine. The Wennerström affair, as some called it, was at the time one of the biggest scandals
of the Cold War.
The federal penitentiary located on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay closes. The island had been home to a lighthouse, a military fortification, and a military prison over the years. In 1972, it would become a national recreation area open to tourists, and it would receive national landmark designations in 1976 and 1986.
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