The Naked City Nov 24 2021
SHAFT'S REVENGE
Two burglars take the express to the bottom floor.


There are robberies, robberies gone wrong, and robberies gone horribly wrong. In the latter category was this effort by Robert Green and Jacob Jagendorf. Green was a night watchman (some accounts say elevator operator) at a New York City shirt factory, and apparently conceived a way to use his access to pull off a theft of expensive silk fabric. Late one night, he and Jagendorf stopped an elevator on the fifth floor of the building, wedged the doors open, and proceeded to load in bolts of the pricy fabric, doing so in the dark to avoid alerting any observers outside the building. At some point the elevator rose to the tenth floor, Green and Jagendorf stepped into the now open shaft in the dark, and plunged five stories—“clasping each other as they dropped,” according to one news story. Since they aren't clasping each other in the photo, we have no idea how newspapers knew any clasping occurred, but we buy it. We'd definitely try to clasp something in that moment. In fact, we'd go way beyond clasping and try to land on our partner. Probably wouldn't work, but either way we wouldn't have to apologize. Sadly, both Green and Jagendorf were killed, making the macabre tableau you see here. That was today in 1915.
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Vintage Pulp Nov 23 2021
JUNIOR LEAGUE
What it lacks in maturity it makes up for in exuberance.


Above you see a cover of the Australian magazine Man Junior, which hit newsstands Down Under this month in 1963. An offshoot of Man magazine, it came from K.G. Murray Publishing, along with Adam, Pocket Man, Eves from Adam, Cavalcade, Man's Epic, et al. The Murray empire, run by Kenneth G. Murray, came into being in 1936, and the company's various imprints lasted until 1978—though the entire catalog was bought by Consolidated Press in the early 1970s. We've seen nothing from K.G. Murray that we don't love, so we'll keep adding to our stocks indefinitely. Or until the Pulp Intl. girlfriends finally revolt, which should take a few more years. Speaking of which, it's been a few years since our last Man Junior, but its positives and negatives are still intimately familiar to us. On the plus side, the fiction and true life tales are exotic and often good, and on the negative side the humor doesn't usually hold up, though the color cartoons are aesthetically beautiful.

Of all the stories, the one that screamed loudest to be read was, “The Hair-Raisers,” by Neville Dasey, which comes with an illustration of a bearded woman. It's an absurd, legitimately funny story about a con man who accidentally invents a hair growing tonic, which he then unintentionally splashes on his date's face. By the next morning she has a beard, which proves the tonic works, but the con man lost the magic liquid when he stilled it, and he ends up losing the formula to create it. But everyone ends up happy—the con man earns a contract that pays him regardless of whether he can recreate the formula, and his date ends up marrying the owner of the hair restoration company. We weren't clear on whether the formula wore off, or she had to shave regularly. Either way, the story is meant to be silly and it certainly achieves that goal. Twenty-eight panels below, and more from Man Junior herehere, and here.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 21 2021
NERA TO STARDOM
Laura Gemser rides Emanuelle to international fame.


We're looping back to Italian promo art today with this poster for Emanuelle nera, known in English as Black Emmanuelle. We already talked about the movie here, but didn't share this particular poster, a nice, understated effort for what is a pretty wild film. This was Gemser's third cinematic outing, but her first as the character of Emanuelle, which she'd reprise multiple times. Notice she's billed on the poster as “Emanuelle.” She acted under that name briefly before appearing under her real name, and the rest is softcore history. We have her entire film output, so you can be sure we'll get back to her later. Emanuelle nera premiered in Italy today in 1975. 

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Modern Pulp Nov 21 2021
GAMES TEACHERS PLAY
The classes are challenging, but the extracurriculars are really hard.


The high school that looks normal on the surface, but is a nest of sexual perversion underneath. It's a premise Nikkatsu Studios never missed a chance to trundle out for audiences, and here it is again in Kairaku gakuen: Kinjirareta asobi, which is known in English as Pleasure Campus, Secret Games. Yuri Yamashina is a teacher at Tokyo Public High School who has a group of recalcitrant seniors, including the star of this flick, the lovely Ayako Ôta, along with the equally lovely Rie Katihara (left and right on the poster respectively). The plot evolves from teacher-student conflict, to secret chemical formulas, to public hypnosis, with many weird stops between, as befits a roman porno flick.

We can't really describe the bizarro plot, but the feel of the movie can be summed up by one sequence. A disobedient Ôta is restricted to the school's chemistry lab while a group of administrators in a nearby conference room decide whether to expel her. One of the panel slips away on the pretext of using the bathroom, but instead attacks Ôta in the chemlab. Meanwhile, some minutes later, another member of the panel decides he needs to use the bathroom, but instead heads to the chemlab. The previous admin has leapt out the window to avoid being caught, and admin two sees Ôta half naked and continues the assault. A third admin says he needs to use the bathroom, goes to chemlab where admin two has just fled out the window, finds Ôta naked and tied to a table, and continues the assault... and so forth.

All the wrestling and leaping out of windows plays like a Benny Hill sequence on acid, with more spazzing, yelling, and pratfalling than a sane mind can witness. We recognized that this serial sexual assault is supposed to comedic, but the laughs didn't come for us. Possibly that's due to cultural blindness—not being from Japan, the humor doesn't cross over. So for that reason, we'll let a Japanese commenter on Filmarks review this one for us. Translated, he wrote: “If this happens to me, I hate it so much that I want to die, but since it is a movie, I almost laughed to death. That's what absurdity is.”

There you have it. Kairaku gakuen: Kinjirareta asobi is an absurdist comedy based around ideas about sexual desire and authority. We take seriously our efforts to understand the roman porno genre, just as we work to understand all yesteryear's enormously popular genres of international film, from Italian giallo mysteries to Mexican lucha libre actioners, but as far as we're concerned it's time for another break from watching these roman porno flicks. Our stand-in from Japan wrote, in so many words: It's just a movie. We get that, so we'll be back to this genre at some point. Some point months from now, after our heads are clear. Kairaku gakuen: Kinjirareta asobi premiered in Japan today in 1980.
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Vintage Pulp Nov 20 2021
36 DIRTY TRICKS
Ed Spingarn takes readers on a bumpy ride down mammary lane.


Robert Maguire painted the cover for Ed Spingarn's 1957 novel Perfect 36, and came up with something beautiful and colorful that drew our eye. The tagline—A revealing and riotous story of the bosom business—did the rest of the sales job. The book tells the story of nineteen-year-old Rosalie Gershon, who's determined to make something of herself professionally, and, thanks to her outstanding figure, stumbles into the ladies undergarment business. Seems she's a perfect model for the newly created Brooklyn Bridge Bra, designed along architectural principles. Rosalie wants to succeed, but she's also a virgin with insistent hormones, and the high rolling fast talkers of the NYC fashion business are lining up to take her on her first mattress ride.

In other words, what you have here is a virtue-in-danger novel, but one that's better than most. Will Rosalie give in, and if so to whom? The poor but sincere co-worker? The business mogul's slick son? The rich man who offers her mink coats? Everybody wants her and they'll play dirty to get her. Only in fiction is it so difficult being gorgeous. As the plot develops, Rosalie's virginity—actually her possible lack of it—becomes worth potentially $100,000. It's an unlikely twist, and Rosalie's an unlikely character, but Spingarn manages to make her sympathetic, and he does it by using high quality literary skills and (we suspect) inside knowledge of the fashion industry. We'd read him again, for sure, but unfortunately Perfect 36 seems to be the only novel he ever wrote.
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Intl. Notebook Nov 19 2021
SUNNY DAYS, DUSTY BOOKS
Walk a city's streets and you never know what you'll find.


We were wandering around town earlier today, and what did we spy outside a sundries shop but a stack of vintage reading material. Wedged between English teaching books and bags of sawdust was a stack of J. Mallorquí and Keith Luger paperbacks, and there were even more inside. All of which reminded us that we had posted something from Luger—aka Miguel Oliver Tovar—years ago, which can see at this link. We didn't buy any of today's pile, but we may mosey back round that way another morning and pick up a few. After all, why not? They're cheap as hell. Also, we want to know why people buy bags of sawdust, and we can only find out by going back to the store and asking. The overarching theme, though, is this: it's nice to be living in a city where we can find a bit of pulp style treasure just by taking a stroll. For years that wasn't the case.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 19 2021
DELITTO BIT OF TROUBLE
How do you spell murder in Italian? H-i-t-c-h-c-o-c-k.


Above is a beautiful Italian poster for Delitto perfetto, better known as Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder, a movie we watch every five or seven years and always greatly enjoy. This semi-abstract effort isn't the only Italian poster for the film, but it's the best, in our view. We weren't able to find out who painted it, and considering it sold on a swanky auction site without that info, it seems as if nobody knows. Such good work uncredited, it's a shame. However, below you see another poster for the film, and this one is signed by Angelo Cesselon. Since both have a Hitchcock profile, and there's a stylistic similarity in other areas too, especially if you focus on the women's faces and the males' trench coats, we think it's possible Cesselon painted both pieces. The evidence wouldn't hold up in court, but it's good enough for us. Nice work, Angelo. Delitto perfetto premiered in Italy today in 1954.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 18 2021
DOING THE SPLITS
Hold it! That's good. Now give me shock and dismay. Excellent! Now give me, “I-wonder-if-he-shot-me-in-that-sixty-nine.”


Why buy sleaze digests? Because some of them are very good. Jed Anthony's Divorce Racket Girls is categorized as a sleazer, but it's really a hard-boiled drama, telling the story of Frank Rodie, a New York City detective who specializes in gathering evidence for divorce actions. This basically involves catching his rich clients' spouses in bed. If he can do that by following them around, fine. If he needs to seduce them himself, well, even better. But there may be a price to pay for sticking his private dick into the lives of NYC's one percent. The book is extremely well written in parts, bringing to mind contemporary writers like James Ellroy. Have a read:

At Healy's later. Still about ten G's left. What to do with it? Tony Spinalli invites him to a big poker session. The weisenheimers are laying for the rolls of two fall guys from Alabama. On the third night of the limit game he is wiped out. Stickpin gone. New car gone. He signs a note for the three grand held in trust for Judith. Two nights later learns that the Alabama suckers had been sharpshooters in league with Tony and the others. In the gambling world there's no comeback. A lobster falls easiest. Well, easy come, easy go.

Another snippet:

Frank Rodie, undercover man. From city to city, all over the map. White light and red light and Bible sectors. Eyes roving, ears cocked, smiling his disarming way into people's confidences. Feeling his path along the sundry strata of the underworld, acquiring every trick of the game, posing as a “dip,” a “sheet-writer,” a “yegg.” A good detective must be a good thief. Dizzying whirl, the people and the places rotating about young Rodie. Cabarets, the racetrack, the pipe and coke in hip-joints, roulette houses, country clubs. The world bristling everywhere.

One more:

Always when the case involved a dame, he was assigned to rope her. Irresistible Rodie, making passes at drugstore blondes and exotic brunettes, dumb clucks and wise babies, the perfumed and the smelly, ga-ga gushers and junoesque heavies, joy-ladies and cherries—women of every complexion, nationality, and virtue. Look at them fall for the Big-Boy, his contagious grin, his busy hands.

So yeah, Jed Anthony has a strong voice and talent, and Divorce Racket Girls is a good book, even if it has an ending that values irony over credibility. We've seen it on sale for fifty dollars, but we've also seen it for five because nobody seems certain how to price it. Sleaze digests are usually expensive, especially if they have covers painted by digest specialists like George Gross or Rudy Nappi. But don't let magical art make you think the prose is magic too. Often the opposite is true. The photo front on this book isn't scintillating, but the writing shines. After we finished it we looked for more from Anthony and found nothing. Too bad. The man had style.
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Femmes Fatales Nov 18 2021
SUPERSIZE HER
I do everything big—guns, smokes, uh, pockets. Acting, of course. Everything is over the top.


Above: a cool shot of Betty Lou Gerson, made when she was starring in the 1949 anti-communist scare flick The Red Menace. We talked about it many years ago. Shorter version: the real menace was toward the filmgoers. Gerson, who is known today for narrating the Disney film Cinderella and voicing Cruella de Vil in One Hundred and One Dalmatians, did most of her acting on television, appearing on such shows as Gang Busters and Adventures of the Falcon. Looking at the above image, we actually aren't sure whether the gun was big, or Betty Lou was small, but either way, it makes her look pretty menacing.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 17 2021
DAMNED GOOD
Binger understates the obvious.


Above: a 1960 cover from Gold Medal Books for Hell Hath No Fury by Charles Williams. This was painted by Charles Binger and it's a beautifully simple watercolor composition, a very different approach from the almost fiery 1953 Barye Phillips cover. Of course, there's a good possibility that this is a random Binger not actually inspired by the book, but if so it's still interesting that Gold Medal would choose it. This is a reminder to track down more of Binger's work, and it's also a reminder that we're overdue to read another Williams. The cover says he was, “one of the best of all specialists in paperback-original suspense stories,” and it's true. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
November 28
1942—Nightclub Fire Kills Hundreds
In Boston, Massachusetts, a fire in the fashionable Cocoanut Grove nightclub kills 492 people. Patrons were unable to escape when the fire began because the exits immediately became blocked with panicked people, and other possible exits were welded shut or boarded up. The fire led to a reform of fire codes and safety standards across the country, and the club's owner, Barney Welansky, who had boasted of his ties to the Mafia and to Boston Mayor Maurice J. Tobin, was eventually found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
November 27
1934—Baby Face Nelson Killed
In the U.S., killer and bank robber Baby Face Nelson, aka Lester Joseph Gillis, dies in a shoot-out with the FBI in Barrington, Illinois. Nelson is shot nine times, but by walking directly into a barrage of gunfire manages to kill both of his FBI pursuers before dying himself.
November 26
1922—Egyptologists Enter Tut's Tomb
British Egyptologists Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon become the first people to enter the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in over 3000 years. Though sometimes characterized as scholars, Carter and Carnarvon were primarily interested in riches, and cut up Tut's mummy to more easily obtain the jewels and gold affixed to him.
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