She's a mean green fighting machine.
This photo shows German actress Renate von Holt, who appeared in a grand total of four films during her short cinema career, including Heißer Sand auf Sylt, which we wrote about here. The shot came from the West German magazine Caballero, and according to those folks von Holt was in reality Baroness Renate von Holzschuher. We checked it out and the gents at Cabellero are correct. She was minor royalty, a famed presence in society circles, a denizen of the hottest nightspots in Europe, fluent in six languages, and for ten years the companion of Prince Johannes von Thurn und Taxis. Even royalty can become obscure with the passage of time, though. There isn't much on von Holt even on German sites. Well, we're happy to raise her profile. The photo is from 1968.
Don't worry! I'm going to get the three of you out of there!
Our girlfriends—affectionately PI-1 and PI-2—rolled their eyes at this one, and why wouldn't they? We did too, but we work with what we're given, and we certainly couldn't ignore the fact that this January 1969 Adam magazine features a cover of a woman whose gravity defying breasts are directly in the center of the art. Men's magazines, those concoctions of macho fantasy set to print, are inherently sexist, but we are mere documentarians of mid-century art, literature, and film—and crime, and weirdness, and sex—in the various forms they take. This one is a particularly eye-catching example.
While literary magazines published prestige fiction, men's mags like Adam carried on the pulp tradition, giving authors without highbrow leanings opportunities to expose their work to wide audiences. Without the efforts of such publications, modern literature might look very different. Stephen King, for example, published many of his early stories in Gallery, a middle-tier smut monthly nobody would have mistaken for Playboy. Speaking of which, Playboy published early works from Ian Fleming, Ursula K. Le Guin, and even serialized the entirety of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 in 1954, a year after its initial publication landed with a thud.
As far as we know Adam didn't produce any major writers except James Lee, aka Jim Aitchison, whose Mr. Midnight books were recently made into a series now streaming on Netflix. But failing to graduate lots of future bestselling authors doesn't change what Adam was—a publication that aimed for mass male appeal by merging all the elements of what was once known as pulp. Those elements included mystery, crime, war, exotic adventure, risqué humor, and a dose of relatively tame sexual content. We have all that and more below in thirty-plus scans, and something like seventy-eight issues of Adam embedded in our website.
The thing about us cowboys, pardner, is we're tough, stoic, unflappa— Shiiiiit! Run!
Vintage cowboys, as we said above, are usually tough and stoic, so we're going to guess the one on the cover of E.E. Halleran's Double Cross Trail isn't the main character. We've haven't read the book, so it's just a guess. But even when confronted with Cheyenne raiding parties, and even when fighting alongside the doomed George Armstrong Custer—which happens here—we bet the protagonist keeps his cool. We're firmly in the real history camp (as opposed to the patriotic mythology camp), however we've had good luck with westerns. None that we've read have had historical blinders on. A friend sent us an enjoyable one, Warren Kiefer's Outlaw, but as it's a 1989 book without pulpworthy cover art we won't highlight it. We're tempted to try Double Cross Trail but the stack of books is high, and the demands on our time are many. The amusing cover art here is by Stanley Borack, and this Pocket edition followed the novel's 1946 original publication in 1952.
Welcome to sex education class for advanced students.
We've found another fun poster for the Italian sex comedy La Liceale, with Gloria Guida. We've shown you three in two posts, here and here. Add this to the collection, with Guida accompanied on the art by Ilona Staller. It opened in Italy today in 1975.
James Bond's daughter leaves the Soviets shaken and stirred.
The 1967 James Bond spoof Casino Royale was a box office disaster, but it had its moments. London born actress Joanna Pettet, playing Mata Bond, estranged daughter of Mata Hari and Sir James Bond (David Niven), performed an eye-catching, Buddhist-themed dance number in a faux temple that must have cost a huge chunk of the movie's budget. We don't know how actual Buddhists feel about the bit, but it looks like Pettet had a laugh or two. In the film she's sent to take on SMERSH, the Soviet spy agency that appeared in fictionalized form in Ian Fleming's Bond novels. Pettet appeared in a handful of other films, but her career mostly comprised television roles on shows such as The Fugitive and Night Gallery. Her Mata Bond dance is short but probably worth a look. You can see it while the link lasts here.
Sex education class is now in session.
Above, two alternate posters for the Italian high school sex comedy La Liceale, known in English as The Teasers. But there's only one teaser that matters here—Gloria Guida, star of this and many similar movies. See more at this link. La Liceale premiered in Italy today in 1975.
I didn't know that a girl like you could make me feel so sad...
A couple of weeks ago we shared a Mexican movie poster we weren't 100% sure was actually from Mexico. This time we're sure—this beautiful promo Antonio Caballero painted for the melodrama La red says right in the lower left corner “impreso en México.” In that previous write-up we also talked about how popular locally produced films were in Mexico before the industry was suffocated by U.S. business and political interests, and this effort is an example. It was made by Reforma Films S.A., based in Mexico City, and starred Libyan born Italian actress Rossana Podesta, Costa Rican actor Crox Alvarado, and U.S. born actor Armando Silvestre. Enticing a burgeoning international star like Podesta over from Europe indicates how established the Mexican film industry was in 1953, when La red was made.
Interestingly, when the movie played in the U.S. it was titled simply Rosanna, which makes sense, because it would be nothing without Podesta. It struck us that even though Toto didn't write their song of obsession “Rosanna” about Podesta, they might as well have. The film begins when a group of men botch a robbery, a shootout commences, and one of the bandits, Antonio, played by Alvarado, tries to help his wounded comrade. But the dying man gasps to Antonio, “Save yourself—for Rossana.” So we know she's a special woman even before seeing her. Antonio does save himself and goes to live on the seaside with Podesta, where the two harvest sea sponges. It's idyllic, but as a wanted thief he has to lay low, which means sending her alone to town to sell their catch. And the men in the town are... well... see below:
I am intrigued by this spicy redhead.
I too find myself somewhat taken with this mysterious chile pepper of a woman.
Perhaps I'll invite her to coffee and a cronut. That's a cross between a croissant and a donut, my friend, and living out there on the idyllic seashore as she does, I bet she's never had one.
I wonder if she's a fan of our great romantic poet Salvador Díaz Mirón?
I'm certain she has no idea how quickly European skin can burn in this tropical climate.
I'm admittedly less high minded than other men, and mainly wonder what she looks like naked, and whether the carpet is red too.
What the hell are all these guys staring— Oh. I think it's me.
Clearly, these trips into town are menacing affairs for Podesta. If you were to screen the sequences at an anti-sexual harassment seminar, every guy in the joint would bow his head in shame. Important to note, though, that within the narrative these aggressively pervy guys are depicted in a negative light, with even the soundtrack music growing ominous. When one of Antonio's robbery compatriots shows up in town, he gets into a shootout that leaves two men dead, and therein are sown the seeds of future troubles. We won't say more, save that the film is stagy, stylized, operatic, almost devoid of dialogue, and largely remembered because of Podesta's role. It all worked well enough to earn the Prix International du film le mieux raconté par l'image, aka the Award for Visual Narration, at the Cannes Film Festival.
Moving on to the poster, have a look at a previous Mexican promo we shared last year. It's here. We'll wait. Back? You'd think it was the same person who painted both, but the reason we wanted you to glance at the other one is because it exemplifies the strange phenomenon of artists within the same film industry biting each other's styles. It happened in Italy and Sweden too. Either through direct influence from the studios, or through osmosis due to mutual association, several Mexican artists delved into this art deco tinged style. Check out Leopoldo Mendoza Andrade here. Interesting, right? You'll see what we mean even more clearly when we share posters from other Mexican artists, for example Juan Antonio Vargas. That'll be soon. La Red premiered in Mexico today in 1953.
She was more than just a movie star.
Smithsonian.com published an in-depth story yesterday about Austria-Hungary born Hollywood icon Hedy Lamarr, and how her technical genius helped bring the world Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and cell phones. Hah! Get with it Smithsonian. We talked about this under-discussed aspect of her life years ago.
It's curious that no matter how many times people write about Lamarr's technological exploits it never seems to become a generally known aspect of her personality. Maybe people want to see her as a beautiful actress, and much of the interest stops there. The Smithsonian piece will probably help change that a bit, and it's well written also (though considering what digital technology has wrought we'd probably add the phrase "for better and worse").
Yesterday's piece comes in tandem with the Smithsonian's Washington D.C. based National Portrait Gallery acquiring a rare original Luigi Martinati poster painted to promote Lamarr's 1944 thriller The Conspirators. We have no idea what it cost, but certainly a pile of money, since Martinati was not just a great artist, but one who tended to focus more on portraiture in his promos. You can see what we mean just below, and by clicking here and scrolling. As for Lamarr, we'll doubtless get back to her—and all her interesting facets—later.
Annie Belle streaks across Hong Kong and stardom follows.
Above you see an Aller, aka Carlo Alessandrini, poster for La fine dell'innocenza, which premiered in Italy today in 1976 and was titled in English Annie, after the lead character Annie Belle. The star of the film had acted under her real name Annie Brilland up to this point, but adopted Annie Belle as her stage name for this film and the rest of her career. Yes, technically she acted as Annie Belle in an earlier movie—Laure, which came out about a week before Annie, but we strongly suspect that made-in-Manila sex romp was shot later and simply went through post production more quickly. Another small movie from 1975 is credited to Belle, but we're sure that was done much later. Annie is the film that made her Belle.
It's a coming of age story in which she proves to be too independent for all—male and female—who wish to possess her. She begins the film under the wing of her incest-minded father, travels with him to Hong Kong, where he's arrested for money laundering, forcing her to fend for herself. From there she makes the inevitable sexual splash in upper crust expat circles around the island. And who can fault them for their interest? In real life Belle is a tiny, tomboyish figure, certainly no more than 5' 2”, but onscreen she comes across as even lusher than the Hong Kong hills. There's no disputing it: the camera loves her. She's one of the most striking stars of any era of cinema.
La fine dell'innocenza is remembered for its extended sequence depicting Belle's escape from a brothel. She pulls it off—no body double—by sprinting starkers through the Hong Kong streets, leaping onto the back of a motorcycle driven by an associate, careening through traffic as she wantonly flouts local helmet laws, leaping off the bike and running again, now chased by cops, to a public fountain, where she's finally apprehended. The scene is worth rewinding just to see all the locals gawking from the backgrounds of the shots. They must have thought, watching this platinum blonde boy-woman with the jet back muff running through their city—what the hell do these foreigners smoke?
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1947—Edwin Land Unveils His New Camera
In New York City, scientist and inventor Edwin Land demonstrates the first instant camera, the Polaroid Land Camera, at a meeting of the Optical Society of America. The camera, which contains a special film that self-develops prints in a minute, goes on sale the next year to the public and is an immediate sensation.
1965—Malcolm X Is Assassinated
American minister and human rights activist Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam, who shotgun him in the chest and then shoot him sixteen additional times with handguns. Though three men are eventually convicted of the killing, two have always maintained their innocence, and all have since been paroled.
1935—Caroline Mikkelsen Reaches Antarctica
Norwegian explorer Caroline Mikkelsen, accompanying her husband Captain Klarius Mikkelsen on a maritime expedition, makes landfall at Vestfold Hills and becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica. Today, a mountain overlooking the southern extremity of Prydz Bay is named for her.
1972—Walter Winchell Dies
American newspaper and radio commentator Walter Winchell, who invented the gossip column while working at the New York Evening Graphic, dies of cancer. In his heyday from 1930 to the 1950s, his newspaper column was syndicated in over 2,000 newspapers worldwide, he was read by 50 million people a day, and his Sunday night radio broadcast was heard by another 20 million people.
1976—Gerald Ford Rescinds Executive Order 9066
U.S. President Gerald R. Ford signs Proclamation 4417, which belatedly rescinds Executive Order 9066. That Order, signed in 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, established "War Relocation Camps" for Japanese-American citizens living in the U.S. Eventually, 120,000 are locked up without evidence, due process, or the possibility of appeal, for the duration of World War II.
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