Vintage Pulp Apr 20 2023
HONEST MISTAKE
He was honest. Everyone else made the mistake.


An array of posters were made for Alfred Hitchcock's crime drama The Third Man, which was titled in Italy simply Il ladro—“the thief”—but we've chosen this unusual mugshot based promo because it encapsulates the film nicely. The tired look on star Henry Fonda's face says it all. He's mega-screwed. There are probably other movies that took the mugshot route with their poster art, but we can't remember seeing any examples. For Il ladro, the mugshot poster was part of a series of photo promos taken from various frames in the film, but today we'll just share the one above. Also, below you'll see two more Italian posters painted by Luigi Martinati. It's rare that we prefer photo art to paintings, but this case, because of the subject matter of the film, is one of those exceptions.

Said subject matter is the true tale of Emmanuel Balestrero, an everyman who is falsely identified as an armed robber. This leads to his arrest, ordeal in jail, trial, and retrial. The movie hails from a more naive time, before Americans realized that when the police come asking questions the only answer you give is: “Am I under arrest?” And if the answer is yes, the next thing you say is: “Lawyer,” and that's all you ever say. It's crucial never to talk, because in the U.S. cops are allowed to lie to you, claim there are witnesses that don't exist, or that there's evidence they don't really have. That isn't legal in England, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries. But Fonda doesn't know any of that, and ultimately that's largely why he ends up behind bars.

After he makes bail he and co-star Vera Miles pound the pavement investigating the false accusation. We doubt that happened in real life, but that's the movies for you. Their amateur sleuth bit works fine narratively. There's a psychological digression that's less compelling, but was included because it was part of the true story. On the whole, though, we like the movie. And we like Hitchcock's style here during his middle phase (he began directing in 1922 and finished in 1976), before high concept thrillers like Vertigo and Rear Window—though those are also good. Here he keeps it mostly basic, and the result is a harrowing drama, which is hard to bear as Fonda is slowly railroaded, but is extremely well put together and compellingly acted. The Wrong Man premiered in the U.S. in 1956 and reached Italy today in 1957.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 14
1921—Sacco & Vanzetti Convicted
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are convicted in Dedham, Massachusetts of killing their shoe company's paymaster. Even at the time there are serious questions about their guilt, and whether they are being railroaded because of their Italian ethnicity and anarchist political beliefs.
July 13
1933—Eugenics Becomes Official German Policy
Adolf Hitler signs the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring, and Germany begins sterilizing those they believe carry hereditary illnesses, and those they consider impure. By the end of WWII more than 400,000 are sterilized, including criminals, alcoholics, the mentally ill, Jews, and people of mixed German-African heritage.
1955—Ruth Ellis Executed
Former model Ruth Ellis is hanged at Holloway Prison in London for the murder of her lover, British race car driver David Blakely. She is the last woman executed in the United Kingdom.
1966—Richard Speck Rampage
Richard Speck breaks into a Chicago townhouse where he systematically rapes and kills eight student nurses. The only survivor hides under a bed the entire night.
July 12
1971—Corona Sent to Prison
Mexican-born serial killer Juan Vallejo Corona is convicted of the murders of 25 itinerant laborers. He had stabbed each of them, chopped a cross in the backs of their heads with a machete, and buried them in shallow graves in fruit orchards in Sutter County, California. At the time the crimes were the worst mass murders in U.S. history.
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