She doesn't meet the Vatican dress code but she does meet the man of her dreams.
We have two great posters to share today for Piero Costa's La ragazza di piazza San Pietro, aka The Girl of San Pietro Square, starring famed director Vittorio De Sica along with Walter Chiari, Susana Canales, and Mary Martin in the tale of a widower and his three children. The setting is in and around St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, where the main characters are souvenir sellers, and a chance meeting results in romance. The movie is widely available, including on YouTube, but our primary interest is in the art. It has a nice femme fatale look to it. The first poster is signed Crane, and the second, using the same elements, is unsigned but obviously is by the same person. Both are top efforts. We'll dig for more on this Crane character and see what we can find. La ragazza di piazza San Pietro premiered in Italy today in 1958.
Sarli does sexploitation with a South American flair.
Isabel Sarli was a gigantic sex symbol in her home country of Argentina, and throughout Latin America as well, renowned for her boobs and smoldering ferocity. Furia infernal, known in English as Ardent Summer, showcases both to great effect. She plays a dancer coveted by a rich pervert, who promptly kills her husband and kidnaps her to some snowswept mountainous retreat where sheep bleat continuously and everyone wears chaps and stubble.
This all happens pretty quickly—within the first eight minutes of running time. After all, why delay when what everyone wants to see is how Sarli will use wits and tits to escape imprisonment? Both come in handy, and eventually Sarli's oily tormentor, his rugged but stupid sons, assorted henchmen and a sheep or two are deservedly dispatched. Sarli, as was her trademark, squeezes a few masturbatory nude frolics into all this melodrama, including one in a bath and another in a meadow.
She was a throwback star. In an era when actresses were getting ever thinner she looked as if she could have used Marilyn Monroe as a toothpick. Her director and husband Armando Bo thought she looked best in nature, and he was right—she was as lush and dark as an old growth forest. We won't say Furia infernal is good, but Sarli certainly is. The movie premiered in Argentina today in 1973.
Something in the hair.
This photo of Wanda Seux looks very retro, but she's actually one of the most contemporary femmes fatales we ever featured. Possibly the insane hair gives that away, as it's definitely not ’50s or ’60s style. Seux is a Paraguayan dancer and actress who worked mainly in Argentina and Mexico beginning in 1977 and last appearing onscreen as recently as 2013. We don't have a date on this great image, but she was born in 1948 and she looks pretty young here, so we'll say it was shot in her debut year 1977. That's right in the historical sweet spot for her discofied hair-do.
Hitler makes a mad dash from the Arctic Circle to the bottom of the world.
Has it really been nearly a year since our last Hitler Police Gazette cover? A look back through the website confirms the lull, but we haven't run out of Adolfs yet. This is the twenty-eighth Gazette we've found with him as the star, a May 1961 issue proclaiming, of course, that he's alive. Inside, journo Harvey Wilson reiterates the Argentina claims that had been well flogged in previous issues, telling readers Hitler's “super secret” hideout is located in Rio Negro province at the edge of wild Patagonia. Wilson writes: “Hitler flew out of Berlin on the night of April 30, 1945. He fled the city in company with a woman and they made their departure in a Fieseler-Storch plane. They carried several suitcases and proceeded to a Nazi submarine base in Norway.” According to Wilson, the u-boat chugged across the ocean and docked at Mar de Plata, Argentina.
It's easy to understand Gazette's (and its readers') interest in Hitler. He was a titanic figure who died a tawdry little death—suicide by self-inflicted gunshot. It must have felt to the World War II generation like an anti-climax, or even a cheat. So Gazette instead assures those readers that Hitler escaped, and makes his flight sound like adventure fiction. This formula, which must have both titillated and terrified those who believed, not only furnished material for twenty-eight covers, but the story was also told numerous times in issues that didn't feature Hitler on the front, such as this one focusing on JFK, and this one that shines a spotlight on Eva Braun. But we may have finally reached the end. We know of only one other Hitler cover. We'll share that a little later.
Tabloid obsesses over Kim Novak on her psychiatrist’s couch.
In a story entitled “What Kim Novak Won’t Tell Her Psychiatrist,” this issue of Uncensored from April 1962 promises “the most intimate, revealing self-portrait of a guilt-tormented soul that you have ever read.” What does the magazine reveal? Apparently Novak’s father was disappointed to have had a daughter instead of a son. Novak’s father is portrayed as domineering and distant, and this relationship is cited as the cause of all her “neuroses,” from her preference for slacks and shirts over dresses and skirts, to her supposed shame over sex. Even her short hair is blamed on her father—she allegedly cut it off as an expression of self-loathing. But here’s the bit we love: “He is a father who raised no objection when nightclub entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr. showed up at Kim’s home in Chicago with a engagement ring one Christmas.” Yes, this father of hers was truly the lowest of the low.
The story goes on to describe all the various hells Novak put her employers and paramours through, reveals a lifetime of analysis beginning in childhood, and outs her for an alleged late 1950s stint in a psychiatric facility, where she received “mechanical tests”—i.e. an EEG. It finally ends on a melodramatic note: “Kim fled the hospital, fled the analyst, fled the dark memories. She went back to making movies, to throwing temper tantrums. And, on occasion, to more solid things. She went back to the loneliness she dreads. To the big house that is haunted by shapes, people, memories she dare not dredge up and face lest the strain be too much, added to other strains.” You’d almost think journalist Marian Simms was writing a Harlequin novel—a bad one.
Uncensored offers readers much more than Kim Novak. Journo Ken Travis takes down King Edward VIII and his wife Wallis Simpson in a story rather amusingly titled “Those Royal Money Grubbing Windsors,” raking them over the coals for being filthy rich but too stingy to even pick up a dinner check. Elsewhere in the issue Hitler’s Heirs author Paul Meskil offers a story claiming with 100% certainty that Nazi criminal Martin Bormann was hiding in Argentina. But embarrassingly, Bormann was nowhere near South America—he died in Berlin at the end of World War II, but his body wasn’t found and identified until 1972. You also get letters from readers, photos of Vikki Dougan doing the twist, trans pioneer Coccinelle showing off her cleavage, a really cool 8mm movie advert that bizarrely misidentifies a California blonde type as Romanian-Tatar dancer Nejla Ates, and more.
Secret Nazi lair found deep in Argentine jungle.
Archaeologists have uncovered a set of stone ruins in Argentina they believe were constructed to serve as homes for Nazis fleeing Europe during the aftermath of World War II. The buildings are located in a mountainous, barely accessible area of the Teyu Cuare national park in northern Argentina where it meets the border with Paraguay. The archaeologists believe these are Nazi structures because they uncovered German coins minted between 1938 and 1941, and fragments of a plate made in Germany. The fact that such structures were found in Argentina isn’t a surprise—another stone house found years ago (below) in the same park is believed to have been built for Parteikanzlei chief Martin Bormann, who never got to use it. In the end the Nazis never really needed their Teyu Cuare lairs—as many as 9,000 of them fled to Argentina openly, welcomed by the government of Juan Peron.
Argentina was hardly unique in that respect. Thousands more Nazis settled in Brazil, Chile, and in the fascist dictatorship of Paraguay. Hundreds fled to the Middle East. At least one resided for a brief time inQuebec. Via Operation Paperclip, high ranking Nazi party members such as Wernher von Braun, Kurt Debus, and Arthur Rudolph were welcomed into the U.S., mainly due to their knowledge of physics and rocketry. Hubertus Strughold (at right) was also brought over. He had a different kind of knowledge—direct awareness of and possible involvement with fatal medical experiments relating to extreme environments and atmospheric pressure. All four men were given jobs at NASA.
There’s no word yet on what the Argentine government plans to do with the newly discovered Teyu Cuare structures. The alleged Borman house still stands and even has a sign noting its unusual history. However most countries prefer to wipe out evidence of government or citizen collaboration with the Third Reich by opting to raze Nazi structures.
Argentine edition of classic takes art in different direction.
This 1938 printing of H.G. Wells’ 1898 masterpiece La guerra de los mundos, aka The War of the Worlds, leaps right to the top rank of covers we’ve seen. It was published by Buenos Aires based Editorial Tor, a company founded in 1916 by Juan Carlos Torrendell. Despite the demented Mickey Mouse aspect of the fanged alien, and the fact that it’s a completely different vision from any other cover treatment we’ve seen for the book, we think the overall feel of the piece is very much on target. Unfortunately we have no artist info.
On the first day of Christmas the Gazette gave to me—a Hitler.
Just in time to ruin everyone’s Christmas shopping, this National Police Gazette from December 1960 splashed Adolf Hitler’s face on its cover along with an inset of Swedish actress May Britt (who could hardly have appreciated the inclusion). George McGrath’s story minces no words, opening with this: Indisputable evidence that Adolf Hitler is alive and living in the Argentine has has been uncovered by the Police Gazette. Although this new information is in the hands of government intelligence chiefs, the United States and its allies are not lifting a finger to catch the runaway Nazi dictator.
By now you’re familiar with the basics: Hitler sent his possessions ahead to Mar del Plata, Argentina eighteen months before World War II’s end, later escaped Europe by u-boat, and set up shop with some of his top brass to begin plotting a return to the global stage. This particular version of the story managed to cleverly sneak in a shot at the Soviet Union, claiming Nikita Khrushchev didn’t want Hitler found. Considering the many millions of soldiers and civilians the Russians lost defeating the guy, that makes zero sense, but hey, this Gazette was published during the Cold War—Russia had to be blamed for everything.
This makes the twenty-second Hitler Gazette cover we’ve posted of twenty-nine we’ve found so far. Each story adds a little bit more to the labryrinthine tale of his daring dash to South America, but this is the first story we’ve seen claim that his capture would divide the Allied nations. Why? Because some would want him executed (obviously), while others would want him forgotten (not so obviously). The only rationale given for the latter position is that Hitler’s capture would open old war wounds. That’s pretty hard to swallow, but also beside the point. The point was magazine sales and the editors undoubtedly achieved that. We’ll have more from the Gazette later.
Way down Argentine way Bogart fronts the era’s definitive detective novel.
Leoplán was an Argentine magazine published by Ramón Sopena’s eponymous company Editorial Sopena from 1934 to 1965. This issue features a complete Spanish language reprint of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon and is fronted by a nice Manuel Olivas painting of Humphrey Bogart and the bird. It’s from 1949.
Isabel Sarli + water = success.
This Japanese poster for the Argentine melodrama Intimidades de una cualquiera, aka Intimacies of a Prostitute, shows star Isabel Sarli in her natural state—naked in the water. Aquatic frolicking was her calling card, and any movie in which she didn’t do it was a disappointment. That would be especially true for Japanese viewers, because the retitle here is something like “underwater agony frenzy” and when you promise that you better deliver.
Basic plot: woman named Maria leaves small town for big city, find herself in dire straits, resorts to the oldest profession, falls in love with client. Think of it as Pretty Woman with underwater agony frenzy (but not really, because that scene is actually pretty sedate). You can watch the entirety of the film, if you’re inclined, on You Tube here.
By the way, here’s another bit of translative trivia for your Sunday: cualquiera is used for prostitute in Spanish speaking countries, but it literally means “whoever” or “anyone.” Interesting, no? Originally released in 1972, Intimidades de una cualquiera premiered in Japan today in 1974. See two more Sarli posters here.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
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.
1954—First Church of Scientology Established
The first Scientology church, based on the writings of science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, is established in Los Angeles, California. Since then, the city has become home to the largest concentration of Scientologists in the world, and its ranks include high-profile adherents such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
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