Gosh, another broken down wreck of a man. Well, tonight I'm not being picky, so get your game face on, champ.
Georges Simenon was an incredibly prolific author who wrote two hundred books, starting at age seventeen, striking gold in 1931 when he invented the character of Inspector Jules Maigret. While he rode the honorable inspector like a sturdy horse for scores of outings, he also made the occasional splash with stand-alone books such as Four Days in a Lifetime, which you see above. It was originally published as Les Quatre Jours du pauvre homme in 1949, and is a tale narrated in two sections about lowly François Lecoin, who starts with little but achieves success via underhanded and amoral means. It's a rise and fall story, and a particularly turbulent one. The Signet edition came in 1953 with cover art by Stanley Zuckerberg.
Pack light and leave your inhibitions behind.
This poster was made in Liege, Belgium for the romantic drama Extase, starring Austro-Hungarian beauty Hedy Lamarr. Based on a novel by the Vienna born author and actor Robert Horký, the film opened in Belgium today in 1933, after having premiered in then-Czechoslovakia as Ekstase in January of that year. It isn't a pulp style film, but it's significant, which is why we had a look. It's about a young upper class woman in an unfulfilling marriage who solves that problem by acquiring a sidepiece in the form of a worker played by Aribert Mog. This results in some steamy moments and—some viewers say—the first orgasm ever depicted onscreen. “Some viewers” are right. There's no doubt. In the midst of a nocturnal tryst Mog's head and torso slide off-frame, as Lamarr breathes more and more heavily before finally grimacing in lovely fashion and snapping her string of pearls.
Yeah, this is hot stuff for 1933. And we thought everyone was having a great depression. Shows what we know. If the title Extase doesn't tell you what's going on, consider the fact that Hedy's character is named Eva, and Mog's is named Adam. It's that kind of movie. In a way, an orgasm was inevitable. Lamarr also captures moviegoers' attention with a nude swim and sprint through the fields that occurs about twenty-eight minutes in. Why's she running around starkers? Her mare Loni decides to get herself some equine action and abandons Hedy—taking her clothes along for the ride. Always make sure to tie your mount to something, especially when it's horny. Lamarr really is naked in the scene, too, which few modern performers would do in this age of new puritanism. It's thanks to this run through the wild that she meets Mog, the eventual master of her clitoris, if not her heart.
Extase isn't a silent film, but it's close. There's a lot of orchestral music and only a dozen or so sections of dialogue. Even so, it's very watchable. The visuals tend to be laden with meaning in films such as these, but some scenes require no interpretation at all, like the bit where a couple of horses mate (not Loni and her love, sadly). They don't show it of course, but the crash zoom of a mare's backside from the point-of-view of the stud horse gets the idea across with remarkable subtlety—not. It was hilarious, actually. But hey—even horses feel extase, because it's just a natural thing, see. On its own merits we'd call Extase more of a curio than a cinematic triumph, but it certainly achieves what it sets out to do, and that's success of a form, even if it would be forgotten without the orgasm. But that's often true, isn't it?
Loni! Come back, you stupid horse! That jumpsuit doesn't even fit you! Why hello, lovely naked creature. You rude beast! Try taking a picture. It'll last longer. Already done. With my mind. Deposited you right in the spank bank. Bank— What? Spank what? Oh, never mind. Give me my clothes. Objectify me, will you? Two can play that game. Duh... nice package! Duh... I'm an idiot! Thanks. And you're not an idiot—many women agree with you about my package. No, I'm objectifying you, like you did to me. Like a sex object. I understand. That's cool. I love sex. No, I mean I'm debasing you via the reduction of any unique and admirable qualities you might have down to the purely phy— Oh, forget it! You're too dumb to understand. Oh... oh... oh! It's true he lacks... formal education... But he sure knows how... to make a girl... SNAP HER PEARLS! *sigh*
If you think you'll get Bardot down the aisle you've got another think coming.
We meant to share this several days ago, but you know how that goes. It's a Belgian promo poster for Brigitte Bardot's Le bride sur le cou, with the Dutch title Met losse teugels in red just below the French. You might think, based on the French title, that the movie is about a bride, but that word, which has the same origin as the English word “bridle,” means “strap,” and the title translated would be, “the strap on the neck.” In Dutch, the title translates as, “with loose reins,” so that should make clear that the movie is actually about trying to control a wild Bardot. There's little chance of that, and wild is an understatement. She turns Paris upside down. In the U.S. the movie was released under the title, Please, Not Now! The poster is worth a share because it's built around a rare image of Bardot, and the movie is worth a watch because Bardot was a phenomenon. There's no known release date for Belgium, but probably it premiered there—this poster promotes showings at the Acropole Cinema in Brussels—in the spring of 1961.
Bright, crisp, light bodied, aged twenty-seven years.
This shot of French actress Lyne Chardonnet comes from the cover of an August 1970 issue of the Belgian magazine Ciné-Revue, a publication that's a gold mine for vintage celebrity imagery. We still have a few issues we picked up in Paris, and hopefully we'll scan those at some point. Chardonnet appeared in more than forty films during a fifteen year career, including Le tatoué and Dracula père et fils, aka Dracula and Son. She's another unfortunate actress that died early, but not by misadventure—liver cancer got her when she was only thirty-seven.
It's minimal but I figure when the climate finishes changing this'll qualify as overdressed.
Above you see Sicily born Italian model and actress Pia Giancaro, who won the 1968 Miss Sicily contest, competed for Miss Italy, and parlayed the exposure into a foothold in cinema, where she appeared in such films as Se t'incontro t'ammazzo, aka Finders Killers, and La dama rossa uccide sette volte, aka The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, aka Blood Feast. This futuristic photo was published on the cover of the Belgian film and television magazine Ciné-Revue in 1977. It actually dates from a 1974 photo session, when the magazine used a different shot from the same series. Ciné-Revue gave Giancaro a lot of attention over the years, with multiple covers, and a couple of centerfolds, one of which you can see here.
This frolic has been sponsored by Off! bug repellent and Nasonex hay fever tablets.
In this centerfold image from the Belgian magazine Ciné-Revue published in September 1972, Barbara Bouchet finds herself in a field of wildflowers and high grasses, and does what comes naturally—sneezes like a maniac until the medication kicks in. Then she frolics, and what a lovely frolic it is. We've featured Bouchet before, which means you already know she's a famously beautiful model-turned-actress who appeared in films like Non si sevizia un paperino, aka Don't Torture a Duckling, Gangs of New York, Casino Royale, and television's Star Trek. Also—and we didn't mention this the other times we wrote about her—she's another celeb who benefitted from a name change. She was born in 1943 in Sudentenland, a part of Czechoslovakia that was occupied by Germany at the time, and grew up as Bärbel Gutscher. That name simply doesn't roll off the tongue, so when she went to Hollywood she chose something that sounded French and the rest is history. These days she lives in Rome, where she still occasionally acts, though probably does a bit less frolicking. See a couple more shots of her here and here.
He's not a bad guy. He's just a little conflicted.
Above: a beautiful French language Belgian poster for the suspense/horror film Dr. Jekyll et Mr. Hyde, aka Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, with Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, and Lana Turner. We love this poster as much as we love the Finnish and West German ones. The art here depicts quite effectively Jekyll's inner battle, with his face half in light and half in shadow. The movie opened in the U.S. in 1941, was delayed from showing in Europe for years due to World War II, but we think it finally premiered in Belgium during the autumn of 1946, a range we extrapolated from the film's premiere in France today the same year.
Umpteenth Bond riff is cuter than most but a lot dumber too.
The Bond franchise could be the most imitated in cinema history. Most of the copycats came during the late 1960s. The serious ones are often unwatchable, but the tongue-in-cheek varieties sometimes manage to entertain. The most entertaining aspect of the Bond inspired Some Girls Do is the theme song by Lee Vanderbilt. Which is not a knock on the movie. It's just that the song is that good. We immediately went searching for a version to have as our very own but there isn't one, at least not one from the film, or one without serious sound issues. We're going to keep looking, though. The movie has another plus—the above promo poster made for Belgium, where it was known by the Dutch title God vergeeft... zij nooit, and the French title Dieu pardonne... elles jamais!
As far as the actual film goes, it stars Richard Johnson as Hugh Bond—er, we mean Hugh Drummond—and he's sent to deal with unknown forces determined to stop the development of the world's first supersonic airliner. You get beautiful women with shady intentions, spy gadgets of dubious efficacy, robot femmes fatales, and a super villain hiding in his (almost) impregnable lair. Johnson is reprising his role from 1967's Deadlier than the Male, another pretty cute, marginally enjoyable Bond copy, but here sequelitis has set in—which is to say, this movie is not quite as charming, nor as funny, nor as thrilling as the first. So ultimately, while some girls do, some movies don't, and most viewers shouldn't. Not unless you have a seriously unquenchable ’60s spy movie thirst. If so, Some Girls Do might do the trick.
Eddie G. never goes down without a fight.
Mid-century Belgian promo art strikes again. This is an epic poster. It was made for the crime drama Black Tuesday, which played in Belgium as Mardi ça saignera (French title) and Dinsdag zal er bloed stromen (Dutch title). Edward G. Robinson and Peter Graves star in the tale of two death row inmates who escape prison and go on the lam. Graves has hidden $200,000 from a bank robbery and Robinson plans to betray him and steal the dough. Unfortunately, Graves is critically shot during the escape and, even as he lies near death, refuses to say where the money is hidden.
This is a pretty nice flick. Virtually any movie with Robinson is worth a viewing. He played many types of characters in his career, but he's known for portraying tough guys, and this is classic Edward G., with all the snarls and sneers fans had come to expect from romps like Little Caesar and Key Largo. And why wouldn't he snarl? Unless a doctor he's taken hostage can save the day the cash he lusts for will never be found. But maybe Graves won't die. Maybe he's tougher than he seems—and smarter too. Robinson never wins in his gangster roles, so it's a question of how he'll lose, not if. But it's always fun watching him fight the bad fight. Black Tuesday premiered in the U.S. in late 1954 and reached Belgium today in 1955.
It's the sad songs that always come back to haunt you.
Above is a stunning Belgian poster in French and Dutch for François Truffaut's comi-tragic crime tale Tirez sur le pianiste, known in Dutch as Schiet op de pianist, in English as Shoot the Piano Player, and which starred Charles Aznavour as a hard luck nightclub musician. We talked about the movie in detail back in November. Shorter version: when French New Wave meets film noir strange things happen. There's no release date for Belgium but the movie probably opened there shortly after its premiere in France, which was in November 1960.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1924—Leopold and Loeb Murder Bobby Franks
Two wealthy University of Chicago students named Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, Jr. murder 14-year-old Bobby Franks, motivated by no other reason than to prove their intellectual superiority by committing a perfect crime. But the duo are caught and sentenced to life in prison. Their crime becomes known as a "thrill killing", and their story later inspires various works of art, including the 1929 play Rope by Patrick Hamilton, and Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 film of the same name.
1916—Rockwell's First Post Cover Appears
The Saturday Evening Post publishes Norman Rockwell's painting "Boy with Baby Carriage", marking the first time his work appears on the cover of that magazine. Rockwell would go to paint many covers for the Post, becoming indelibly linked with the publication. During his long career Rockwell would eventually paint more than four thousand pieces, the vast majority of which are not on public display due to private ownership and destruction by fire.
1962—Marilyn Monroe Sings to John F. Kennedy
A birthday salute to U.S. President John F. Kennedy takes place at Madison Square Garden, in New York City. The highlight is Marilyn Monroe's breathy rendition of "Happy Birthday," which does more to fuel speculation that the two were sexually involved than any actual evidence.
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