Now that you've shot the continent's last white rhino can we do something I think is romantic?
Jonathan Latimer's African adventure novel Dark Memory needs a more grandiose title, because it's pure Hemingway, and you know how lyrical his titles were. Latimer's novel is about nature, and courage, and women. It reads as if he said to himself after finishing Green Hills of Africa, “I wonder if I could do something like what Papa did here?” Well, he could. Dark Memory is a totally absorbing safari tale, a slice of time long gone. Latimer is in what we call the “trusted” category. He's set-and-forget. He's a concierge who's never failed a customer. If he wants to take us on an African safari, all we can say is, “Where do we get our malaria shots?”
Today people who hunt big game are excoriated on social media, and we understand why. The animals they shoot are simply too rare and valuable to be killed for ego. The hunters of yesteryear also killed for ego, but did so under a more limited ecological understanding and more lax political circumstances. Some practices of the past shouldn't survive, and killing lions for their skins shouldn't survive any more than should gladiatorial combat with swords. Big game hunters of today know that these African animals will be slaughtered unto extinction, but they simply don't care. Some might not want to shoot the last one, or hundredth one, or thousandth, but they're offset by sociopaths who'd pay a fortune to usher a species to oblivion. It's basic economics. The rarer the animal the more someone will pay to kill it.
If you were to search Dark Memory for good explanations why people kill African wildlife you'd be disappointed. Killing to prove one's own courage, killing a silverback gorilla carrying an infant, all seems shallow and pointless even to the main character, Jay Nichols, part of a group slogging through the wilds of Belgian Congo. When he later refers to the shooting—actually his shooting—of that female gorilla as a murder, his feelings are made crystal clear. In one scene another hunter explains how, during his current duties guiding a party of Brits, they've killed two hippos. For no reason except vanity. Then he lists the other casualties: “Zebra, eland, antelope, kuku, oryx, wildebeest, hartebeest, topi, [impala], waterbuck, dik-dik, oribi, bushbuck, reedbuck. I can't remember them all. Yes, and a number of different gazelles. We've killed more than two-hundred animals.”
Latimer is a show-not-tell type of writer, but seems to suggest that, while shooting a charging animal may prove a type of courage, it's of the crudest kind. The same rough men don't have enough courage to be truthful. Nor do they have the guts to be evenhanded—they must always weight the scales. Fairness angers them, because then they lose their advantages. But the book is only partly about all this. There's a woman on the expedition, Eve Salles, and her role barely differs from that of the animals. She's to be conquered for vanity too. In the context of this difficult trek through the Congolese jungle, she will be left in peace only if she belongs to someone. If the cruel, intimidating asshole running the safari has his druthers, it'll be him. She resists this depressing reality, but how long can she last?
Latimer tackles his themes declaratively, methodically, repetitively, and close to flawlessly. The man could definitely weave a tale, but for modern readers it'll be uncomfortable because he occasionally takes the route of racism in his descriptive passages. That's often true of vintage literature. We write—for a living even—so we never cut ourselves off from good writing. There's always something to learn. But those who read for pleasure should focus on the pleasure first. You have no other obligation, because there's plenty of good writing out there that doesn't equate gorillas and black men. But if, like the hunters in this book, you can trek past the hazards, your patience and forbearance will be rewarded—with high tension, savage action, deep reflection, and extraordinary visual power.
In the end, Dark Memory turns out to be a safari adventure that deftly channels the mid-century classics—Hemingway, Blixen, and others. Like those books, there's a level of dismissal toward the inhabitants of the land the characters claim to love, yet also like those books, there's insight into that rarefied realm of rich white Americans in the African wild. Latimer, a highly regarded crime writer, added big outdoor adventure to his résumé with Dark Memory, and as far as we're concerned he pulled it off. Originally published in 1940, the cover at top is from the 1953 Perma-Doubleday edition, painted by Carl Bobertz. It's actually a Canadian cover. We know only because every edition we've seen online has the price of 35¢, and a small notation that says: in Canada 39¢. Ours being 39¢, it must be Canadian. Brilliantly deduced, eh?
Hey, since you need cheering up, wanna split this Toblerone bar with me? It's got nougat in it.
James Hadley Chase was a double winner in 1951. That year You're Lonely When You're Dead was published in paperback by both Popular Library, which we showed you here, and by the Canadian imprint Harlequin, as you see above, and both received top notch cover art. Popular Library went literal and showed a body on a deserted nocturnal beach. Harlequin's art is more general, with a woman under a looming shadow. Subliminally the shadow seems to carry a gun, but it really could be anything. It could be a letter, or a ruler, or a candy bar. In fact, on the subject of nonspecific, the painting could have been used for virtually any crime novel. There's nothing that definitively ties it to this particular story. But it's still a great effort. Unfortunately, it's uncredited.
Headquarters, my gas mask has failed! I'm throwing a grenade! How the hell does this thing work? Over!
George Gross art fronts this January 1956 issue of Hanro Corp's bi-monthy magazine Man's Illustrated. It's an interesting image, but here's where we show our age, or lack of industrial background, or something, because we have no idea what the hell Mr. Flinty Eyes on the cover is holding. Hand grenade? Gas mask? Some kind of steampunk style microphone? Combo of all three? Well, not knowing is not a problem. We still like the image.
It's been a while since we featured this magazine, but we're glad to get back to it because inside this issue there's art from Walter Popp and Rudolph Belarski, and a nice feature on Rear Window actress Georgine Darcy, who we've talked about once or twice before. As far as written content, you get plenty of war and hunting action, of course, but we were drawn to, “The Hottest Town North of the Border,” an investigative piece by journo B.W. Von Block. What town is he talking about? Montreal, which apparently back in ’56 was the one of the best places in the world to get your ashes hauled. These type of stories, which were standard in old men's magazines, always give us a laugh because with their breathless focus on subjects like legal prostitution, nude beaches, and dusk-to-dawn nightclubs they show how repressed the U.S. was compared to so much of the world. It still is, actually. Trust us, we've been around, lived abroad for a long time now, and greatly enjoyed the more permissive societies in which we've resided—including our current one. The U.S. does have many good points, though, one of which is that no country's inhabitants preserve its popular media so prodigiously—which is why we have so many vintage books and magazines to share on Pulp Intl. in the first place. We've pondered many times why Americans hoard more than other cultures and we've finally come up with an answer: garages. Two thirds of Americans have garages. So here's to American garages. They give millions the joy of being their own museum curators.
I'm the only princess that matters in this galaxy. Any objections?
When you think of Princess Leia you rightly imagine a long time ago in galaxy far, far away, but much closer to home and not very long ago there was also Princesa Lea. She was born in Canada as Susan Linda Fair, but rose to fame in Mexico as a vedette, dancer, and actress. Carrie Fisher's Leia was first, but oh how different and amazing Star Wars would have been with Princesa Lea. As a consolation prize she appeared in such films as Muñecas de medianoche, aka Midnight Dolls and Chile picante, aka Spicy Chile. Her movies didn't quite bring her international fame and adoration, but she's beloved in Mexico. And on on Pulp Intl.
Don't let her name fool you—she wreaks Havoc all year round.
Above, a very nice promo photo of Vancouver born actress June Havoc from her 1949 drama The Story of Molly X. Also among her long list of films were Gentleman's Agreement, Once a Thief, Lady Possessed, and The Iron Curtain. Though her real name obviously wasn't Havoc, it was close—she was originally Ellen June Hovick. Molly X looks interesting, so we'll see if we can track that down and report back.
All dressed up and ready to conquer the world.
Canadian actress Alexandra Stewart has had a long and varied show business career with too many movie roles to count—at a glance, more than one hundred. She was born in Montreal and spoke French, so her first parts were in French language films such as L'eau à la bouche and Le bel. Most of her English speaking roles were in b-movies such as Emmanuelle 3, The Bride Wore Black, and Tarzan the Magnificent. But there were a few high profile movies too, such as In Praise of Older Women. The above photo didn't come with a date, but 1970 is a good bet.
Some say recycling doesn't make a difference. The Luftwaffe may feel differently about that.
If you search online, World War II posters are typically grouped under the umbrella of "propaganda." Many pieces, such as this one with its Luftwaffe aircraft in flames, also offered public information. It was commissioned by the U.S. Government Printing Office in 1942, and was painted by Canadian artist Steve Broder. There were many posters made at the time that are now collectible classics. We wouldn't go so far as to call this one a classic, but it's a nice painting. We've seen no data on how much of an effect recycling had on the U.S. war effort, and would be surprised if it's even quantifiable. But we imagine at the very least it helped reduce costs for munitions manufacturers. We have quite a bit of World War II memorabilia in the website, much of it pure propaganda, some of it rather unusual. If that sounds interesting, check here, here, here, and here, for starters.
Being a badass is tiring. I've earned this little break.
Canadian actress Linda Thorson had a career almost exclusively dedicated to television. Of her scores of tube roles she's probably most beloved for her first—as the hard punching, high kicking secret agent Tara King on the British action serial The Avengers. She debuted on the show in March 1968, taking the place of the iconic Diana Rigg, and appeared in thirty-three episodes. The above photo of her relaxing in a rocking chair is from 1969.
Vickers tells Midnight readers what's what.
This cover of Midnight dated today in 1965 features Laura Vickers, who is touted as an actress, but who had no credited film roles. In fact, for a while we thought she was a made up person, but that wasn't Midnight's style. The magazine had enough cred to get legit celebrities for its covers. So we kept checking and it turns out Vickers was an obscure glamour model who appeared in super low rent magazines like Flirt 'n Skirt and Black Nylons. Midnight was probably the closest she ever came to mainstream recognition—which is to say, not very close. So what's the score? As usual with this tabloid it's about sex. A man who knows the score knows what women want. But we don't need Midnight to know what that is. The Pulp Intl. girlfriends keep us well informed what women want: it all.
Have you had a hallucination yet today?
We're really living up to the Intl. part of Pulp Intl. today with this fascinating promo poster from far away Ghana. It was made for Canadian horror filmmaker David Cronenberg's 1983 freakshow Videodrome, starring Debbie Harry and James Woods in a wild story about video-triggered hallucinations that become real. We found this on a website called Deep Fried Movies, and they found it at Deadly Prey Gallery on Instagram. It's signed O.A. Heavy J. Teshie, if we're reading that right. Well, good job, O. Since you worked in the ’80s you may still be out there, and if you are, FYI, dealers in the U.S. are selling your posters for up to $4,000 a pop. If you've got any pieces hanging around, we strongly urge cutting out the middlemen. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1935—Four Gangsters Gunned Down in New Jersey
In Newark, New Jersey, the organized crime figures Dutch Schultz, Abe Landau, Otto Berman, and Bernard "Lulu" Rosencrantz are fatally shot at the Palace Chophouse restaurant. Schultz, who was the target, lingers in the hospital for about a day before dying
. The killings are committed by a group of professional gunmen known as Murder, Inc., and the event becomes known as the Chophouse Massacre.
1950—Al Jolson Dies
Vaudeville and screen performer Al Jolson dies of a heart attack in San Francisco after a trip to Korea to entertain troops causes lung problems. Jolson is best known for his film The Jazz Singer, and for his performances in blackface make-up, which were not considered offensive at the time, but have now come to be seen as a form of racial bigotry.
1926—Houdini Fatally Punched in Stomach
After a performance in Montreal, Hungarian-born magician and escape artist Harry Houdini is approached by a university student named J. Gordon Whitehead, who asks if it is true that Houdini can endure any blow to the stomach. Before Houdini is ready Whitehead strikes him several times, causing internal injuries that lead to the magician's death.
1973—Kidnappers Cut Off Getty's Ear
After holding Jean Paul Getty III for more than three months, kidnappers cut off his ear and mail it to a newspaper in Rome. Because of a postal strike it doesn't arrive until November 8. Along with the ear is a lock of hair and ransom note that says: "This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits." Getty's grandfather, billionaire oilman Jean Paul Getty, at first refused to pay the 3.2 million dollar ransom, then negotiated it down to 2.8 million, and finally agreed to pay as long as his grandson repaid the sum at 4% interest.
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