Cino Del Duca and the Nous cool.
This cover for Lucíenne Royer's Toi ma folie (You My Madness) was published in 1950 as part of Éditions Mondiales Del Duca's popular Collection Nous Deux. The company was owned by Cino Del Duca, who we wrote about several years back, after learning about him thanks to a trip to Paris. Shorter version: French resistance hero, publishing genius, movie mogul, and more. We love the Nous Deux aesthetic, particularly that of Nous Deux the magazine. Much of our appreciation has to do with Aslan, aka Alain Gourdon, and Giulio Bertoletti painting numerous stunning covers for the publication. We put together a collection of those a while back. Look here and prepare to be impressed. What would be nice is if Del Duca had decided to credit the above art. No such luck.
Rocket fueled adventures from Earth to space and back again.
Above: more covers of Star-Cine Cosmos, a popular brand of French photo-comics made from feature films. We always meant to get back to this magazine with its striking art, but it's been a full twelve years since we last looked at it. Time flies—especially in outer space. The films featured here are, original titles only, top to bottom, Space Men, Alraune, Forbidden Planet, The Mole People, X-15, Radar Men from the Moon, Battle in Outer Space, When World Collide, This Island Earth, Earth vs. The Spider, and Master of the World.
She'll eat you out—of house and home.
Last time we saw French actress Barbara Moose we were worried she might starve, but she seems to have found some food, thank goodness, though she did it by breaking into a random kitchen. Still, it bodes well, even if at the moment she's far below her optimum weight of 1,000 to 1,400 pouunds. Moose, who was also Martine Semo, Martine Semot, Elsa Pime, et al, starred in well over one hundred x-rated and sexploitation movies between 1974 and 1986, including Delires sexuels, Girls USA, RX for Sex, Infernal's Partouze, Big Fuck, and 1977's I porno zombi, aka Naked Lovers, which you can read about here. We'll probably never see Moose again, as she's quite elusive, but it's good to know that with her new housebreaking and jar opening skills she'll be fine.
William Marshall's creature of the night has a killer debut in Paris.
Above: a French poster for Blacula, known in France as Blacula le vampire noir, starring William Marshall as an African prince-turned-vampire awakened in modern Los Angeles. As concepts go, it was pure genius. The final result has its problems, but it was a huge hit in the U.S. and abroad, and for blaxploitation aficionados it will always be a mandatory film. It premiered in Paris and elsewhere in France today in 1972.
Formal occasions in Mogadishu are murder.
Jef de Wulf works in a somewhat different mode with this cover illustration for Roger Vlatimo's, née Roger Vilatimo's 1963 spy novel Terreur en Somalie. His art is usually quite spare, often with a lot of negative space, but here he's produced something chaotic that fills the frame and draws the eye to various elements—gun, lipstick, a splash of color that gives the impression of flames, and of course the snake. The contrast with his work at its cleanest is stark. Look here or here to see what we mean.
Vlatimo wrote a stack of spy capers set in exotic places like Morocco, Iran, Turkey, and Vietnam. He also wrote a series as Youcef Khader, and those all starred a franchise character, Algerian special agent Mourad Saber. Additionally, Vlatimo wrote as Jean Lafay, Tim Oger, Roger Vlim, and Gil Darcy, which was a pseudonym invented by Georges J. Arnaud and used by several authors. Vlatimo's books were quite popular and some are even available today as e-books, which is the surest sign of success we can imagine. Vlatimo, though, died back in 1980.
If he's German we're a couple of Midwestern turkey farmers.
Erhard von Sprecher, author of 1954's Les mains rouges, or “red hands,” is a pseudonym. Has to be, right? French mid-century policier and espionage authors loved pen names, so much so that few of the authors wrote under their real names. We're not sure why, but we suspect that they felt it gave their books credibility if they adopted American sounding names like Patrick Rock (Louis Valgrand), Jerry Lewray (Louis de la Hattais), Slim Harrisson (Jacques Dubessy), et al. In this case, the name von Sprecher was used to give this tale about an S.S. agent who refuses to admit the Third Reich lost World War II a sense of firsthand German reality, but he was almost certainly a French writer—though one so obscure there's no information out there. Maybe something will turn up later. In any case, we decided to feature this book not because of von Sprecher's name, interesting as that is, but because of the striking red hand art. And guess what? We can't find out who did that either. C'est comme cela que ça se passe.
When a train trip goes off the tracks Marais and Mell come to the rescue.
This poster for Train d'enfer was painted by Georges Allard, who's probably best known for promos he made for Brigitte Bardot movies such as Le mepris and Le Repos du guerrier. Train d'enfer, which was adapted from the novel Combat de nègres by René Cambon, starred Jean Marais and Austrian femme fatale Marisa Mell in what is basically a Bond knockoff centered around a plot to assassinate an important emir as he travels to France. It sounds pretty fun, so we may check it out later. The title literally means “hell train,” but when the movie was released in the U.S. it was titled Operation Double Cross. Under its original title it premiered in France today in 1965.
David Dodge explains how to travel like a boss even if you aren't.
Is The Poor Man's Guide to Europe pulp? Think of it as pulp adjacent. David Dodge was one of the better crafters of crime and adventure fiction during the mid-century, so when we learned that he had written travel guides we knew they were must-reads. His novels were often outward looking. To Catch a Thief was set on the French Riviera; Plunder of the Sun, Mexico; The Long Escape, several Latin American countries including Chile and Peru. And Dodge's first travel book How Green Was My Father dealt with Mexico and Guatemala.
But Europe is the subject here, and accompanied by Irv Koons illustrations, Dodge mines nuggets of valuable info from his continental experience for Americans who cross the pond. As this is a book about getting by on a budget, much of the info has to do with currency trading, a reduced concern these days, but the ins and outs of swapping cash make for some interesting insights into the various countries involved, and Dodge is clever at weaving travel anecdotes while keeping his narrative money focused. Example:
Night was falling with that dull thudding sound it makes when you don't know where you are going to sleep. By bribing the concierge I got three beds at a “first class” hotel across the street. It was terrible—overcrowded, noisy, and operated according to the old army slogan: Don't you know there's a war on, buddy? I got out early the next morning, walked three blocks to the center of town toward the Via Vittorio Veneto, and landed two bedrooms, a sitting room, a bathroom, and a balcony in a clean, old-fashioned, superbly operated Italian albergo with a wonderful cook and waiters who caught dropped napkins before they hit the floor. The patrono, who spoke six languages, took Elva and me to the opera as his guests three nights later while his wife babysat with Kendal, and the overall charge was 8,500 lira a day, about $13, all meals and table wine included.
And that's pretty much what travel is about for us—seizing victory from the jaws of defeat. Other anecdotes had us searching for confirmation, they were so hard to believe. For example, was it really the trend in 1953 for some women on the Cotê d'Azur to wear a cache-sexe? Dodge says it was. It's central to a tale about his friend crashing a rental car into a palm tree after seeing two cache-sexe clad women on the Croisette in Cannes. In case you don't know, this cache-sexe was a thong bottom and stick-on breast coverings that made women look almost nude when viewed from the rear.
We have topless and occasionally unclothed women on our beach, but still, we'd give a lot to see something like what Dodge describes, considering these women were not on the beach, but ambling down the street. We once saw two women in bikinis who had wandered several blocks from our beach to ponder the outside of the local cathedral, and that visual incongruity stuck with us for weeks. The cache-sexe must have absolutely scandalized people. And thrilled them too. Maybe that's why Dodge wrote a sequel guidebook focused entirely on the south of France with the tongue-in-cheek title The Rich Man's Guide to the Riviera. We bought that one too. Stay tuned.
American femme fatale turns up down Rio way.
Okay, let's try this again. Last week we posted this book and thought it had Peggy Cummins on the cover, but after having a short nap we awoke and saw that this was clearly not Cummins. Thanks for the e-mails, by the way, but we beat you to it. Hah! Anyway, you know by now one of our favorite ways to highlight Hollywood actresses is to note their usage on foreign paperback covers. This cool example from Brazil's Edições de Ouro was made for Irving Le Roy's Berlim: Os Pecados de Bárbara, and that's none other than Cleo Moore—not Peggy Cummins—having a smoke and a look around. The image comes from her classic 1953 film noir One Girl's Confession, a movie we talked about a while ago. This book was first published in France as Aventure Est-Ouest by Éditions Fleuve Noir in 1956, so it represents a cross-pollination of a different type—we've seen material move from the U.S. to many countries, but from France to Brazil is a new one for us. Le Roy, by the way, was aka Robert Georges Debeurre, and we've shown you one of his books before, here. The above image came from the Brazilian Facebook page we pointed out not long ago.
The black panther returns.
We're back into French sexploitation today with this poster for Baby Cat, which starred Israel born actress Shulamith Lasri, aka Julie Margo. The title, which is what the movie played under in France, is probably meant to be an allusion to the English word “pussy.” If so, the French filmmakers missed their target, since cats of any age can be called pussycats. But we couldn't make an allusion in French under pain of torture, so we'll give them a pass. We watched this only because Margo had aroused our curiosity with her outing in 1976's Emanuelle nera n° 2. She starred in that as Shulamith Lasri, her real name. Most websites haven't made the connection that Lasri and Margo are the same person. IMDB, for instance, has separate profiles for each, and Wikipedia's entry on Emanuelle nera n° 2 (Black Emanuelle 2) expressly states that it was the only film in which Lasri appeared. Well, now the truth is out.
In Baby Cat Lasri/Margo plays a jaded Paris model with two boyfriends—one a hustler, and the other a one percenter. The rich boyfriend won't commit, and we can't imagine why he would, since he's a fashion magazine publisher and hangs out with beautiful women for a living. But this annoys Margo, so she teams up with the hustler to stage a fake kidnapping and try to pry loose a ransom. Unfortunately, her one percenter catches wind of the plot and sticks her in a basement to consider the error of her ways. This accomplished, he flies off for a photo shoot to the French/Dutch island of Saint Martin with a bevy of skinny models (among them Corinne Corson, Eloïse Beaune, and Sylvie Schmidt) who mostly wander around topless in the tropical heat. Having spent some time on Saint Martin, we can tell you that the toplessness brings a touch of reality to the proceedings. We don't see Margo much during this middle stretch of the film, but she'll get loose from that Paris basement soon enough.
Margo isn't classically pretty, but she has a flawless body any woman would sell her soul and everyone else's to have. In Emanuelle nera n° 2 she was referred to as a panther, and amusingly, here four years later a completely different set of filmmakers beat the identical drum with lines like, “Hey, she moves just like a cat. A black panther.” We get it—Margo is exotic as far as European filmmakers are concerned, but any questions about her feline qualities are moot for us, because she can't act. Like, at all. She took a four-year break after Emanuelle nera n° 2, coming back to make three more films, of which Baby Cat is the last. It was probably good she stopped. Hell, it was good this movie stopped. Watching Margo work that body of hers was enjoyable, and the Saint Martin exteriors brought back lovely memories for us, but for you, beloved pulpsters, Baby Cat is a movie you can probably bypass. It premiered in France today in 1983. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1915—Claude Patents Neon Tube
French inventor Georges Claude patents the neon discharge tube, in which an inert gas is made to glow various colors through the introduction of an electrical current. His invention is immediately seized upon as a way to create eye catching advertising, and the neon sign
comes into existence to forever change the visual landscape of cities.
1937—Hughes Sets Air Record
Millionaire industrialist, film producer and aviator Howard Hughes sets a new air record by flying from Los Angeles, California to New York City in 7 hours, 28 minutes, 25 seconds. During his life he set multiple world air-speed records, for which he won many awards, including America's Congressional Gold Medal.
1967—Boston Strangler Convicted
Albert DeSalvo, the serial killer who became known as the Boston Strangler, is convicted of murder and other crimes and sentenced to life in prison. He serves initially in Bridgewater State Hospital, but he escapes and is recaptured. Afterward he is transferred to federal prison where six years later he is killed by an inmate or inmates unknown.
1950—The Great Brinks Robbery Occurs
In the U.S., eleven thieves steal more than $2 million from an armored car company's offices in Boston, Massachusetts. The skillful execution of the crime, with only a bare minimum of clues left at the scene, results in the robbery being billed as "the crime of the century." Despite this, all the members of the gang are later arrested.
1977—Gary Gilmore Is Executed
Convicted murderer Gary Gilmore is executed by a firing squad in Utah, ending a ten-year moratorium on Capital punishment in the United States. Gilmore's story is later turned into a 1979 novel entitled The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer, and the book wins the Pulitzer Prize for literature.
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