Femmes Fatales Apr 4 2024
ELLEN DREW FIRST
And fired last. Which is ideally how you want these things to go.


The above photo of U.S. actress Ellen Drew was made when she was filming her 1940 western Texas Rangers Ride Again, which is a surprise, because she's isn't dressed Old West style, with her leg-exposing skirt and open toed shoes. We guess even cowgirls get the blues—when it comes to wearing those hoop skirts and corsets. This is Drew's third femme fatale appearance. You can see the other two here and here

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Vintage Pulp Apr 1 2024
CRIMSON TIDE
If you jump without looking you might get swept away.


The book you see above, a 1958 Popular Library edition of The Red Room by Belgian author Françoise Mallet-Joris, was picked up for us by a friend who thought he was buying a pulp novel. He was attracted by the cover, and it's indeed fine work, from the skilled brush (and possibly ink quill and charcoal pencil) of Mitchell Hooks. As for the novel, it was originally published in 1955 as La chambre rouge and was a sequel to 1951's Le rempart des Béguines.

When someone buys us a book we always read it out of appreciation and respect, even romance novels, and in reading The Red Room we were reminded once again of the skill gap between literary and crime fiction. There are obviously excellent, transcendent crime writers (and literary fiction that misses the mark), but Mallet-Joris—even translated—spins evocative phrases as deftly as a weaver with a loom. Like this one:

The presence of winter—vulgar winter, befurred and jangling her crystal adornments—was scarcely felt in the small white and gold drawing room.

Isn't that nice? It's not Hammett describing a gangster popping off shots in a crowded bar, but it's still fun to read. The tale is a coming of age breast-beater set in Gers, France in which the main character, eighteen-year-old Hélène Noris decides to steal the dashing young film director her hated stepmother Tamara has earmarked for extra-marital games. That actually sounds kind of pulp, doesn't it? Well, just wait.

At some point it becomes clear that Hélène had been Tamara's young lover (probably this is the central plot of the previous book). Tamara and Hélène had been carrying on, but in order to secure for herself a stable existence Tamara decided to marry Hélène's father. Thus, The Red Room charts Hélène as she impulsively steals her stepmother's crush, only to find herself getting in too deep with someone who's more experienced and decisive than any man she's known.

Needless to say, that plot sounds like some of the sleaze novels we highlight here, which would make you wonder, in terms of public perception, at which point the lowbrow becomes highbrow. And the easy answer to that is: when you can write like Mallet-Joris and critics adore you. Overall, The Red Room is probably a little too genteel and interiorized for most pulp readers, but we liked it. Consider that less a recommendation than an acknowledgment of talent.
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Vintage Pulp Feb 4 2024
NOT IN HIS CORNER
Baby, stay down! I put a hundred bucks on the other guy!

Argosy magazine, the first of the pulps, running from 1882 to 1978, occasionally compiled its sports related short stories into a long format publication, and you see an example here—The Argosy Book of Sports Stories. This edition with cover art by John Walter Scott was published in 1953 with stories from Virgil Scott, William Campbell Gault, William Holder, Stewart Sterling, Scott Young, and others. We stopped highlighting Argosy long ago because it has little visual content aside from the covers, but we discussed it several times, and you can those posts here, here, here, and here.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 5 2024
DAZED AND CONFUSED
Yeeess master... I will vote against my own interests and instead help enrich billionaires and corporations…

You always see the phrase “complete and unabridged” on old books. Well, here’s the other side of the coin. Robert A. Heinlein’s manuscript for The Puppet Masters, for which you see a Doubleday dust jacket above, is 100,000 words. Doubleday’s edition is abridged to 75,000 words. That's a lot of scissorwork, and we can't imagine it sat well with Heinlein. Of course, plenty of people would love his books to be excised of certain themes, and we could weigh in on that subject but we're only about the art today. The dust jacket is nice and it sent us looking for more. We came across a bunch and thought they’d be nice to share. These are from Scribner’s, Putnam, Shasta, and the art is from Mel Hunter, Jerry Robinson, the awesome Hubert Rogers (The Man Who Sold the Moon and Revolt in 2100), Clifford Geary, and others.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 10 2023
HEAD HUNTER
All other predators pale by comparison.


Belgium usually delivers when it comes to vintage film posters. Above is a Belgian promo in French and Dutch for the iconic chiller The Night of the Hunter, titled in French La nuit du chasseur and in Dutch De jagersnacht. “Jagersnacht” sounds like something weird and wicked, like a monster from Lewis Carroll, but it means the same as the English title—“hunter's night.”
 
Belgian vintage posters often bear the name of the exhibiting cinema. We've shared examples from Ciné Odeon, Acropole, Varieties, Plaza, and Capitole, twiceThe above poster bears the name of Cinemax, which was located at 27 Rue de Malines in Antwerp, and was called at different times the Cineum, Rubens, and Apollo.
 
Looking more closely at the art, it was printed by L.F. de Vos & Co. S.A. Anvers, also from Antwerp, and the work is signed by “RK”—if we're reading it correctly. We've got nothing on RK, but his or her work is top notch, so we'll keep an eye out for more. Night of the Hunter premiered in the U.S. in 1955 and reached Belgium today in 1956.
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Femmes Fatales Nov 1 2023
DAY BY NIGHT
There, isn't that better? You'll save a few cents on your electricity bill.


It's never a bad idea to save money on your utilities, as U.S. actress Laraine Day demonstrates above. Day had a long and busy career, appearing in films such as The Woman on Pier 13, Foreign Correspondent, Tarzan Finds a Son!, Fingers at the Window, and The Locket, for which the above promo was made. It dates from 1946, and you can see another photo from the film here.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 28 2023
ACE FULL OF QUEENS
Mid-century girly mags are always a winning draw.


As the Cole Porter song goes, in olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking—and exemplifying that concept is Ace, the “magazine for men of distinction,” which debuted in 1957 during the height of the cheesecake era. In this day and age Ace is strictly kid stuff. But that's why it's cool to look back at. Like other publications of its ilk, Ace came along to fill the void left by the slow demise of mens adventure magazines, and as was typical, it grew more daring as the years went by, before finally folding in 1982, itself a victim of changing tastes and more rawness provided by porn mags.

This particular issue, published this month in 1960, features the usual mix of humor, adventure, and models, including the amusingly named Beverly Hills, aka Carla Henderson, who gets a spread inside plus the eye-catching rear cover, Eve Post, who the editors claim was discovered by Jack Benny, and Brandy Kayse, who poses as "Eve." Several of the models, such as Frances Beck, Lacey Kelly, Virginia Remo, and Pat Gregory, managed minor film roles. Elsewhere in the magazine there's plenty of nice art, plus the usual "fact" (men are polygamous?) and fiction. Multiple scans below.
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Femmes Fatales Sep 15 2023
JACKIE UH OH
Laced up tight and ready for action.

British actress Jacqueline Jones appears in the above promo image made for 1965 her comedy/thriller The Intelligence Man. Jones accumulated about forty credits during her career, appearing in such movies as Jungle Street Girls and The Cool Mikado, and on television shows such as The Avengers and The Scales of Justice. This is a great shot, bouffant hair, lace top, pink background, and all.

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Femmes Fatales Aug 17 2023
ROGERS THE RIVETER
This thing reminds me of my ex-boyfriend—loud as hell and powered by compressed gas.


Above: cinema sweetheart Ginger Rogers poses with a pneumatic rivet gun in a promo image made for her wartime romantic drama Tender Comrade. The movie is about Rogers and three other women sharing a house and working in an airplane factory while their fellas are away on the front. It was a wild success and looked patriotic to filmgoers, but somehow the reactionaries and opportunists comprising HUAC—the House Un-American Activities Committee—in an effort to blacklist the writer Dalton Trumbo turned Tender Comrade upside down and managed to shake out what it claimed were examples of communist propaganda. As we've noted before, history has rendered its verdict on HUAC, and it isn't a good one. 

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Vintage Pulp May 8 2023
YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
Is Django le carogne hanno un prezzo a disaster from start to finish? Why of corpse it is!

We love it when a plan comes together. We told you we hoped to watch this movie, and luckily it premiered today in 1971, mere weeks after we featured co-star Dominique Badou and her bizarro butt stripe. What you're seeing is a poster for the spaghetti western Anche per Django le carogne hanno un prezzo, known in English—amazingly—as Django's Cut Price Corpses. But a unique and snazzy title does not a good movie make. Pardner, this is by far the worst western we've ever seen. It has to be a satire. It absolutely must. But as we've discussed before with satire, if it's poorly made you often lose the ability to discern whether the filmmakers actually are just inept.

This one—and by the way we don't actually think it's a satire—is the sad work of Luigi Batzella, whose other movies include Achtung! The Desert Tigers and The Devil's Wedding Night. So it turns out Django's Cut Price Corpses isn't such a unique title after all. The movie is about bounty hunter Jeff Cameron searching for the notorious Cortez Brothers, who recently stole gold from a Silver City bank and kidnapped a woman. Cameron rides into town and pre-orders some coffins, signaling his firm intent to kill, in a bit that is possibly—no definitely—stolen from Clint Eastwood. He makes an uneasy partnership with Gengher Gatti and John Desmont, who both want the Cortez Brothers for their own reasons, and off they go into the hills on their hunt.

However, Cameron may have secret motives. Oh, hell, why are we bothering to be coy? He's really there to rescue his fiancée Dominique Badoue, who is the kidnappee from the bank job. This twist is revealed by the undercover cowboy in the final two minutes. Yes, that's a spoiler, but we care about you, and now maybe you'll watch a better movie, or read a good book, or drink a bottle of mezcal and hurl, or get an eyelid tattoo, or have someone smash your fingers flat with a meat tenderizer on a marble countertop. All are better options than Luigi's cut price western. How bad are we talking? In the wide shots we kept expecting to see cars passing and—bingo!— at moment 36:34 in a stagecoach scene, there it was. No horses were harmed in the making of Anche per Django le carogne hanno un prezzo, but numerous careers should have ended up in the glue factory.

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Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 25
1938—Alicante Is Bombed
During the Spanish Civil War, a squadron of Italian bombers sent by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini to support the insurgent Spanish Nationalists, bombs the town of Alicante, killing more than three-hundred people. Although less remembered internationally than the infamous Nazi bombing of Guernica the previous year, the death toll in Alicante is similar, if not higher.
1977—Star Wars Opens
George Lucas's sci-fi epic Star Wars premiers in the Unites States to rave reviews and packed movie houses. Produced on a budget of $11 million, the film goes on to earn $460 million in the U.S. and $337 million overseas, while spawning a franchise that would eventually earn billions and make Lucas a Hollywood icon.
May 24
1930—Amy Johnson Flies from England to Australia
English aviatrix Amy Johnson lands in Darwin, Northern Territory, becoming the first woman to fly from England to Australia. She had departed from Croydon on May 5 and flown 11,000 miles to complete the feat. Her storied career ends in January 1941 when, while flying a secret mission for Britain, she either bails out into the Thames estuary and drowns, or is mistakenly shot down by British fighter planes. The facts of her death remain clouded today.
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