Vintage Pulp May 1 2022
THE OLD BUMP AND GRIND
Who do you think you're calling a lady?


We had to watch this one. Lady of Burlesque is an adaptation of Gypsy Rose Lee's 1941 murder mystery The G-String Murders, which we talked about not long ago, describing it as a must-read due to its commingling of burlesque and murder. The movie sticks to much the same course as the book. Murder takes place backstage at a burlesque house and the dancers get together to try and solve the crime. Barbara Stanwyck is thirty-six here and showing excellent abs playing a rising stage star calling herself Dixie Daisy. She gets a solo dance that omits the bold bumps and hipshaking of true burlesque, but it's still a nice number.

The chief problem with Lee's novel is its clunky focus on backstage patter instead of the murder mystery. The movie solves that problem—not by focusing more on the mystery, but by bringing the entertaining burlesque and comedy performances to life, which replaces the weaknesses of Lee's book with strengths. Neat trick, and a pretty neat movie. Did Stanwyck ever headline a failure? We suppose she must have, but we haven't seen it yet. She's not thought of by some as a great cinematic beauty, but if you agree with that assessment this movie may change your mind. Lady of Burlesque premiered today in 1943.
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Vintage Pulp Jan 31 2022
SECOND STRING
Lee needs a bit more practice before playing with the first team.


We couldn't have a pulp website and not get to this book eventually. Gypsy Rose Lee's 1941 novel The G-String Murders, for which you see an uncredited 1947 Pocket Books edition above, combines two major ingredients of pulp literature—murder and burlesque. Lee is both the author and main character, as setting-wise, a group of dancers and comedians work the stage at an NYC burlesque house called the Old Opera. In the midst of their relationships, jealousies, and petty squabbles, a dancer named Lolita la Verne turns up dead, strangled with a g-string. Since nobody liked her the suspects are numerous. The police are less than effective, so Lee and her boyfriend Biff take on the task of solving the murder, and eventually, a second.

There are some problems with the book. It's messy, undisciplined, meandering, and the first murder doesn't happen until a quarter of the way through the story. An excellent writer could pull off deferring the plot driver, but not Lee. That long deferral involves plenty of backstage burlesque atmosphere, but even there Lee comes up a little short. Val Munroe's Carnival of Passion, for example, really delves into the nuts and bolts of burlesque and does it in an engaging way. Considering the fact that Lee actually lived the life she should have done better with that part. Still it's a first novel, and better than many. We read somewhere that her second was good, so we're looking around for it. If we find it, we'll be talking about her as an author again.

 
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Femmes Fatales Sep 3 2020
ADELE YOU CAN'T REFUSE
She barely stomached Hollywood.


Adele Jergens, who appeared in I Love Trouble, The Corpse Came C.O.D., The Dark Path, and numerous other films, got her start in show business, like so many actresses of her era, when she won the a beauty contest—Miss World's Fairest, at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Later, as one of the famed Rockettes dancing troupe, she was named the number one showgirl in New York City. This led to her serving as understudy to burlesque dancer Gypsy Rose Lee in the Broadway production Star and Garter, and from there Jergens never looked back. That's probably why she forgot half of her sweater. This fun image of her with bare midriff was made in Los Angeles in 1946, by the pool at the famed Town House Hotel, a locale we've talked about more than once. Find out why by clicking its keywords below and scrolling through those posts, and you can do the same with Jergens if you want to see what else we've posted about her.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 4 2019
TOKYO AFTER DARK
When the lights go down the stars come out.


This beautiful poster with a statuesque dancer front and center was made to promote a documentary on burlesque, a Japan-only release with no western distribution or title, called 日本の夜, which basically would translate as “Japanese Nights.” The central figure is Gypsy Rose Lee, and the movie was filmed in 1962 by Keiji Oono—not in Japan, but rather largely at Le Lido de Paris, home of the legendary Bluebell Girls. Le Lido still exists, though it's moved from its original 1946 location. If it's anything like the poster, with singers and geishas and glittering comet trails, we'll be visiting on our next trip to Paris.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 28 2016
ALL OF MIMI
Ekberg as a stripper is a dream come true but she brings a nightmare with her.


Based on a 1949 novel of the same name by Frederic Brown, Screaming Mimi stars Anita Ekberg as a traumatized burlesque dancer who can’t shake the memory of being attacked by a knife-wielding maniac. She’s committed to a mental institution, where her psychiatrist promptly falls in love with her and helps her escape and create a new identity. Now dancing at a club in Laguna Beach, California, she’s the hottest draw in the area and her former doctor is her lover and protector, but also smothers and dominates her. Can the anonymity last? Of course not.

Enter stage right an entitled horndog who won’t take no for an answer. After Ekberg survives another knife attack, the new man in her life—who’s also a reporter—has all the justification he needs to trail poor Anita everywhere she goes, as the doctor meanwhile tries to protect her fake identity and keep her and the reporter from falling into bed together. Chances of success? Probably not very good.

Screaming Mimi is an interesting noir—it was fertile enough to serve as inspiration for Dario Argento’s L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo, aka The Bird with the Crystal Plumage—but its b-movie budget really shows and we think Philip Carey is miscast as the reporter/hero. Carey has no charm at all in this, which renders Ekberg’s interest in him unbelievable. But his performance will be a treat for patrons of the Noir City festmost will probably remember him from his twenty-four-year stint as the repulsive Asa Buchanan on the soap opera One Life To Live.

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Hollywoodland Sep 15 2010
STRIP SEARCH
On the Q.T. sees strippers everywhere.

On the Q.T. asks on this September 1963 cover whether Hollywood has gone strip crazy, and they have a bit of a point, for once. In the previous year, more or less, movies that featured stripping as a major plot device included Natalie Wood’s Gypsy Rose Lee biopic Gypsy, as well as A Cold Wind in August, Portrait of a Young Man, Girl in Trouble, Night of Evil, Satan in High Heels and The Stripper, with Joanne Woodward. There were possibly even more films, but you get the drift—Hollywood had indeed discovered strippers and had begun featuring them to titillating effect. But while some of the films were more serious and racy than others, none actually showed any naughty bits, despite the breathlessness of On the Q.T.’s reporting.

Other countries, notably France, had already unveiled the human form in cinema, but the first true nude scene in a mainstream American motion picture (excepting the pre-Code films of early Hollywood) came in Sidney Lumet’s 1964 drama The Pawnbroker when both Linda Geiser and African-American actress Thelma Oliver bared their torsos. Interestingly, the nudity barrier probably would have been breached in 1962 by Marilyn Monroe, who filmed a semi-nude pool frolick in Something’s Got To Give. But the production was scrapped, so we’ll never know whether the scenes would have been released as originally shot. Thus two obscure actresses take the prize, and from that point forward Hollywood’s floodgates were open. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
December 06
1989—Anti-Feminist Gunman Kills 14
In Montreal, Canada, at the École Polytechnique, a gunman shoots twenty-eight young women with a semi-automatic rifle, killing fourteen. The gunman claimed to be fighting feminism, which he believed had ruined his life. After the killings he turns the gun on himself and commits suicide.
December 05
1933—Prohibition Ends in United States
Utah becomes the 36th U.S. state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution, thus establishing the required 75% of states needed to overturn the 18th Amendment which had made the sale of alcohol illegal. But the criminal gangs that had gained power during Prohibition are now firmly established, and maintain an influence that continues unabated for decades.
1945—Flight 19 Vanishes without a Trace
During an overwater navigation training flight from Fort Lauderdale, five U.S. Navy TBM Avenger torpedo-bombers lose radio contact with their base and vanish. The disappearance takes place in what is popularly known as the Bermuda Triangle.
December 04
1918—Wilson Goes to Europe
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sails to Europe for the World War I peace talks in Versailles, France, becoming the first U.S. president to travel to Europe while in office.
1921—Arbuckle Manslaughter Trial Ends
In the U.S., a manslaughter trial against actor/director Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle ends with the jury deadlocked as to whether he had killed aspiring actress Virginia Rappe during rape and sodomy. Arbuckle was finally cleared of all wrongdoing after two more trials, but the scandal ruined his career and personal life.
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