Vintage Pulp May 27 2023
SEEDS OF TROUBLE
When America's borders are penetrated the government unleashes a load of C-Men.


This is a pretty interesting poster for the crime drama 'C'-Man, a movie dealing with the intrepid customs men who confiscate contraband passing through U.S. borders and arrest the criminals who broke the law. Though the possibility amuses us in the most juvenile way, we don't think customs men were ever called c-men, and the reason why is obvious. In any case, Dean Jagger stars as a New York City c-man who investigates the murder of his pal and colleague who'd been investigating a ring of jewel thieves. He goes undercover, takes a couple of beatings, and develops an affection for Lottie Elwen, who plays the dupe girlfriend of one of the smugglers.

This is strictly a low budget affair, barely viable even as a b-movie. It was shot fast, all the sound except for one nightclub scene was recorded natively, and it doesn't seem as if retakes were usually an option. There's no doubt the c-men will come out on top, and when you add in the opening thank-you to the “agents of the U.S. Treasury Department, without whose assistance this film could not have been made,” what you have is a cheap propaganda piece, one in which the lauded and noble subjects of the cinematic stroke job don't even come out looking that great. There are infinitely better vintage crime dramas, as well as better propaganda flicks, so in our opinion you can skip this one. 'C'-Man premiered today in 1949.
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Vintage Pulp Oct 23 2020
SWAMPED AT WORK
A trapper's job turns into a battle of wits and a test of survival.


The movie Swamp Water is based on Vereen Bell's 1941 novel of the same name. We read the book a while back and loved it, so having a look at the movie adaptation was mandatory. Jean Renoir directs a heavyweight cast: Walter Brennan, Walter Huston, Dana Andrews, an eighteen-year old Anne Baxter, and even John Carradine. Brennan is the key character, playing a murder suspect hiding in the Okefenokee Swamp. He's considered an all-time great actor, and here he plays a backwoods good ole boy, mouthing dialogue like, “I bet I been cottonmouth bit a dozen times.” When we heard that line we had to laugh, because it prefigures his famous soliloquy from 1946's To Have and Have Not about being “bit by a dead bee.”

There's more excellent dialogue in this. Our favorite line: “It's gettin' so I don't expect nothin' from you 'cept a bossified tongue and a cussin' out.”

While the script is fun, we didn't think Bell's book would be easily adaptable and we were right. One of the pleasures of the novel is its extensive focus on the geography of the swamp, but there was no way that could fit into the film. The air of deep foreboding and mystery is also missing. For those and other reasons what you end up with is a so-so old movie made from an excellent old book. The script closely follows the source material, so if you want to know a bit more about the plot, we posted a short write-up on the novel here. Swamp Water opened across the U.S. in November 1941, but before its national debut had a special premiere in the town of Waycross, Georgia, where much of the movie was made. That was today, 1941.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 19
1966—Sinatra Marries Farrow
Superstar singer and actor Frank Sinatra marries 21-year-old actress Mia Farrow, who is 30 years younger than him. The marriage lasts two years.
July 18
1925—Mein Kampf Published
While serving time in prison for his role in a failed coup, Adolf Hitler dictaes and publishes volume 1 of his manifesto Mein Kampf (in English My Struggle or My Battle), the book that outlines his theories of racial purity, his belief in a Jewish conspiracy to control the world, and his plans to lead Germany to militarily acquire more land at the expense of Russia via eastward expansion.
July 17
1955—Disneyland Begins Operations
The amusement park Disneyland opens in Orange County, California for 6,000 invitation-only guests, before opening to the general public the following day.
1959—Holiday Dies Broke
Legendary singer Billie Holiday, who possessed one of the most unique voices in the history of jazz, dies in the hospital of cirrhosis of the liver. She had lost her earnings to swindlers over the years, and upon her death her bank account contains seventy cents.
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