Vintage Pulp Dec 20 2020
HEAVY HITTER
Which is louder—his shotgun or his wardrobe?


Above you see two posters for the blaxploitation flick Hit Man, which premiered in the U.S. today in 1972 and stars NFL player-turned-actor Bernie Casey as a man from Oakland who blows into L.A. to investigate his brother's murder. His brother ran a used car lot, but had gotten on the bad side of some local criminals. How he did that, who these bad people are, and what they're up to are the questions at the crux of the narrative, and when Casey finally learns the truth he's horrified and infuriated in equal measure, which turns him into a leisure-suited revenant with murder in his eyes and a gun in his hands.

What is neither horrifying nor infuriating is that Pam Grier is in this, which makes it a must watch in our book, and she holds nothing back, sporting a quantum leap forward in afro science, and proving once again that she was a fearless performer. Nevertheless, she and Casey can't make Hit Man good despite their best efforts. But on the other hand, it isn't awful either, and in the middle isn't a bad place to be in b-cinema, considering how deeply terrible the films can get.

Hit Man has a couple of miscellaneous notes of interest. A bit of filming takes place at Watts Towers, Simon Rodia's italo folk art monument that was designated a historic site in 1990. We've seen the place in person and we loved it because its mosaics reminded us of the type you see on modernist architecture in Barcelona. The production photo of Grier in a long black dress, below, was shot at the site. It's one of the most famous images of her, and one of the most badass too.

Hit Man also makes use of a location called Africa America, an open air animal preserve of the type made famous by Tiger King. We can't find any trace online that it ever existed, so there's no way to know for sure whether it was a real zoo, an MGM set, or something in between, such as a private ranch dressed up for filming. But it plays an important role in the plot, as do its hungry lions. If they'd eaten a few of the worst script pages, and a couple of bad supporting actors, and maybe Casey's purple leisure suit, Hit Man might be better than just okay. But lions are finicky like all cats, and most amateur film critics.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 15 2019
HAUNTED SPOUSE
Divorce probably would have been the easier option.


Conflict was Humphrey Bogart's follow-up to the crowd pleasing To Have and Have Not, and he takes a dark turn as a man whose bad marriage is complicated by the fact that he's fallen in love with his sister-in-law. He's willing to kill to be free, but his plan goes sideways, as they always do. We won't go into detail except to note that, interestingly, Bogart begins to see the same jumbled pyramidal shape everywhere—in a pile of fallen logs, in an architectural drawing, in the kindling set up to start a bonfire, etc. It's a Hitchcockian touch designed to symbolize the inner conflict of the title, but why exactly is he seeing these things? Is it because he killed his wife? Or because he botched his opportunity and now she's trying to drive him insane? We won't tell you. We'll only say that the winding road toward a resolution is reasonably entertaining, and Bogart can pull even a flawed film to the positive side of the ledger. Conflict, which co-starred Alexis Smith and Sydney Greenstreet, premiered in the U.S. today in 1945.

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Hollywoodland Oct 30 2015
PERFECT TIMING
Sørensen throws Playboy fans off her trail.


Tempo was a pocket-sized celeb and pop culture magazine published bi-weekly out of Atlanta and New York City by Sports Report, Inc. We don’t know how long it lasted—this one is vol. 7, issue 9—but we know we’ve never seen one dated before 1953 or after 1958. When Dane Arden appeared on the cover of this one from today in 1956, she was already famous thanks to her appearance as Playboy’s centerfold just the previous month. But she had posed under her real name Elsa Sørensen, and back then that may have kept most Playboy readers from realizing Sørensen and Arden were the same person. We have no idea if that was her intention, or why she’d have wanted to do it, but it’s curious. Our guess is that Playboy wanted an exclusive association with her Sørensen identity, and pressed her to choose a new name for future modeling. Or perhaps she thought of magazines like Tempo as lower class, and didn’t want to diminish her Playboy image. Strange, considering Tempo had been around longer, but possible. Or maybe she simply thought Elsa Sørensen was a little too Danish sounding for Hollywood. But there’s no evidence she ever had an interest in movies, and if she did wouldn’t she have been sacrificing much of the useful recognition she’d gained as a Playboy centerfold? All we can say is it’s one of history’s little mysteries. Hmm… that has a nice ring. Think we’ll claim that one—History’s Little Mysteries™. More Dane/Elsa below, plus Brigitte Bardot, Shirley Falls, Erroll Garner, Sabrina, the Cleveland Browns, Anita Ekberg, et al.

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Hollywoodland Sep 15 2015
THE BARE CONTESSA
Minor noble causes major scandal.


On the Q.T. labeled itself “The class magazine in its field.” In practice that was less than true. This cover from September 1962 offers teasers about Liz Taylor’s inability to be made happy, the fatal ring beating of boxer Kid Paret, and the inside story about Ivy Nicholson’s suicide attempt. But the banner goes to the nude countess who shocked America. That would be Christina Paolozzi, aka Christina Bellin, who was a New York City fashion model and the offspring of United Fruit Company heiress Alicia Spaulding and Italian conte Lorenzo Paolozzi. The photo was shot by Richard Avedon and appeared in Harper’s Bazaar. Paolozzi was already considered “the first of the ’60s free spirits” by the tabloids, and by stripping for Avedon she became the first recognized fashion model to pose nude, a practice that is now common.

While Avedon earned widespread recognition for the shot, which you see at right, Paolozzi was dropped from the New York City Social Register, shunned by Manhattan’s upper crust, and subjected in the press to what is today sometimes called “body shaming.” Columnist Inez Robb wrote that Paolozzi was “no more favored by nature than the average daughter of Eve,” and added for good measure, “Harper’s Bazaar, with its excursion into overexposure, has unwittingly proved that not diamonds but clothes are a girl’s best friend.” If that wasn’t bad enough, just imagine what people wrote in the comments section. They had those then, right?

In any case, Paolozzi was a bold personality, and she went on to make waves yet again with her many wild parties and open marriage to cosmetic surgeon Howard Bellin, commenting in a mid-1970s newspaper article, “[It’s] just the way life is today—one man is simply not enough.” But she didn’t just spend the years having a good time. She also raised money for hospitals in Cambodia and Gabon, orphanages in Afghanistan, and supported eighteen foster children. In a sense, she gave the shirt off her back. Twenty-eight scans from On the Q.T. below.


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Vintage Pulp Sep 6 2015
CABRAL VISIONS
Ernesto Garcia Cabral’s stylized work made him one of Mexico’s most collectible poster artists.


We’ve sung the praises of many European poster artists, but today we shift our attention to one from the Americas—Ernesto Garcia Cabral, aka El Chango, who was one of the top illustrators of Mexico during the mid-century period. His work appeared in publications such as El Universal Ilustrado, Excelsior, and Jueves de Excelsior, and he is also famed for his portraits of the acting legend Cantinflas. Below are six pieces of his genius work, and we’ll revisit him a bit later.

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Femmes Fatales Jan 9 2014
SAVAGE GRACE
She was always eager to take aim at new targets.

Above is a photo of American actress Jayne Kennedy from her hilarious television movie Mysterious Island of Beautiful Women. The shot doesn’t begin to do her justice yet she still looks great in it. Kennedy started in beauty pageants before sliding into television roles and blaxploitation flicks such as The Muthers and Big Time before veering into sports broadcasting in 1978 with The NFL Today. In pageants she was one of the first black women to blaze a trail, winning Miss Ohio in 1970 and making the semis at Miss U.S.A. the same year. In sportscasting she was one of the first women, black or white, to earn a prominent on-camera role, making her a dual trailblazer. Somewhere in there a sex tape leaked to the public, and since it was also one of the first, she can be said to have blazed a trail there too. Both of these shots are from 1979. 

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Sportswire Oct 18 2012
DODGE CITY
Are you ready for some football?

Did you know there was a football team called the Brooklyn Dodgers? This nice little piece of Americana reminds us of that fact. It’s the cover of a program for an NFL game between the Dodgers and the Washington Redskins, played at Ebbets Field today in 1942. The Brooklyn Dodgers football team existed from 1930 to 1944, at which point it became the Brooklyn Tigers for one season, then the next year merged with the Boston Yanks. This move came about due to a decline in the on-field product caused by wartime shortages of players. But before being folded into another franchise and effectively disappearing, the Dodgers helped bring the NFL into the mass media era when its October 22, 1939 game against the Philadelphia Eagles was broadcast on television. That was the first NFL broadcast ever. Another historical note: the unusual Dodgers nickname derives from the fact that through the late 1800s and early 1900s, there were so many trolley lines running through Brooklyn that people from that borough were called “trolley dodgers.” Naturally, this is also the reason the All-America Football Conference team called the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the baseball Brooklyn Dodgers, both adopted the nickname. Of course, baseball’s Dodgers were the first to do so, by decades. Lastly, on the cover is a photo of Frank Kinard, who played for the Dodgers/Tigers and, just to make the whole name thing even more convoluted, played for the New York Yankees of the All-America Football Conference. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971. You can learn plenty more about the Brooklyn Dodgers at the website luckyshow.org.

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Sportswire Nov 11 2010
LEADER OF THE PACK
Paul Hornung was one of the NFL’s greatest players, but he couldn’t outrun the truth.

Above is a Lowdown from November 1963, with stories on Liz Taylor, Jackie Gleason, Inger Stevens, and Green Bay Packers football player Paul Hornung, who had gotten into hot water with the NFL. Hornung enjoyed a fast lifestyle, and had gotten to know other fast people, including a gambler named Barney Shapiro who routinely called asking for inside information to facilitate his betting. Pretty soon, Hornung was betting too, up to $500 a game on both the pros and college. When NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle found out, he suspended Hornung for the 1963 season, which is about when Lowdown weighs in with their “not guilty!” claim. But Lowdown was wrong—Hornung was guilty, and he admitted it. The revelation was a stunner, and became a story so big that ESPN recently rated it the second most shocking sports scandal of all time, surpassed only by the O.J. Simpson murder trial. But Hornung had one thing going for him—he was beloved by football fans. Eager to forgive, they did exactly that when he repented. Convinced of his sincerity, the NFL reinstated Hornung for the 1964 season, and he continued a career that would end in the Hall of Fame. 

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Sportswire Apr 21 2010
BEN THERE, DONE THAT
Wild-eyed southern boy.

Word just came from the NFL commissioner’s office that two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Rothlisberger has been suspended for six games next season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Rothlisberger was accused of sexual assault by a twenty year-old college student, who says he raped her in a nightclub bathroom.

He faces no criminal charges, so the policy violation stems from his “poor judgment” in hanging around college bars trying to get young girls to hike his balls. Sigh. It’s a big, interesting world out there, filled with Eiffel Towers, Great Walls, Barrier Reefs, and Machu Picchus, yet guys like Rothlisberger spend their off-seasons playing Gears of War and killing deer. Don’t get us wrong—we understand that reaching an elite level of professional athletics eats up a tremendous amount of time and, as a consequence, an equal amount of self-awareness.

But there’s unaware and then there’s really unaware. Just as Tiger Woods should have known that being the most famous figure in American sports means affairs will eventually come out, Rothlisberger, who is twenty-eight, should know that putting the make on co-eds is a bad idea. Sure, they look good, and they’re probably not interested in your money, because at that age they think they’re going to be millionaires too one day, but the level of behavior in that environment is a recipe for disaster.

Example: one of our college acquaintances once dragged a girl by her heels through a fresh pizza that was lying on the floor. He did it on purpose, when she refused to leave his room. When you aren’t famous, you might get away with something that fucked up and misogynistic. But if Rothlisberger had done it, he’d be in jail right now. That’s why he shouldn’t hang around college students—college isn’t reality. That world is hard to let go, and if you aren’t famous, you don’t have to. But when you’re a millionaire celebrity, let go you must. Big Ben didn’t, and now his team (one of our favorites) will go through three eighths of the upcoming season without him. 

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Sportswire Jul 5 2009
AIR DISASTER
Ex-NFL MVP DOA in Tennessee.

Former NFL quarterback and one-time league MVP Steve "Air" McNair was found shot dead yesterday in his Nashville, Tennessee condominium. He was slumped on a sofa, with several gunshot wounds—including two to the head. Nearby was the body of 20-year-old Sahel Kazemi, who McNair reportedly knew from a restaurant he often dined at. She had a single gunshot wound to the head, and a weapon was on the floor underneath her.

McNair, 36, who played most of his career with the Tennessee Titans and on the football field was known for his physical style and fearlessness, had been out Friday night, and returned to his condo between 1:30 a.m. and 2:00 Saturday morning. According to witnesses, Kazemi’s car was already there, but it isn’t known yet if she was already at the scene or arrived with McNair. As of now, nobody is thought to have heard any disturbances, so the incident went unreported until the next afternoon, when McNair’s and Kazemi’s bodies were found by acquaintance Wayne Neely, who co-rents the condo.

One last detail of interest—Kazemi was arrested two days earlier for DUI, and at the time was driving a car registered to both her and McNair. McNair was in the vehicle, but was allowed to take a cab home because he had not broken the law. McNair’s wife, Mechell, is said to be very distraught over the news, and according to police is not a suspect in the deaths.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 07
1945—World War II Ends
At Reims, France, German General Alfred Jodl signs unconditional surrender terms, thus ending Germany's participation in World War II. Jodl is then arrested and transferred to the German POW camp Flensburg, and later he is made to stand before the International Military Tribunal at the Nuremberg Trials. At the conclusion of the trial, Jodl is sentenced to death and hanged as a war criminal.
1954—French Are Defeated at Dien Bien Phu
In Vietnam, the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, which had begun two months earlier, ends in a French defeat. The United States, as per the Mutual Defense Assistance Act, gave material aid to the French, but were only minimally involved in the actual battle. By 1961, however, American troops would begin arriving in droves, and within several years the U.S. would be fully embroiled in war.
May 06
1937—The Hindenburg Explodes
In the U.S, at Lakehurst, New Jersey, the German zeppelin LZ 129 Hindenburg catches fire and is incinerated within a minute while attempting to dock in windy conditions after a trans-Atlantic crossing. The disaster, which kills thirty-six people, becomes the subject of spectacular newsreel coverage, photographs, and most famously, Herbert Morrison's recorded radio eyewitness report from the landing field. But for all the witnesses and speculation, the actual cause of the fire remains unknown.
May 05
1921—Chanel No. 5 Debuts
Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel, the pioneering French fashion designer whose modernist philosophy, menswear-inspired styles, and pursuit of expensive simplicity made her an important figure in 20th-century fashion, introduces the perfume Chanel No. 5, which to this day remains one of the world's most legendary and best selling fragrances.
1961—First American Reaches Space
Three weeks after Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to fly into space, U.S. astronaut Alan Shepard completes a sub-orbit of fifteen minutes, returns to Earth, and is rescued from his Mercury 3 capsule in the Atlantic Ocean. Shepard made several more trips into space, even commanding a mission at age 47, and was eventually awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
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