Before we start let me just warm my hands by the fire. Last time your little guys shriveled up like two prunes.
More classic sleaze, 1964's Sexurbia County, by Orrie Hitt, who we've discussed often. We didn't read this, and there's no need—we've braved several of his novels now, and they're all pretty much the same. We're putting together a collection of suburban sleaze covers you should find somewhat entertaining. Look for that in a bit. The art on this is uncredited.
*sigh* This was more fun before the social distancing thing.
Orrie Hitt turns his sleazolicious talents to the subject of nudism for the succinctly titled Nudist Camp, published by Beacon Signal in 1957. We're treated to the story of an Icelandic immigrant to the U.S. named Della who finds herself needing to earn her keep due to a looming divorce, and turns her patch of rural land into a nudist resort. Problem is her partner in this scheme is secretly planning to photograph the visitors and blackmail them with the prints. When Della finds out, she's aghast, and bends her efforts toward thwarting this rude plan, leading to a scheme to steal the photos and hopefully burn them. Mixed into the intrigue is a bit of romance, and lots of waxing rhapsodic about Iceland and its beautiful women. That part Hitt actually got right. We've been there, and the women do in fact often have perfect ivory skin. Despite these factoids, and the exploration of body-free culture, Nudist Camp is a preposterous tale, uninspiringly told, signifying very little. You know what would have made it a lot better? More nudity. Go and figure.
It looks amazing, baby. Er... aaaand should look even better on my lovely wife. Thanks for letting me test it on your neck.
Sometimes when you're caught you're caught. You can try and brazen the moment out, but it usually does no good, at least in mid-century fiction. From there it's just a short distance to mayhem, murder, trials, prison, and all the other fun stuff that makes genre fiction worth reading. From James M. Cain's iconic The Postman Always Rings Twice to J.X. Williams' ridiculous The Sin Scene, infidelity is one of the most reliable and common plot devices. What isn't common is cover art that depicts the precise moment of being caught. Of all the cover collections we've put together, this was the hardest one for which to find examples, simply because there are no easy search parameters. We managed a grand total of sixteen (yes, there's a third person on the cover of Ed Schiddel's The Break-Up—note the hand pushing open the door). The artists here are L.B. Cole, Harry Schaare, Tom Miller, Bernard Safran, and others. And we have two more excellent examples of this theme we posted a while back. Check here and here.
So she likes to have fun. Do we really need to put a label on it?
The lush of Orrie Hitt's The Lady Is a Lush is the character Amy Collins mentioned in the cover blurb, but her husband Chip really deserves the title. Like his wife he's screwing around, and like her he makes terrible decisions under the influence of booze, but lacks the sense to avoid getting one of his flings pregnant. At one point he finds condoms in Amy's purse and is relieved she's being careful about her extracurriculars, but does he follow her example? No. Things get pretty dark, but after some drama and soul searching he basically comes up roses. Not so for Amy, who does the full downward spiral. We'll say this much—this is a better-than-usual effort from Hitt. The characters are believable and the backdrop of a small-time trucking company works. If you're going to read him, this is one to try. The Beacon-Signal cover is iconic, yet uncredited.
So I gather *smooch* we're not going to make it *smack* to the movie?
Orrie Hitt's 1957 sleazer Untamed Lust is better-than-usual work from him about a strapping farmhand and trapper named Eddie who lands a job on a big spread peopled by a sadistic invalid, his highly sexed wife, and his highly sexed daughter. Eddie has a girlfriend, highly sexed, who wants to marry him, but Ed, who's highly sexed, wants to nail the wife and daughter, not lose his job as a result, and avoid a murder-for-inheritance plot. Complications ensue.
Is it just us, or is it way too exhausting to consider trying to bed three women who are part of the same household? Maybe we're not highly sexed enough. Eddie spends a lot of time snaring defenseless animals, and we think there's a metaphor in there, but for the life of us we can't puzzle it out. Hitt is just too subtle for us. The cover art here is obviously in no way farm related. It looks more like office or suburban sleaze.
Beacon assistant editor: “But this art has nothing to do with the story. Eddie's a trapper who never wore a suit in his life, and the chicks are all earthy farm girls.”
Beacon head honcho: “You're fired.”
The cover art is obviously something Beacon-Signal picked up, possibly from an earlier paperback, just because it was easier than commissioning a custom cover. They didn't even bother to credit the artist. But whatever. You like highly sexed farm girls and hunting? This book is for you. But keep in mind, though we said above it's better than the usual Orrie Hitt, it's still nothing approaching a masterpiece.
I know you were expecting a trio, but that third chick was too freaky even for us.
We don't know why only two women appear on the cover of Three Strange Women. Sleaze author extraordinaire Orrie Hitt occupies the Kay Addams pseudonym for a story of underwear models, nudie photos, dirty movies, and the always popular lesbian evil. There's Norma, Gail, Susan, and a male love interest, and as our subhead hints, one of the women does end up too freaky for polite society and finds herself in the legal system being sentenced for violent crimes. We have several efforts from Hitt we'll discuss in more detail later. This one is from 1964 with cover art by unknown.
But I don't want a new husband. I never even liked the old one.
The Widow is typical Orrie Hitt sleaze about a man torn between nice but sexy Norma, and bad girl Linda, whose husband leaves the narrative early when he cracks up his hot rod. The main character Jerry, a widower who hasn't been the same since that tragic event, soon finds himself not only caught between the nice girl and the new widow, but being pushed into a murder-for-money plot. This is always a bad idea, but reading Hitt is sometimes a good one, as long as you can appreciate his unique stories without being too concerned with writing ability. We just scored eight of his books, so you'll be hearing about him in more detail. 1959 on this one, with uncredited cover art.
*sigh* Sense of safety. Last shred of dignity. Trust in people's basic goodness. I think I lost all those tonight.
Sleazemeister general Orrie Hitt's Ex-Virgin is the story of a gaggle of youthful characters with zero life prospects stuck on the worst street in a jerkwater town. Abysmally dumb boys and girls have sex, cheat on each other, and roll the dice on pregnancy. In the midst of all this an innocent beauty hopes to make a good life for herself. But she lets a boy sample her wares, and once that becomes known her reputation goes down the tubes, with detrimental effects. Put this in the scare-kids-out-of-having-sex category. It's all very monotonous thanks to Hitt's colorless writing style. The cover art on this 1959 Beacon edition, which does not depict a scene that occurs anywhere in the story, is by Fred Rodewald, and was adapted from a piece that originally appeared on a September 1949 cover of True Crime Cases.
That's a hell of a knee you got there, baby. If the rest of you's anything like that knee the sky's the limit.
The Promoter, which appeared in 1957 from Beacon Books, is about the dirty picture racket, which is ironic considering how often author Orrie Hitt skirted obscenity laws. When the lead character Bill Morgan, normally a writer for an auto magazine, is recruited by a minister to investigate the big city under-the-counter porn racket he finds himself at first thwarted, then in over his head. He's also supposed to find the minister's missing daughter. Hmm... wonder where she'll turn up? You really get the feeling Hitt is speaking from experience when he describes how the porn industry worked during the mid-1950s, but the book isn't well written. Hitt churned out a novel every couple of weeks, and the haste shows. The best thing we can say is that the scenario is interesting. We know—we aren't exactly promoting sales of the book, but what can we do? At least the cover art is great. It's by the excellent Walter Popp, and had been previously used in 1953 for Harry Whittington's Wild Oats. Click Popp's keywords below for more visual treats. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1959—Lou Costello Dies
American comedian Lou Costello, of the famous comedy team Abbott & Costello, dies of a heart attack at Doctors' Hospital in Beverly Hills, three days before his 53rd birthday. His career spanned radio and film, silent movies and talkies, vaudeville and cinema, and in his heyday he was, along with partner Abbott, one of the most beloved personalities in Hollywood.
1933—King Kong Opens
The first version of King Kong
, starring Bruce Cabot, Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray, and with the giant ape Kong brought to life with stop-action photography, opens at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The film goes on to play worldwide to good reviews and huge crowds, and spawns numerous sequels and reworkings over the next eighty years.
1949—James Gallagher Completes Round-the-World Flight
Captain James Gallagher and a crew of fourteen land their B-50 Superfortress named Lucky Lady II in Fort Worth, Texas, thus completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight. The entire trip from takeoff to touchdown took ninety-four hours and one minute.
1953—Oscars Are Shown on Television
The 26th Academy Awards are broadcast on television by NBC, the first time the awards have been shown on television. Audiences watch live as From Here to Eternity wins for Best Picture, and William Holden and Audrey Hepburn earn statues in the best acting categories for Stalag 17 and Roman Holiday.
1912—First Parachute Jump Takes Place
Albert Berry jumps from a biplane traveling at 1,500 feet and lands by parachute at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. The 36 foot diameter chute was contained in a metal canister attached to the underside of the plane, and when Berry dropped from the plane his weight pulled the canopy from the canister. Rather than being secured into the chute by a harness, Berry was seated on a trapeze bar. It's possible he was only the second man to accomplish a parachute landing, as there are some accounts of someone accomplishing the feat in California several months earlier.
1932—Lindbergh Baby Is Kidnapped
The twenty-month-old son of aviator Charles Lindbergh, Charles Augustus Lindbergh III, is kidnapped from the family home in East Amwell, New Jersey. Over two months later the toddler's body is discovered in woods a short distance from the home. A medical examination determines that he had died of a massive skull fracture. A German carpenter named Bruno Hauptmann is arrested, tried, and convicted for the crime. He is sentenced to death and executed in April 1936.
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