To shoot him... to shoot him not... to shoot him... to shoot him not...
This photo shows legendary Polish actress Pola Negri, one of the most popular, influential, and highly paid stars of her time. As a megacelebrity she popularized numerous fashion trends, including red toenails. Her fortune was greatly diminished no thanks to the 1929 stock market crash and gold-digging husband Serge Mdivani's bad investment decisions. She divorced Mdivani in 1931, and we hope he counted himself lucky not to have been murdered in his sleep, considering what a terrible husband he'd been. Negri kept acting through the 1930s, had a single role during the 1940s, and finally hung it up after 1964's The Moon-Spinners. In total she appeared in more than seventy films and became one of Hollywood's iconic stars. This shot was made in 1928 for her role as Princess Fedora in The Woman from Moscow.
Polish painter turns pain into an abstract concept.
This Polish promo poster was made for the 1965 Japanese psychodrama Utsukushisa to kanashimi to, which in Poland was called Piekno i ból. That translates to “beauty and pain,” whereas the Japanese translates as “with beauty and sorrow.” Both translations are apt descriptions of the movie, which is just as bizarre and twisted as the poster art. We talked about it a while back, so if you're interested have a look here. The poster was painted by Maciej Hibner, a well regarded illustrator active during the ’50s and ’60s whose output is considered collectible today. A lot of his stuff has this same fine art look, which is very different than what we usually share here, but worth a gander just for the sake of its stark contrast with the Japanese poster. We may try to dig up more on Hibner later.
Faux vintage album cover raises Leeding question.
The album above sleeve looks old, doesn't it? It's actually a new release by Polish deejay Bonny Larmes purposely weathered to have that vintage look. We also have the black and white photo his graphic designer worked from, and you'll notice right away that the record the model is holding behind her back has changed from Polish jazz to Rod McKuen's Time of Desire. Since McKuen's record came out in 1958, that gives us a ballpark date on the original image.
Bonny Larmes is fine, but his music isn't why we posted his album. We're interested in the model. Incidentally, you probably noticed her asscrack hair. If not, look to the right (or above, if you're viewing on mobile). Now you've noticed. Asscrack hair is a relic of the past you'd never see in a modern photo. We think it's cute, but the question is whose asscrack hair is it? Well, the model here is identified everywhere as actress Lila Leeds, but this is another internet replication error, because there ain't no way the woman you see above is also the woman you see below—and the woman below is definitely Lila Leeds.
For even more proof check a 1949 photo, probably her most famous shot, at this link. See what we mean? We also seriously doubt Leeds ever posed nude, and if she did, certainly she never posed asscrack nude. So, hairy girl, not Leeds. But who is she? We took a long look around the internet and came up with nothing, so we'll probably never know. But the main thing is to have at least one site come to poor Lila's defense. And they say chivalry is dead.
I swear to you that is not my hairy asscrack!
Pulp and art deco. Two great tastes that rarely went together.
The pulp era is generally agreed as having commenced the last several years of the 19th century and having ended during the 1950s. Art deco is agreed to have begun around 1900 and ended around the beginning of World War II. Despite co-existing, they occupied the same place surprisingly little. You would see crossover in cinematic adaptations of pulp material such as Flash Gordon, with its deco styled spaceships and costumes. Some pulp magazines had art deco influenced fonts, and some hardbacks had art deco sleeve art, such as those designed by Edna Reindel for W.R. Burnett's novels Iron Man and Saint Johnson. But when popular paperbacks and magazines began to focus on high quality cover art they developed their own visual style which we think of today as good girl art, or GGA.
But even if pulp and art deco didn't mix much back then, they mix here. Today we have an issue of Paris Plaisirs published in 1929 with drawings, paintings, studio photography, French wit and more. The cover photo-illustration was shot by Lucien Waléry, also known as Stanisław Julian Ignacy Ostroróg. Though his name was Polish he was a British citizen, born in London after his father Stanisław Julian Ostroróg—also a famed photographer—emigrated there in 1856 and became a citizen in 1862. The younger Ostroróg took the pseudonym Waléry and thus forever created confusion with earlier photographers who had used the same name. We won't bother unwinding all those Walérys. You can see another of our Waléry's beautiful art deco covers here, and we have other issues of Paris Plaisirs you can see by clicking the keywords at bottom.
Who, him? He'll be fine in a minute or two. Everyone who eats here reacts that way when they see their check.
Author Igor B. Maslowski was born in 1914 in Smolensk, Russia, which his parents left to settle in Poland, where Maslowski grew up. After studying French in Warsaw, he went to Paris to study law, and in 1935 he became a reporter for French radio. Later he became a film and theater critic, and from there he moved into writing fiction under his own name and the pseudonym Renée Gaudin. Above you see a very nice cover for his mystery Le jury avait soif, with unattributed art. The book was published by Éditions le Bruyère for its Collection la Cagoule in 1950, and the title in English means “the jury was thirsty.” However, the type of jury here is not a judicial one, but a literary one, convened to select the winner of a prize, a pursuit that's disrupted when one of the panel turns up dead. Pretty soon someone else is dead, and someone else, which in a way isn't a surprise, because the world of literature is actually pretty cutthroat. Aspiring novelists beware. Below, as a bonus, you see a cover of the same novel from Éditions du Chardon's Collection le Carillon, 1954.
You know something? Umecka me crazy.
Polish actress Yolanta Umecka appeared in only five films, one of which was Roman Polanski's Academy Award nominated drama Nóz w wodzie, aka Knife in the Water, in which she plays a young wife whose husband (studpidly) invites a (virile young) hitchhiker along on (what was supposed to be) their romantic lake outing, and is shocked when she (enthusiatically) cheats on him. These husbands just never learn. The above image is a promo from the film, 1966.
Reaching the top isn’t easy. Staying on top is even harder.
Above is a Spanish poster by Josep Soligó Tena for La casa de la colina, which was originally released in the U.S. as The House on Telegraph Hill. The movie tells the story of a Polish concentration camp survivor—played by Valentina Cortese—who upon release takes the identity of her dead friend, and later insinuates herself into the lives of the dead woman’s San Francisco relatives. This identity swap is the classic Hitchcockian MacGuffin, which is to say it initially seems to be the plot driver, but later isn’t important at all. While Cortese’s labyrinthine lie is always a worrisome background element, the movie is really about how she finds herself embroiled in an inheritance mess and a love triangle. We thought this movie was quite good, but you do have to ignore bits like the improbable placement of a child’s playhouse above a sheer drop (in a sense, another MacGuffin, as the threat of falling has no bearing at all on later developments). Highly recommended movie, and it has nice San Fran exteriors as a bonus. The House on Telegraph Hill premiered in the U.S. in 1951, and as La casa de la colina in Spain today in 1952. See more work from Tena here.
A Rampage of epic proportions.
Lots of skin this week. Don’t blame us. It’s all a matter of publishing randomness. You know we like to share items on the date they originally appeared, and it seems the stars have aligned for a naked mid-November. Above you have a Rampage published today in 1973, with rare photos of German actress Alice Arno and men’s mag fave Joyce Gibson. The monster referenced on the cover is Dean Corll, a serial killer who abducted, raped, tortured, and murdered at least 28 boys in and around Houston, Texas, from 1970 to 1973. He had been killed two months earlier by his accomplice Elmer Wayne Henley during a showdown over two potential victims, and terrifying details of the crimes had been laid bare for the American public, which was still trying to wrap its head around the concept of serial killers. We may get into the Corll murders a bit later. This is our eighth issue of Rampage, and you can see the others at our trusty tabloid index.
History’s most storied serial killer finally identified.
Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper has published a story in which it claims infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper has been identified through DNA testing. The analysis was performed on a shawl found by police on the body of Catherine Eddowes, the fourth of the Ripper’s canonical victims, killed on the same night as Elizabeth Stride in what is termed by Ripper scholars as “The Double Event.” The shawl had recently been bought at auction by an amateur sleuth and passed on to genetic experts, who took samples from the fabric and found matches to the DNA of descendants of Eddowes, and to the descendants of Aaron Kosminski, an original Ripper suspect who had been questioned and surveilled by police back in 1888.
The Mail has said the new evidence “puts to end the fevered speculation over the Ripper’s identity,” but we imagine independent corroboration will probably have to follow before that’s true. Kosminski was of Polish descent and had emigrated from the Russian Empire to London. Police reports from the time of the murder describe him as a serial masturbator, and indeed the Kosminski DNA sample from the shawl is thought to be semen, meaning that in the few minutes after the killing he both mutilated the corpse and ejaculated over it. Presumably more details will emerge in the coming days, but the announcement of Kosminski as the killer, if true, has to rank as one of crime history’s most significant, and may bring to a close one of its most baffling murder cases.
Update: That didn't take long. Various scientists and DNA experts say the genetic analysis done on the shawl was botched due to error of nomenclature. Instead of an extremely rare genetic match, DNA extracted from Eddowes' shawl actually matches that of most people of European descent. So forget everything we wrote above.
Don’t play the game unless you play it for keeps.
Seems about time for another Robert McGinnis cover, so here’s one you don’t see often—Tereska Torrès’s novel of multiple marital affairs The Dangerous Games. Despite the look of this, the French-born Torrès was considered by most critics to be among the ranks of serious, literary authors. In true Orwell or Hemingway fashion she honed her craft in conflict by working for the Volontaires Françaises during World War II and later traveling from Poland to Palestine. In 1950 she published Women’s Barracks, based loosely on her wartime experiences, and that book is considered by many to be the first lesbian pulp novel. The Dangerous Games initially appeared in 1958 in France as Le labyrinthe (subtitled …oh! ces jeux dangereux), and the above McGinnis-graced reprint followed in 1961.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1971—Corona Sent to Prison
Mexican-born serial killer Juan Vallejo Corona is convicted of the murders of 25 itinerant laborers. He had stabbed each of them, chopped a cross in the backs of their heads with a machete, and buried them in shallow graves in fruit orchards in Sutter County, California. At the time the crimes were the worst mass murders in U.S. history.
1960—To Kill a Mockingbird Appears
Harper Lee's racially charged novel To Kill a Mockingbird
is published by J.B. Lippincott & Co. The book is hailed as a classic, becomes an international
bestseller, and spawns a movie starring Gregory Peck, but is the only novel Lee would ever publish.
1962—Nuke Test on Xmas Island
As part of the nuclear tests codenamed Operation Dominic, the United States detonates a one megaton bomb on Australian controlled Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean. The island was a location for a series of American and British nuclear tests, and years later lawsuits claiming radiation damage to military personnel were filed, but none were settled in favor in the soldiers.
1940—The Battle of Britain Begins
The German Air Force, aka the Luftwaffe, attacks shipping convoys off the coast of England, touching off what Prime Minister Winston Churchill describes as The Battle of Britain.
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