Femmes Fatales Mar 10 2020
JAN SESSION
Unknown photo retoucher increases the value of Sterling.


We've seen this photo of U.S. actress Jan Sterling numerous times, but never in color, which leads us to believe it's a colorization. If so, it's a nice, subtle job, as well as a clever choice of model, since Sterling was the subject of one of the iconic black and white photos of the mid-century period. Know the one we mean? Look here. Despite the fame of that particular shot, Sterling was never what you'd call a top tier star. But she appeared in many films, earned a Golden Globe Award as a supporting actress, and was nominated for a supporting actress Oscar. We'll be getting back to her film work a bit later.

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Femmes Fatales Mar 5 2020
UNHINGED MELODY
This definitely is not a love song.


Melody Patterson gets unhinged, unchained, and generally uncivilized as she settles a score in this photo made in 1969 as a promo for her biker outlaw flick The Cycle Savages. It was one of only a handful of movies she made, along with such efforts as The Angry Breed and Blood and Lace. We're far too weak on the outlaw biker genre. We've seen Easy Rider, The Wild Ones, The Wild Angels, Hell's Bloody Devils, and one or two others. Well actually, maybe we're better in the genre than we thought. But we still need to see The Cycle Savages just to find out how and why Patterson gets pushed to this point.

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Femmes Fatales Mar 3 2020
TRICK SHOT ARTIST
Damn, missed again. Can I try one more time or do you need a paramedic like immediately?


This photo of Danish actress, director, writer, and singer Anna Karina, née Hanne Karin Bayer, was made by Italian photographer Giancarlo Botti, and is one of the most famous images of the famed French New Wave icon. Botti shot this when Karina was filming the musical comedy Anna in 1966 (some sources say 1967). She died a few months ago and many nice tributes appeared online, but the best tribute of all is simply watching one of her highly regarded films. We recommend 1964's Bande à part. See another Karina image here.

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Femmes Fatales | Musiquarium Feb 28 2020
SWEET JANE
Sugar and spice and everything nice.


Above is shot of cinematic girl-next-door Jane Powell, who rose to fame in Hollywood musicals such as Holiday in Mexico, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Royal Wedding. While Powell is fondly remembered for those and similar roles, she found it ridiculous that she played teenagers into her mid-twenties even though she had children of her own by that point. Under the studio system she had little choice, but later she did manage to expand her repertoire, co-starring in the Hedy Lamarr melodrama The Female Animal. Afterward she turned her attentions mainly to television, with guest slots on everything from Goodyear Theatre to Fantasy Island. She also had stage and singing careers, and scored a top 20 hit with 1956's “True Love.” The photo you see here was made to promote her 1957 musical The Girl Most Likely, and a shot from the same session appeared on the cover of the soundtrack album, which you see below. We don't generally do musicals here, but we will certainly check out her dramatic turn in The Female Animal. Meanwhile you may want to check out this rare photo we shared a couple of years ago.

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Femmes Fatales Feb 25 2020
GODDARD ALMIGHTY
All she needed was for someone to believe.


Paulette Goddard had more false starts to her career than most Hollywood legends. During the late 1920s and early-to-mid 1930s she worked—without making much impact—for Selznick International Pictures, George Fitzmaurice Productions, 20th Century Pictures, Hal Roach Studios, and both Goldwyn Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. She turned some heads in Modern Times, co-starring with Charlie Chaplain, who was her boyfriend at the time, but her major break came with Paramount when she starred opposite Bob Hope in The Cat and The Canary. She never looked back, appearing in seventeen films in the next five years, and more than fifty over the course of her career. One of those was Northwest Mounted Police, which is where the above promo photo comes. It dates from 1940.

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Femmes Fatales Feb 21 2020
THE PERILS OF POLA
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.

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Femmes Fatales Feb 16 2020
DEE SHARP
Lady sings the blues and reds.

U.S. born actress and dancer Dee Turnell sports two accessories that have gone out of fashion—the ornamental headpiece, and opera gloves—and wears both well in this promo image made for her 1948 film Words and Music. Turnell appeared in about twenty movies between 1947 and 1956. Nearly all of those were musicals, and while she's considered to have been a real talent, all her roles were minor or uncredited except 1954's Brigadoon. We don't expect to run across her again in our excavations for gun toting femmes fatales, but we're glad we stumbled upon this rare color photo. It's by Tom Kelley—the same Tom Kelley who shot the most famous photo of Marilyn Monroe ever.

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Femmes Fatales Feb 12 2020
GAIL FORCE
She's the reason you should have disaster insurance.


Above, a great promo image of U.S. actress Gail Russell from the 1957 drama The Tattered Dress, in which she co-starred with Jeff Chandler, Jeanne Crain, and Elaine Stewart. We aren't kidding about disaster insurance, by the way—she once crashed her car into a bar.

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Femmes Fatales Feb 7 2020
ZOE TROPES
There are no small parts. Only small casting agents.


Above is a lovely shot of British actress Zoe Hendry, who we last saw in 1975's erotic epic Butterfly, and whose other credits read like a cautionary tale of cinematic ambition smashed on the rocks of rent paying reality. She's played, in no particular order, “naked college girl,” in 1974's Confessions of a Window Cleaner, “native dancer,” in 1976's Queen Kong, “topless patient,” in 1978's What's Up Nurse!, and, “other girl,” in 1974's The Man Who Couldn't Get Enough. And who can forget 1976's infamous Nastassja Kinski vehicle To the Devil a Daughter, in which Hendry played “first girl”?

Yes, it's quite a résumé Hendry accumulated, but since she originally got her break on The Benny Hill Show—which made an industry of scantily clad women—her stalwart appearances in sexploitation films are no surprise. But she eventually outflanked one-track-minded movie casting agents by shifting back to television during the 1980s, where she got a chance to act more seriously. Probably got paid better too. Still, we're irresistibly drawn to titles like Queen Kong. Maybe we have one-track minds too, but we have to watch that, right? Right. We'll do the heavy lifting so you don't have to, then report back.

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Femmes Fatales Feb 3 2020
SHOOTING LESSON
Then he falls down and bleeds out like a pig. Basically, that's all there is to it.


Peggy Knudsen shows Carole Matthews how to shoot her baby down in this promo image made for the 1955 low budget crime drama Betrayed Women. They're dressed identically because the film is a women-in-prison flick. We've seen it, and it's not necessarily one you need in your queue. But this photo is great.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 12
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.
July 11
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.
July 10
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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