Femmes Fatales Jan 23 2022
Bartender, give me another. And put a shot of optimism in this one.

Above: a promo shot of Ann Sothern made when she was filming the interestingly named 1942 flick Panama Hattie, which was based on a Broadway production of the same name. She plays a saloon keeper, which is sort of pulp, but it's a musical romance, which ain't pulp. That's probably why she looks so sad. 


Femmes Fatales Jan 19 2022
Leather seats. Power steering. Custom hood ornament. This car comes absolutely loaded.

Hitomi Kozue's reaction to this Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III is a bit over the top, but we guess she's a real car lover, and flexible too. These photos came from a 1974 issue of Heibon Punch, weird color balance and all. When Kozue wasn't moonlighting as a human hood ornament she starred in such films as Jitsuroku onna kanbetsusho: sei-jigoku, aka True Story of a Woman Condemned: Sex Hell, and Shiroi mesuneko: mahiru no ecstasy, aka White Female Cat: Ecstasy at High Noon. In her normal state—as opposed to getting freaky on a Rolls—she seems to us too elegant for raunchy softcore roman porno flicks, but that's where she made her reputation, appearing in twenty-eight in four years before moving on to parts unknown. We have a lot of material on her in the site, but if you need to be pointed to some nice entries, check here, here, here, here, and here. And believe us, there will be more coming.


Femmes Fatales Jan 14 2022
I was never an ugly duckling. That's why you shouldn't believe fairy tales.

This photo of Swedish actress Kirsten Svanholm, better known by her pseudonym Kitty Swan, was made when she was filming the Tarzan-style adventure Gungala la pantera nuda, aka Gungala the Black Panther Girl in 1968, the second of two Gungala movies she headlined. After those films she appeared in a couple of official Tarzan movies, 1969's Tarzán en la gruta del oro, aka Tarzan in the Golden Grotto, and 1972's Tarzán y el arco iris, aka Tarzan and the Brown Prince, so you could say she ended up typecast. But what a type. We watched one of the Gungala films and it was ridiculous. Will that stop us from watching the other one? Not on your life.


Femmes Fatales Jan 11 2022
Have you ever tried para shooting? It's a total blast.

Above is a fun image of Italian actress Daniela Bianchi. She's best known for playing Tatiana Romanova in 1963's From Russia with Love. Her fame as a so-called Bond girl far outstrips any recognition she received for her other thirteen credited film roles, but this shot, made in 1966 for the spy flick Mission speciale Lady Chaplin, makes us want to see what she's like outside of the Bond franchise. If we do we'll report back.


Femmes Fatales Jan 5 2022
This is fantastic! I bet it's even more fun when it's in the water!

If you're riding in a boat you usually face forward. If you're rowing it you face backward. And if you're humping it like it's your boyfriend the choice is yours. U.S. actress Cynthia Patrick appears to prefer the reverse position and is having a raucous time at it. Her most significant performance aside from in this photo was in 1956's The Mole People. She also had minor parts on television. Well, she had major parts on this boat and we approve.


Femmes Fatales Dec 29 2021
Rogue beach ballerina finally apprehended after tiring herself out.

Hollywood is a place to which some of the best looking people in the world gravitate. Even in that environment, Cyd Charisse was a standout. An accomplished dancer with the physique to match, she was a hotty in her mid-twenties in movies such as Tension, and was still hot in her mid-forties dancing in the opening sequence of The Silencers. The above trio of photos show her at twenty-four and were made on Santa Monica Beach in 1945, capturing her working through a couple of maneuvers none of us can ever hope to duplicate. And below, you see what all that dancing does to a person. Even superior humans like Charisse get pooped occasionally. She's done. But after a lot of good work. See another fun promo image here.


Femmes Fatales Dec 25 2021
Bringing joy to the world through burlesque.

In choosing a femme fatale for today we wanted to reinforce an idea we constantly discuss—that pulp fiction and film noir protagonists are often motivated by sex. Due to censorship, writers and directors of the era had to be subtle about the connection, but it's obvious. The lead characters of gritty crime tales were nearly always men of the world, which is to say they'd had sex before. So when a femme fatale drove or enticed them to robbery/murder/extortion/et al, it wasn't because she was beautiful, but special. And she wasn't just someone willing to have sex, but someone who gave even experienced men pleasures they'd never imagined. That's the subtext of numerous pulp novels, as well as scores of mid-century films, and it's something we try to hit upon with our femmes fatales, who sometimes lay that subtext bare by being bare themselves.

To exemplify what we mean, we wanted someone very tempting, which is why we chose Misty Ayers, who was one of many burlesque dancers embodying sexual allure during the mid-century era. The art of burlesque features in many of the books we've talked about—in fact a couple of our very favorites—so the link to pulp is perfect. Ayers is seen here keeping fit, and below, preparing to make a meal to keep that body of hers functioning at top efficiency. She was pretty well known in her day. She appeared in the 1953 burlesque documentary A Night in Hollywood, played herself in the 1954 films Tijuana After Midnite and Striptease Goddess, and later scored an acting role in the 1965 film Bad Girls Do Cry, which we'll circle back to later. We don't have a copyright date on these photos, but figure they're from the zenith of her fame—circa 1953.

Bonus material: two of the greatest burlesque dancers you never heard of here and here.


Femmes Fatales Dec 25 2021
Oh the weather outside is frightful...

And we couldn't go with just one femme fatale. We have so many scanned at this point we may never get to them all. So let's double up. Here's a beautiful shot of Natsuko Yashiro, who appeared in such fare as Inzetsu ama: Uzuku, Shikijô ama midare tsubo, aka Lusty Ama: Stirred-Up Pot, Onna keimusho, aka Women's Prison, Okasu!, Hirusagari no onna: chohatsu! aka Woman of the Afternoon: Incite!, and about twenty other flicks. For someone with such an extensive filmography, we don't get the impression she was ever a top star, but we could wrong about that. This dates from 1974. 


Femmes Fatales Dec 22 2021
Just another marvelous sight in the City of Light.

This cool and colorful photo shows actress and dancer Tura Satana as the character Suzette Wong—mile-high wig, tassels on the boobs, and all—one of many colorful Parisian prostitutes from the hit comedy Irma la Douce. Satana was born as Tura Yamaguchi in Hokkaidō, Japan in 1938, but moved to the U.S. after World War II and became famous in b-movies like Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and The Astro-Zombies. Irma la Douce was her debut film, coming in 1963. There's much about her life worth discussing but we can't get into it today. Maybe somewhere down the line. Actually, there should probably be a movie about her. Has anyone done that? Well, get to it. 


Femmes Fatales Dec 18 2021
I really want these photos to help me connect with the commoners in my country. How am I doing?

This elegant photo shows Fatimeh Pahlavi, the Princess of Iran, half sister of the Shah of Iran, shot by famed lensman Wallace Seawell. The princess looks every bit the femme fatale here, and as was common with women of her status and era, her life has many points of note. A few: she owned a bowling club, learned to fly a helicopter, amassed about $500 million through means said to be not fully ethical, and was ostracized by the Shah for marrying an American, though he had converted to Islam. This photo was made around the time of that marriage, circa 1948.


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 25
1938—Alicante Is Bombed
During the Spanish Civil War, a squadron of Italian bombers sent by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini to support the insurgent Spanish Nationalists, bombs the town of Alicante, killing more than three-hundred people. Although less remembered internationally than the infamous Nazi bombing of Guernica the previous year, the death toll in Alicante is similar, if not higher.
1977—Star Wars Opens
George Lucas's sci-fi epic Star Wars premiers in the Unites States to rave reviews and packed movie houses. Produced on a budget of $11 million, the film goes on to earn $460 million in the U.S. and $337 million overseas, while spawning a franchise that would eventually earn billions and make Lucas a Hollywood icon.
May 24
1930—Amy Johnson Flies from England to Australia
English aviatrix Amy Johnson lands in Darwin, Northern Territory, becoming the first woman to fly from England to Australia. She had departed from Croydon on May 5 and flown 11,000 miles to complete the feat. Her storied career ends in January 1941 when, while flying a secret mission for Britain, she either bails out into the Thames estuary and drowns, or is mistakenly shot down by British fighter planes. The facts of her death remain clouded today.
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