Damien Lovegrove’s Hollywood Style Reborn

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I’d swear that I’ve seen selected images from this series of photos countless times at Pinterest, Tumblr and random blogs and sites, but rarely – if ever! – have I seen the photos credited with any attribution for a photographer, model, source publication…anything.

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It didn’t take much digging at all. A simple search engine image match brought me right to photographer Damien Lovegrove’s Pro Photo Nut at prophotonut.com, and a posting from way back in 2013 titled “Film Noir – A Hollywood Style Reborn”.

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Model/actress Chloe-Jasmine Whichcello (along with a male co-star who only goes by ‘Frank’, so lets guess he’s the photographer’s assistant or some other fellow) dives into a series of stunningly lit images of a glamorous Hollywood blonde femme fatale, with makeup and hair done by Claudia Lucia Spoto, photo styling done by the model herself, assisted by the photographer, Damien Lovegrove. The project was all shot on location in Pipwell Hall, Northamptonshire in England.

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Frame by frame, Lovegrove explains the details of how he arranged the lighting, what equipment was used (all of which is way over my head) and how these techniques created the dramatic mid-20th Century Hollywood cinematic film noir look and feel. I was intrigued, and I know absolutely nothing about photography, at least, the technical end of things.

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Well, I’m glad to put these striking images out there with credit where credit’s due for once. And I have to say, that Pipwell Hall in Northamptonshire looked suitably dark and gloomy for this film noir stylistic exercise. So much so, that Damien Lovegrove and his talented associates should have returned at some point for a study in gothic horror visuals, perhaps a tribute to England’s Hammer films, with Ms. Whichello doing a stand-in for Veronica Carlson, Ingrid Pitt or Yutte Stensgaard. Hmmmm…

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Link below to the ProPhotoNut site to browse the images and read Damien Lovegrove’s text (which ought to be of particular interest to the less photographically challenged among you). And more images from the project follow in the next post.

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https://www.prophotonut.com/2013/02/17/film-noir-a-hollywood-style-reborn/

 

 

The Age of Light

 

The Age Of Light

No question: Mystery and crime fiction novels make up most of my reading, whether contemporary work, vintage treasures or even a few retro stinkers. But, of course, they’re not all that I read. An occasional horror novel creeps into my bookstore bag, often as not something gothic, and if it happens to feature a vampire, so much the better. Hey, we all have guilty pleasures. The past two years I’ve spent my share on politics/current events books, which a lot of people have done, apparently, based on the bestseller lists. I mean, with what’s been going on, how can you not? And I’ll even bring home a history book once every month or so, those typically from the library. As it happens, right now both books I’m reading (one nearly done, the other to start tonight) have nothing to do with the mystery genre. So lets be clear: Not some kind of mystery/crime fiction obsessive.

Well, not much.

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Whitney Scharer’s The Age Of Light found its way home with me this weekend. I see it’s getting a lot of high profile press, spotting both short and lengthy reviews just yesterday and today in the Chicago Tribune, BookPage and The New York Times Book Review, each applauding the author’s choice of subject, though the NYT review wasn’t entirely glowing. Well, we’ll see, since I won’t plunge in till this evening. The Age Of Light continues a recent trend: Authors creating their own fictionalized retelling of the lives of famous men’s wives and lovers, the assumption being that since these women’s stories were overshadowed by their partners, they demand to be told…and there’s a lot of creative space for writers to simply make stuff up. In this case, the woman is Lee Miller, member of the decadent Parisian art and literary café culture between the wars, a Vogue model turned photographer, then war correspondent and surrealist photographer Man Ray’s lover. Sure, the blurbs and reviews tease with the expected business about an unforgettable heroine discovering her independence, self-transformation, disrupting the male-centric 1930’s art scene, etc., etc., and if it’s all that, I bet it’ll be a good read. Fingers crossed!

Ruined Words Relegated To The Back Of The Lingerie Drawer.

TRANS-SIBERIAN EXPRESS by Norbert Schoerner Vogue UK 2005

Back in January, Ashley Holstrom wrote a short but fun piece that appeared at Book Riot (bookriot.com), “Words Romance Novels Have Ruined For Me”.

She begins, “If you read romance novels, you know how it goes: Words get new sexual meanings, because euphemisms are fun! And then the word is ruined in your brain forever.” Recently reading a non-romance book, she came across the word “mound” and automatically wondered if the book was about to take an unexpected sexy turn. In fact, it only referred to a mound of ants. Nonetheless, the word “mound” had been permanently imbued with a sexual meaning for her (and for many others, I’d bet), so frequently employed euphemistically in romance novels.

Holstrom provides a brief list of words similarly impacted. I’ll bet you could add your own to the list, culled from romance novels, erotica, or just as likely, “PG-Rated” novels awkwardly wrestling with a sex scene. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can almost feel the author’s reluctance to allow their fingers to type a few obligatory “sexy” words. Hence, euphemisms. Ashley Holstrom’s list includes routine words which any writer will need to employ in purely pragmatic applications and which hopefully can retain their real meaning without being eroticized: Center, core, delicious, electric, enter, explode, growl, length and even wet, for instance.

But her list also includes some words that have been used to death as euphemisms till they may, in fact, have become permanently compromised: Bud, chiseled, erupt, essence, folds, thrust, erupt, moan, nectar, rigid and throbbing, to name a few. She even lists “supple”, a word I’ve always liked, have few enough uses for, but just enjoy the sound and the ‘feel’ of it. But I guess it’s stuck in the ruined list.

Writers will grope (oops, that’s probably one, too) for words they’re comfortable with when the thought of typing the basics like the three big C’s (rhymes with flit, flock and…flunt?) give them the vapors or threaten to make their keyboard melt. And readers can chuckle to themselves when they encounter euphemisms used in cringe-worthy ways. But damn it, it’s a shame when perfectly good everyday words have to be retired, like being tucked away next to the sex toys way at the back of the lingerie drawer.

And I still intend to use supple whenever the hell I want to.

Image: ‘Trans-Siberian Express’ by Norbert Schoerner for Vogue UK, 2005)

70’s Decadence

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From Vs. magazine’s Fall-Winter 2014/15 issue, an intriguing homage to all that’s decadent in fashion photography – bad boy Helmut Newton, badder-girl Ellen Von Unwerth, and a nod to the 1978 erotic crime thriller Eyes Of Laura Mars (more about that guilty pleasure weird-fest of a flick at thestilettogumshoe.com later…count on it).

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The photo suite’s introductory copy explains: “In the cult movie Eyes Of Laura Mars, Faye Dunaway plays a photographer who can see through the eyes of a killer. Here, our cover girl Uma Thurman – a modern-day Dunaway – embodies the thriller’s title role and pays homage to its seductive 70’s styling and provocative imagery (the movie featured stills by Helmut Newton). Who better to capture this iconic marriage of fashion and film than Newton’s seminal successor, Ellen Von Unwerth?”

Well, I’ve seen Von Unwerth get both saucier and nastier than these, and the staged photo shoots, stills and grisly murders in the 1978 film pushed the limits for the time, presaging a host of disturbing visuals soon to populate countless VHS tapes in the ‘erotic thriller’ craze of the early 80’s. But Von Unwerth and Thurman captured some vintage decadence here, to be sure.

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Fight Like A Girl.

Mike Millar olivier coipel The Magic Order

And I’ll just bet she does, so watch out. Spanish comics writer Mark Millar’s The Magic Order (issue 6), with art by French illustrator Olivier Coipel.

And, More Manhunt.

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See the preceding post…

As mentioned in the prior post, I’m eagerly waiting for (and have already pre-ordered) The Best of Manhunt – A Collection Of The Best Of Manhunt Magazine, a forthcoming book due out this summer. But till then, enjoy a few more cover scene shots culled from here and there, and dig the list of authors the magazine showcased. Impressive!

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Manhunt

The Best of Manhunt

I think it’s great that publishers promote forthcoming titles in advance. But I don’t know how the hell I’m supposed to wait until late July for The Best Of Manhunt. Subtitled: “A Collection Of The Best of Manhunt Magazine”, the book is edited by Jeff Vorzimmer, with a foreword by writer Lawrence Block and an afterword by Barry Malzberg, and collects 39 stories from the pages of mid-1950’s pulp magazine that many rightly regard as one of the very best of mystery/crime fiction magazines.

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The pulp magazine era had mostly died by the time Manhunt magazine debuted in 1952. Mystery and crime fiction migrated to the new and booming paperback market in the postwar era, their garish, spicy covers replaced on the newsstands by countless ‘true crime’ magazines, many of which soon switched to increasingly explicit photo covers and ‘fact-based’ stories full of gruesome and period-sexy photographs.

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But Manhunt magazine continued to offer monthly doses of hard-boiled short stories and serialized novels from the era’s best writers. Just look at the covers of a few issues…they read like a who’s who of postwar mystery/crime fiction masters: James Cain, Harlan Ellison, Bruno Fischer, Fletcher Flora, David Goodis, Brett Haillday, Evan Hunter, Frank Kane, Henry Kane, Richard Prather, Mickey Spillane, Jack Webb and others. In fact, the magazine even did it’s own ‘best of’ as a Perma Books paperback (see image below) with 13 stories from its pages.

The Best From Manhunt

I may get a real kick out of vintage crime fiction, particularly of the postwar hard-boiled variety, and have bought a number of 1930’s-40’s pulp reprints and trade paperback collections. Doing so has taught me that a lot of the content didn’t quite meet the expectations of the cover art, and was, in fact, kind of dreary. I’m acquisitive, but fortunately, no collector, and unwilling to hand over serious cash for seventy-year-old magazines with questionable contents.

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One nearby used bookstore occasionally shelves vintage magazines and had a few copies of Manhunt for sale ($25 to $40 each as I recall) and though I didn’t buy, I was allowed to browse, and can say that Manhunt at least looked a cut above the hurried cut-n-paste hack jobs that many of its ‘true crime’ contemporaries really were. But I know from reading about it at many a blog, site and mystery/crime fiction book that Manhunt was considered the one postwar pulp title that gathered together some of the era’s very best talents.

Oh, I’m pre-ordering this book, you can bet on that, five months to wait or not. Till then, enjoy some retro mayhem from the covers of Manhunt magazine, here and in the following post.

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Comics Couture

The Haute Life Bruce Weber Shalom Harlow Vogue 1995 2

Fashion magazine creative directors, art directors, stylists and the fashion photographers they engage try some pretty outré things and hunt out truly unlikely locations, from jungles to rooftops, back alleys to motel rooms and abandoned factories. But I’m reasonably sure I’ve never seen anything set in a comic book shop. The copy says the image (or the outfit?) is inspired by that first of ‘supermodels’ from the 1950’s, Suzy Parker. Uhm, okay. Shalom Harlow is shot here by Bruce Weber for an editorial called “The Haute Life” for Vogue back in 1995. Nice dress and all, even with the Spiderman brooch. I’ll take the EC Comics reprints on the bottom shelf though.

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