Not That Olga, This Olga.

Olga Orlova 1

Maybe in Russia the name Olga Orlova is as common as Jane Doe in the U.S (which, I guess, really isn’t common at all). Go digging and you’ll find a pop singer, an actress, an impressionist painter and even a historical princess, among others, sharing that name. But these images are from the prolific St. Petersburg illustrator and concept artist Olga Orlova, lurking among her many – and gorgeous — dark fantasy and dystopian SF renderings. Linger a moment on the intriguing picture above, because the victim, the gun that did him in and the subtle gesture of the woman’s white gloved hand perched above the phone aren’t all that apparent with just a cursory glance. The real question, I suppose, is: What does the dog think about all of this?

Olga Orlova 2


The Penny A Word Brigade

This book may be targeted to writers, but I’m certain any fan of the classic pulp magazine era would love it. Blood ‘N’ Thunder Presents: The Penny-A-Word Brigade – Pulp Fictioneers Discuss Their Craft edited by Ed Hulse is a 2017 200++ page oversize trade pb from Murania Press, the publishers of Blood ‘N’ Thunder. In addition to being the editor-in-chief and publisher of Blood ‘N’ Thunder (and the head-honcho at Murania, I think), Hulse is the author and editor of over 30 books (maybe many more) on vintage pulp magazines, cliffhanger serials and retro Hollywood stars.

Hulse collected 28 articles written by pulp magazine writers, editors and agents that originally appeared in Writer’s Digest, The Writer, Author & Journalist and other magazines between 1922 through 1949. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Pulp writers groused about one and two cents-per-word pay rates then, which writers today might be happy to get instead of payment-in-copies for chapbooks and zines or no-pay at all for online publications. The writers’ and editors’ how-to articles may use obsolete references and point to unknown authors long gone, but the info resonates today as well as it did eighty and ninety years ago.

If you’re a mystery/crime fiction reader (and obviously, if you’re a pulp fiction fan), you’ll get a kick out of this book. And if you’re a mystery/crime fiction writer or wannabe, there’s a lot of mighty useful info here.  And, take a moment to check out Murania Press’ site (link below) for a treasure trove of Blood ‘N’ Thunder back issues, books, collectibles, links and more.

Murania Press

Don’t Tread On Me.

Noir Rug Image

I stumbled across this on Pinterest, just one of the jumble of random pins you see once you log in. It’s a handsome enough if somewhat unusual photo of a noir-ish femme fatale, one leg raised to reveal a provocative glimpse of lacy thigh-high stocking top, one hand tucked behind her back to hide a very lethal looking automatic. On closer inspection, I realized it’s a Holiday setting, with what sure looks like a Christmas tree across the room.

But what’s really unusual about this image is that it’s not just some photo. It’s a rug.

Yes, a rug. Available from Wayfair, the 2’ x 3’ “Woman Black Area Rug” from East Urban Home.

Wayfair Noir Rug

As it happens, the writing lair has wall-to-wall off-white berber, no throw rugs needed. Not sure this would go well elsewhere ‘round here either, even if it listed for almost $350 but is available now for only $108.99. Home décor tastes aside, I wish the photo was credited. I’d love to know who shot this (and how the hell it ended up on rug).

I can’t decide if this is really sweet, or really, really weird.

Happy Birthday To The Master: McGinnis.

mcginnis exit dying art 1960

Exit Dying, 1960

A very happy birthday to Robert McGinnis, born today in Cincinnati back in 1926 and still with us at 94. Apprenticed at Walt Disney Studios and studying art at Ohio State, McGinnis served in the Merchant Marine, then worked in advertising after WWII, where a chance 1958 meeting with illustrator Mitchell Hooks led to work at Dell Publishing. The result? In addition to editorial work for glossy magazines and over 40 movie posters, he’s credited with over 1,200 book covers, his well-known series work for Mike Shayne and other detective novels a key part of those books’ branded marketing. McGinnis is a member of the Society Of Illustrators Hall Of Fame, and after ‘retirement’ (if we want to call it that) has focused on non-commercial western themed art fine art painting.

There are too many ‘favorite’ Robert McGinnis cover illustrations to count, much less post here, and so many are already familiar to any visitor to this site. Still, I’ll post a few particular ‘faves’ I’ve always cherished, even before I knew they were McGinnis works, in some cases.

Too Hot To Hold

Too Hot To Hold, 1959

mcginnis never kill a client shayne 1963

Never Kill A Client, 1963

kill now pay later 1960

Kill Now, Pay Later 1960

Will There Be Homework?

joerg lehmann photo 1

Photographer Jorg Lehmann knows his way around a shadowy set, artfully spot-lit and layered in fog. We all see contemporary images sprinkled with cliché ‘noir’ propping, but recreating the look of classic film noir shots is surely all about lighting. If I wasn’t all thumbs with my phone or a real camera (and I really am) I’d be tempted to check out Jorg Lehmann’s Film Noir Femme Fatale Photography Workshop to see what I can learn.

Joerg Lehmann Photo 2Film Noir Femme Fatale Book


“…A Silenced Roscoe In Her Trembling Mitt.”

Spicy Detective May 1941 Allen Anderson cover

This May 1941 Spicy Detective is another Adventure House reprint from 2008 (I assume they’re actually POD editions, my copy fresh from Monee, Illinois with a January 2020 date), includes the original pulp magazine’s full issue, ads, Allen Anderson cover art and all. There are stories from Luke Terry, Henri St. Amur, Max Neilson, Walton Grey, Stan Warner and Paul Hama, but the best would surely be Carl Lenox’ “Dressed To Kill” and a must for Spicy Detective, a Dan Turner – Hollywood Detective tale from Robert Leslie Bellem: “Future Book” opening at Hollywood Park Racetrack and dealing with an illegal betting operation, a dead race horse and murder. As always, it’s Bellem’s colorful wordsmithing that makes me enjoy these zany and often implausible yarns so much. Here, Turner follows one dame-in-danger into the track’s stables, only to find another woman there, already dead:

“A caterwauling scream tortured my eardrums like a bandsaw ripping through a hardwood knot. I said: “What the hell –!” and lanced my poundage inside the building. A minute later, I drew up short; felt my solar plexus turning handsprings. Mary Foster was standing there with a silenced roscoe in her trembling mitt. There was a stink of burned cordite in the air and a sprawled feminine form, ominously motionless, on the stable’s concrete floor.

That sprawled form was all that remained of Arlynne Quistan. She was as dead as the skull on a sinus doctor’s desk. Even defunct, the blonde Quistan bimbo was a copious kick in the optics. From the appearance of things, she must have put up a terrific brawl before getting chilled. Her dress was ripped to pennants and you could see practically everything she possessed in the way of she-male blandishments. Her sleekly tapered stems melted into flawless thighs as cream-smooth and tempting as the illustrations in a lingerie ad. Where the bodice of her costume was torn open, the lacy ruins of an uplift brassiere snuggled around curves as perfect as sculpture. It wasn’t until your glance came to her face that you got the horrors. The .38 slug had ripped diagonally northward from chin to temple, finally finding lodging in her think tank.”

too many women henri st. maur

If you’ve never actually read any 1930’s/40’s era crime pulps, Bellem’s way with words pretty much tells you all you need to know about the genre’s incredible, albeit squirm-worthy, writing. Mind you, there’s no shortage of florid, meandering and darn-near un-readable stuff tucked amongst the gems. But if you can compartmentalize all normal 2020 sensibilities long enough, there’s something to be learned from these pulp masters.

Sally The Sleuth

An Adolphe Barreaux Sally The Sleuth four-pager is included. “Crime On Campus” finds Sally going undercover as a college co-ed to trap a campus killer. Barreaux’ Sally The Sleuth stories weren’t really mystery comics so much as abbreviated damsel-in-distress shorties. Panel four from the tale’s opening page says it all: “Why, her undies are on backwards. It’s murder, chief!”  Sally manages to lounge about in her undies with some dorm mates before being snatched by a murderous med school maniac and rescued in the knick of time.

Kinky vintage kitsch at its best…pretty twisted at its worst…but I confess, I’m kind of hooked on these things.

Would You Hang Mary Hilton?

Yield To The Night 3

Often described as being based on the real-life case of Ruth Elliss, the last woman to be hanged in Britain, Yield To The Night (AKA Blonde Sinner) was actually in pre-production when Elliss was executed, and is really adapted from Joan Henry’s 1954 novel of the same name. Henry, who spent some time in prison herself, cowrote the screenplay along with John Cresswell for this 1956 J. Lee Thompson film. Its snickering marketing campaign played up Britain’s answer to Marilyn Monroe and other Hollywood studios’ ‘blonde bombshell’ starlets: Diana Dors, who was already notorious in the UK tabloid press. But despite the sleaze factor, much of the movie showcased Dors in a decidedly un-glamorous way, challenged her largely un-tapped acting chops, garnered genuinely positive reviews and was even nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 1956 Cannes festival.

Yield To The Night PosterBlonde SInner Lobby Card

Dors plays Mary Price Hilton, a sexy good-time girl who sadly has known nothing but bad times with the rotten men in her life. In the pre-opening credits, we witness her gunning down another woman. The film switches to the convicted murderer in prison, its grim monotony and the fear of her impending execution abetted in some small way by a sympathetic guard played by Yvonne Mitchell. In flashbacks, Hilton recounts the seemingly inevitable chain of events that brought her to this end, most importantly a succession of duplicitous and abusive lovers. When she finally goes for what seems like a rare good guy, it all falls apart when he commits suicide (having been duped by another woman) and that’s enough to push Mary Hilton over the edge. And enough to drive her to murder, killing the woman. Followed by trial, conviction and a sentence to die by hanging.

Yield TO The Night 6Yield To The Night 5

Diana Dors (born Diana Mary Fluck – a name that could cause real trouble on a theatre marquee if misspelled) really nailed it this one time, at least. I’m no expert on Dors’ filmography, but it seems to be mostly forgettable 1950’s/60’s sexy comedies and vintage trash exploitation movies. But her work in Yield To The Night had Hollywood beckoning (which turned out to be a short-lived stay) and is the one role she always claimed to be proudest of.

Yield TO The Night 4

Noir Masters’ Poster Art: My Faves.


So much to ogle, so much stylish modeling, photography and digital imaging to digest.

Sure, I’m always partial to traditional illustration when it comes to genre visuals, but lets face it, there aren’t that many artists left who are able to step up to the easel (or drafting table) and reliably turn out retro-flavored art that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Maguire, Lesser, McGinnis, Dodd, Avati and a long list of revered mid-twentieth century illustration stars.

These Film Noir Foundation Noir City posters are my own favorites, capturing the deliciously seamy side of noir so perfectly.


Check out the three preceding posts for more examples of the Film Noir Foundation’s Noir City film festival posters, but even more importantly, follow the links below to the Film Noir Foundation and its Noir City sub-site to learn more about the organization, its Noir City e-mag and…well, just get over there, willya?


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