A Stiletto Gumshoe’s Halloween: Bacall At The Blood Bank.

Oh, I know this one’s seen everywhere, but it is almost Halloween, after all, and who better to help celebrate the season here at a “noir culture” site like The Stiletto Gumshoe than Lauren Bacall, in a now-famous Harper’s Bazaar cover photo from 1943. I’ll assume the photo had more to do with serious business like wartime blood drives (it being right in the middle of the U.S. involvement on WWII) than Bacall posing as a stylish creature of the night contemplating a blood bank raid. 

But then, who needs an excuse to post a picture of Lauren Bacall?

If Looks Could Kill.

The Daily Mail’s men’s style feature “If Looks Could Kill: This Season’s Noir Fashion” (though it’s from a few ‘seasons’ ago) tells us “If you want to turn heads and get the girl, you need to look the part. Dress like this and don’t be surprised if trouble walks through your door with eyes like marigolds. You might even get a job offer about a mysterious statue, or receive a visit from a beautiful brunette with a dark secret. Thankfully, roscoes and heaters are no longer de rigueur accessories”.

Well, I don’t know about the copywriter’s take on hard-boiled patter, but the selections from Ian Derry’s photography looks just fine.

Quiet: The Song’s About To Begin…

A gleaming black piano. A woman poured into in a snug-n-sparkly black gown, her far away expression suggesting rueful thoughts about love gone bad or just plain…gone. All the makings of a bluesy torch song…or a noir-ish tale. Carter Smithe shoots model Marja Vojovic for Elle US back in 2010.

Guinevere: Film Noir.

The fashion editorial is titled “Film Noir” simply enough, shot by Nathaniel Goldberg for Numero in 2017, styled by David Bradshaw and starring Guinevere Van Seenus as the platinum haired femme fatale.


pat jones by william helburn 1956

I’m sure it was shot for a fashion editorial, but model Pat Jones sure looks like a snoopy reporter or ‘stiletto gumshoe’ hard at work (and stylishly so) in this 1956 William Helburn photo.

Speed Trap.

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Presumably to promote their 2010 film The Bounty Hunter (guess I missed that one), costars Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler appeared in W Magazine’s 2010 photo suite “Speed Trap”, a desert noir lensed by Steven Klein.

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Claudia, The Club Chanteuse.

chanel piano copy

I’m reminded of Maritta Wolff’s Petey Braun, the brassy nightclub singer from her 1942 novel Night Shift played by Ida Lupino in the 1947 Raoul Walsh film version The Man I Love. Come to think of it, let’s not forget Ida Lupino’s smoky voiced Lily Stevens doing “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)” with her cigarette smoldering away above the piano’s keyboard in a northwoodsy Road House from the 1948 film of the same name.

But no, it’s Claudia Schiffer, looking a bit wistful but still mighty sultry in this 1990’s Chanel print ad.

Girl With A Job.

erwin blumenfeld harpers 1942 copy

This Erwin Blumenfeld 1942 photo comes from a Harper’s Bazaar fashion editorial, “Girl With A Job”, depicting ‘career girls’ getting the job done with effortless panache in various workplace and afterwork situations.

But I like to think of this model being a wartime ‘stiletto gumshoe’ working a case…maybe busting up a German-American Bund cell or tailing Axis saboteurs to a munitions plant. You know, just your everyday 1942 ‘career gal’ hijinks. Especially since lensman Blumenfeld, a native Berliner himself, fled the Nazis in the 1930’s, first to Paris, then expelled and interned in Casablanca with his family (they barely got out) and then to New York.

Girl With A Job





With A $75 Beret.

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Liz Sullivan shoots Sveva and Jonathan Bella back in 1999 for a New York Post fashion editorial called “Bonnie & Clyde Inspired Fashion”. Let’s say ‘loosely’ inspired. Well, model Sveva is wearing a beret in a shot or two, and they did bother to rent a couple of 1930’s Fords and some weaponry. That aside, the link between the Depression-era southwest and clothes from Saks, Ralph Lauren and Emili Pucci is a bit thin. The sleeveless shell Sveva’s wearing at the top went for about $800.

BTW, the beret? Seventy five bucks at J.J. Hat Center, and that was twenty years ago.

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