During the Golden Age of Hollywood and until 1967, mainstream movie studios were banned by the Production Code from depicting taboo topics like drug addiction, explicit murder and venereal disease, or even showing explicit nudity. But in the 1930's and 1940's, films marketed as "educational" could and did fly under the radar, and three of the best known 'educational' propaganda exploitation films are: Sex Madness (1935), Reefer Madness (1936) and The Cocaine Fiends (1938). [more inside]
Pennies from Heaven is the most emotional movie musical I've ever seen. It's a stylized mythology* of the Depression which uses the popular songs of the period as expressions of people's deepest longings - for sex, for romance, for money, for a high good time...there was never a second when I wasn't fascinated* by what was happening on the screen. - Pauline Kael (* SPOILERS)
“Today we have a new group of satirists who, at the same time that they bite the bourgeoisie, use only their lips, but not their teeth”
While he was contributing to the New Yorker as Syd Hoff, he was also contributing to the Daily Worker and New Masses as A. Redfield — the pseudonym he adopted for his radical work, The Ruling Clawss (Daily Worker, 1935) a collection of surprisingly relevant cartoons.
Vincent Lexington Harper compiled the world's largest collection of digitally restored pinups from the 1920s and 30s in the Old Orient Museum. [more inside]
Art Deco was the dominant style of the interwar era, coming out of Paris in the 1920's and ruling the roost until World War II broke out. Randy Juster's Decopix - The Art Deco Resource has enough pictures of Art Deco architecture to send one hurtling into The Gernsback Continuum. If that's not enough then there's always the 11000+ images of the Flickr Art Deco Pool. But Art Deco wasn't just about architecture. On the Victoria and Albert Musem's Art Deco site one can view Art Deco objects in great detail, rotating them and listening to audio lectures on each object. But before Art Deco was a design aesthetic it was an art-style. Illustrations for the Art Deco Book in France has more than 170 images from the proponents of that then-new style (some images are not safe for work, especially in the George Barbier section).
New York artist Ashley Hope's Ripeness is All exhibit at the Tilton Gallery recreates crime scene photographs of murdered women from the 1910s through the 1990s as oil paintings on huge 4' x 6' canvasses. [some nsfw art] [more inside]
The Parade of the Red Army and other scans of Soviet Children's Books from the '20's and '30's. [via DaddyTypes]
Mike Disfarmer had a photo studio in the resort town of Heber Springs, Arkansas throughout the 30s and 40s, creating images with an amazing blunt, unvarnished beauty and strength. Nothing speaks more eloquently about Disfarmer's artistry than the photographs themselves. His genius was the ability to capture without judgment, the essence of a people and a time.