A great way to start 2022 is with fresh dieselpunk.
Nightmare Alley has been described as an “American neo-noir psychological thriller film” and is based on the 1946 novel of the same name by William Lindsay Gresham. It’s directed by the great Guillermo del Toro, who co-wrote the screenplay with Kim Morgan. It stars Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen, and David Strathairn.
According to the studio website,
When charismatic but down-on-his-luck Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) endears himself to clairvoyant Zeena (Toni Collette) and her has-been mentalist husband Pete (David Strathairn) at a traveling carnival, he crafts a golden ticket to success, using this newly acquired knowledge to grift the wealthy elite of 1940s New York society. With the virtuous Molly (Rooney Mara) loyally by his side, Stanton plots to con a dangerous tycoon (Richard Jenkins) with the aid of a mysterious psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett) who might be his most formidable opponent yet.
Nightmare Alley was released only in the theaters on December 12, 2021.
I would like to wish all of my readers a happy and safe holiday season.Santa Claus by J.C. Leyendecker
“You always look so cool. You resemble the advertisement of the man . . . you know, the advertisement of the man.” Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby
We all know the art of J.C. Leyendecker. He’s best known as the creator of the Arrow Collar Man in the shirt advertisements as well as the covers of the Saturday Evening Post. Leyendecker’s art captured the zeitgeist of the Roaring Twenties. However, few of us know the man J.C. Leyendecker and his relationship with the Arrow Collar model Charles Beach.
Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker is a new documentary by Ryan White. According to the official website,
J.C. Leyendecker was one of the most prominent artists of his time, but his story is largely forgotten. Forced to keep his sexuality a secret, his coded imagery spoke directly to the gay community and laid the foundation for LGBTQ representation in advertising today.
Winner of the Best Documentary Short award at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker is beautiful, and well-made. It mixes gorgeous animation with photography and rare film with a moving soundtrack and informative narration.
I highly recommend this documentary. Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker is currently showing on the streaming service Paramount +.
While Dieselpunk's roots are firmly planted in the Jazz and Swing Eras, the genre is very much a child of the 21st century and the internet. In 2002, Anders Blixt and Lewis Pollak independently coined the term ‘dieselpunk’ for their RPGs. The genre's online presence grew with the forum Dieselpunks, and various blogs, including this one. A major milestone was in 2012 when John Pyka, the Voice of Dieselpunk, launched the Diesel Powered Podcast, later renamed Dieselpunk Podcast, which I was honored to be a co-host.
I’m excited to write about a recent online Dieselpunk program by Tony Snipes, owner of the Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding Co., called Unpacking Dieselpunk.Mr. Snipes, an expert in Dieselpunk, covers topics such as defining Dieselpunk for an eight-year-old (just my speed), the best Dieselpunk movies, what to serve at a Dieselpunk party, the role of magic and the occult in Dieselpunk, and much more.
I never miss an episode of Unpacking Dieselpunk. Neither should you.
Unpacking Dieselpunk streams on Facebook.
“This is Halloween, this is Halloween. Halloween, Halloween. Halloween, Halloween.”
- The Nightmare Before Christmas
Ah, Halloween. My favorite holiday is finally here. For this last installment of the Halloween blog posts, I’ve included a mix of items. I hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween.
Let’s face it. No one created creepier costumes than those in the first half of the 20th century. Here are a few that could have been straight out of a Stephen King novel.
Diesel Goth Costumes
Halloween is an excellent time for Diesel Goths to show their dark side. Here are a few incredible images of Diesel Goth style that I’ve found online.
Finally, Betty Boop always represented Dieselpunk Halloween with her spooky cartoons, such as Minnie the Moocher in 1932. So, here’s some fantastic Halloween-themed modern retro-Betty Boop art to enjoy.
In part 2 of my Dieselpunk Halloween blog posts, I focus on the wonderful cinematic legacy left to us by Universal Pictures.
The first of the Universal Pictures monster movies was Dracula, which was released in 1931. The movie starred Bela Lugosi and was based on the 1924 stage play Dracula, which was adapted from the 1897 novel by Bram Stoker. It was followed by the sequel Dracula’s Daughter in 1936.
Frankenstein was released the same year as Dracula. Frankenstein stars Colin Clive as Doctor Frankenstein with his creature played by Boris Karloff. Jack Pierce provided the creatures extraordinary make-up. Universal made numerous sequels, including The Bride of Frankenstein (1936) and the Son of Frankenstein.The Mummy
Released in 1932, The Mummy starred Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners, Edward Van Sloan, and Arthur Byron. The Mummy was inspired by the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922.
The Invisible Man
Based on H. G. Wells' 1897 novel, The Invisible Man was released by Universal Pictures in 1933. The movie starred Claude Rains as Dr. Jack Griffin, who discovers a formula that made him invisible and drove him insane. Universal released several sequels, such as The Invisible Man Returns (1940) and a comedy The Invisible Woman (1940).
The Wolf Man
The 1941 The Wolf Man wasn’t Universal Pictures' first attempt at the werewolf story. That was Werewolf of London, which was released in 1935. However, The Wolf Man is the most famous of the two. The movie starred Lon Chaney Jr. in the title role. The supporting cast included a who’s who with Claude Rains, Ralph Bellamy, and Bela Lugosi. The Wolf Man has several sequels, including Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man.
While not released by Universal Pictures, the Dieselpunk classic Young Frankenstein is a loving tribute to the aforementioned Universal Pictures monster movies. Produced and directed by Mel Brooks and co-written by Gene Wilder, Young Frankenstein was released in 1974. The cast included Wilder as a descendant of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein while Peter Boyle played the creature. It co-starred Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, Richard Haydn, and Gene Hackman.