Archive for February, 2010

Summer Romance (Midwood #16, 1959)

Posted in Midwood Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , , , on February 28, 2010 by orriehittfan

One of Hitt’s handful of Midwood titles tackling several pet themes: a summer resort hotel in the Catskills, a May/December marriage between a twenty-four-year-old woman, Ruth, and the fifty-eight-year-old hotel owner, Sam.  Makes no mistakes about this marriage — it’s all about money. Ruth grew up poor and has no desire to be poor for the rest of her life.

She worked as a waitress for Sam and Sam is known for trying to bed every femle employee he can.  She traps him by pretedning to be pregnant and then denying him her body — driving him so crazy that he proposes.  Now, two years later, she cannot stand him, he wants a son, and she has her lovers — their is Eddie, the desk manager, and the new hire, Ted, and assistant manager, whose girlfriend, Peggy, works for the Wildwood Hotel.

Peggy, however, walks the twilight world of secret sex and one night when she and Ruth get drunk and friendly, Peggy seduces Ruth. Now Ruth is confused because she liked having sex with Peggy but does not believe she is a lesbian because she also loves sex with men. She’s bi-sexual but at that time in the 1950s, such a label was unheard of.  You were either straight or queer.

While Peggy has designs on a serious relationship with Ruth, Ruth falls in love with Ted and Sam finds out about Ruth’s trysts with Eddie, threatening to divorce her and leave her penniless. This puts a huge dent in Ruth’s plans. But her luck, Sam gets so pissed off he drinks himself to death — literally, dying in a booth in is own hotel bar.

Now Ruth has everything but Peggy and Eddie blackmail her for pieces of the new pie…

I was surprised by this one by Hitt, it was well written but also did not have the cliches plot twists and events that are in his other resort hotel novels. Maybe because this was a Midwood title.

It also doesn’t have a ppatent happy ending — the ending is rather tragic and sad, in fact, despite all of Ruth’s bad traits, we feel for her plight.  She’s just a poor girl trying to get ahead in what she feels in an unfair world that treats simple, uneducated gals like herself like dirt — you are either a whore or a wife in her world, and she wants to be neither, yet in many ways is both.

This gets a 9.5 on the Hitt Scale.

Summer Hotel (Beacon Books, 1959)

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , , on February 26, 2010 by orriehittfan

Catskill hotels, resort hotels, and shabby hotels and the people who work in such places are one of Orrie Hitt’s obsessive themes — seen in Hotel Woman, Hotel Hostess, Hotel Girl, Shabby Street, and others.

Hitt knows the ins and outs of hotel management well, from renting rooms to keeping the food stocked to dealing with the petty ways workers make extra money and make each other in the off hours.

The narrator is McKenzie Osmund, “Mac” to people, who worked as a professional hotel manager until recently, when at one hotel his lover and some other guy she was seeing, an old con pal, set him up as the fall guy for running prostitutes out of the hotel. No one could prove it, nor did anyone believe his story, but now he can’t get a job in the hotel industry where he was used to making $150-180 a week.  Instead, he is making $50 a week as a short-order cook in a greasy spoon, a job he hates.  He gets fired from that job too.

He does find a job at the Parsons Hotel, with summer looming, despite  the scandal — the property was recently taken over by an odd couple:  Jack is an overweight, lazy diabetic and his wife, Diana, is young, 22, vibrant, sexy, with red hair and long legs.  We’ve seen this badly mixed marriages in Hitt’s books before — in this case, Jack was a friend of her father’s who promised to look after her…and boy did he by getting her drunk, taking her to bed, and convincing the naive virgin girl she was pregnant and had to marry him…

So here we are, Mac working for them, Mac has eyes for her, Jack is impotent and low-energy. Mac starts to sleep with Diana; Diana tells him about a $25,000 life insurance policy on Jack, and the hotel, and how they would be better off is Jack was not around.

Mac reads in a medical book how diabetics can accidentally die if derpived on insulin…

Yep: he’s thinking  murder for the woman and money.  We’ve seen this James Cain-like set-up in too many Hitt novels, but since this is from 1958, this is actually not yet old hat in Hitt’s publication timeline.

Still, it is predicable in some ways, and in others not.  Mac isn’t the heel some Hitt heroes are; he’s actually a good guy.  But when he pays the hospital bill for the daughter of the woman he rents a room from, a teenage girl who is pregnant and doesn’t know who the father is (or so she claims) and loses the child to still-birth, the girl’s mother accuses Mac of being the father — why else would a man pay a big hospital bill like that?

Then the girl falls in love with him, and he gives in and has sex with her, but knows it’s a big mistake.  So she’s the second woman; the third is a waitress at the diner he worked at, but it’s just a romp in the car and he gives her money after. Mac isn’t jumbling the three like some Hitt heroes tend to do.

Then he discovers that Diana is running hookers out of the summer hotel — girls who work as waitresses or maids but make money “on the side” with forty percent going to the hotel.  Mac is worried the cops will come down on them, especially since he is plotting a murder. But the place starts to look like a roman orgy:

It was an assortment, I tell you. We had everything at Parson’s Ranch. Guys held hands with guys and girls held hands with girls — or something else. I don’t know. I didn’t watch them. (p. 170)

Is he a sucker like some Hitt heroes, duped into committing a crime by an evil woman?  Why spoil it for you…

It has a happy ending.

Summer Hotel is a good read — on the Hitt Scale, an 8.5.

Summer of Sin (Beacon, 1961)

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books on February 20, 2010 by orriehittfan

After several disappointing Hitts, it was good to come back to ol’ Orrie doing his best: stories of ambitious young heels and the women they juggle.

Clem Evans is a big strapping young fellow who sets out to become a businessman, his eye on the summer crowd — he leases out a section of private beach, to charge for access and sell beer, cigarettes, and sodas at a stand.  It’s risky, as the weather tends to be erratic, and he has little operating funds, taking a bank loan for the lease and borrowing from a lover to pay the beer vendor upfront.

Like all Hitt heroes, he juggles three women:

Nan, who breaks up with him because he won’t do good on his promise of marriage for sex, and a wealthy doctor at the hospital she works at wants to date her;

Emily, the town floozie who is convinced the child she carries is his, and also wants marriage;

Gloria, daughter of the woman he leases the beach from, weary of men, but the “bad girl” Clem has fallen for — or she makes him fall for her.  She works at a bikini factory and the owner, an old married man, has his eye on her.  She wants to make money, stop working, so hatches a plan where she will lure the old man into bed and Clem will take photos, and they will blackmail him for $10,000.

And like all Hitt heroes, he is being set up as a patsy.

At the core of this predictable novel is Hitt’s commentary on the struggle of the classes.  We see a mixture of people desperate for money, who work hard and make little, and those who have more money, like the doctor and factory owner, and how those beneath them economically are jealous, envious, and plotting.

Clem also saves Emily from rape by the local thug — he beats the thug up and the thug vows to murder Clem in retaliation, so he’s often looking over his shoulder, waiting for a surprise attack.

On the Hitt Scale, a 7.5 for good writing ad plotting, but has elements we’ve seen in other Hitts.

The 1969 UK Softcover Library edition uses the same cover image they used for Ladies Man.

The Passion Hunters (Domino, 1964)

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , , on February 17, 2010 by orriehittfan

I liked Hitt’s other Domino titles, all 40,000 words crammed into 128-pages of small type — The Color of Lust and Lust Prowl were decent reads, albeit flawed in the way a prolific authors’ many books tend to be. Loose Women wasn’t bad.

Can’t say the same for The Passion Hunters, also published as This Wild Desire in 1966. Hitt delves into the world of the small town radio station and the woes of running it financially sound, as seen in Ladies Man, Women’s Ward, and The Lion’s Den.

The narrator is Brad Norton, who is hoping to keep his radio station afloat by getting rich alcoholic curmudgeon Charlie Fulton interested in investing.  To buddy up with Fulton, Brad spends several weekends out at Fulton’s country estate by Martha’s Creek, hunting deer, drinking, and doing manly things — like having sex.

The three women that Brad juggles are Helen, a woman who works at the station whom he occasionally sleeps with; Lucy, the comely cook at the country place; and Betty, Fulton’s daughter, who tries to convince Brad if he gets her pregnant, her daddy couldn’t refuse him — or her — anything, and would put money into a failing station.

The little novel starts off well, and seems different from other run-of-the-mill Hitts, but half-way through starts to fall apart simply because nothing happens. There is little tension or plot and you start to think, “So what?”

On the Hitt Scale, a 4.5.

Untamed Lust (Beacon, 1960)

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags on February 17, 2010 by orriehittfan

Many of Hitt’s usual elements are here — the farm hand, the old farmer married to a younger woman, the murder plot.

Previous Hitt hired hands worked on dirt farms, union farms, and game farms.  In Untamed Lust, Eddie Boyd is a big guy who works as a trapper for, trapping snapping turtles, raccoons, and whatever else needs to be herded off the land and lakes.

Frank Jennings owns the land; he has a young wife, Kitty, who was a dancer. The day after their wedding, he got drunk and fell off a horse and is now stuck in a wheelchair.  He has a daughter almost the same age as Kitty, Carole, who wants Kitty out of their lives.  She makes a proposition to Eddy: sleep with Kitty and make her daddy find out, and he’ll get $5,000 for his testimony in court that Kitty was unfaithful; if he doesn’t, Carole will tell her daddy that he tried to get fresh with her and he’ll lose his job.

What’s Eddy to do?

And then Kitty says she wants Eddy to knock her up and they’ll pretend it is the old crippled farmer’s baby and he will be paid well for his stud service.

And then Kitty says, “Let’s kill him instead and share the bounty and live happily ever after.”

Alas, we’ve seen his set-up in way too many Orrie Hitt books that I had to drop the book.  On the Hitt Scale, this only gets a 5.

Mr. Hot Rod by Charles Verne (Key, 1957)

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , , , on February 8, 2010 by orriehittfan

Hitt - Mr. Hot Rod

I’ve mentioned before, 1957 was one busy year for ol’ Orrie — a bunch of Beacon titles, four as Roger Normandie, and two as Charles Verne.

This art is not really the dust jacket to Mr. Hot Rod — the copy I found did not come with a jacket, I just have the plain light grey boards of a hardcover.  It seems this one, along with the other Charles Verne, The Wheel of Passion, never found a home as a paperback — that I know of thus far…

hitt - mr. hot rod 2

When I read three of the Roger Normandie-penned books, it was apparent that Hitt did not compose them alone; the change in styles from one section to the next (they were all split up into four parts, like Mr. Hot Rod is) were erratic and different in tone and pace as well as use of dialogue; there was a lot of S/M stuff, and the story lines were uneven.

Who did Hitt co-pen these books with?  My guess is Jack Woodford or one of Woodford’s students, like Joe Weiss, who also published a number of books with Key Publishers. In fact, all the writers listed on the jacket flap for Key seem to have a connection with the School of Woodford style of smut writing, so I now wonder if Key was connected to The Woodford Press (that also published Hitt’s Teaser).

It looks like Orrie didn’t pen this novel as Charles Verne alone, either, but there also seems to be more of Hitt’s presence.  I detected small sections that seemed un-Hitt like, as well as one an out-of-the-blue spanking scene similar to those in The Lion’s Den, where a spontaneous spanking scene turns nasty…

His right hand was poised in the air.

“You’ll pay for this!” she breathed. “Damn you, Eric Goddard, you’ll pay for this!”

His right hand descended and there was a loud smack as his palm flattened itself against her right buttock.  He felt pain stab upwards to his elbow, sensed the incredible depth to which his fingers violated her body. She let out a long, low moan and hurled herself forward […]


He hit her again and again, first one buttock and then the other, and his hand became numb.  Sweat poured down off his forehead, blinding him, and dripped onto the red, naked flesh beneath […] Her hands found the halter, ripped it loose, and then she made him put his hands on her other breast. The nipple was hard and pointed and every time he hit her it seemed to swell up even larger.

“Eric! Oh, Eric — use both hands!” (pp. 32-33)

Eric Goddard (a wink to Jean-Luc?) owns a gas station and repair garage; he’s a race car enthusiast who works on hot rods and started a club, the Fender Benders, in the small NY town, Millsville, pop. 7400.

The story opens with spoiled little rich girl Jayne Barton driving Eric’s hot rod, because he’s working on her Caddy to soup it up.  She’s driving with Ruthie, a cute girl, who professes her love to Jayne.  Jayne is cool about it, but likes the fact that Ruthie has come out with her lesbian desires.

Jayne drag races local hot rodder Freddie because Freddie thinks Eric is in the car; Freddie loses control, crashes and dies.  The cops aren’t happy and start coming down hard on the local hot rod kids, writing tickets and forcing them to get rid of their Hollywood mufflers.

Eric is about to disband the Fender Benders but Jayne, full of money, offers to pay off all member debts to Eric for repairs, as well as fund a clubhouse.  She also has designs on Eric, along with Ruthie — she’s bisexual, spoiled, devious…

Next comes Ann, the widow of a famous car driver who, before dying, was putting together a “one hundred eighty degree crank” for a stock car.  Like The Sucker, race cars and crank engines play a pivotal role, and ol’ Orrie uses his background as a race car magazine writer and enthusiast to put in a lot of details.

Jayne is evil with her wealth, sucking Eric in, and drugging his fiancee, Mae, into a lesbianic situation with Ruthie to take photos and smear Mae’s name, so Jayne can have Eric for herself…

Eric gets brutal down the line, anally raping Ruth to get her to tell the truth and then beating Jayne for it, but Jayne gets turned on by the physical attack and asks for more.  This sort of rough sex isn’t really characteristic of Orrie Hitt, but was all over the Roger Normandie books. Likewise, a scene where Eric finds Mae doing eight guys in a gangbang because she’s lost all self-respect — she doesn’t remember how she wound up having se with Ruthie, but she thinks she may be a lesbian and is trying to counter-attack that by being sexually loose and free with any guy.

Everything winds up violent, as suspected.

Yet, this one seems to have more of Hitt’s writing in it than the Normandie ones.  Not a bad book, but not Hitt’s best.  A 7.5 on the Hitt Scale for an engaging tale, and for being a rare, lost title in sleazecoreville.

Good luck  finding  a copy, however.

DIRT FARM (Beacon, 1961)

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books on February 8, 2010 by orriehittfan

This has all the usual Hitt themes and motifs: the hired hand on a farm, the slave-driving farmer, the young vixen who wants the farmer dead so she can get his land and money, the patsy protagonist who falls into her trap…

Butch Hagen is another typical Hitt hero:

He was a massive man, six inches over six feet, and weighing in at an even two hundred.  In his twenty-five years he had been in any number of brawls but nobody ever licked him. (pp. 7-8)

We’ve seen the set-up in various books, like Violent Sinners, Two of a Kind, The Widow, Pleasure Ground, etc.  This time, however, the vixen, 19 year old Candy Roberts, is not the younger wife of the farmer, but the niece of Clay Billings, the owner of Friendly Farms, and she wants her evil mean uncle done in with — she has tried to talk various hired hands into it, using her body and charms, and here comes big ol’ Butch, ready to fall for the scam and do the deed, owing much in homage to James M. Cain.

While this novel covers no new ground for Hitt, it is quite well-written — excellent prose with re-used material gives this is a 7.8 on the Hitt Scale.