"April is the cruelest month," said T. S. Eliot; "grimy" was the word used by Stephen Vincent Benét; Shakespeare (who was born and died in April) grudgingly conceded the month an "uncertain glory;" John Drinkwater cynically snapped, "Men's eyes in April are quicker than their brains." We'll not endorse any of these sour statements: we'd rather go along with Christopher Morley's happy image, "April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go."
Playboy, April, 1956, Vol. 3, No. 4. Playboy is published monthly by HMH Publishing Co., Inc., 11 E. Superior St., Chicago 11, Illinois. In the U.S., its possessions and Canada, subscriptions are $13 for three years; $10 for two years; $6 for one year; elsewhere, add $3 per year to cover foreign postage. Please allow three weeks for entering new subscriptions, renewals and for change of address. Entered as second class matter August 5, 1955, at the post office at Chicago, Illinois, under the act of March 3, 1879. Printed in U.S.A. Contents copyrighted 1956 by HMH Publishing Co., Inc.
We can't exactly say that TV is better than ever, but not too many Sundays ago we found ourselves torn between a James Barrie fantasy on one channel and a visit with several tribes of South American cannibals on another—both shows with excellent casts. Our joy was unbridled, and we began to have high hopes for the cultural future of These United States. Another evening, however, several twists of the dial restored us to sanity and our previous lukewarm enthusiasm for the medium. We had hit, jarringly, a few more of those chrome-plated dramas of the "Playhouse" genre—you know, the Studio One-Robert Montgomery Presents axis, whose ideal seems to be a terribly bad play about a terribly good baker, broker, butcher or Bucks County commuter.
On February 11, 1937, George Gershwin was pummeling away at his Concerto in F with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Suddenly, he lost consciousness and missed a few bars; a fraction of a minute later he regained control of himself and finished the performance as if nothing had happened. Five months later—to the day—he was dead of cystic degeneration of a tumor on a section of his brain that could not be touched by the operating surgeon. The man who said he had more tunes in his head than he could ever put down on paper was dead at 38, and John O'Hara remarked ". . . I don't have to believe it if I don't want to." Journey to Greatness (Holt, $5) is trumpeted on the dust jacket as the "definitive" biography of Mr. Gershwin, but we don't have to believe it if we don't want to. And yet, maybe it is, for no other reason than it is certainly the only half-way complete biography of that foremost composer. Either way, author David Ewen (Music for the Millions, The Story of Irving Berlin, etc.) has done a creditable job ferreting out some little-known facts and figures surrounding the life of America's Johann Strauss, and of special interest is a section that lists all of Gershwin's stage productions, leading stars, premiere dates, motion picture scores, best-known songs and a recommended list of recordings.
There is a rather jinxed restaurant location on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles—jinxed, that is, until the recent, regal opening of the Versailles-Quo Vadis (8225 Sunset Boulevard). A few years back, Preston Sturges' chuck wagon functioned on that spot as a chi-chi movie colony hangout, then for some reason it went into a fast, furious nose dive. Adolph Repp (of Adolph's Meat Tenderizer fame) took up the soup-stained cudgels and, almost before you could say "Rabbit Bourguigonne," proceeded to lose his silk shirt. The place remained boarded up until yet another culinary Hector decided to mount a fresh attack, with neon banners flying the somewhat peripatetic battle cry: The Tablehoppers. We're sorry to report that that fellow barely got out of it with his napkins and silver paid for and was forced to retire from Sunny California to a snug rest home in the Maine woods. Tossing a shakerful of salt over their left shoulders, Arthur and Shirley Lyons went at it tooth and nail and their efforts seem to be thumpingly successful. The child of battle, Versailles-Quo Vadis is three stories high, nestled against a hill, and, as the name might imply, is really two restaurants: one French, the other Italian (or ancient Roman, we're not quite sure).
The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, Witness for the Prosecution, Inherit the Wind, and now Time Limit: we may not have listed all the recent "trial" plays, but we think we've corralled enough to make our point—namely, that plays involving court trials are almost sure to be popular. We asked ourselves "why?" and came up with this: For one thing, an audience loves conflict, and a trial is one of the most clear-cut, overt conflicts our society has to offer—a real contest, like a prize-fight, in which one side must win and the other lose. For another thing, it satisfies the public's hankering for ritual: all these plays, though written and acted in a naturalistic style, have a ready-made framework of classic formality—the framework of court procedure—and this perfectly natural framework is acceptable to modern audiences when an imposed framework of stylization might, perhaps, be scorned as arty and unreal.
The fonnies' thin' about Forever Darlin', starrin' Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, iss thot Desi plays a research chemist. Ain' thot rich? Of course, Lucille makes a lot of fonny faces, on' James Mason looks embarrased mos' of the time os if he's wonderin' how he got into the picture, what he's doin', on' where the hell is the way out. Tha's the way we felt, too.
Big bands that swung like crazy reached their apex in the early and middle Forties, and one combination that could shoot a decibel rating up 200 percent was the Gene Krupa crew, which boasted, in addition to Gene's zany tub thumping, the scatty, rhythm-packed vocals of Anita O'Day and the brilliant, piercing trumpet of Roy Eldridge. It was a chuckleheaded hipster (1941 vintage) indeed who didn't know what "Blow-oh, Roy, blow-oh" meant, or where, exactly, "Uptown" was situated —jazzological slanguage put forth by Roy and Anita on their record-busting recording of Let Me Off Uptown. Eventually, the big Krupa band, like most others, simmered down and broke up shortly after the close of World War II; Anita and Roy took off on their own even before that time, never again to scale such heady heights, but they're all back together on Gene Krupa (Columbia CL 753), a re-issue of the band's most knocked-out moments from 1940 to 1947. Included in the select circle of wax are the aforementioned Uptown, Roy's tear-'em-up trumpet on After You've Gone, Anita's low-groove song without words, That's What You Think, and Gene's special showstopper Drum Boogie.
We were sitting at North Avenue Beach, eating peanuts and watching pretty girls getting sleepy and careless in the sunshine. My friend, Marty, waved his hand graciously towards the water and said solemnly, "I see a new fate in store for us."
The sports car fan is a lover, and his car is his mistress. She is expensive, and she demands high-priced accessories. She is unpredictable, and she can be dangerous. She is a mystery whose Sortilege is axlegrease, a siren who sometimes purrs and sometimes sends her keeper home unsatisfied. "Not tonight," she says. "Not till you buy me those new cams." But doodlebug Renault or growling Maserati, she is an adventure in pure pleasure.
"I had Mr. Stevens over for a few drinks Friday evening, and when I suggested it was getting late, he made me promise to let him stay till the end of the radio program we'd been listening to. Ever hear a thing called 'Monitor'?!"
When The Glenn Miller story played to packed movie houses not long ago, I felt that Hollywood — or at least a few perceptive gentlemen in Hollywood — had at last solved the riddle of how to present popular-music-with-a-plot on the screen. The wild public acclaim for the picture certainly proved that the approach was the right one, and, beside that, the film turned out to be a husky money-maker. When the same company, writer and producer contacted me later and suggested they film The Benny Goodman Story, I gave my permission in one minute flat.
Clementine lives in a Parisian cartoon world created by Monsieur Jean Bellus, and her humorous misadventures appear regularly in the newspaper France-Dimanche. She is a secretary in an office and she makes her home with a pair of unusually understanding, middleclass parents. Her mother and father are generally bewildered by, and always broad-minded about, the amorous antics of Clementine's boyfriends and they welcome each new suitor, even though some are obviously interested in something more than their daughter's hand. As for Clementine, she goes from one affair to another with such naive sweetness that even the prudish reader is more apt to be charmed than shocked. Clementine is the most popular cartoon character in France and now a new book, Clementine Chérie, published by Grayson Publishing Corporation ($2.95) will give Americans a chance to get to know her. And to know Clementine is to love her.
Theme for the western world: cool and casual covering. Witness the shirt-happy gentlemen on the starboard page (each, admittedly, just a shell of his former self). Packed with sea-fresh departures in cut, collars and colors, the sport shirt shenanigans of the international fashion set are exciting to see. Note the collar on the blue Italian job: a short-point widespread with just a touch of roll, opening into a deep, deep neck. Note also the colorful clutch of stripes (heretofore so dashing on tigers, hot-blooded Sioux and barber poles) blended with a subtle, almost languid, effect. Whether you take your Aprils in Pomona or Princeton, chances are your favorite sport shirts this season were first seen in Paris or Portofino. Going at it clockwise, starting with the long-sleeved guy lunging for the Collins cooler, we have, voilà, a brown and black striped affair in a ribbon weave of Egyptian cotton, with a Continental mitered collar, washable, $15. Next, a Copen blue Italian shirt of pure silk with half sleeves, horizontal stripes of red and black, Italian collar, non-washable, $18.50. Following, a French boatneck pullover fashioned of spun cotton with the Riviera sleeve, smoothly blended horizontal stripes of gold, russet and blue, washable, $5.95. Then, a classic British boots-and-saddles pattern of Egyptian maize-colored cotton, trimmed in hunter's green and black, with half sleeves, washable, $12.95. Finally, the bicyclists' bonanza: a bright crimson shirt of Acrilan with racers' collar piped in black and white, washable, $10.95.
Holding fast to the handrail, Avis hitched herself up the narrow bank of stairs. She paused at the landing to unlatch the door to the roof. As it swung full, someone moved in the shadows. Avis drew back, catching her breath. The figure lowered his gun with a laugh.
Our tastes rarely run to the rural, being city-bred and all, but when a corn-fed critter as cute as Rusty Fisher comes down the pike, we feel obliged to make an exception. We asked Rusty to give us some biographical data and she scrawled what follows across two large sheets of note paper. We didn't trust ourselves to edit a word:
Several gentlemen at the Biltmore Bar were discussing their troubles. Hard Luck Harry topped them all when he dejectedly explained that he had a wife, a secretary, and a note from the bank—all overdue.
Any girl with blonde hair, a glistening lower lip and a mobile fanny will, sooner or later, be labelled The Marilyn Monroe of Lower California, Upper State New York, or Chagrin Falls, Ohio, by some unimaginative press agent or other. There's a mite more meaning, however, to the title "Marilyn Monroe of Great Britain" as applied to 24-year-old, blond-haired, glistening-lipped, mobile-fannied Diana Dors.
The principality of Monaco boasts a wooded reserve for pigeon shooting, Prince Albert's oceanographical museum, a permanent exhibit of prehistoric trivia gleaned from the Grimaldi grottoes near Mentone and assorted Roman antiquities dug up around La Turbie (these, mind you, in addition to Grace Kelly and a somewhat posh gambling casino). It also serves as sports arena for a boodle of Mother Earth's most sun-loving gadabouts who, we're told, don't give a particular damn for pigeon shooting or, for that matter, what was cooking with the Roman legions circa 44 B.C.
We can never write about Rio de Janeiro without tapping our feet, jiggling at our desks, samba-swaying around the office. Tam tam-tam . . . tam tam-tam. There in three words is Rio—a pulsing samba city with a hooded look and the screaming colors of a parrot.