Acting is an element of minor importance in the making of a movie: many a fine film, compounded of story, directorial, photographic and editing excellences, has been none the worse for an entire cast of mediocre actors. But when a story revolves around one powerful, pivotal character, and when that character is "a grand, ungodly, god-like man" who looks like someone "cut away from the stake," a man "gnawed within and scorched without with the infixed, unrelenting fangs of some incurable idea," then that character requires an actor, and a great one, or the story should never be filmed at all. Such a story is Melville's Moby Dick, which John Huston 20 years ago dreamed of filming, with his father – the famous, fiery Walter – as that Promethean character, Captain Ahab, who sends himself, his ship and his crew to the ocean floor in the course of his vengeful killing of the whale who chewed off his leg. For some reason, the dream was shelved; Walter Huston never played Ahab; and when, after his death, son John revived the dream and realized it, his perverse, incredible choice for the role was Gregory Peck. The film Huston made has all the earmarks of a cinematic masterpiece: the screenplay, distilled from Melville with great craft by Ray Bradbury, is a gem; the direction is strong, secure and sensitive; the photography ravishes the eye; the editing is sharp and deft; and even the actors, perfectly cast, do their work with skill and assurance – all save one. Despite masterful make-up, cunning camera angles, wily coaching and the ominous sound of massed trombones on the soundtrack, Peck (a nice guy who did his best) is a feeble, tiny, impotent, totally inadequate Ahab. Hence, Moby Dick, which might have been the best film of the decade, is, rather, one of the most woeful wastes in the history of the screen: a beautiful, hollow shell.
A nice memento of High Society can be had via the LP of that nomenclature (Capitol W750). The whole affair has a certain historical significance, since it brings together, for the first time, the vocal talents of the two most popular pop singers of the past twenty years. Mr. Crosby had the musical world on a string from the mid-Thirties till early in the next decade; Mr. Sinatra took over then and apparently has no intention of letting loose for some time to come. Surprisingly enough, however, in this package it is Bing who comes out on top. He has a fine old time on Now You Has Jazz with Satchmo; does well by two catchy romantic things: I Love You, Samantha and True Love (the latter includes a bit of harmony with Grace Kelly); and teams with Frank for the drunken Well Did You Evah? Sinatra gets a couple of ballads, too: You're Sensational and Mind If I Make Love To You, plus Cole Porter's most playful line, in Evah: "Have you heard that Mimsy Starr – She got pinched in the As-tor bar."
The gloomier grottos of the heart and spirit are revealed, brilliantly, in The Red Room, by Francoise Mallet-Joris (Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, $3.50). The scene is a pleasant Flemish town. Principal dramatis personae are a man married to the Lesbian who seduced his daughter, the daughter, and a rich Parisian set designer who stacks up as a pretty dedicated sexualist. Kernel of the story is his casual affair with the erstwhile Lez, his being snatched from her by the daughter (largely out of revenge) and then the deadly contest of wills between the man and girl, both utter egotists whose love is as natural and outgoing as an ingrown toenail. For icing, there are miscellaneous side affairs of the heart and body. Two things save the book from being a mere off-beat revel: the author writes with power, insight, great vigor and sensitivity, and the characters are real and whole, people for whom we may weep as they writhe in toils of their own making.
New York's Russian Tea Room (150 West 57th) sticks you with no cabaret tax, but impressario Sidney Kaye is so funny there should be one. At this bustling caravanserai in the shade of Carnegie Hall, he handles a concourse of theatrical, operatic and ballet customers with all the aplomb of DeMille directing A Cast Of Thousands. The slightly misnomered Tea Room caters between noon and 1 A. M. all week to a lively line-up of celebrities including the likes of Paddy Chayefsky, Marlon Brando, Kim Stanley, Jan Peerce and S. Hurok – all of whom we spotted in the space of one short night. Commissar Kaye is understandably serious about recommending the pride of the house, Shashlik Caucasian, a skewered series of lamb chunks and miscellany that grip the imagination and assuage the soul. An authentic Russian complete with peasant blouse rushes this to your table for a damned decent $2.75, but there are many caviar-encrusted delicacies priced in the six-ruble bracket. Bar-czar Irving Susskind, a boyar from way back, has been good enough to concoct a heavenly potation and dub it the Playboy Cocktail, to wit: ounce of cognac, half-ounce of creme de cacao; lace it with 2-1/2 ounces of champagne, mix with ice and serve in a chilled champagne glass. Top with a twist of lemon.
Playboy is published monthly by the HMH Publishing Co., Inc., 11 E. Superior, Chicago 11, Illinois. Postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings and photographs submitted if they are to be returned and no responsibility can be assumed for unsolicited materials. 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. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Any similarity between the people and places mentioned in the fiction and semi-fiction in this magazine and any real people and places is purely coincidental.
Alfred Simon was born on Kazanga IV, a small agricultural planet near Bootes, and there he drove a combine through the wheat fields, and in the long, hushed evenings listened to the recorded love songs of Earth.
We Landed at Colima twenty minutes behind schedule. Two passengers got on, fighting the slipstream as the plane held against the brakes, and took off again in its own dust. The town was still in sight under the left wing when the steward began dispensing Aérovias Azteca's standard flight breakfast. A paper cup of orange juice – warm; powdered coffee – cold; and a sweet roll, roughly the size and shape of a calf's clinker.
For the first 24 years of its existence, France's famed Folies-Bergère enjoyed no other distinction than that of being the first music hall in Paris. Then one night in its 24th year – 1893 – the curtain went up on a naked woman, Paris was deliciously scandalized, and the Folies as we know it was born. In 1894 – one short year after that historic nude – the first flickery motion picture emerged from the laboratory of Thomas Alva Edison. Irrelevant? Completely. For it was not until 1956 that these two delightful diversions – the films and the Folies-Bergère – got together.
For a walk on the soigné side: two fall suits – including accessories – that call for a prominent spot in the gentleman's town and country wardrobe. The jaunty, hand-in-pocket guy wears for a country weekend a single-breasted tweed by Baker Clothes ($95), woven of a fine all-wool Ballantyne of Peebles fabric (and Peebles, for you outlanders who don't know, is a wee shire in the south of Scotland through which the river Tweed flows). His casual sport fedora is made by Knox ($15) in a scratch finish heather mix, while his shirt is a classic white oxford button-down by Gant of New Haven ($5.95), with button-cuffs and box pleat in back; the necktie is a brightly striped silk rep ($3.50), and his belt is a braided job from France by Douglas ($5.50). On his feet are Keith Highlander cordovan bluchers ($31) and his socks ($3.95) are cashmere and nylon in a smart orange and black diamond weave.
Once there was a goldsmith who had but two passions in life: women, and good wine. One day he entered the house of a friend and observed on one of the walls the picture of a young woman; fairer or lovelier or prettier wench eye never beheld. The goldsmith studied the portrait with interest, and was astounded by its beauty; straight way his heart was invaded by a fond love for the image, so that he fell sick and was presently on the verge of destruction. One of his friends came to visit him in this grievous state, and inquired of him how he felt and where the pain was.
This Blue-eyed natural blonde was born 21 years ago in Copenhagen, Denmark, has been in America a scant three years. Her hobbies include dancing, designing clothes and murdering the English language. Elsa Sorensen is her name, and though she thinks her new monicker, Dane Arden, is slicker and more "American," we still call her Ellie, as do her other friends – including baritone boyfriend Guy Mitchell. Guy sees a lot of Ellie. So will you, on the following spread where this Dane named Dane proves that a rose is a rose is a Playmate.
The movie producer traveled all the way to Europe, but had to return to Hollywood disappointed. He contacted the beautiful Italian actress he'd been seeking, all right, but, unfortunately, she refused to come across.
A man yearns for quarters of his own. More than a place to hang his hat, a man dreams of his own domain, a place that is exclusively his. Playboy has designed, planned and decorated, from the floor up, a penthouse apartment for the urban bachelor – a man who enjoys good living, a sophisticated connoisseur of the lively arts, of food and drink and congenial companions of both sexes. A man very much, perhaps, like you. In such a place, you might live in elegant comfort, in a man's world which fits your moods and desires, which is a tasteful, gracious setting for an urbane personality. Here is the key. Let's use it together and take a tour of discovery.
Floyd Patterson, a dark-brown, wide-shouldered, slim-bodied child of destiny was 21 years old last January. Before his next birthday, if his stars hold true on their course, he may become the heavyweight boxing champion of the world. If he makes it, he will be the youngest man ever to do so.
Ever Since that eye-patched gazebo in the Hathaway shirt ads began contemplating a wedge of gorgonzola, sniffing a glass of Haut Brion – looking so damned urbane – we've had the glowing feeling that shirts were finally coming in for their fair share of public whoop-de-do. After all, that hunk of broadcloth or oxford cloth is a close and complimentary companion to your suits; you've got to (concluded on page 74) choose one as warily as the other. Accordingly, we've got some pertinent pointers on shirts to get off our chests.
"The Thing About it is," the girl said, "I simply never could work up any sense of wrong about it. I know that's the classic thing to say, but you absolutely have to find it out for yourself. The only wrong thing, the really wicked part of it, it seems to me, is breaking it up."
Three rousing cheers for the big COLLEGE ISSUE of Playboy—including the first annual PLAYBOY JAZZ POLL in which you, the reader, vote for the musicians for the 1957 PLAYBOY ALL-STAR JAZZ BAND—a weekend at Dartmouth with JANET PILGRAM, and what a time playboy's favorite Playmate has on this all-male college campus—a story of fraternity life by HERBERT GOLD and a most amusing satire of monster movies by RAY RUSSELL—the second half of the full-color, twelve-page port-folio on PLAYBOY'S PENTHOUSE APARTMENT. All this and a good deal more in the October COLLEGE ISSUE of playboy.