Elsewhere in this issue, you will find a bunch of celebrated guys making New Year resolutions for other people, but up front here in the editors' gum-beating department we're going to be old fashioned enough to make one for Playboy.
More than 20,000 ballots and 400,000 individual votes have been cast in the first annual Playboy Jazz Poll – the largest popularity poll ever conducted in the field of jazz. Readers are choosing the 18 sidemen for the 1957 Playboy All-Star Jazz Band, an outstanding jazz leader to head-up the band, top male and female vocalists, and the most popular jazz vocal group and instrumental combo. Along with the ballots, now being tabulated by IBM, came thousands of letters from readers:
When to be in Ireland if not on the feast day of the good St. Patrick himself? And what to do if not ride to hounds with famed Irish packs lighting out after stag, fox and hare? Or you can try it afoot following beagles over rainfresh fields under scudding clouds. Eight days of gentlemanly hunting on a 10-day luxury air tour from New York costs $799 complete (O'Scannlain & English, 62 West 46th, New York 36). Stop when you reach Shannon Airport for some fantastic shopping bargains, and don't forget to down a mug or two of Irish coffee laced with a slug of the old fire. Break away in Dublin for at least one hefty meal at Jammet's, celebrated by James Joyce and still a roaring spot (Irish Tourist Information Bureau, 33 East 50th, New York 22).
We have it on unimpeachable authority that this New Year's Eve is to be the biggest, bawdiest, bustiest, most boisterous ever – everywhere. Since New York City is the undisputed Mecca of night life – where everyone and anything goes – we've unleashed our vigorous, dedicated staff of pub crawlers to scour the wonderful town for the last-minute low-down on high jinks come midnight, December 31.
As Sakini say: "We show you Okinawan get-up-and-go, boss." The movie, of course, is Teahouse of the August Moon, and the get-up-and-go is supplied in this minor masterpiece by an excellent script, first-rate production, whimsical acting and understanding direction. The simple story that ran for 91 weeks on Broadway remains the same: a misfit occupation officer, Captain Fisby, is entrusted with the mission of instilling Occidental-type democracy on a very Oriental community. Together with Sakini, his redoubtable native interpreter, Fisby does his open-hearted best, but it's no occident that he flops (in Pentagon eyes, anyway). What he does achieve is a flourishing economy based on "7-star batata" (week-old potato brandy) that's definitely worth saving. It is saved by a convenient deus ex machina ending that is corny as can be, but satisfying and up-beat. A talented cast trots through the wispy plot with an uncommon and gratifying zest: Marlon Brando's Sakini reveals a nicely-defined sense of comedy; Glenn Ford's hesitancies and mumblings are properly farcical for the bumbling Fisby; Machito Kyo is an exquisitely-turned porcelain figure of a geisha; and Eddie Albert gives a grand performance as the over- and later under-civilized psychiatrist. The remainder of the large cast, predominantly Japanese, is equally adept. To mold these factors, Daniel Mann has provided warm, intimate and spirited direction.
On April 28, 1766, a young man-about-town wrote to a crony about a servant girl who had captured his heart, etc.: he called her "angelic," "enchanting," "perfectly well made," with "the prettiest foot and ankle." "She is better than any lady I know ... I think I could pass my whole life agreeably with her ..." Only 19 days later, he was writing to the same friend: "My love for the handsome chambermaid is already like a dream that is past." Such was the fickleness of James Boswell, bon vivant and biographer, as limned by his own words in Boswell in Search of a Wife (McGraw-Hill, $6), sixth in the series of previously-unpublished Boswell papers being bestowed upon the world through the kindness of Yale University. Boswell is almost killed with this kindness, however, because the learned gentleman entrusted with the papers have so enshrouded them in scholarly footnotes, introductions, appendices, maps, genealogical tables and the general mustiness of pedantry that the effervescence is somewhat dissipated. But Boswell emerges victorious: in life, this vigorous man was not one to defer to his inferiors, nor is he now. This newest volume charts his adventures with heiresses and gardeners' daughters from Ann to Zélide – nine in all, who came under the Boswell scrutiny between the years 1766 and 1769. There is much good reading here, but perhaps no single episode can equal the uproarious encounter with Luisa and "Signor Gonorrhoea" in the series' first volume, Boswell's London Journal, now in paperback (Signet, 50¢).
Once in a blues moon a record comes along that demands to be called a classic. Such is Jam Session #8 (Clef 711), a disc that makes us wish we had recourse to an untapped larder of laudatory adjectives. For here assembled are 10 top Jazz-at-the-Phil stars, individualists all, making like a pack of blues-blooded hounds of jazz, baying at a hot full moon. Side B is a ballad medley with each of the soloists playing his favorite. It is – to use a strong word in all seriousness – superb. But it's the A side that's really got the stuff of greatness. In Jam Blues the 10 work like this: Oscar Peterson's piano leads off, richly and intricately; then up comes Johnny Hodges with his creamy alto; next Ben Webster lets go with his tenor sax; now the sharp and brilliant trumpet of Roy Eldridge takes over; Flip Phillips' tenor sax rides in, then; and now Diz comes on to blow the house down; Illinois Jacquet's tenor follows; last comes Lionel Hampton's vibraharp – and throughout the solid, riding rhythm is provided by Peterson's piano, Ray Brown on bass and Buddy Rich on drums. The space we've allotted to this recording is a measure of our esteem.
The Reluctant Debutante (at the Henry Miller, 124 W. 43rd) is a powderpuff of a British comedy about nothing very important, but author William Douglas Home creates a lot of fun enroute to nowhere, and his cast backs him up with style and high humor. It all takes place in Mayfair in the Spring, when debutantes are "coming out" and all good men are taking to the hills as London dowagers cut each other dead in competition for well-heeled sons-in-law. Anna Massey is cast as the uncooperative heroine who prefers horses to men – particularly after Adrianne Allen, as her indefatigable mother, dragoons a bumptious young officer from the Guards into being her escort. Fortunately, mother rectifies this mistake by accident. She gets hold of a wrong telephone number and unwittingly invites David Hoylake-Johnston (John Merivale) home to dinner. David, handsome young man-about-town, has the reputation of being an incorrigible rake, but we know better. He's a good guy and it's love at first sight and farewell to the horses; and after a good deal more chit-chat over the telephone and a tender love scene that resolves into a romping, old-fashioned farce, the author calls a halt for his happy ending.
Since time immemorial, or at least since Mr. Gregorian shook up the calendar, well-meaning mortals have chosen the New Years as the occasion to enumerate their failings on paper and solemnly pledge to sin no more in the coming twelve-month. These pledges have become known as New Year resolutions, and the only trouble with them is that the resoluters are seldom resolute enough. Their hearts, proverbially, are in the right places, but the flesh, no less proverbially, is weak and they begin to backslide, usually somewhere around the second or third of January.
There is an Antique Yarn concerning the racy, fascinating and very naughty section of London known as Shepherd Market, an area which leads its gaudy life within a stone's throw of Piccadilly, a London street familiar to hundreds of thousands of GI's as the profitable hunting ground of the "Piccadilly Commandoes," or girls who, for a fee, would make themselves totally available to girl-less soldiers.
A couple of seasons ago, knowledgeable guys who crawled into dinner jackets or tailcoats did so with the realization that all that uniform black-and-whiteness might strip them of their individuality. Hell, who but Richard E. Byrd can tell one penguin from another? This season, a gent can be as colorful as a matador, but we hope he won't.
When Charlie parker was blowing, the music spilled and tumbled out of him – abstract, brush-stroked joys and hates translated by some mysterious process into the mathematical sense of tangible, recordable sound. His phrases always came in a bewildering succession, confounding sometimes even his friend Dizzy, who had the wit and taste to write some of them down immediately, lest they be lost, as many of Bix's were; and they came in such fertility and profusion that even first-class musicians, invited to sit in where he was blowing, refused to spring the clips of their cases or sat paralyzed into silence. "Who wants to go up against this cat?" they said.
There are many ways one may signalize a birthday, but most of the time-tested cake-and-candle capers are singularly dull. June Blair, an aspiring actress who made her first entrance 23 years ago, decided to mark the anniversary of her natal day by returning to a costume reminiscent of her birthday suit and becoming Playboy's Miss January. Her Playmate pose, accordingly, was photographed on the birthday of this five-foot-five, flame-tressed, smouldering-eyed young lynx. One of the wiser moves of her 23 years, think we, since a certain amount of fame and fortune seem to accrue to the young beauties thus posed in Playboy. It may be remembered that Jayne Mansfield received the nod, first from Hollywood and then Broadway, following her appearance as Playmate of the Month. We wish June real Jayne-type luck in her theatrical career. We also wish her a happy birthday.
There was a man, in the old days, whose comely young wife was continually baking succulent cakes of sugar and butter. But did she allow him to eat any of them? No, she did not. Nary a cake would she give him, though his mouth watered at the smell of them. "Hands off, husband!" she would cry. "These cakes are not for mortal mouths. I am taking them to the shrine by the river, there to offer them to the goddess."
During the past year of pleasant instruction, struction, we have touched upon every situation in which a clean-living, upstanding young man will find himself in contact with a woman. Now, assuming you have absorbed these teachings and made them part of your very fibre, we are ready for The Last Word on this fascinating subject – the handling of women (no pun intended) in the world of business.
This last 12 months a dozen different girls from across the U.S. have graced playboy's Playmate pages and thus brightened the lives of countless American men. One was an import from Denmark, two came from Texas, one from the Bronx; one is a writer, another a telephone operator, one works for our magazine. All 12 have one thing in common: they are beautiful in both face and figure. We've asked them all back again, as is our custom, for a year-end curtain call. Which one, would you say, deserves the title: playmate of the Year?
Here's a switch in hitching gear: the new way around the waistland is via fabric belt, pepping up the region north of the pants and south of the shirt from a neutral strip to a point of real interest. Bright colors and textures in foulards, paisleys, plaids and stripes are new-comers to the territory, while firmly entrenched conservatives (blacks or browns) are slowly shuffling out of sight, especially for casual wear. Even the hide-bound (alligator, leather) fellows are switching to madras, burlap, silk and cotton rope for leisurely living. Then too, that discreet slice of initialed silver or gold is being superseded by brash brass buckles, as well as other unusual closures.