Firm believers in the idea that travel is broadening and endorsers of the notion that the true sophisticate must, of necessity, be a cosmopolite, the editors of Playboy hereby call, "Hoist anchor," "All aboard" and "Fasten your seat belts," by way of getting into our International Issue.
We've been Sleepless of late over the verbal juggling of bodily parts indulged in by those closely allied to the world of fashion, both men's and women's. It was only a while back that Carmel Snow, of Harper's Bazaar fame, made the heady statement that "This year a woman's legs are her crowning glory." We let it pass with a shrug. Carmel, we reasoned, certainly knows what's what, and maybe a set of pins can turn into a crowning glory. But we recoiled the other day at the cunning copy currently used in the ads of Corbin, Ltd., a noteworthy manufacturer of men's pants, which heralded "Natural shoulder trousers and walking shorts." What a Daliesque picture that evokes!
A Drum Is a Woman, the most ambitious Duke Ellington effort to date, has been admirably produced by Irving Townsend (Columbia CL 951). A sort of offbeat oratorio, it features the Duke's wailing band plus a chorus, one operatic-type soprano, one calypso-type male singer and one swinging girl singer. Duke himself narrates the yarn, which purports to parallel the history of the origins of jazz as symbolized by a joker called Madam Zajj. Clever, no? Joya Sherrill, the swinging girl, is a joy to hear on Hey Buddy Bolden and Rhumbop; Clark Terry, et al., produce fine instrumental moments. As to the narration, well, maybe a drum is a woman, but we're not so sure a cymbal can pass as a symbol. Better you should sample two other Ellington discs: In A Mellotone (Victor 1364), which spotlights the Duke's great band of the early Forties, and Duke Ellington Presents ... (Bethlehem BCP-6005), the equally polished post-Newport group. Both are magnificently mellow.
12 Angry Men hangs a tale on a hung jury. The dozen good men and true battle it out over the fate of a teen-age hoodlum who has allegedly switch-bladed his old man. In reviewing the case in the jury room (where almost the entire action occurs) the evidence seems pretty convincing: eavesdropping neighbors heard violent conversations; another buttinski has seen the boy leave the house and one nosy insomniac claims actually to have seen the father-and-son blood banquet. The poor kid seems sure to be volleyed for the voltage. In fact, all the jury, save one doubting Thomas, give him the thumbs down treatment. This rugged individualist, as played by Henry Fonda, wants "to talk about" the case -- and does. Performances are at top level with Henry Fonda as the quiet questioner who knocks out the belligerence of Lee J. Cobb, the chilling logic of E.G. Marshall, the biased illogic of Ed Begley, and the cocksure breeziness of Jack Warden, as leaders of the opposition. Blown up from a television play by its original author, Reginald Rose, the story moves from the smaller screen to the giant-size with no growing pains.
Latest recruit to the ranks of hit-run sociologists who come to the U.S. for a visit and then fire a blistering broadside from the safety of home, is Eric John Dingwall, a Britisher, who takes on as his formidable target none other than The American Woman (Rinehart, $4.50). No gentleman, he. The demolition is total. Wylie's blast at Mom was a love pat by comparison. Furthermore, this withering portrait in depth is documented to a devastating nicety: Dingwall supports all his conclusions by quoting American sources -- books, pamphlets, learned journals, the daily press and magazines. Main focus of the book is the upper and middle income woman. Main thesis: the American woman of today is a victim of the old Puritan theocracy, which has left her a special legacy of sexual frustration, "a bitter and poisonous fruit," in the author's unminced words. Our women, he says, having gained the dominant role in present-day society, are nevertheless "profoundly dissatisfied, frustrated, resentful and neurotic." The conflict within their souls is "primarily sexual." For that matter, the author says all of us, women and men alike, are sex obsessed. Well, so is he, come to think of it -- that's what makes his book so much fun to read on such subjects as dating, petting, courtship, perfumes, breasts, bottoms, sex as a profession, the female orgasm and all like that there. And who do you think will be the biggest audience for this blast? American women, naturally. Maybe, among their other sexual aberrations is enjoyment of a thorough trouncing.
The Tunnel of Love, a popular victory at the Royale, 242 W. 45th, is a fine, light inspection of suburban sex life in the fashionable village of Westport, Conn. But all too soon it dwindles into a one-track joke at the expense of Tom Ewell and Nancy Olson, a happily married couple whose pregnant problem is getting Nancy pregnant. When her temperature is up, his energy is down, and the waiting lists at adoption services stretch out endlessly before them. Spurred on by a philandering neighbor, Ewell takes a fling with the investigator of one of the better baby bazaars (why is it better? Because it's located "right between Smith and Yale") and our boy becomes a papa. A final wringing of the plot finds Ewell adopting his own illegitimate offspring and waiting nervously for his wife to discover that Baby has Daddy's deep brown eyes. It all works out happily, though, with billions of laughs and untold variations on the mating habits of Westporticus Americanus, or horny bed-hoppers. Swiftly paced with smile-a-minute dialogue, Tunnel, based on Peter DeVries' witty best-seller, would nevertheless be just another hole in the ground without Tom Ewell, the wry-faced, collapsible comedian who saves sex from a fate worse than boredom.
You may have to crib a few directions to find Frankie Bradley's cookshop in Philadelphia (1320 Chancellor St.), but it's well worth the trek through a maze of midtown sidestreets to his door. Frankie's hideaway is microscopic, but his drinks and chow are served up in man-sized portions. It's an intimate eatery, with an autographed collection of photos covering the tan leather walls -- honest leather and honest autographs -- and a favorite hangout for show people and other convivial folk playing in town. If the talk is good, Frankie may close the doors and make a party of it -- the drinks then being on him -- all through the night. A stimulating sample of his cookery is his own Pot Roast Brisket of Beef, made like so: dump the beef in a big pot, add half-a-glass of water and turn the fire to about 150 degrees. Allow fat around meat to brown slowly; add half clove of garlic, two large carrots, two outside pieces of celery, two big onions, a couple of bay leaves and a fistful of dill. Let simmer one hour, then toss in one Number 2-1/2 can of red pack tomatoes. Keep pot covered with just a wisp of air space at one side, allow to cook one hour more, or until a fork pulls the meat away from the brisket. Attack with several bottles of Bass Ale. Frankie opens shop at noon (Sundays at three P.M) until three the following morning.
Delightful Dilemma: where to spend the vacation. Our advice: whatever you plan, plan ahead. Be it a round-the-world cruise or hopping about the domestic heath in your car, get your reservations in advance. All sources are predicting the biggest travel season yet, come this summer and early fall, so prepare to face disappointment if you're thinking of just tooling around and lighting down as whim dictates. This applies not only to the advance reserving of foreign and domestic transportation and car rental, but especially to nailing down your nesting place at the better hostelries both here and abroad. Thus warned, sample the ensuing vacations and take your pick.
One reason merrie England is so merrie is that the English have considerable respect for one another's personal lives and don't meddle much in the affairs of their friends and neighbors. This admirable attitude even penetrates the country's government offices, including, incredibly enough, her post office department. Unlike our own, which views itself as a sort of keeper of the public morals and critic of art and literature, the English postal department is apparently content with seeing to it that the mail is properly delivered through rain, sleet and all those other natural phenomena that try to stay its couriers from the swift completion of their rounds. As a result of this daringly debonair laissez-faire laxity, a certain burgeoning Briton named Peaches Page (a stripper at London's famed Windmill) is using the mails to titillate the males -- via a sort of remote-control, mail-order striptease which she employs to promote interest in her act. Thus, if you were an Englishman, you might receive a missive from Miss Peaches (saying. "I haven't seen much of you lately -- have you seen much of me?") in an envelope decorated with a photo of the lass decorously clothed. If you were moved to answer it, her next letter would bear on its envelope a rather barer photo of Miss P. Another Postal give-and-take would discover her still more décolleté -- and by the fourth epistolary exchange she'd be as bare as a skinned banana. The Englishmen involved seem to enjoy the missives, Peaches promotes her act and the British Post Office couldn't care less. We hope nobody will think we are merely punning when we say they strike us as being remarkably broad-minded.
Some 10 years ago, when television was still just a gleam in David Sarnoff's eye, I predicted that there would one day be a program called See It Now. On my imaginary show, a girl would slither out in front of the cameras and, with maddening deliberation, remove one glove. "Tune in again next week," the announcer would cry, "and watch her take off the other one." Thirty-nine weeks later, after the most tantalizing striptease in history, the girl would be down to panty and bra and the show would have a rating of 112. (The extra 12 would come from people who turned on two sets.) "Well, that's all for this season, folks," the announcer would scream. "Tune in again next fall when we return for Pepto-Visco."
Nobody Seems to have mentioned that His Most Serene Highness Rainier III, the Prince of Monaco, Duke of Valentinois, Marquis of Baux, Sire of Matignon, Count of Thann, Baron of Buis, Seigneur of Saint-Rémy, etc., and, of course, the husband of Miss Grace Patricia Kelly of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the only absolute monarch in the western world. In this respect, he is comparable to the King of Saudi Arabia, the Iman of Yemen, the Kabaka of Buganda, the Dalai Lama of Tibet and, historically, to the Pharoah of Egypt, the Tyrant of Athens, the Mikado of Japan, Ivan the Terrible, Nero and Nebuchadnezzar -- an important consideration, I think, for any young lady of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who is married to the fellow, but a consideration the newspapers, at any rate, have curiously let by.
Schickless Shel Silverstein, the brilliant, bearded cartoonist whose work appears regularly in Playboy, served most of a two year army hitch with the staff of the Pacific Stars and Stripes, bringing a bit of satirical sunlight into the dark days of the Korean occupation. The indigestion that followed the GIs' bouts with army chow was alleviated to some extent when they'd open the pages of S&S and see a Silverstein mess sergeant admonishing his underlings with, "OK, who's been sneaking meat into the hamburger?" And every joe who ever received a dressing-down from the military police could chuckle sardonically over the drawing in which one surly MP whispered to another, "Psst ... Merry Christmas!" Shel has confessed that the enthusiastic reception given his cartoons by fellow GIs was the second nicest experience of his life. The first was being stationed in Japan.
Face It, Man, you've had it. How long has it been since you had a few days off? Not just one of those overnight jumps or weekend flings, but a real honest-to-spa vacation, the full treatment -- travel agents doing nip-ups, airlines hopping, railroads humping, liners leaping, new clothes, new luggage, new landscapes and new liaisons looming beyond the horizon.
Don't sell short the month of May. Just because Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald got so sticky about it with all that Springtime-Lovetime-Maytime corn is no reason to dismiss the whole bit. Things usually get cornball only because there's something good about them to begin with ... and May has much to recommend it. It's the time when even indoor men feel the tug of the wide open spaces and hearken to the call of the wild. There's nothing gauche in packing a basket full of tasty viands, filling a thermos jug to the brim with Martinis, collaring a bright-eyed and obliging damozel, hopping into the heap and setting your sights on some sylvan glade. "Now is the month of maying," ran the old madrigal, "when merry lads are playing; each with his bonny lass, a-dancing on the grass." It's a great idea, we think -- especially if the bonny lass is Dawn Richard, this month's Playmate.
When I was a Kid, the great American beauties were the Gibson Girls on the printed page and the Ziegfeld Girls in the flesh. We adored them both but we never, in our wildest dreams, hoped for either. The chance of any ordinary red-blooded American male meeting, getting to know, etc., a living Ziegfeld Girl was as laughably remote as his chance of meeting a mythical Gibson Girl. That's because the American ideal of beauty in the early nineteen hundreds was an incredible, haughty, totally unattainable creature. Our fathers were content to give hopeless homage to queens, but today we want our girl drawers to draw girls as attainable as the girl at the drugstore where we buy our magazine. And today it is possible to meet the beauty you've just admired in a musical at a hamburger stand after the show if you have the price of the hamburger. And if you haven't, she may buy you one.
You might not think it to look at me, but I've never been to France. Up until recently, I had been saving la belle France as a sort of Disneyland for my declining years, on the theory that she had the power to make old men young. But now I'm not so sure. The reason for my uncertainty is a small paperbound volume called Manuel de Conversation du Touriste en France, or French for the Traveler, that I picked up second-hand at a bookstall.
A certain barber served a king whose mind dwelt too much on the women of his kingdom. One day as the monarch was strolling down the corridors of the palace, he came upon the barber's quarters and caught sight of the barber's wife. Now this wife was of exceptional beauty and youth, and the barber was deeply and madly in love with her.
There's a near view of a fabulous rear view, Vikki Dougan's ... there's nerve twisting tension in the horror story of The Fly ... and there's a laugh a line in the latest timely, topical takeoff by Ray Russell.