Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Not only The Shadow: Richard Matheson knows, too, and has set it all down in this month's disturbing lead-off story, The Distributor, illustrated by Robert Christiansen. Matheson (who authored The Splendid Source and A Flourish of Strumpets in previous Playboys) has just returned from England where he wrote a film script based on his own haunting novel, I Am Legend.
Poor Ernie Hemingway has never had one of his novels made into a really decent film, and A Farewell to Arms is no exception. You know the yarn: a grim account of the Italian-Austrian campaign during World War I laced with a love story between an American ambulance jockey and a limey Red Cross nurse who dies in childbirth. Through it all ran the author's contention that life is a sad, futile and meaningless business that can have only one end: tragedy. To pound home the point, the film offers little more than spectacular mountain scenery and the grimacings of Jennifer Jones. Everything has been so spiffed up for the movies that now the ambulance driver (Rock Hudson) leaves the dead nurse not as Hemingway described it ("It was like saying goodbye to a statue. After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain"); he leaves her with a kind of elegiac, transfigured countenance, making the ending winsomely lyrical, which is earnest but not Hemingway. And Major Rinaldi, the cynical Italian army surgeon expertly played by Vittorio de Sica, is now shot by a firing squad instead of simply contracting syphilis as he did in the book. Throughout, the emphasis has been switched from the "constant, bullying, murderous, slovenly crime of war" to the secondary story of star-crossed lovers. OK. We're not slavish sticklers for book-into-film authenticity, but when the book happens to be among the best novels written by a living American, we do feel the moguls-in-charge, producer David O. Selznick, director Charles Vidor and scripter Ben Hecht, should have stuck to the pristine stuff.
Several readers were so appreciative of our encyclopedic, full-scale capsule coverage of Zen, that they've asked for enlightenment in the matter of the great war of words which rages around the in-group versus out-group stalemate. Here you are, then: -- in the form of a game in which you can score yourself to find out where you stand.
The ancient Romans knew how to live it up. They imported their wine from Burgundy because they knew it was superb; they were the first occidentals to savor the delights of the oyster, and the first to develop a cuisine that in any way approached what we enjoy today. Thus, as a tip-of-the-hat to the lusty lads, The Forum of the Twelve Caesars (57 West 48th) opened recently in Manhattan, the first new dining hutch to sprout in Rockefeller Center in the last eight years. Highlights include a 48-foot bar, an international menu and a supermasculine clubby atmosphere topped by heroic-sized 17th Century portraits of the noble dozen (you know: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius...).
One of this season's biggest Broadway bonanzas is a mother-lode musical called The Music Man, by Meredith Willson, the Iowa-born composer-conductor who turned out book, music and lyrics all by his lonesome. Kermit Bloomgarden's pleasantly cornfed production and Morton Da Costa's direction are in the tradition of enlightened showmanship. There is not one ounce of "Art" in this simple-simon yarn about River City, circa 1912, and a larcenous traveling salesman who hops off the train just long enough to peddle musical instruments and band uniforms to the yokels for their no-talent kids. Robert Preston, the sturdy Hollywood vet long buried under a melange of third-rate roles, emerges here as one of Broadway's most expert farceurs, with tons of vitality and personal appeal as the song-and-dance salesman. He moves with the athletic ease of the accomplished hoofer, and exhibits a canny sense of timing for the reading of lyrics he cannot quite sing. Barbara Cook acts and warbles winsomely as the librarian who ultimately converts the scoundrel, while the Buffalo Bills (a fine barbershop quartet) harmonize till the cows come home. The rest of the River City townfolk are a lovable lot, too, and the show is one of the happiest musical entertainments to come this way in years. At the Majestic, 245 W. 44th, NYC.
Tributes, salutes and evocations are the order of the month: if it isn't Sonny Rollins Plays for Bird (Prestige 7095) one minute, it's Ted Heath's Tribute to the Fabulous Dorseys (London 1743) the next. It's always been our old-fashioned notion that the great men of jazz should be allowed to speak for themselves, even if the job has to be done posthumously. The latter approach has rarely worked better than in The Charlie Parker Story (Verve 8100-3), an elaborately produced three-disc set that does more for Bird's memory than a dozen synthetic tributes. Complete with a pictorial survey and biographical booklet, this offers glimpses of the Bird in every mood, from off-days to moments of soaring glory.
If anything has been left unsaid about the fabulous Dumas family, grand-père, père and fils, it is definitely present in the rich pages of André Maurois' The Titans (Harper, $5.95). Maurois has written a book bursting with hitherto unpublished material, and his triptych of the Dumas clan, each named Alexandre, is a fascinating portrait of spectacular talents, beginning with the giant mulatto who rose from a private to become one of Napoleon's generals, and was not above hurling his soldiers over enemy barricades by the seats of their pants. A legend in his own right, his most noteworthy act was the siring of the literary giant who wrote The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers, and, by his own boast, fathered more than 500 kiddies throughout Europe. Nor is the third side of the Dumas panel overlooked: a solid portion of the book is devoted to the author of Camille, Dumas fils, who emulated his father's novels, plays and romances, though there were some who blamed dad "for passing on to his son his worn-out shoes and his old mistresses."
If Julie London, for instance, suddenly showed up nude in a photo magazine, the resulting fuss might be somewhat parallel to that surrounding Japan's moody, miniature Michiko Hamamura, a chanteuse short on voice, long on sexsu-appealu. Craftily cadging only the most volatile of American hit numbers (Banana Boat, Calypso Joe, Mama Look a Boo Boo -- most of them from the repertoire of Harry Belafonte), Michiko then invests these with her own peculiar yet universal trademarks: bumps, grinds and a studied insolence that all add up to a veritable Fujiyama of smouldering sensuality. Michiko was singing with moderate success in a Yokohama nightery until a wily photographer persuaded her to pose in the altogether. When the nude photos appeared in an art magazine, Michiko's voice took on new richness. Her first record, Banana Boat, sold 100,000 copies in one month -- unique in Japan, where a 50,000 sale makes a best-seller. Last year, Michiko visited our shores long enough to appear on the CBS-TV show The Big Record, making Kipling's old twain meet via the most fundamental of mutual interests.
I t is Always great fun to pit a current champion against the champions of the past and try to predict the outcome of the imaginary bouts. Everybody's favorite fight of fancy right now is Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson versus Ex-Heavyweight Champion Rocky Marciano. This ringside reverie reached truly fanciful proportions recently when a popular men's magazine published an article titled How We Would Whip Floyd Patterson, written by Rocky Marciano and his trainer, Charley Goldman. Therein, trainer Goldman put forth the notion that if Mr. Marciano chose to come out of retirement the day after tomorrow, he could successfully retrieve his title by soundly thrashing the present champ. Goldman even went into considerable detail on how this could be done. He compared the two men for "strength, speed, endurance and defense" (more objective boxing buffs may have bridled a bit at finding Patterson rated superior to Marciano in only the second category), then went into a blow-by-blow description of this "dream fight," with Marciano the winner by a KO in the sixth.
Fashionable Cavaliers of the 16th Century wouldn't dream of venturing forth in the chill spring breeze clad in anything save doublet, trunk hose and flowing cloak. Whether you dub it a doublet (now archaic), vest (the U.S. favorite), waistcoat (the British choice) or weskit (a dialectal variation of the latter), the short, snug, sleeveless, buttonable job worn beneath your 20th Century jacket carries on as an apparel item of singular distinction -- perfect for adding a dash of color to your town suits, or that necessary bit of extra warmth for ides-of-March country wear. The re-emergence of the fancy weskit a few years ago saw some pretty wild stuff masquerading as acceptable fashion. No longer so: yesteryear's elaborate brocades and flowered-wallpaper designs -- complete with platter-sized ornamental buttons -- are out as out can be. The news is clean conservatism with solid colors, quiet plaids and the traditional small checks like tattersall dominating the field. The four crafty clubmen taking their ease are sporting, from left to right, an all-wool tattersall weskit, $22.50, a Black Watch tartan vest with silver buttons, $19.50, a fire-engine red waistcoat with patch pockets, $12.50, and a four-pocket suede doublet with wool plaid back, $25.
Now before this Conference gets started, the first thing my client says I should tell you fellows is that she thinks the script is great. "They've caught the real me," is the way she put it. And the thing she likes most about the story, she says to tell you, is how real it is. You know, honest and true to life.
Once, not so long ago,The Detroit Free Press inadvertently omitted a certain syndicated feature from two of the day's editions. "Our switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree," said the editor. "We stopped the presses -- just like in the movies -- and got Peanuts back in the paper." Modest, thirtyish Minneapolitan Charles M. Schulz, creator of the missing comic strip, commented: "It sure is nice to know that people enjoy your work." The peanuts of Peanuts are kids, approximately the same size and general shape as the goobers they're named after.
A russian prince loaded with loot and a cutlass-keen editor out of Random House have merged their common interest -- literature -- into a puissant new force-to-be-reckoned-with in the bookpublishing arena. Ivan Obolensky (perched on the desk, holding the book) is the prince and David McDowell (fore-ground) is the editor. Together, they form a two-headed enfant terrible that is striking fear in the hearts of some of the dodderers in a customarily dull and docile business. The latest coup of McDowell, Obolensky, Inc., is the posthumous publishing of James Agee's ultimate novel, A Death in the Family, which has been doing great in the book stores and has garnered extravagant praise from even the most niggardly reviewers. How does it happen that a comparatively small firm like theirs manages to scoop the industry? Simply because so many other publishers look upon their work as just that -- an industry -- while the Messers. M & O do not. Restricting their output to just 20 books a year (10 each of fiction and non-fiction), they say: "Most book publishers are manufacturers who have shown an increasing lack of concern toward their basic commodity, the author. To cover rising costs, there's been an over-emphasis on merchandise -- cook books, dictionaries, westerns, and so on -- and the result has been an outraged reader choking on quantity and starved for quality." McDowell is eminently capable of discerning that quality: he has been said to know more about the fresh young writing in America's literary reviews than any other man in the country, and as Senior Editor at Random House he labored with poet William Carlos Williams, novelist Paul Bowles, witness Whittaker Chambers and other pungent proseurs of our time.
Clearing the high-jump bar of singing success is a young, loose-limbed ex-athlete of San Francisco whose record for the honest-to-Pete high jump has been matched only four times in the history of the Olympic games. Johnny Mathis is the name of the boy on whom Columbia Records is banking to bring bales of the lovely long green into the cash register. He is a cunning stylist possessed of a voice which can soar high into the exosphere of the male range and which, at its best, shimmers with the delicate, pure, ocarina tone of a choirboy, yet at the same time throbs with a sure-fire sensuality that has the quail quaking in their bobby sox. Three major film companies are reputed to be dickering for his services as an actor-singer, and already he has recorded the title song for the sound track of Wild Is the Wind and appeared briefly in a night club scene in Lizzie, singing two songs, one of which -- It's Not for Me to Say -- actually outgrossed in platter sales the box-office returns of the movie. Last year, over five million dollars changed hands over U.S. record counters in the eager aquisition of Mathis discs and Billboard bestowed upon him the resounding, redundant title of The Number One Most Promising Male Vocalist of 1957. At year's end, Mathis returned to his home town to receive yet another citation: San Francisco's Outstanding Citizen of the Year. Not exactly without reason, then, is the smart money close to cocksure that Johnny will catapult right to the top of the pop vocal bracket -- and catapult he surely should, for under a heavy coating of the usual commercial banana oil, high-jumping Johnny Mathis has the stuff and savvy stars are made of.
"The earl of Dara raises the best horses in Ireland, for all that he is an Englishman," said Terry as he led me into the pasture. "And you'll not deny that the Irish Thoroughbred makes the best hunter in the world."
It must be a great satisfaction to Englishmen to realize that although they have gone unchallenged as the world's worst cooks, their roast beef has been the envy of gourmets everywhere. For centuries, the English cook, fully conscious that he couldn't tell sauce from 7-Up, has treated his mighty roast beef with a kind of affectionate humility, simply placing the plain ribs carefully on the fire -- unseasoned, ungarnished and unmolested. In this courtly kitchen gesture, the Englishman has been perfect; for good roast beef should be manipulated as little as possible.
Spring is here. Just about. Though many a coat collar may still be turned up and many a mug of mulled wine may still be quaffed to help calm clacking teeth, the calendar, stubborn to the last, insists that spring begins on March 20. Time, then, to begin thinking of outings in the open air ... getting next to Nature ... dusting off the rod and reel and matching wits with our finny friends who inhabit the fresh flowing streams of our native woodlands wild. No true sportsman, of course, would ever consider partaking of these pleasant pastimes all alone; a jolly feminine companion is just as necessary as the creel, the waders, and the hat with the hooks in it. Our candidate for such a companion is Zahra Norbo. After copping the Miss Sweden title three years ago, Miss Norbo came to the U. S. of A., and appeared briefly in a couple of movies and several TV shows, notably the Groucho Marx slot, where her tape-busting measurements so unsettled Groucho that he couldn't remember his ad libs. It has been reported, in another magazine, that Zahra, though she will oblige photographers by peeling down to a bikini, definitely will disrobe no further. "I would feel uncomfortable," she was quoted as saying. Miss Norbo's discomfiture dissolved when we approached her with the notion of being our Miss March, so, as you unbend this gatefold, you'll find all five-feet-seven of her fabulous frame blithely bared to the bracing breezes of the vernal season.
A little boy, asked by a school psychologist what his ears were for, answered, "To wash." This indicates the low esteem in which we have too long held these excellent conch shells which stand out on either side of our brain, and which serve it so well. Poets make much of our eyes, calling them the windows of the soul and similar fanciful names. Scientists, for their part, seem much taken with the opposable thumb, a device undeniably useful for hoisting cocktail canapes or for wielding stone axes, depending on what stage of civilization you live in. But no one seems to have been much interested in the ears -- until 1958.
With the recent release in this country of roughly half a dozen Brigitte Bardot films, Americans can now see what the proverbial 50 million Frenchmen have been pawing the ground about of late. Miss Bardot is the kind of cutie who is continually being referred to as a gamine. That's one good reason why we won't refer to her as a gamine, but there's a better reason: a gamine is a street urchin, and from what we can tell from her films, Brigitte spends very little time out of doors. Enchanting as she is on the screen, though, our Paris correspondent tells us the camera captures only a fraction of her qualities and that, to be fully appreciated, she must be observed in the intimacy of the film studio.
Men who savor life's richer delights have long recognized the regal elegance and amazing versatility of leather. It can tote your whiskey, keep your ice cubes frosty, offer you a spot to sit down, protect your Francotte shotgun, cart your stockholder's reports, your Shetlands or cuff links, keep your pipe cool, your cigarettes firm, your feet dry, your money crisp and your pants in place. It's tough, durable, pliable, warm, rugged and good looking. Among organic materials, it may well be the one least susceptible to successful imitation and displacement by synthetics because for functionalism and prestigious appeal, it can't be equaled.
Peripatetic Shel Silverstein, having amiably ambled into many a country and many a clime during his sketching tour of the world, started to amble into Moscow and stubbed his toe on a certain Curtain. Undaunted, he resorted to subterfuge and tried to get in as a tourist. No deal. He then tried again as a journalist. Nyet. Finally he passed himself off as a member of an American youth rally (despite his luxuriant chin-spinach), whereupon the editors of Playboy received a collect phone call from a "Mr. Wilkinson" in Moscow, who told us in a suspiciously familiar voice that his mission had been accomplished and then hung up. Not too long after, we received a bulky package of Moscow cartoons and photos, accompanied by a letter from Shel, scrawled on a gigantic page of his sketch pad. It read, in part:
It was a season of great restlessness and change for mice everywhere, a stirring time, a time of moods and urges and moves. The mouse felt it; his whiskers trembled in anticipation. One night there was a party in a stall, and an old badger came. He sat there drinking red wine and aspirin gravely, staring at a young and excitable squirrel who had been on cashews for months.
Long ago in Flanders, two knights, strangers to that land, came riding toward a town. Sitting in a meadow near the town they saw a beauteous young lady, dressed in mourning clothes. They learned from a passerby that many months before, her husband, who was a lover of all pleasant things, had left her for another lady. Since that time this lady had striven excessively to show her grief in public. Although her kinsmen and friends tried to comfort her, she would not heed them, but swore that she could nevermore take pleasure in any worldly thing; and that indeed, had she the courage to take her own life, she would gladly end her days, and would even thank him who helped her to this end.
If stateside skiing's still on your mind (now or even in the height of summer), you can always count on the powdery stuff on Oregon's Mount Hood. Timberline Lodge there furnishes snow cats to cart guests to the loftiest slopes if the nearby supply dwindles. Price is around $80 for five days -- with plenty of grub thrown in.