The only art form born within the memory of living men is the art of the moving picture. A prince named Hamlet called plays and actors "the abstracts and brief chronicles of the time," but in our own day, the legitimate stage and even the written word have been usurped as chronicles of the time by the movies. A double-edged reflection of and influence upon our society, movies therefore rate the attention being paid to them in this April Playboy:
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We were alarmed to hear about the untimely passing late last year of some Burmese ants. According to AP, two determined formic armies, consisting of half-inch brown emmets twice the size of normal Burmese red ants, met on a chosen field of battle, a four-mile area near Mong Khapar in North Burma, and, with antennae flashing, did their level best to eradicate each other in what turned out to be a tiny but fierce Armageddon. The victors, obviously the fittest of the species, weren't satisfied, however, with merely winning the day; if the Kachin tribesmen who witnessed the massacre may be believed, the winners decapitated the vanquished and, ignoring the carcasses, carried only the heads back to the ant hills of home. The bloody rout haunts us with several infuriatingly unanswerable questions. For instance, what inexorable, mysterious force moved two masses of Formicoidea (the most socially civilized form of life extant, we're told) to suddenly call a halt to amicable relations and butcher each other? Was it a territorial dispute? Were there ideological differences? Had a leader of one faction been insulted or assassinated? Was there a sneak attack on some strategic outpost? Were their bellies simply empty? Or were they, perhaps, just sick of soft living and were out pour le sport? Also, we wonder why the losers were beheaded. As far as we know, ants, even angry ants, aren't cannibalistic. Did they mount the heads and hang them on the walls of their game rooms? And, of course, now that the stronger army has won the war, can it say it won the peace? Have the triumphant accomplished anything more than bringing cheer to human Burmese picnickers? Imaginative writers used to do a lot of talking about ants' conquering us humans someday. The ants' keen intelligence and relentless logic were often mentioned. Could be, but we think humankind has little to fear from creatures as confused as ourselves.
By now the secret must be out about the identity of 59200/5, Our Man in Havana; and also the fact that the film of that name is likely to be the funniest of the year. Alec Guinness is in top form as a timid vacuum-cleaner salesman who outwits the British Secret Service (Noel Coward and Ralph Richardson), the Cuban police state (Batista's, presumably, represented by Ernie Kovacs, playing it straight but broad) and any other obstacles that might stand in the way of a pleasant small-businessman. Guinness takes a job as British secret agent only when Noel Coward, in some hilariously satirical scenes, practically forces it on him. (Coward, briskly: "If you run short of the invisible ink, you can use bird droppings.") When Guinness discovers that he doesn't even know how to recruit informers, his best friend (Burl Ives, playing a gentle German doctor) suggests that he give his employers what they deserve: lies. Here begin the complications and a lot more fun. Guinness' fictions are taken for fact in London; they send him a secretary (Maureen O'Hara) and a radioman for his obviously enormous operation. Soon afterward all the make-believe begins turning into horrible Twentieth Century reality, with its seemingly systematic slaughter of the innocents. In this wild combination of satire and melodrama, writer Graham Greene and director Carol Reed get in some sly digs at politicians, bureaucrats, the military; and some strong points in favor of human beings whose primary loyalty is to love. It's the wildest since Some Like It Hot.
Saratoga is like a girl who has everything in her favor: beauty, breeding and a dowry of $1,500,000 (in advance sales). Does she have to have brains, too? The answer would seem to be "Yes." Carol Lawrence and Howard Keel are ideally cast in the leading roles. The Johnny Mercer–Harold Arlen score will do nicely until they come up with a better one. Cecil Beaton's sets and costumes for the haut monde of New Orleans and Saratoga are spectacularly handsome. But director Morton DaCosta, who also adapted Edna Ferber's novel, must take the rap for a libretto that compounds its clichés to the ultimate decimal point of dullness. At the Winter Garden, 1634 Broadway, NYC.
Much of the jazz we hear these days is derivative stuff. Tenor men sound like Rollins or Coltrane. Alto men continue to bear Bird's legacy. Trumpeters turn to Miles or Diz. Pianists look to the fleetness of Peterson (or before him, Tatum) or the funk of Silver. Originality expresses itself in eccentricity or valid, but fragmentary, attempts at innovation. One major exception is Thelonious Monk. His unique manner of approaching the piano never has been as lustrously limned as it is on Thelonious Alone in San Francisco (Riverside 12-312). Six of the tunes are Monk's, including a strikingly spare but romantic Ruby, My Dear. Four others–Everything Happens to Me, You Took the Words Right Out of My Heart, Remember and There's Danger in Your Eyes, Cherie – seem to belong to Monk. Although he didn't compose them, he flavors them with insights and astute artistry; Heart and Cherie particularly sparkle in the Monkian mode. As the LP title indicates, Monk is alone here – without bass, drums or horns–yet his sort of introspection easily sustains itself. If you've bypassed Monk before, dig him here.
Love and Like (Dial, $3.95) is Herbert Gold's first collection of short stories – and, say we, it's high time. With four novels published and critically acclaimed, plus a fifth completed, and with something like forty stories given exposure in a broad spectrum of magazines, it's surprising Gold has not assembled such a collection before this. It's here at last, though, and that's all that counts. Fourteen yarns, written between 1951 and 1959, are offered; at least three are already near-classics – The Heart of the Artichoke and the title story (both from Hudson Review) and What's Become of Your Creature? (from Playboy). Of this last, Gold says in a Postface, "I was delighted to see the story in this magazine, which has been hospitable to a number of serious writers . . . it is exciting to have one's best work presented to an American mass audience." If one wished to carp, it would be possible to speak of Gold's perhaps unwise decision to eschew his many lighthearted confections and collect only his most sober-sided stories, thus making his first collection not really representational, not a true profile of his artistic personality: though Gold is seldom without humor, in only one story – the aforementioned Creature – has he succeeded in blending the light and dark colors of his palette into a perfectly balanced masterpiece. Elsewhere, Gold has said he knows the difference "between something that speaks my truth and something amusing to fit between the advertisements" and in that statement one may detect a tinge of apology for his amusing work. But – and this is not to deprecate the stories that speak Gold's truth – artists are notoriously the worst judges of their own work, and posterity plays puckish tricks: the serious plays of Gilbert and the lofty operas and oratorios of Sullivan are dead and unlamented today while Pinafore and The Mikado still hold the stage; C. L. Dodgson's Euclid and His Modern Rivals is to be found on few library shelves now, but not so his Alice in Wonderland; and so on. But why carp at all? Gold's first collection is a solid, a varied, an entertaining, and probably an important book.
The fancy-booted cattlemen marching on Chicago to unload their herds know their beef – on hoof and hot platter. For just that reason, they're counted heavily among the clientele of the Stock Yard Inn (West 42nd and South Halsted Streets). In the Texas-Tudor setting of the Inn, two top eateries – the Sirloin Room and the Matador Room – cater to full houses of beef fanciers nightly. The Sirloin Room guest may select his own steak from a bed of cracked ice, burn his brand on it and await the broiled-to-order serving. Or he can just tell the waiter what he wants. For a lip-smacking gustatory experience, try the room's special: sixteen ounces of marbled sirloin, served with French fried onions, potatoes, salad, rolls and butter ($5.75). In the Corrida de Toros atmosphere of the Matador Room, you can devour the aptly termed El Supremo: a superb prime rib dinner ($5.50). The Matador is as beef-oriented as the Sirloin Room, but yellow rice – cha-cha-cha – accompanies all entrees. Only U.S. Prime aged cuts make the tables in both rooms. And, of course, there's an array of wines and bar concoctions to complement those man-sized meals.
In the old days it was fun. The annual revels of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were private affairs, generally held in the Ambassador ballroom, and there was no television to inhibit gaiety. Each studio picked up the tab for all its nominees, the food was good, the liquor abundant, and the people fun – and they even joked among themselves without the aid of a teleprompter.
That nifty sports car running from the city on a sultry spring Saturday morn with the two-suiter in the trunk and the carefree smile on the driver's face is probably purring toward a private club. Whether it be a green-gowned country club, a harborside yacht club, or a surfside beach club, the club scene is bulking bigger than ever with the urban executive seeking a weekend of gentlemanly sport, relaxation and boon companionship away from the city's crowd and crush.
I hadn't heard of Obie Prust's death until I read the Times this morning. I was surprised at the length of his obituary. There was nearly three quarters of a column of it. I hadn't realized that Obie had been so prominent a citizen. Of course he had been important on radio for years, and his television show was a fixture on the American scene when he died. I used to watch it now and again, not because I cared so much for Obie, but to marvel at the grace and speed with which so fat a man could move.
In a little theatre just north of Greenwich Village, a group calling itself the Gryphons recently put on a series of showings of member-made avant-garde movies. One, Geography of the Body, explored the human form in such extreme close-ups as to make skin textures look like craters on the moon, a nipple like an extinct volcano. In another, Wedlock, a (presumably) married couple made love – only the whole thing was shown on negative film. In still another, after some scenes of his very pregnant wife in a bathtub, the young film maker went on to show in detail, intercut with shots of the bath water, the birth of his own child.
Gregory Peck walked out of the movie Let's Make Love because co-star Marilyn Monroe's part kept getting padded by Monroe's husband, unofficial script-doctor Arthur Miller; Rock Hudson, who yearned to fill the Peck brogans, couldn't because of contractual entanglements; the fellow who landed the lucky assignment was a 38-year-old French song-and-dance man who coincidentally had starred in the French film version of Miller's The Crucible: name, Yves Montand. No Peck or Hudson in looks, Montand is nonetheless extremely popular in Europe, gave the U.S. its first taste of his Gallic charm last September as a $15,000-a-week New York nightclub performer brought over for his American debut by Norman Granz, the jazz impresario who so effectively promoted Ella Fitzgerald. "Montand's voice," declared The New York Times, "shakes your hand, slaps you on the back, winks at you!" Combining Continental polish with casual virility, Montand mesmerizes audiences from Moscow to Manhattan by zestfully acting out each number – dancing, juggling, mugging with hair-trigger timing. Of Italian stock, he grew up in the Marseilles harbor district, worked as longshoreman, waiter, welder, at 18 was imitating Trenet and Chevalier in smoky French bistros, by 1944 had caught the eye and ear of Edith Piaf who asked him to join her at the Moulin Rouge, soon developed a unique vocal style ("a mean, sexy sound, infinitely attractive," gushed a ladies'-mag editor). Married to gifted, sensuous Simone (Room at the Top) Signoret, he has done creditable straight acting in fine French films like The Wages of Fear and the aforementioned Crucible (opposite Signoret). Montand has waxed several albums here and abroad (dig Columbia's One Man Show) and bids fair soon to top his European popularity with a sensational Stateside career.
If you appreciated the publication of the uncut Lady Chatterley's Lover, if you've been digging the better Beat bards in the Evergreen Review, if you've recently read Beckett, Breton or Behan, you're in debt to Barney Rosset, the likeable, literate 37-year-old prexy of Grove Press. Bought by Rosset for $3000 in 1952 (his first publishing plunge) and built up from a one-man outfit over an underwear store on lower Broadway to a booming fifty-man operation with posh University Square offices, still-growing Grove's grossing a cool million per annum, is the hottest news in the publishing trade and already one of the country's top four quality paperbackers, fulfilling Rosset's promise to make it "the best off-Broadway house in the book business." Last year Rosset made the front pages and Grove made 140,000 hardcover sales at $6 a shot plus a million and a half paperback sales when they published D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley, a novel that has always been one of Rosset's literary light-of-loves. Marshaling some $50,000 in law talent, Rosset scored a legal, moral and artistic triumph over the self-appointed (and un-Constitutional) bluenoses of the U.S. Post Office who had declared the Lawrence classic "obscene," thus realizing his "desire to take a crack at censorship on a financially profitable basis." He's made some twenty treks abroad since taking Grove's helm, enlisted Europe's intellectual and literary elite, was the first in the U.S. to publish books by Beckett, Ionesco, Artaud, Behan, Robbe-Grillet. For his stable's shorter works he founded the Evergreen Review (circulation 25,000), a slick avant-garde poetry and prose quarterly: the first such magazine in modern times to make it without loot from foundations or universities. Heartened by the encouraging precedent of the Lady case, Rosset does not plan to rest on his Lawrence laurels. Determined to thaw the long list of fine books now languishing in the deep-freeze of U.S. prudery, he's now talking about putting Henry Miller's banned-in-America books (Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn) on his list. Citing Putnam's Lolita and his own Lady, Rosset shrugs, "It's got to happen."
Nobody has written a song about April in Pittsburgh and perhaps nobody ever will, but if one concentrates on inhabitants rather than euphony and poesy, one can find inspiration for an infinite number of notions almost anywhere, no matter what the season. This, of course, is precisely our modus operandi at Playboy, as we engage in our happy search for the best in beauty. So it was not surprising when, in the musty confines of an antique shop, we came across an enticing example of young enchantment, Linda Gamble. Linda is an amateur antique collector who says her enthusiasm makes up for the fact that she's a beginner. In Pittsburgh she's a private secretary, and here and now she's our admirable Miss April.
Nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands; taxes are enforced exactions, not voluntary contributions. To demand more in the name of morals is mere cant." Thus spake Judge Learned Hand in one of his learned decisions, and Playboy heartily endorses his words. Feeling partial to the salaried male, we offer here some pointed pointers on how he may go along with the dictum of the good Judge Hand, legitimately but meaningfully cutting down on his yearly yield to the feds.
As contemporary and commodious as first-class jet service, synthetic fabrics are flying high in the Sixties' fashion sky. Once touted as naught but wash-'n'-wear, synthetics now stand firmly on their own, boast a host of special properties which make them first-run fashion favorites. Sure, you can still play rub-a-dub-dub with your synthetic duds, but most guys aren't going to run for the washer at the end of the day. The same qualities that make for easy washability are far more important in other ways: synthetics generally won't stretch or shrink; they hold their press longer, and resist rain and wrinkles; moths have little appetite for the man-made molecules; socks of man-made fibers require no special drying devices; synthetics hold color smartly, surrender it to neither soap nor sun; and stains give up quickly to a damp cloth. All of which makes the synthetic fiber story quite an amazing yarn.
Most Americans could, if pressed, tell you that they've got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil, but few can remember Argentina's claims to fame. This is a condition that should change immediately, the reason for the change being a comely catalyst named Isabel Sarlis. B.I. (Before Isabel), Argentina's film fare was a drab collection of fulsome footage – then, single-handedly, she sparked it into best-selling life. Her method is strongly reminiscent of Brigitte Bardot's: in each of her first three films, little, if any, of the splendid Sarlis structure is left to the imagination. Ardent Argentines have responded by queueing up quickly at any theatre showing her movies, and we can readily see why. To the avid applause of her canny countrymen, we add our most enthusiastic ¡ Ole!
The other day a new office boy brought me my mail. He was a clean-cut lad and impeccably dressed. His manner was neither obsequious nor too forward as his eyes traveled over my office, assaying the quarters he expected to take over from me within a matter of months, and his answers to my words of greeting and inquiries concerning his background (B.A. in journalism; yes, this was his first job) were models of grammar, rhetoric and diction. When I was alone again, an odd thing happened: memory tugged at my mind, a memory stimulated by the total oppositeness of it to this youth who had evoked it. The image was of Joey Moscow, an office boy of years gone by and in another city. Joey – gangling, wild, eager and largely self-educated. Joey – a lad whose constant abuse of the language was so compellingly evocative, so naturally artistic, that it made the work of expert but conventional writers seem mundane and drab.
Happily, the new wrinkles in the 8mm and 16mm movie field are in the cameras and projectors – not in your forehead. All of which makes non-pro movie-making more downright fun than ever before, whether you be living it up at Cap d'Antibes with the lady of your life, taking footage of your new blue Jag purring down the asphalt, or capturing on film a frantic session of party games in your pad. Pulling a neat switcheroo on that wizened old adage, the good words today are: the eye is quicker than the hand. The eye in this case happens to be electric and it spells a quick and painless demise for the bygone days of (a) hauling out the exposure meter, then (b) making your settings on the lens, and being forced to (c) get a new setting each time the sun went behind a cloud or your subject stepped into the shade. The gridded-glass, window-like affair that is the electric eye does it all for you, with nary a miss, and leaves you free to line up your subjects and get them moving the way you want.
A young man in quest of a working arrangement with a girl is able to find, if he is square enough to look for it, a substantial body of literature advising him how to gain his end. Daily columns in newspapers, and indeed entire books, are eager to instruct him in such matters as making a good first impression, proper deportment on dates, how to dress, when to send flowers, how to deal with parents, the good-night kiss, and whatnot.
Bust out of your shell in June for a vacation afloat – on a U-Drive-It yacht. A dozen yacht-rental firms in the Fort Lauderdale and Miami areas can tuck you in a craft complete with at-home facilities, from a sea skiff to a sailing auxiliary cutter. You can rent a new four-sleeper cruiser for the cost of a de luxe hotel room and roam the coastal keys from your base of operation – a free marina. And, if you prefer soaking to steering, or are unsure of your seamanship, you can hire a captain, too.