Encircled by a Swim-Suited coterie of admirers, our worldly-wise rabbit appears on this month's cover in his perennial posture of savoir-faire. Nothing unusual, except for the fact that each member of his worshipful contingent exudes an individual charm that should be instantly recognizable to all who follow Playboy's impudent and sophisticated cartoons each month. To symbolize our long-lived fondness for this lively and adult art form -- which Playboy has been instrumental in reviving -- we asked a septet of our most distinguished cartoonists to send along their shapeliest maidens as beach companions for our blue-blazered lapin, a collage created -- as they have been from the earliest issues -- by free-lance artist Bea Paul, wife of our own Art (Director) Paul.
Playboy, August, 1961, Vol. 8, No. 8. Published Monthly by HMH Publishing Co., Inc., Playboy Building, 232 E. Ohio St., Chicago 11, Illinois. Subscriptions: In the U.S., its Possessions, The Pan American Union and Canada, $14 for three years, $11 for two years, $6 for one year. Elsewhere add $3 per year for Foreign Postage. Allow 30 days for new subscriptions and renewals. Change of Address: Send both old and new addresses to Playboy, 232 E. Ohio St., Chicago 11, Illinois, and Allow 30 days for change. Advertising: Howard W. Lederer, Advertising Director, 720 Fifth Ave., New York 19, New York, CI 5-2620; Branch Offices: Chicago, Playboy Building, 232 E. Ohio St., MI 2-1000, Joe Fall, Midwestern Advertising Manager; Los Angeles, 8721 Beverly Blvd., OL 2-8790, Stanley L. Perkins, Manager; San Francisco, 111 Sutter St., Yu 2-7994, Robert E. Stephens, Manager; Southeastern Representative, The Hal Winter Company, 7450 Ocean Terr., Miami Beach, Florida, UN 5-2661.
We realize that name-dropping is a highly polished art, and far be it from us to tell its practitioners how to conduct their business. Yet it seems to us that if any of the art's adherents see the same friends often enough, they are liable either to run out of names to drop or start repeating themselves. We thought we might help by giving them additional ammunition. Pay attention now, name-droppers; here are some very close friends of yours whom you've known all your life: Tula (Tula Finklea -- Cyd Charisse); Hy (Hyman Arluck -- Harold Arlen); Aaron (Aaron Chwatt -- Red Buttons); Loschy (Maria Magdalena von Losch -- Marlene Dietrich); Gwylly (Gwylln Ford -- Glenn Ford); Zel (Zelma Hedrick -- Kathryn Grayson); Lennie, Julie and Artie (Chico, Groucho and Harpo Marx); Hube (Hubert Vallee -- Rudy Vallee); Tom (Thomas Williams -- Tennessee Williams); Shirl (Shirley Schrift -- Shelley Winters); Beedie (William Beedle -- William Holden); Hessie (Melvyn Hesselberg -- Melvyn Douglas); Aussie (Fred Austerliz -- Fred Astaire); and Kap (Doris von Kappelhoff -- Doris Day). And now for the highlight of your evening. At the propitious moment throw out something like this: "Oh yes, I know Jimmy Stewart very well, we're old friends." Then when someone asks you if being a general has changed him in any way, you casually come up with, "Oh no, not that Jimmy Stewart -- Stewart Granger. You see, Stew's real name is James Stewart. Of course, I know the other James Stewart very well, too ..."
Erroll Garner's Dreamstreet (Octave), his first vinylizing after a three-year self-imposed sabbatical, proves to be a happy event for all concerned. The gremlinish Mr. G. seems to have been refreshed by his off-the-record hiatus. Accompanied by his regular partners, bassist Eddie Calhoun and drummer Kelly Martin, Erroll, as irrepressible and irreverent as ever, has managed to shake off a whole slew of pianistic clichés (granted, they were clichés Garner had originated) that had turned his last LPs into semicaricatures of himself. Garner's new recording company has evidently had a therapeutic effect; his fertile imagination and facile fingers create chameleonlike shapes and forms for such lichen-covered evergreens as Just One of Those Things, Sweet Lorraine and even an Oklahoma! medley. Welcome back, Erroll!
Ingrid Bergman, Yves Montand, Françoise Sagan -- three names to conjure with. But not enough conjuring has been done with them in Goodbye Again, adapted from Miss Sagan's Aimez-Vous Brahms? The original was a vivid vest-pocket novel about a mature Parisienne who, after being cavalierly treated by her equally mature cavalier, submits to an ardent youth. She can't really love the lad, though -- and he, to his despair, knows it. Finally, she goes back to the older man, ready to settle for less fire and fidelity along with less fuss. The film follows Françoise's plot but not her style. The heavy self-dramatization of boy and woman, the dialog that misses sophistication by the thickness of a ladies' magazine -- these turn her modest dry wine into a party punch suitable for suburban consumption. Miss Bergman -- who, as the forty-year-old Paula, screams, "I'm old!" -- walks away with honors for The Old Bag We'd Most Like to Be Saddled With. Montand is still having trouble trying to sound simultaneously audible and credible in English. He works hard at playing an expert lover, but he never quite gets the sin of Adam into Yves. As the youth, Anthony Perkins, who is rapidly becoming Mr. Coy in person, shows up at his worst when Coy meets Girl. Director Anatole Litvak has tried to inject some boulevard atmosphere into the film, but it turns out to be Wilshire Boulevard, and Samuel Taylor's script is strictly plaster of Paris. The result is something of a bomb. Aimez-vous bombs?
The Happiest Girl in the World is a mildly naughty musical that milks the ages for material, from the Nineteenth Century Gallic melodies of Offenbach to Lysistrata, Aristophanes' bawdy broadside against war. The songs, culled from The Tales of Hoffmann, La Perichole and a batch of other operettas, retain amazing vitality and charm, and E. Y. Harburg has furnished them with bright new lyrics. But the story of the Athenian matrons who denied their husbands the rights of the boudoir until they called off their war with Sparta is very old helmet, and adaptors Fred Saidy and Henry Myers haven't done much to shine it up. While there are no complaints about the human beings in the play, The Happiest Girl in the World belongs to two immortals borrowed from Bulfinch -- the beautiful goddess Diana, played by Janice Rule, who can sing and dance like the Graces as well as handle the bow and arrow; and Pluto, played by director Cyril Ritchard, who takes seven lesser roles as well. This is quite a lot of Mr. Ritchard, who can be a trifle cute on occasion; but at least he has the spirit which, Zeus knows, this slightly borrowed, slightly blue book needs. At the Martin Beck, 302 West 45th Street.
John Steinbeck's The Winter of Our Discontent (Viking, $4.50) combines fairy tale and detective story in a parable about success and corruption. Its central figure is Ethan Allen Hawley, a quaint New England blueblood, who has been stripped of his birthright and reduced to clerking in a grocery store. His problem is how to recover the family fortune, and its solution requires that he become expert, overnight, in business manipulation and intrigue. Not until the plums drop into his lap is his entire machination made clear to the reader. All this is entertaining, but as usual, Steinbeck, with his penchant for moral fable, is after more than entertainment. The novel begins on Good Friday, and its main subject is betrayal. To Ethan the Crucifixion has a deeply felt meaning, but this does not deter him from achieving proficiency as a Judas (selling out his boss) and as a Cain (causing the death of a brother-in-spirit). Unfortunately, the lesson to be learned from his corruption does not come through with force or clarity. Ethan rationalizes that he can shed immorality when it is no longer useful, just as he gave up killing after World War II -- and we are inclined to believe him. But at the end of the novel, as he is preparing to be a tycoon, he is shocked almost into suicide by the discovery that his son, an entirely objectionable adolescent, has cribbed in winning an essay contest. It is hard to see why this flimsy straw should break such a back. After all, the son is evidently right when he says, echoing the rest of the town, "Everybody does it." But Steinbeck does not show immorality generated by the social machine. His sense of reality is, as in so many of his earlier novels, biological and naturalistic: "There are the eaters and the eaten." In a world of human animals, he tells us, whose civilization is all in their grace of manner, betrayal is not so much a sin as an inevitability. A provocative book from the pen of a major novelist.
We hereby nominate October as Get-off-the-Beaten-Track Month; it's that time of year when the Far East (most of which is a great deal farther off the aforementioned track than on) is between immoderate heat and the wet monsoon season. Out-of-the-way, happily, no longer means untouched by the travel lanes. A Pan Am 707 can at least jet you as far as a convenient jumping-off point for a short jaunt to your destination.