Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on October 23, 1963
Directed by David Swift
Written by Lawrence Roman and David Swift
Cast: Jack Lemmon, Carol Lynley, Dean Jones, Edie Adams, Imogene Coca, Paul Lynde, Robert Lansing, Bill Bixby, Bill Irwin, Joy Harmon, Laurie Sibbald, Cosmo Sardo, The Yum Yum Girls, James Darren (voice)
A few years back, I got the idea that it might be fun to start watching movies that were released in 1963, the year I was born, so when I happened to catch the beginning of this ’60s sex romp on TCM, and noticed it was in widescreen and released during the year in question, I thought I’d give it a go. And with a title like that, and the promise of fun and romance, and with Jack Lemmon in the lead, what could possibly go wrong?
Well, eventually plenty, but what immediately grabbed my attention—and here becomes infinitely more important than discussing the pros and cons of the film itself—was the opening credits sequence, a dance number which featured the most attractive woman I’d ever seen in cinema (sorry, Linda Christian!), who spent two mesmerizing minutes joyfully dancing in a short nightgown under what I presumed to be the famed yum yum tree. And since the rest of the movie did not live up to expectations, this short opening routine was by far the highlight for me, and for that, Laurie Sibbald, I thank you, wherever you are.
Like other romance comedies of this era (That Touch of Mink, Boys’ Night Out, and Who’s Been Sleeping in my Bed?, for example), Under the Yum Yum Tree left the ’50s behind and helped usher in a new standard of loose morals, playful infidelity, and overt bedroom hijinks that would quickly become the norm for swinging ’60s cinema. Unfortunately, this one played more like a silly sex farce than a smart romantic comedy, and though it was cutely acted by Carol Lynley and gamely played by Dean Jones, the proceedings tended to wander into overboard slapstick far too many times, which in turn spoiled whatever enjoyment I may have taken from it all.
The story, based on a Broadway play, has Lemmon’s bachelor landlord trying to rent out his block of apartments to gorgeous young women, luring them in with his friendly disposition and the promise of discount rent. Of course, it’s these sexy tenants that he also has extracurricular plans for: flirtation, romance, seduction, sex…you name it, he wants it, and especially from new arrival Lynley. And this was the biggest problem I had with Lemmon’s character, and the film in general: his actions were maddeningly out of control, and an insult to common decency. Trust me, if this guy was my landlord, and was truly that irritating and obnoxious, I would’ve beaten the miserable jerk senseless.
What else turned me off? Well, the music was a bit corny, and the interiors of the apartments were so ablaze with bright Technicolor-like hues, I thought my eyes were going to burst. So what then, if anything, did I enjoy about this presentation, besides the delicious opening dance number? If pressed for an answer, I’d say my favorite scenes involved the neighbor’s pesky cat, whose part inexplicably went uncredited. (3/10)