Bow Ties and Bongos

Where can you find bow ties and bongos in the same place at the same time. Why in cinematic history, of course.

In 1958’s “Bell, Book and Candle,” Jack Lemmon stars as a warlock who plays bongos with a suit-clad jazz combo in a Greenwich Village beatnik club. Kim Novak is the female lead in one of the sexiest roles ever committed to film. She plays a witch who deals in primitive art, and the set design includes many sublime pieces.

James Stewart plays the hero and looks great in all his outfits, especially here, with collar pin and knit tie:

Here’s the trailer:

Five years later, in 1963’s “Under the Yum-Yum Tree,” Lemmon plays a lecherous landlord who only rents to attractive females. The opening scene is a vaguely Southern California version of “Take Ivy,” with students strolling an unnamed campus in slim high-water trousers and penny loafers.

The film’s premise, laughably absurd today, is that a young hormone-engorged couple will test their compatibility by living together without consummating their relationship. Says the idealistic virgin, played by Carol Lynley, “I want to marry you for love, not overstimulated glands.” If that sounds funny today, wait till you hear her next line: “I don’t want to be carried away by my own fermenting juices.”

Trailer:

The boyfriend, played by Dean Jones (pictured below), wears a fine Ivy-styled corduroy jacket with hooked vent, natural shoulders and patch-flap pockets. But he also wears a mod suit with padded shoulders, six-inch center vent and short drainpipe trousers, and a natural-shouldered but double-vented tweed sport coat with lapel tab. The one constant among his jackets is a two-button cuff.

Lemmon spends most of the film as a Hefnerian figure clad in scarlet-red cardigan with matching socks, ever trying to lure winsome females into his wired-for-seduction space-age bachelor pad. — CC

11 Comments on "Bow Ties and Bongos"

  1. I’ll have to check out “Bell, Book and Candle”. It looks amazing; I can’t believe I missed it!

    Dean Jones is great. I always liked him in “The Ugly Dachshund”.

    I.A.

  2. Carmelo Pugliatti | January 14, 2017 at 2:26 pm |

    One of the my favourite movie! The Italian title is:”Una strega in paradiso” (” A witch in paradise”).Jimmy Stewart wear a lot of suits with two button darted coats and pleated trousers,but Jack Lemmon have a true gray flannel sack.

  3. Stewart was a lot like Peck. Started very trad and morphed over the years. Have to figure their costuming isn’t their choice on set. While not trad/ivy by any stretch, I always loved Grants tailoring; his suits fit him perfectly at every angle. Aside from his trousers always being a bit too full I admired that North by Northwest suit. If I recall many of Jimmy’s earlier roles had him in fuller cuts, double breasted, peaked lapels etc. it’s a shame you don’t see him in full regalia until his later years.

  4. “Under the Yum-Yum Tree” is no cinematic masterpiece; but it has that joie de vivre that characterizes many mid-sixties films (think most Rock Hudson vehicles) which alone merits a viewing. Set design cognoscenti will note that Jack Lemmon’s apartment represents what must be a pinnacle of 1960s Hollywood Regency (not to be confused with Modernist) bachelor pad design.

  5. Henry Contestwinner | January 14, 2017 at 7:58 pm |

    WFBjr, for many years, unless it was a historical drama or a military piece, actors wore their own clothes when filming. I’m not sure when the costumers took over dressing the men, but it’s likely that many of both Peck’s and Stewart’s on-film outfits, both trad and otherwise, were their own choice.

    I suppose the real determiner is to see what they were wearing off-screen.

  6. Mitchell S. | January 15, 2017 at 7:14 am |

    Mr. C, is there a 1958 theme afoot at Ivy Style? First a post on Bob Thompson, then one on Modernist decor, and now a post on an obscure ’58 film. As the betniks would say, “too cool, man, too cool.”

    I, like you, am a fan of jazz, coffee, ivy style, and Modernism. Keep up the good work…

  7. Bell, Book, and Candle is indeed a great film. Novak’s witch has this great shop/apartment that really captures The Village at its Bohemian peak. Right before its sharp decline and eons before the bankers and glitteratti moved in.

    They say it flopped a bit because Stewart was “too old” to play opposite Novak. While the aging male in me wants to protest, there is some truth to it. Especially since he’snot supposed to be an old crank (a la Bogart in Sabrina)

  8. Stewart is a Princeton grad and I’m sure he personal style of dress was trad. These costumes aren’t too far off, however.

  9. Carmelo Pugliatti | January 15, 2017 at 12:38 pm |

    Think to a “Bell, Book, and Candle” version shot in 1955 with Cary Grant and Ava Gardner!

  10. Kim Novac and Carol Lynley are lovely, of course. Jimmy Stewart is magnificent in his attire, and the other costuming of some of the male characters offers some insight into the style of the times. Also enjoyable are the set pieces — the modern furnishings of the apartments, especially, have a timeless appeal. But seriously, the movies themselves kind of stink. Oversexed, sexist, and even sleazy, the movie scripts (and acting) themselves are good only as examples of how awful those1960s sex comedies could get.

  11. James Stewart was a true gentleman. Said to be the only leading man of Grace Kelly that she could not drag into bed. If you saw a picture of his wife you knew at least one reason why.

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