Jazz and Ivy duel for the affections of Natalie Wood in “All the Fine Young Cannibals,” a largely forgotten melodrama released a half a century ago. The film has not been released on DVD, but there are used VHS copies floating about, and if you search the web you might find a digital version.
“All the Fine Young Cannibals” (from which the pop group took its name) is based on a novel by Rosamond Marshall and stars Natalie Wood and her then-husband Robert Wagner as two impoverished lovers in rural Texas.
As Chad Bixby, Wagner plays the trumpet and dreams of making a living as a jazz musician. Wood’s character, Sarah Davis, changes her name to Salomé because no one with such a name could be destined for life in a small town.
Wagner hones his chops playing at a juke joint in Deep Elem. One night he takes Wood there, leaves her alone for a minute, and in pops George Hamilton who, as we showed in our post on “Where The Boys Are,” specialized in playing rich Ivy Leaguers.
As a Yalie home for the summer, Hamilton struts through the juke joint with his fancy Eastern jacket, plain-front trousers and white buttondown. Sitting down next to Wood, he smiles and delivers his pick-up line: “Hi, I’m a Yale man” (see image above).
He goes on to assume Salomé is one of the girls who can be rented by the hour (and with a name like Salomé, you can understand why), which at least explains what he’s doing there in the first place.
In a later scene, pictured below, Hamilton gets fitted by his tailor in his room, which features crossed swords over his bed and a Yale throw pillow. He complains about how dull his home town is, and his mother remarks that he was a nice boy before he went away to college.
Hamilton ends up marrying Wood, and there’s a fun scene where he introduces her to his fellow fraternity hearties. His sister enters the picture and ends up marrying Wagner, setting up a quartet of misery as the cannibals, starved for either love or money, feast on each other’s hearts. — CC