Under the Yum Yum Tree (1963)

under yum

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Landlord likes pretty woman.

Jack Lemmon plays Hogan, an apartment landlord who charges $450 a month to men, but only $75 a month to a young beautiful woman. He then puts on his moves and most of the time ‘scores’ with his nubile tenants. He sets his sights on attractive college co-ed Robin Austin (Carol Lynley) who has just moved in.  Unbeknownst to him she is also bringing in her boyfriend Dave (Dean Jones). The two have decided to live platonically, so they can see if they can get along together before taking the big step and getting married. Hogan is unaware of her male counterpart as when she signed up she simply told him her roommate was a brunette and Hogan presumed it was female. When he finds out who it really is it puts a crimp on his plans, but he still persists anyways.

Although the premise of two young people who are in love cohabiting without having sex may seem antiquated and remnants of a bygone era, the truth is the characters and filmmakers were probably a little more worldly-wise then one might presume initially. For one thing Dave considers the arrangement to be ‘nutty’ and states ‘no one could live that way’. He also, towards the end of the film, gets her to drink some strong tequila in order to get her drunk and allow him to seduce her. The characters, particularly the apartment’s husband and wife maintenance crew (Imogene Coco, Paul Lynde) do not condone Hogan’s playboy lifestyle, but are also privately jealous of it and in the case of the Lynde character even fantasizes about it. I also thought it was a hoot when Robin asks her college instructor Irene (Edie Adams) whether her and her husband ‘did it’ before they were married and although Irene acts all aghast at the suggestion she is also careful not to specifically answer it either.  So even though things are not as explicit as today’s films the underlying leering elements are still there.

This was pretty much Lemmon’s vehicle and he does alright. He has never played the part of a lecherous cad before, so it was fun seeing him do something different and away from his otherwise clean-cut good guy image. The best thing though may actually be the way his apartment was decorated. It is painted in a garish, bright red and this includes the carpets, drapes, and bed sheets. He also wears shirts, socks, and a watch band with the same bright red color making the place look like hell and he the devil. I also got a kick out of a pair of violins that he has stored in a case and at the press of a button they rise up and play romantic music with the help of electronic, robotic hands.

Carol Lynley is sensational as the female lead and quite possibly the best thing about the movie. Her portrayal of a young female college student who is sweet and polite, but still headstrong and full of ideals seems timeless. I also liked that the college students here were portrayed as thinking, breathing young adults and not just one-dimensional, stoned party- animals.

Jones does well as the boyfriend who sees right through Hogan’s schemes and does not allow him to get the upper hand. However, some of the stunts that Hogan pulls including walking in on the couple unannounced at different times of the day and night as well as having him eavesdrop on them and even admit to it, would not go over in the real world and would likely get him sued.

The biggest problem with the film is that fact that there is really no plot. The entire movie is made up of these silly little schemes that Hogan tries to pull to get Dave out of the way and his hands on Robin. None of these are clever, funny, or imaginative. The one-joke premise gets stretched until it becomes excruciatingly monotonous. Most of these films that are based on hit stage plays at least have some funny banter and sharp one-liners, but this movie doesn’t even have that.  This all might have worked as a cute 30 minute episode on the old Love American Style TV-show, but at 110 minutes it is outrageously over-long. Even for a fluffy 60’s sex farce it’s incredibly vapid and lifeless.  Legendary comic character actors Coco and Lynde are wasted.

A young Bill Bixby can be seen briefly as a college student trying to rent an apartment.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: October 23, 1963

Runtime: 1Hour 50Minutes

Rated NR (Not Rated)

Director: David Swift

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

One response to “Under the Yum Yum Tree (1963)

  1. Pingback: How to Murder Your Wife (1965) | Scopophilia

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