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When Jack Lemmon started work on Under the Yum Yum Tree (1963), he was riding a creative high. He'd just done Billy Wilder's superlative Irma La Douce (1963), and before that Blake Edwards' Days of Wine and Roses (1962), for which he was Oscar®-nominated. Under the Yum Yum Tree slowed that momentum considerably. In fact, Lemmon freely admitted how much he disliked the film. In a 1992 interview with CNN's Larry King, Lemmon said that Under the Yum Yum Tree and his next picture, Good Neighbor Sam (1964), "made me number one at the box office, and I hated them both. I [was] looking for a cannon shot and I got a barrage of powderpuffs."
Both films were directed by David Swift, but Lemmon told biographer Don Widener that Swift was not to blame for Lemmon's discontent: "[It's] certainly no reflection on Swift or anyone else. In Under the Yum Yum Tree I was unhappy with myself and the character, a lecherous nut who acted more like a leering kid than a grown man. Both pictures were pure fluff puffs, but the public loved them and they just made sacks of money. Each of those pictures cost approximately one million dollars to make and they grossed ten times that amount."
Another Lemmon biographer, Michael Freedland, has written that Lemmon's performance transcended the ordinary quality of Under the Yum Yum Tree: "The picture was not a failure at the box office and the feeling was that if he could do so well with such a dreadful movie, then he must be a very great star indeed."
The story is a sex farce (without much sex) about a young couple (Carol Lynley and Dean Jones) who decide to live together platonically to see if they are compatible before getting married. A complication ensues when their new landlord (Lemmon) turns out to be a sleazeball who has seduced every young single woman in his building and now sets his sights on Lynley.
Variety spoke for most of the critical establishment in calling the film "one-joke" and complaining of its "lack of restraint." The paper also, however, declared that Lemmon "plays it to the hilt." The movie's critical drubbing and box-office success matched that of the play on which it was based. When it opened on Broadway in November 1960 with Gig Young in the part of the landlord, Under the Yum Yum Tree was not well-reviewed, but it did well enough to run for 173 performances. Dean Jones, incidentally, was the only actor imported from the Broadway version to reprise his role for the movie.
Director David "Bud" Swift got his start as a Disney animator but was primarily a successful writer for television and live-action Disney films. His most famous movies are probably Pollyanna (1960) and The Parent Trap (1961), both of which he wrote and directed.
Producer: Frederick Brisson
Director: David Swift
Screenplay: David Swift, based on the play by Lawrence Roman
Cinematography: Joseph F. Biroc
Production Design: Dale Hennesy
Music: Frank De Vol
Film Editing: Charles Nelson
Cast: Jack Lemmon (Hogan), Carol Lynley (Robin Austin), Dean Jones (Dave Manning), Edie Adams (Dr. Irene Wilson), Imogene Coca (Dorkus Murphy), Paul Lynde (Murphy), Robert Lansing (Dr. Charles Howard).
C-111m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning.
by Jeremy Arnold