Ever since the late fifties a large number of intellectuals in this country (above) have been bohemians. Even some traditional intellectuals like Bill Buckley had a bit of a bohemian side to them, and enjoyed playing to bohemian audiences. That's understandable. The 50s intellectuals seemed to be searching for something elusive, and you always have a grudging respect for seekers, no matter how addled they may be in other respects. I like the late 50s intellectuals too...well, sort of...but I also like the poor wretches that preceded them in the forties and early 50s.
Before the Beats most intellectuals were attached to universities. There's was a frustrating era because everybody knew the old world had ended with WWII, but nobody had a handle on the new one. An awful lot of those intellectuals decided to be placeholders. They were determined to shepherd the old ideas and values into the mysterious new era, integrating them with whatever scary thing would come next.
Personally, I respect that that. Keeping old wisdom alive in a world that had recently been gutted by fanaticism was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. The problem was that the old wisdom, at least when it was stated in the old way, was curiously out of sync with the new era. Immensely destructive changes were ahead, and these heroic placeholders were doomed to pass into obscurity. I think they knew it, they just didn't know what to do about it.
Anyway, they were an admirable bunch of people who were riddled with funny quirks and affectations as all good people are. Pipes (okay, cigarettes), woolen tweeds, bow ties, Terry Thomas moustaches...they had it all, as you can see in the films below.
Here (above) an unidentified announcer of that era sits with critic Lionel Trilling, and "Lolita" author, Vladimir Nabokov. The set is a room filled with statues, wainscoting, pillars, old European furniture and a working oil lamp which functions as a sort of candelabra. After talking for a bit around the lamp, all move over to the sofa, as if to enjoy cigars and brandy. It's a wonderful world where intellect and culture still have a place. It just seems funny to see all those cultural artifacts crammed into such a tiny space. I like it, though. If this show were still on I'd watch every episode.