Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mae West: 17 May 1935

Mae West rarely appeared on radio. When she did, the sole purpose was to promote one of her films.
• • For instance, Mae West had guest-starred on "The Shell Chateau" with Al Jolson in 1936. And she also appeared on Louella Parsons’ blackmailing program "Hollywood Hotel" on 26 April 1935, with featured guest Paul Cavanagh in an adaptation of her screen gem "Goin’ to Town." The picture was released by Paramount on 17 May 1935 and no amount of fanfare could have persuaded the critics of its merits.
• • According to the 1935 review published in Variety, this motion picture was "Mae West's poorest." Film critic Abel predicted: Exhibs and exploiteers will have to go to town to sell "Goin' to Town." Peppered with the usual Westian pepigrams, paprika and pertness, it's punchy enough on the dialog, but deficient on story. Miss West as scriptist as well as star has seen to it that her nifties are up to the usual quota, but no amount of epigrammatic hypoing can offset the silly story.
• • It may insure action, for "Goin' to Town" goes all over the map to take in lots of geography. Starts in cattle-rustlin' rancho territory; thence to Buenos Aires for cosmopolitan swank; from there to ultra Southampton, L.I., for a sample of La West giving the 400 the acey-duecy, and the fadeout is an off-to-Lunnon with an earl, no less. This cues for the "Now I'm a Lady" song, also the tag first ascribed to this flicker.
• • Secret of Miss West's previous pix has been that they stayed in character. The studio probably decided it's time to get her out of the mauve decade, and while it's a commendable attempt, it's gone awry.
• • Lines are crisp and unsubtle. Since that's expected of her, she's selling it, generously and well. But after the prelims are over, it's something else again.
• • The yen for Paul Cavanagh, who is an oil-driller on her property, chases him off to South America and she tags after him. A desire to acquire social standing buys her a broke, socialite husband (Monroe Owsley), which makes possible the Southampton stuff. There an operatic gala, staged at the family manse, becomes one of those things, although Miss West warbles "My Heart Opens at Thy Still Voice," the aria from "Samson and Delilah," in almost a legit fashion (why wasn't it 100% kidded?) and is the background for a murder implicating Ivan Lebedeff, cast as an impossible gigolo. Marjorie Gateson is the femme menace, likewise a farcical version. Gilbert Emery as Winslow, financial accountant of her properties, and Fred Kohler, Sr., as the heavy, alone have some semblance of realism.
• • "He's a Wicked Man But He Loves So Good" and "Now I'm a Lady" are two numbers, done more or less incidentally, and distinguished principally by the brass work in the orchestrations.
• • Star endeavors to square the general script inanites by a tongue-in-cheek treatment, but it's done too McCoy to impart any other impression. Role gives her ample opportunity to strut a flock of glad rags.
• • Byline: Abel — — Variety, originally published May 15, 1935
• • Paramount production and release. Stars Mae West. Directed by Alexander Hall. Produced by William LeBaron. Original by Marion Morgan and George B. Dowell; screen play and dialog. Miss West. Songs, Sammy Fain, Irving Kahal; camera, Karl Struss. At the Paramount N.Y., week of May 10, 1935. Running time, 75 mins.
• • Cast:
• • Cleo Borden . . . Mae West
• • Edward Barrington . . . Paul Cavanagh
• • Ivan Veladov . . . Ivan Lebodeff
• • Taho . . . Tito Coral
• • Mrs. Crane Brittony . . . Marjorie Gateson
• • Buck Gonzales . . . Fred Kohler, Sr.
• • Fletcher Colton . . . Monroe Owsley
• • Winslow . . . Gilbert Emery
• • Young Fellow . . . Grant Withers
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:

• • Photo:
• • Mae West • •
and Paul Cavanagh • • 1935 • •

Mae West.

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