Friday, May 16, 2008

Mae West: Fabulously Carnal

According to movie buffs Ben Davey and Joanna Cohen, there are five outstanding "lady is a tramp" motion pictures — — and "the fabulously carnal" MAE WEST stars in one.
• • Each week, Australian film geeks Ben Davey and Joanna Cohen claim that they "mask their lack of creative ability by writing a column about clever things that others have made." Here are their amusing pronouncements about the scarlet sisterhood of the cinema.
• • She Done Him Wrong (1933)
• • Synopsis: Captain Cummings: Haven't you ever had a man who made you happy? Lady Lou: Sure, lots of times. Mae West lewdly quips her way through her first starring role as Lady "Diamond" Lou in this adaptation of the 1928 Broadway stage play Diamond Lil. She is a dame with a lot of diamonds, a lot of "friends" — — and a smart mouth.
• •
Joanna Cohen: You can't have a tramp compilation and not include the fabulously carnal Mae West. Her character, Lady Lou, proves her tramp stripes by being recognized by every inmate as she sashays down a cell block to visit her possessive and, unfortunately, violent and vicious criminal fella, Chick Clark (Owen Moore). It is often speculated that it was the films of Mae West that caused the crackdown and enforcement of the Hays Production Code in 1934. If that is the case, then I think it is safe to assume that this particular film may have contributed to the code supporters' anxiety. The innuendo that was so shocking in the 1930s is pretty tame today and the plot is ludicrous so, unless you are a Mae West fan, you may not get too much out of this flick. I, however, love a sassy bird and as far as I am concerned, West is the leader of the pack.
• •
Ben Davey: There are few who could have pulled off some of the dialogue in this film. It works for Mae West and Cary Grant, partly because the ludicrous plot allows them to play up and partly because the audience thinks they are watching the actors themselves verbally jousting , not just the characters they play. When West says "Why don't you come up sometime and see me? I'm home every night" — — the delivery shapes our perceptions of the sassy bird we think she would be in real life. While such perceptions lent West a certain authenticity when playing feisty dames, it certainly contributed to her being typecast. But hey, when you get to play a quip-machine that rattles off such memorable innuendo so often, being typecast can also have its merits.
• • Top five 'the lady is a tramp' films • •
• • 1. Gilda (1946)
• • Synopsis: Johnny Farrell: "Pardon me, but your husband is showing." The most gorgeous tramp of all, Gilda (Rita Hayworth), plays wicked games with the two men in her life
— — her husband, Ballin Mundson (George Macready), and her man from the past, Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford) — — employing a handful of Argentinian playboys as her props. [Gilda is a woman to be simultaneously despised and desired.]
• • 2. The Last Seduction (1994)
• • Synopsis: Dodgy Bridget (Linda Fiorentino) double-crosses her doctor husband, Clay (Bill Pullman), stealing the money made from the sale of medicinal cocaine. Now on the lam, Bridget decides to lie low in a small town where she begins an affair with Mike (Peter Berg), who quickly becomes enamoured with the mysterious blow-in. Lots of back-stabbing and general naughtiness ensues. [Keen spotters may pick up the Double Indemnity reference with one of Bridget's aliases.]
• • 3. Gone with the Wind (1939)
Synopsis: An adaptation of Margaret Mitchell's 1936 Civil War epic, it follows the flirts and flounces of the South's first lady, Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh), as she overcomes the poverty, loss and chaos of wartime, defends her beloved plantation, Tara, and leaves broken hearts in her wake.
• • 4. She Done Him Wrong (1933) [see above]
• • 5. Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS (1974)
• • Synopsis: Nazi commandante Ilsa (Dyanne Thorn), whose motivations revolve around torture and rompy-pompy, finally meets her match in the bump-ugly stakes when she encounters a prisoner with peculiar prowess. This discovery proves a distraction from Ilsa's efforts to prove, via nefarious experiments on war-camp prisoners, that women can withstand pain better than men.
— — Source: — —
• • Article: Top five 'the lady is a tramp' films
• • Written by: By Ben Davey and Joanna Cohen
• • Published in: The Sydney Morning Herald — —
• • Published on: 3 November 2005
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:

• • Photo:
• • Mae West • •
1933 • •

Mae West.

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