Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Mae West: Bernie from the Bronx

Handsome Tony Curtis was in one motion picture with MAE WEST.
• • If you saw "Sextette," perhaps you remember the scene when newly wed Marlo Manners (now Lady Barrington) and her groom Sir Michael Barrington finally are snug inside their hotel suite. However, the lovebirds are unable to go beddy-bye and celebrate their marital bliss because of noisome botherations. Coitus interruptus (sort of)! These cinematic intrusions are provoked by the demands of milady's career (such as interviews, dress fittings, and photo sessions). Additionally, there are entreaties and knock-knocks from men, including some ex-husbands. Apparently, the vast enrollment of membership in the Marlo Manners Fan Club includes: diplomat Alexei Andreyev Karansky (Tony Curtis), director Laslo Karolny (Ringo Starr), gangster Vance Norton (George Hamilton), and an entire athletic team from the USA, all of whom desire to have sex with Marlo. And, after all, Mae West once did tell an interviewer she had a special interest in foreign affairs.
• • Born during the month of June — — on 3 June 1925 — — the Bronx native started out in life with the ho-hum name of Bernard Schwartz. The five-foot-nine leading man enjoyed spreading urban legends about his role as Alexei Andreyev Karansky and Mae's difficulties on the set.
• • Perhaps Tony Curtis was feeling a bit spiteful after reading Vincent Canby's review, printed on 8 June 1979, five days after the actor celebrated his 54th birthday.
• • Here's a jetstream's worth of hissing from The New York Times film critic:
• • Movie Review — — Sextette (1978) • •
• • "SEXTETTE" is a disorienting freak show in which Mae West, now 87 years old, does a frail imitation of the personality that wasn't all that interesting 45 years ago. The movie, which opens today at the Victoria and other theaters, is a poetic, terrifying reminder of how a virtually disembodied ego can survive total physical decay and loss of common sense.
• • The character we see in this peculiar film looks less like the Mae West one remembers from even "Myra Breckinridge" than like a plump sheep that's been stood on its hind legs, dressed in a drag-queen's idea of chic, bewigged, and then smeared with pink plaster. The creature inside this getup seems game but arthritic and perplexed. She walks with apparent difficulty. One eye sometimes sags and the voice, despite Hollywood's electronic skills, cracks like the voice of the old lady she really is. Under these circumstances, the sexual innuendos are embarrassing. Granny should have her mouth washed out with soap, along with her teeth.
• • The story, based on a play written some years ago by Miss West, is about a world-famous movie star and her attempts to consummate her sixth marriage to Sir Michael Barrington (Timothy Dalton) despite repeated interruptions by former husbands, lovers, dress designers, secret agents, publicity people and delegates attending an international peace conference just upstairs. It's a plot that Miss West has often favored, and it freely reprises a lot of lines from earlier pictures.
• • The movie was directed by Ken Hughes ("The Small World of Sammy Lee," "Cromwell" and so on), a fellow you might think had better things to do than to prop up the Tower of Pisa. In addition to Mr. Dalton, "Sextette" features a number of other people who, in happier circumstances, are decent actors. These include Tony Curtis, George Hamilton, Ringo Starr, and the incomparable Dom DeLuise. There are some original songs and some old ones, a couple of which sound as if they'd been lip-synched by Miss West to old recordings.
• • The real problem with "Sextette" is . . . .
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Movie Review: "Sextette" (1978)
• • Screen: "Mae West, 87, Does an Encore:Trying for 6th Marriage"
• • Byline: By Vincent Canby | Film Critic
• • Published in: The New York Times — —
• • Published on: 8 June 1979
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Mae-maven Mark Desjardins weighs in on Canby's commentary with a tertium quid.
• • According to Mark Desjardins: Vincent Canby certainly was savage in his verbal attacks on Myra Breckinridge and Sextette in general — — and Mae West in particular. However, to his credit he did made somewhat of a deathbed apology for his bile filled comments.
• • When Canby reviewed the play Dirty Blonde and an off Broadway revival of Sex in the NYT in February, 2000, he mellowed sufficiently to admit that the plays kept alive he legacy of a vivid performer who appeal was really based on good humor and common sense.
• • Prior to his death, Canby reassessed is earlier view of Sextette that is was an affront to both man and beast and wrote that the film was Mae West's equivalent to the biblical epic about Salome in which Norma Desmond intended to make her return to the screen in Sunset Boulevard. He admitted to being embarrassed about the puritanical view he held of the film and West, and expressed his admiration for her tenacity in completing the film.
• • Mae's spirit must have been beaming that day!
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
Add to Google
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
• • Feed — —
Mae West.

No comments:

Post a Comment