Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Mae West: Done Right

Many individuals have commented on the motion pictures of MAE WEST. But often, in a movie theatrre, key elements are pushed into darkness.
• • What do we know about living during the parched, policed Prohibition Era, for instance, except as an oncoming narrative headlighted on the big screen?
• • Mae West, who experienced the lawless decade first-hand and disapproved of these legal restrictions, found it more desirable to turn back the clock to the livelier liberal years of corner saloons, "bottoms up," and nickel beer when she conceived "Diamond Lil" in 1928. A few years later, Paramount Pictures would turn Mae's Broadway blockbuster into a successful screen classic.
• • Freelance cinema follower Bob Aldrich captured the essentials in his bright, tight review. Critics would do well to see how Mr. Aldrich wastes no words and gets it right. [Happily, he also introduces American readers to the adjective "shonky" — — British/ Australian slang for something that is shoddy.]
• • For whatever it's worth, Aldrich rated "She Done Him Wrong" [1933] three and a half stars. His comments are below.
• • Bob Aldrich writes: Tales of the Gay 90s were a genre in themselves (far more so than the 1900s). Mae West made a point of it — — presumably the period setting allowed her to be a bit more daring. The opulence and raffishness must have looked particularly appealing during the Depression. This is the film that made her a movie star
— — when people talk about Mae West they’re talking about this and Diamond Lil.
• • It’s an adaptation of a play and it feels like it — — most of the action takes place in a saloon, there are entrances and exits. Mae herself is very theatrical, full figured, and constantly cracking wise. Her character remains fascinating — — she holds her own with men, she’s nice to a girl who gets herself in a mess and is comfortable with shonky people. She makes eyes at the younger Cary Grant and Gilbert Roland (she invites Roland up to see her sometime as well) and older guys pant all over her
— — indeed, they are driven to theft and murder.
• • It’s especially fun to see Mae flirt with Cary Grant in his salvation Army outfit — — less so when he’s revealed to be a cop but they had to do it. Cary’s a bit young for her and you don’t believe it’s love, but who cares. The lines are terrific, e.g., “it takes two to get one in trouble”; “hello dark warm and handsome”; “when woman go wrong men go right after them”; “you can be had!” It’s also very adult
— — West is clearly a mistress to gangsters, a girl tries to kill herself after a relationship with a married man; Mae sings a song about an “Easy Rider." The running time is barely over an hour — — and that includes a couple of songs.
— — Source: — —
• • Column: "Classic films in focus: She Done Him Wrong (1933)"
• • Byline: Bob Aldrich | blogger who posts his "various rantings on movies . . ." and topics tied to cinema
• • Published in: The Great Unmade Robert Aldrich Romantic Comedy — — http://thegreatunmaderobertaldrichromcom.blogspot.com/
• • Published on: Sunday, 5 July 2009
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• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Mae West.

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