Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mae West: 31 October 1932

The New York Times had an interesting take on the first motion picture that brought MAE WEST to Tinseltown.
• • Released on 30 October 1932, "Night After Night" was meant to be a vehicle for George Raft, who plays the gangster Joe Anton who aspires to gentleman status.
• • Instead the plot of "Night" would put anyone to sleep — — except for the white hot scenes featuring Mae as Maudie.
• • Here's one memorable exchange:
• • Mrs. Jellyman: Chemistry's a wonderful thing.
• • Maudie: I'll say it is, but I know a couple of druggists that never made a dime 'til Prohibition. — — Mae West, "Night After Night"
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• • Mordaunt Hall's assessment appeared in The Times on 31 October 1932. Notice the title of his column does not even mention Mae.
• • Movie Review: Night After Night (1932)
• • George Raft and Constance Cummings in a Pictorial Version of a Story by Louis Bromfield.
• • After making allowances for the wildly improbable incidents in "Night After Night," the Paramount's screen offering which owes its origin to Louis Bromfield's story, "Single Night," one is apt to admit that it does succeed in being virile and interesting. Nevertheless, the pivotal idea is one that would have benefited by a measure of restraint, and so far as one character is concerned, a truer conception of psychology.
• • Here there is a gangster or speakeasy proprietor who becomes enamored of a Park Avenue girl. While the picture is concerned with the man of many guns and monogrammed silk shirts the tale is quite plausible. But when the blue-blooded beauty finds that she reciprocates the gangster's admiration, it is unreal and forced, as though the producers did not dare to have the cultured young woman make her exit from the film without "the pirate" of the West Fifties.
• • George Raft, who appears as Joe Anton, the gangster who has his wines and whiskies in the open, but locks up his machine guns and pistols, gives a believable portrayal. Joe has so much money that he longs to improve his manners and speech. He takes lessons from a Mrs. Jellyman in how to behave and how to curb slang. She tells her pupil that he must not say "a smart guy," but "an intelligent gentleman." His is a pretty hopeless case, but he tries, even going so far as to essay a few words about the Lausanne conference. Some idea of his perseverance can be gained from the fact that he is furious because his shirt maker has not made the monogram on the garments smaller.
• • This well-tailored speakeasy proprietor chances to observe in his place Miss Jerry Healy. He enthuses over her beauty to his hard-boiled servitor, Leo, who does not hesitate to let his master know that a gangster in love is laughable. It eventually turns out that Miss Healy comes to this speakeasy night after night because the house was once her home, the place where she was born. Although she dwells in Park Avenue, her bank account is slender, and it seems as though she would have to become the wife of a polo player, Dick Bolton.
• • When Joe becomes excited he forgets virtually everything he has learned. He observes an intoxicated man accosting Miss Healy, and only her intervention saves the staggering individual from being hurled out into the street.
• • The narrative takes up two old flames of Joe's—Iris Dawn, who is vengeful when she realizes that Joe has centered his attention on Miss Healy, and Maudie Triplett, impersonated by Mae West, who cares not whether the moon is out or the sun is shining or Joe has a new interest in life, so long as she is not short of alcoholic beverages. Maudie gives a lesson on drinking to Mrs. Jellyman, who, it might be noted at this point, is impersonated by Alison Skipworth.
• • There is the usual penultimate misunderstanding between the romantic parties, but in the end Miss Healy is quite satisfied to throw the polo player overboard to spend the rest of her life as Mrs. Joe Anton.
• • Constance Cummings, who gave a capital performance in "Washington Merry-Go-Round," acts the rôle of Miss Healy. She looks the part, but, as one might imagine, scarcely a girl who would become sentimental about a gangster. She is not only charming, but she speaks her lines very pleasingly. On the other side of Fifth Avenue there are, besides the fearless Joe Anton, Maudie Triplett, which character is made quite amusing by Miss West. Wynne Gibson appears as Iris Dawn, whose hair is gold and whose temper is crimson. Miss Skipworth gives a clever portrayal of Mrs. Jellyman.
• • Mr. Raft's eyes and sleek hair cause him to remind one of the late Rudolph Valentino. Roscoe Karns, as Leo, does so well that one is inclined to feel just as interested in his characterization as in Mr. Raft's.
• • Ethel Waters, Adelaide Hall, the Mills Brothers and a number of other dusky entertainers are to be seen in the stage production, "Dixie to Broadway."
• • NIGHT AFTER NIGHT, adapted from Louis Bromfield's story, "Single Night"; directed by Archie Mayo; produced by Paramount-Publix. At the Times Square Paramount and the Brooklyn Paramount.
• • Joe Anton . . . . . George Raft
• • Jerry Healy . . . . . Constance Cummings
• • Iris Dawn . . . . . Wynne Gibson
• • Maudie Triplett . . . . . Mae West
• • Mrs. Mabel Jellyman . . . . . Alison Skipworth
• • Leo . . . . . Roscoe Karns
• • Blainey . . . . . Al Hill
• • Dick Bolton . . . . . Louis Calhern
• • Jerky . . . . . Harry Wallace
• • Patsy . . . . . Dink Templeton
• • Frankie Guard . . . . . Bradley Page
• • Malloy . . . . . Marty Martyn
— — Source: — —
• • Movie Review: Night After Night (1932)
• • Published by: The New York Times
• • Published on: 31 October 1932

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1 comment:

  1. WOW!!!
    Quite a beginning for Miss West, who "simply"happened to be THIRTY-NINE!!
    Unforgettable woman....
    She was UNIQUE!!!
    And THANK YOU for keeping this wonderful BLOG!!!!
    I have become a fan but you are clearly the ULTIMATE!!!!