Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mae West: Constance Cummings

MAE WEST co-starred in the 1932 "speakeasy" film "Night After Night" with an actress who left us during late November.
• • Constance Cummings, who was 22 when she played a socialite Jerry Healy in the movie, was born in Seattle, Washington on 15 May 1910. At age 95, the actress died in Oxfordshire, England in November on 23 November 2005.
• • Constance's blueblood persona in "Night After Night" was based on the heiress Barbara Hutton (who inherited the Woolworth fortune), who had once lived in a rowhouse on West 56th Street before it was turned into a ginmill operated by gangster Larry Fay.
• • Critiquing the film's debut, Variety (for once) was full of praise for Mae West, who overshadowed her younger and trimmer castmates.
• • Reviewer Bige wrote: Bootlegger stuff and some gangster atmosphere climaxed by and off screen shooting finish are played down to run secondary to the feminine interest. Raft is mixed up in both. The women are: a past flame (West), recently discarded sweetheart (Gibson), present head woman and "nice" girl (Cummings) and a middle-aged school teacher employed to give the mugg English lessons. When the Misses Skipworth and West are on view, together or separately, the laughs come often, and in the brief period assigned them as a team the comedy pace is even speedier. They do a virtual cross-fire two-act when doubling. Miss West's dialog is always unmistakably her own. It is doubtful if anyone else could write it just that way.
• • The way the West — Skipworth moments stand out suggests the picture could have stood more of them, but the obvious intent is to nurse Miss West along. She's tossed into this one rather abruptly and without bearing on the plot, much in the manner that Jimmy Durante has been handled by Metro. That's okay if they don't do it too often. As long as this film proves the former legit name has something for pictures it wouldn't be taking a chance to shoot the works on her from now on.
• • Miss Skipworth's intelligent painting of a cultured lady having her first taste of hotcha is a gem. Misses Cummings and Gibson are more restricted than their elders, holding down ingenue-like roles that call for looks mostly. But they deliver in every way. No leading man has been more ably supported.
• • Story is merely that of a mugg who yearns to toss off the mugg staff after falling in love at a distance with a Lady. That he winds up with his goal attained doesn't matter much, although the happy ending changes the tone that runs through the story up to them. He's told midway by one of the girls he is more likable when he's himself. . . . [Source: Variety Magazine; columnist Bige; an excerpt from a lengthy review originally published on 1 November 1932.]

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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• • Photo: • • Mae West's co-star • • Constance Cummings, 1932 • •
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Mae West.

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