Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Mae West: North to Alaska

The reviews of "Klondike Annie" starring MAE WEST — — as The Frisco Doll, Rose Carlton, Sister Annie Alden — — began appearing in the month of March. In Manhattan, there was an exclusive engagement at the Paramount Theatre, 1501 Broadway, N.Y., for the week of 11 March 1936.
• • The New York Times film critic wrote: Mae West's "Klondike Annie" really does not merit the agitation it has caused. Neither as healthily rowdy nor as vulgarly suggestive as many of her earlier pictures, it emerges on the Paramount's screen as a tiresome and rather stupid combination of lavender and old japes. Though we are prepared to debate the blue noses on Miss West's right to wave, we cannot accept undulation without wit or négligée without reason.
• • Miss West does not function any too well in a moral strait-jacket. . . • •
• • Frank Nugent, The Times' man on the aisle, continued: It is, of course, highly ironic that the more she attempts to please the censors the more she displeases them. In her new film she gets religion, turns evangelist of a sort and speaks generally as though she had just been spanked for saying something naughty and was trying not to offend again. Although it seems to put us on the wrong side of the fence, we must mention that Miss West does not function any too well in a moral strait-jacket. "Klondike Annie" finds her battering her ample curves against the padded walls of the clean films code on one side and her natural inclination for bawdy humor on the other. . . .
• • Mae West 75 Years Ago (March 1936) • •
• • FRANKFORT, Kentucky — — The New Majestic Theater is showing Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in "their funniest full-length riot," "The Bohemian Girl." The Grand presents Margaret Sullivan, James Stewart, and Ray Milland in "Next Time We Love," while Loew's Victory advertises Charlie Chaplin's (soon to be classic) "Modern Times," with Mae West's "Klondike Annie" coming soon. [Source: Evansville Courier & Press, 7 March 1936]
• • Esther Howard was Fanny in "Klondike Annie" • •
Mae West worked with several actresses who had begun bright careers on Broadway before switching to work in motion pictures during the Prohibition Era.
• • Born on 4 April 1892 in Helena, Montana, Esther Howard made her Broadway debut in 1917 at 25 years old in a play called "Eve's Daughter" — — which lasted but a few weeks on West 48th Street at the Playhouse Theatre. [Would it have occurred to Mae to portray Eve on Broadway, as she did on radio on 12 December 1937?] Esther Howard was a mainstay in Times Square productions and showy musicals for the next dozen years.
• • Switching from The Great White Way to Hollywood and Vine in 1931, the accomplished and versatile stage veteran was an expert at portraying blowsy old hags, man-hungry spinsters, and oversexed dowagers.
• • Cast in the Mae West vehicle "Klondike Annie" [1936], Esther Howard portrayed Fanny Radler.
• • Well suited for tense domestic dramas as well as farces and comedies, Esther Howard appeared in more than 100 movies in her 23-year film career.
• • A heart attack claimed Ms. Howard in the month of March — — on 8 March 1965 — — in Hollywood, California.
• • John Leipold wrote background music for "Klondike Annie" • •
• • Original music was written specially for "I'm No Angel" [1933], "Belle of the Nineties" [1934], "Goin' to Town" [1935], "Klondike Annie" [1936], and "The Heat's On" [1943] starring Mae West.
• • One of several uncredited collaborators was John Leipold, who worked on more than 250 projects in Hollywood from 1929 — 1953.
• • Born in Ulster County, New York on 26 February 1888, John Max Leipold composed stock music as well as the score for many cinema stand-outs. His work amplified big screen documentaries, family entertainment, dramas, comedies, Westerns, mysteries, patriotic military-themed pictures, the "Blondie" series, and more. He also created atmospheric music for "Go West, Young Lady" [1941] released by Columbia Pictures — — a title that sounds suspiciously familiar. Leopold did not work on "Go West, Young Man," however.
• • At age 82, John Leipold died in Dallas, Texas in the month of March — — on 8 March 1970.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • with Philip Reed in 1936 • •
• • Feed — — http://feeds2.feedburner.com/MaeWest
Mae West.

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