Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mae West: Charlotte's Sextette

In 1978, director Ken Hughes worked with MAE WEST and everybody knows it. Raise your right hand if you realize that the Brooklyn bombshell did not write "Sextette"! Bonus points if you can name the Englishwoman who did.
• • In 1994, Christie's auctioned off a most intriguing bit of memorabilia: a bound copy of the stage play "Sextette" [1927] by the British actress and dramatist Charlotte Francis. The auctioneer's lot also included these tag-alongs: a bound soft-cover copy of Mae West's "Sextette"; a copy of a 1952 contract between Charlotte Francis and her American manager in which she refers to her agreement with Mae West for an adaptation by Miss West of said play; and a May 1952 agreement letter between Mae West and the William Morris Agency for her to appear in a play entitled "Come On Up" (changed from "Sextette"), signed in original ink by Mae West; and a negative photostat of a Dramatic Production Contract between Charlotte Francis and Alexandre Ince to perform "Sextette" at the Piccadilly House on 1 April 1952.
• • Clearly, there was an intrinsic appeal to the 85-year-old to be back in the game. The last time she was in a film had been in "Myra" [1970] and her last stage appearance had been the starring role in "Come On Up," which toured briefly during the 1960s. The stage play "Sextette" by Charlotte Francis was centered on the sixth marriage of a famous sex goddess and the amusing demands of her former husbands. (The movie grafts a sub-plot of global diplomacy onto this rom-com.)
• • If you can put aside its "artistic merit" and your quibbles about the cinematic production, it will become much clearer how much is purely biographical and thus a fitting farewell to Mae's unique career
— — that swan bed replica, a fond echo about "Catherine Was Great," a fashion show of Edith Head's delightful diva-wear, a parade of bodybuilders, reminders of the Diamond Lil persona, a walk-on for faithful friend George Raft, and a poke at Paramount foe Ernst Lubitsch (when her filmmaker ex is called a "son of Lubitsch"), not to mention a liberal borrowing of well-loved Mae West one-liners, etc. Moreover, Marlo Manners is called an "American institution" and Mae saw herself as nothing less. .
• • There are defects, to be sure, however, as Marlo Manners strokes her breast in front of the mirror and purrs, "It's real, it's all real," there's another meaning, too. In every way, Mae West was the real thing and she still has no equal.
• • Ken Hughes died 28 April 2001 • •
• • On 19 January 1922, Kenneth Graham Hughes was born in Liverpool, England.
• • The Hollywood director developed Alzheimer's disease and died in the month of April — — on 28 April 2001 in Los Angeles. Several of his obituaries reminded the public that "Sextette" was a camp disaster and, furthermore, that the writer/ director had had a prolific but "remarkably inconsistent career" with only one hands-down triumph: "The Trials of Oscar Wilde." Hard to believe, perhaps, that the same individual directed the family musical and moneymaker "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," the James Bond loser "Casino Royale," and "Sextette."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • Before she goes to the polls, Canadian columnist Adrienne King is thinking about Mae West and writes: Why not take the Mae West approach? “Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.” New, fresh evil is bound to be more interesting than the same old evil we’ve become mind-numbingly used to. Maybe the other evil will be the “light” version. Maybe it won’t be evil at all. ...
• • Source: Article: "Contractors, frenemies, and being prepared" written by Adrienne King for The Independent (Canada); posted on 27 April 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004.
You are reading the 1914th blog post. Unlike many blogs, which draw upon reprinted content from a newspaper or a magazine and/ or summaries, links, or photos, the mainstay of this blog is its fresh material focused on the life and career of Mae West, herself an American original.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1978 • •
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