Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mae West: Poli's Palace

"The Beaux arts-style Palace, originally called the Loew's Poli Theater, opened in 1922 and was once the biggest venue in the state, seating about 3,600 for live entertainers including MAE WEST," writes Ken Dixon today in his article for the CT Post. "It closed about 35 years ago. ... Scared off by estimates that a study of Bridgeport's long-vacant vaudeville-era theaters would cost about $619,000, a legislative committee Monday voted to require state officials to perform the study with existing funds. ..."
• • Mae-mavens already know that in 1927, "The Drag" premiered at Poli's, a stock burlesque house in Bridgeport, Connecticut located on the most prominent boulevard downtown.
• • During the early 1920s, impresario Sylvestre Poli brought the Poli Palace to the Nutmeg State.
• • Designed by architect Thomas W. Lamb and eventually renamed Loew's Palace Theater [1325 Main Street, Bridgeport, CT 06604], this landmark was the biggest movie theater ever erected in Connecticut — — and the largest among Bridgeport's 20-plus theaters. Poli's was actually one of two theaters built inside a single building (the other being the Majestic).
• • Despite the public's curiosity about the controversial vaudevillian Mae West, and her latest play "The Drag," Jim Timony could only manage to secure half a week at Poli's Park, which was then in use as a burlesque house in Bridgeport. It was a dreary and wintery Monday on 31 January 1927 when the Morals Production Company hoisted a banner over the trolley cars criss-crossing Main Street. Pedestrians were intrigued by this saucy announcement: "The Drag" by the author of SEX — — more sensational than Rain or The Captive!"
• • While they were lodging at the Arcade Hotel, Beverly West and Edward Elsner (Mae's sister and director) were arrested at 5 AM on 2 February 1927. Both the play and the arrest were the talk of Bridgeport.
• • 19 April 1927 • •
• • The sentencing of Mae West, Jim Timony, and the cast of "Sex" took place on 19 April 1927 in Jefferson Market Court. That trial and the dramatic verdict end Act I of the stage play "Courting Mae West: Sex, Censorship, and Secrets."
• • This is a photo of that pivotal moment in the courtroom when the play was last presented in New York City at the Algonquin Theatre in July 2008. Mae West was portrayed by actress Yvonne Sayers. The role of Texas Guinan went to Eileen Glenn and Gloria M. Buccino was Matilda West.
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • The British author Graham Greene [2 October 1904 — 3 April 1991] was inspired by Mae West when he was creating his character Ida, a barmaid, buxom and sentimental, and a busybody-ish Good Samaritan.
• • Writing about the cinema version of Brighton Rock, Peter Craven notes: Brighton Rock may be an advertisement for Graham Greene's novel and an introduction of it to a new audience. The thing that's so hard to film — — perhaps to dramatise in any medium — — is indicated by Greene's outline of what he was after. On 9 April 1939, he wrote to his agent Nancy Pearn: "The real point ... is the contrast between the ethical mind (Ida's) and the religious (the Boy's and Rose's) in thriller terms." In the novel Ida — — who, believe it or not, Greene partly based on Mae West — — is preoccupied with a world of an eye for an eye. Murder has been committed and justice — — conceived of as the vengeance of society — — must prevail. ..."
• • Source: Article: "Greene's pastures" written by Peter Craven for The Australian; posted on 16 April 2011.
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004.
You are reading the 1904th 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: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • "Courting Mae West" in 2008 • •
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