Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mae West: Walter Pigeon-Holed

MAE WEST worked with an international cast in "Sextette." And her screen character Marlo Manners winds up in a honeymoon suite at a fancy hotel where there is an international conference in progress, led by the avuncular American diplomat Chambers — — Walter Pidgeon, in his last performance.
• • Born in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada in the month of September — — on 23 September 1897 — — Walter Pidgeon played Mr. Chambers, the chairman in "Sextette" [1978].
• • Dapper and tall [6' 2 1/2"], Walter Pidgeon in his youth had planned to follow his brothers into a military career, but was invalided out of the service after a training accident. Subsequently, Pigeon began his career as a voice student at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, which helped him land several roles in Broadway musicals. When his footsteps led to a silver screen career, he began in silents and transitioned to talkies. Despite his good looks, he was seldom seen as a leading man, though he had a long career in supporting roles. He was considered to be MGM's resident "perfect gentleman," though rebels and rogues were always more in vogue and often snagged top billing.
• • Walter Pidgeon died of a stroke in Santa Monica, California in the month of September — — on 25 September 1984. He was 87 years old.
• • Mae West Making News on 25 September • •
• • This headline appeared in many places on 25 September 2000, thanks to UPI and AP: "Mae West memorabilia, jewelry, goes on the block." The sale would be held at Butterfields Auction House in Los Angeles. The memorabilia portion of Mae's belongings went before bidders on 24 October 2000.
• • In Variety on 25 September 1934 • •
• • This is a brief excerpt from the lengthy review that appeared in Variety on this date.
• • Abel wrote: "Belle of the Nineties" is a little of everything. Even "St. Louis Blues" and "Memphis Blues" are in it — — she did "Frankie and Johnny" in "Diamond Lil."
• • The original songs by Coslow and Johnston are "My Old Flame," "American Beauty," and "Troubled Waters." Duke Ellington's nifty jazzique is a natural for the Westian song delivery. "Waters" introduces a little of the Elder Michaux revival meeting. That's in the offing, but within seeming earshot, and thus she does a semi-spiritual against the heated colored revival meeting background which productionally is rather well worked in.
• • Just like she makes stooges of almost anybody assigned to bandy talk with her, Miss West dittoes with her principal support, including Roger Pryor, the fave vis-a-vis, John Mack Brown as the good time Charlie, and John Miljan, a villain of darkest mien. Katherine DeMille as the spurned gambler's sweetheart looks better and suggests better opportunities than the prima facie script accords her. The publicity, the glamor, and the star appeal — — in these factors alone "Belle of the Nineties" underwrites itself. — — Abel.
• • Source: Variety Magazine [originally published 25 September 1934]
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West wrote this line for Margy Lamont, her character in the play "Sex": "All right, rat, I'll give you the chance," Margy is telling her pimp. "Why, if I didn't have a certain amount of refinement, I'd kick your teeth all over this floor. Now blow, bum, blow."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • It seems that a Mae West quote wriggled its way into an article.
• • From Down Under, crime author and TV host Tara Moss writes: As historian and curator Nerida Campbell writes in her book Femme Fatale: The Female Criminal: ''Pulp fiction artists created a picture of incredible glamour, beauty and wickedness. The women were frequently depicted carrying out their nefarious activities, often with a smoking gun in hand.'' A weapon in the hands of a striking woman is a powerful and sexually charged image — — the blade or the pistol as phallic symbol, the shooting bullet as metaphor for the obvious.
• • Tara Moss continues: Mae West quipped, ''Is that a gun in your pocket or are you happy to see me?'' The fact is, we are happy to see the femme fatale. Men are drawn to her because she is not only beautiful but also sexually voracious and available. The heartache afterwards is an afterthought. ...
• • Source: Article: "Beauty obscures the beast" written by Tara Moss for the Brisbane Times; posted on 25 September 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2064th 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 • • 1978 • •
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