Friday, October 14, 2011

Mae West: Cream of Henry

MAE WEST selected songs written by an African American composer who died in mid-October — — Henry Creamer.
• • Henry Creamer [1879 — 1930] • •
• • Born in Richmond, Virginia, Henry Sterling Creamer [21 June 1879 — 14 October 1930] was a pop song lyricist. He co-wrote many hits during the years from 1900 — 1929, often collaborating with Turner Layton, with whom he also appeared in vaudeville. Creamer was a co-founder with James Reese Europe of the Clef Club, an important early African American musicians and entertainers organization in New York City. Mae worked with the Clef Club in the early 1920s.
• • In 1918, Henry Creamer wrote the words for the hit "After You've Gone" — — an enduring classic and every major artist has covered it.
• • Mae West performed "After You've Gone" in "Sextette" [1978], a song she fondly remembered from her New York years when she frequented the hottest night spots in Harlem.
• • And on the LP "The Fabulous Mae West," Mae recorded "If I Could Be with You (One Hour Tonight)," a favorite written in 1926 by lyricist Henry Creamer and the black composer and pianist James P. Johnson.
• • Henry Creamer died in New York City in the month of October — — on 14 October 1930. He was 51 years old.
• • On 14 October 1937 • •
• • Members of the news media in Los Angeles received a press invitation to "Mae West and Friends" for George Rector's afternoon tea, from 5 to 7. This event took place on Thursday, 14 October 1937 at Major Studios, which was located here in 1937: 1040 N. Las Palmas.
• • Mae appeared with restaurateur George Rector in the motion picture "Every Day's a Holiday." The set was built to look like the inside of Rector's once located in the Times Square area. Mae said that her parents had taken her to dine there when she was a little girl. The dignified restaurant owner stayed busy in his retirement years; he went on to produce best selling cookbooks.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "I'm a pretty good observer myself. I like to study character, especially where men are concerned. But as you know, I've got a reputation for that. ..." [personal letter in 1949 written in Manhattan on hotel stationery]
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article in The New York Times discussed Mae West on 14 October 1933.
• • The movie critic wrote: Arrayed in a variety of costumes which set off her sinuous form, Mae West is appearing at the Paramount in her latest screen vehicle, "I'm No Angel," a title which, as might be surmised, fits the leading character. Here Miss West, who wrote the story herself from "suggestions contributed" by Lowell Brentano, is beheld as a circus beauty named Tira, who wins applause and admiration by risking her blond head in a lion's mouth twice daily.
• • It is a rapid-fire entertainment, with shameless but thoroughly contagious humor, and one in which Tira is always the mistress of the situation, whether it be in the cage with wild beasts, in her boudoir with admirers or in a court of law.
• • Tira is ever ready with a flip double entendre and she permits no skeleton to be found behind her cupboard doors. She has an emphatic personality, which proves a magnet for even social lights with millions. She receives costly presents, including diamond necklaces, but she is hardly a gold-digger. She refrains from posing, preferring to keep to her natural slangy speech in her journey through the story from a tent to a penthouse.
• • She admits that she has thrown discretion to the winds and she sometimes finds herself in an awkward predicament, but through a wily lawyer she succeeds in proving that she is guiltless. The feeble parts of this picture are those in which a criminal known as Slick is introduced. The less one sees of him the better one feels, for the production is interesting only as long as it proceeds on its merry route.
• • The glimpses of Tira making her impressive entry to the circus arena and then proceeding to the big cage with the roaring lions are depicted shrewdly. Tira does not actually stick her whole head in the lion's mouth, but contents herself by putting her face between the beast's jaws, which is quite enough. Even this is set forth with a certain degree of fun, and one feels that Tira probably has a pistol ready for an emergency and that other circus employes are ready to shoot in the event that the beast starts to close its mouth. But one is apt to wonder whether they could possibly be quick enough. Society among the spectators is thrilled, all except one snobbish girl, who is furious because her fiancé is very enthusiastic over the performer's courage — and her beauty.
• • Later there comes the time when Tira puts her fair head into a court of law as the plaintiff in a breach-of-promise case. She sues Jack Clayton, whom she really loves, for $1,000,000, and it is not Tira's artful counsel who wins the case, but the circus queen herself. She crossexamines the defendant's witnesses and turns their testimony in her own favor, the unusual proceeding being countenanced by a judge whose sympathy Tira wins with the utmost ease.
• • Miss West plays her part with the same brightness and naturalness that attended her second film rôle. There is no lack of spontaneity in her actions or in the utterance of her lines. She is a remarkable wit, after her fashion. Cary Grant is pleasing as Clayton and Walter Walker is excellent as the considerate old judge. Gregory Ratoff does well as Tira's lawyer. Wesley Ruggles has directed the film with his usual intelligence.
• • Source: Movie Review: "Mae West Reveals Herself as a Circus Queen in 'I'm No Angel' at the Paramount" written by a New York Times critic for The Times; first published on 14 October 1933
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2083rd 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.
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • with George Rector in 1937 • •
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