Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mae West: Massapequa Chickadee

"I have been approached by MAE WEST to consider collaborating," wrote W.C. Fields in 1935. "But I want my work to stand out individually. Besides Mae has the wrong slant on this thing [i.e., the bed]. She says she does her best writing in bed. Well, I do my best loafing there, and consider that this is the primary purpose of a bed."
• • The motion picture screenplay they eventually would create came about a few years later when the screen queen was no longer attached to Paramount Pictures and (no doubt) eager to return to making movies.
• • "My Little Chickadee" — — starring Mae West and W.C. Fields — — was officially released on 15 March 1940 and was booked in Manhattan at the prestigious Roxy; then located at 153 West 50th Street, this superbly appointed cathedral devoted to the cinema had first opened in 1927.
• • This classic screen comedy will be shown once today in a Long Island library. John Carpenter, who styles himself "The Massapequa Park Movie Man," has organized this event and will introduce the program. A poster collector will show the audience two reprints that were autographed by Mae West. The screening will be free.
• • WHAT: "My Little Chickadee" — — Runtime: 83 minutes.
• • WHEN: Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock on 12 November 2011
• • WHERE: Massapequa Park Library's Bar Harbour building: 40 Harbor Lane, Massapequa Park, N.Y. 11762; Tel (516) 799-0770
• • Tell them you heard about it on the Mae West Blog.
• • On 12 November 1939 • •
• • Production began for Mae West's motion picture "My Little Chickadee" on 12 November 1939.
• • She had first entered into negotiations for this project by the end of May 1939 with certain reservations due to her costar's reputation for hard drinking.
• • Earlier that month, W.C. Fields had submitted a script called "December and Mae." In this early draft, which was set in the 1880s, the two leads were wed (but in name only) and also the co-owners of a Western-style barroom. By summer the studio had roped Grover Jones, a professional screenwriter, into the deal. Fields found Grover's ideas both tame and lame — — and urged Mae to collaborate with him instead.
• • On 12 November 2007 in the Contra Costa Times • •
• • "Mae West's work as a dramatist will never be confused with that of, say, Thornton Wilder," observed staff writer Pat Craig [12 November 2007] in the Contra Costa Times.
• • To that we say, while Mae West was willing to be thrilling, it's a good bet that Thornton Wilder couldn't shimmy if his freakin' life depended on it.
• • On 12 November 2009 • •
• • Mae West's role in Diamond Lil was a crossword puzzle clue on Thursday, 12 November 2009 in The New York Times. The puzzle that day was called Five of Diamonds.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said this about men: "They're nature's greatest gift to women."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • From the movie's description, which mentioned Mae West.
• • Hal Erickson writes: The once-in-a-lifetime teaming of Mae West and W.C. Fields in My Little Chickadee had the potential for comic greatness: what emerged, though generally entertaining, was, in the words of critic Andrew Sarris, "more funny strange than funny ha-ha." Mae West dominates the film's first reel as Flower Belle Lee, a self-reliant woman who is abducted by a mysterious masked bandit during a stagecoach holdup. Because she refuses to tell anyone what happened during her nocturnal rendezvous with the bandit, Flower Belle is invited to leave her prudish hometown and move to Greasewood City. En route by train, Flower Belle makes the acquaintance of con-artist Cuthbert J. Twillie (W.C. Fields), who carries a suitcase full of what seems to be large-denomination monetary notes. After a lively clash with marauding Indians, Flower Belle tricks Twillie into a phony marriage; she does this so that she can arrive in Greasewood City with a modicum of respectability, and incidentally to get her hands on Twillie's bankroll. ...
• • Source: All Movie Guide written by Hal Erickson
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2112th 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 • • 1940 • •
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