Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mae West: Miles of Smiles

• • Come Up Sometime in The New Year • •
• • To the loyal followers of the MAE WEST BLOG, as well as all the wonderful "drive by" readers, may you ring in the year 2012 with an abundance of joy and high spirits, and may every day be meaningful and well-spent.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "So far as plots are concerned, I have gathered them by the hundreds in my years of stage experience. The rule that 'the plot is the thing' still holds good. As particular as I am with selection of characters and their dialogue, I realize that the story must hold together. It must build and never let down."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema focused on Mae West.
• • "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful." — — Mae West on her signature look.
• • Cynthia Robins wrote: As movie goddesses go, Mae West was not your typical soigne swan. But her image was so unforgettable and her movies so profitable, it has been said, rightly or wrongly, that she saved Paramount Studio. Born in 1893, she was 5 when she started in vaudeville and was a fairly creaky 38 when she came to Hollywood to star with George Raft in "Night After Night." . . .
• • Cynthia Robins gave this background: With the development of Panchromatic film, moviemakers reveled in high- contrast black-and-white images. Clothing was satiny and body-hugging, betraying more secrets of the breasts and hips of its stars than pre-Code Hollywood's access to acres of bare skin. Max Factor and the Westmore Brothers perfected makeup that obliterated all flaws and made faces, 40 feet high on screen, look as if they'd been airbrushed. Lips were so deep red, they were black; eyebrows were plucked to within a hair's breadth, giving the face the ironic attitude of the upper-class British snob (Merle Oberon and Norma Shearer) or wiseacre babe (Carole Lombard and Jean Harlow) who could archly levitate herself in and out of screwball situations.
• • Cynthia Robins continued: The one who didn't fit was Mae West, perhaps the exception who proved the rule. While she had been a major vaudeville and stage presence, writing her own provocatively titled plays ("Sex" caused a scandal in 1927, and "Diamond Lil" in 1928 cemented her bawdy lady image), when she came to Hollywood she wasn't slim and slinky like Marlene Dietrich, nor was she heart-stoppingly gorgeous like Greta Garbo. In fact, she had rather short, plump legs, a thick middle that had to be manipulated by boned corsets — — while all of her sisters in silk eschewed underwear entirely — — and a chest less than voluptuous, even if her support system pulled, pushed and elevated it to mythic status.
• • Cynthia Robins added: Mae West was smart enough to take the elements of 1930s glamour queen style — — the satin clothes, the platinum hair of Harlow, the superciliously thin, highly arched brow of Dietrich, the boop-a-doop mouth of Clara Bow — — and tweak them into caricature. When Harlow became the Platinum Blonde in 1931, Mae soon followed suit in 1932's "Night After Night" (and about which it was said she stole everything but the cameras) and 1933's "She Done Him Wrong." When Dietrich plucked her brows into virtual flea circus tightropes, Mae's own brows thinned appreciably. In fact, nobody's hair was blonder, no one's face reflected more irony, and nobody's mouth was wiser. . . .
• • Source: Article: "The Secret to Mae West's Style" written by Cynthia Robins, San Francisco Chronicle Beauty Writer for The San Francisco Chronicle; published on 15 April 2001
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2162nd 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 • • "Every Day's a Holiday" in 1937 • •
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  1. R. Mark Desjardins1:35 PM

    A very shrewd and bang on evaluation of Mae West. She truly is one of, if not the most intriguing women of the 20th century. Thank you for all your hard work tracking down bits of news and items of interest on Mae West. Your efforts are greatly appreciated by her legions of fans.

  2. Anonymous6:19 PM

    Hi -

    Hoping you can help me...I collect movie memorabilia and recently purchased an original Edith Head costume design of Mae - I'm not sure which film it's from but believe to be one of her 1970's films. Could I send you a photo and perhaps you can help identify?
    Thanks in advance for your time and expertise.
    David - Los Angeles, CA
    davidw3001- at -

  3. • • • • Paddy Calistro is the publisher and Editor-in-Chief at Angel City Press in Santa Monica, Calif.
    • • • •
    • • • • She wrote a book on Edith Head and she has a huge collection of PHOTOGRAPHS of most (or all) of Edith's costumes. Look up her phone # in California and arrange a visit.