Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mae West: Quits

It was Wednesday on 15 January 1936 and MAE WEST was feeling an evil breeze ruffling her feathered boa.
• • Her ally Emanuel Cohen [1892 — 1977] had packed up his bags at Paramount, which started to feel as cozy and congenial as the North Pole under the new studio boss Ernst Lubitsch [1892 — 1947].
• • Before long Variety Magazine was reporting doom and gloom on Hollywood and Vine. According to Variety — — in their issue dated for 15 January 1936 — — Mae West had been warned that she must strictly follow orders and that Paramount's production chief would not tolerate any challenges or deviations. Several directors found letters to that effect in their mailboxes as well.
• • Mae West Quits Studio • •
• • By early March it was getting even more contentious. On 5 March 1936 The N.Y. Times carried this article, penned by an Associated Press stringer in Los Angeles: "Mae West Quits Studio — She and Paramount Accuse Each Other of Breaking Contract." The reporter began the story like this: HOLLYWOOD, Calif., March 5 (AP). — — Mae West and the Paramount studio jointly accused each other of voiding her movie contract today. Out of a welter of conflicting statements, only one fact seemed clear — — that she would make her next picture for another company. ...
• • There were fireworks but some amends would be made, eventually. "Klondike Annie" was released in the USA by Paramount on 21 February 1936, as planned, before Lubitsch came aboard. However, later the same year, "Go West Young Man" (released on 18 November 1936 in the USA) was made by Emanuel Cohen Productions (as Major Pictures Corp.) and only distributed by Paramount Pictures. The same arrangement was in place for "Every Day's a Holiday" [1937]. But then a final upheaval would take place in early 1938 and rob Mae of the warm familiar embrace of a major studio.
• • Mae is probably the first woman who dared to inform Ernst Lubitsch that "William Shakespeare had his style — — and I have mine."
• • William Beckley • •
• • Before she began scripting her own material, Mae West was invariably cast as an Irish maid in Broadway shows and revues.
• • Always one to make sure that as many extras were working as possible, Mae would boost the cast number for any project she was able to. If a leading lady typically had one maid in a scene, Mae would try to get more actresses on the payroll.
• • Certain actors, too, were often typecast as servants, valets, or hotel staff. For instance, William Francis Beckley, who played the desk clerk in "Sextette," is best known for his role as Gerard the butler in "Dynasty," the TV series.
• • William Beckley was born in London, England in mid-January — — on 15 January 1930. We wish him a very happy birthday today. He is 82.
• • On Saturday, 15 January 1938 in the N.Y. Times • •
• • Anyone passing a newsboy in New York City on Saturday morning on 15 January 1938 could see this page one headline on a New York Times: "Mae West Script Brings Sharp Rebuke from FCC." Of course, it was Arch Obler who penned the skit for NBC. Mae West only read it for the radio with her sultry overtones and was instantly demonized by the Roman Catholic organizations. The censors pressed in on her, tighter and more uncomfortable than her corset stays.
• • On Sunday, 15 January 2012 in Australia • •
• • The 24th Midsumma festival will run from Sunday 15 January to Sunday 5 February, 2012.
• • "COURTING MAE WEST: Sex, Censorship, and Secrets" will be presented on Saturday, 28 January 2012 in Melbourne, Australia as part of the city's 24th Midsumma Festival. Based on true events during the Prohibition Era, LindaAnn Loschiavo's serious-minded comedy will be seen at this centrally located theatre: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran Melbourne, Australia.
• • WHAT: "Courting Mae West: Sex, Censorship & Secrets" — based on true events during the Prohibition Era
• • WHEN: Saturday, 28 January 2012 at 2.00pm
• • WHERE: Midsumma Playing-In-The-Raw at The Chapel [Melbourne, Australia]
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said this in "Courting Mae West" — a brief excerpt from ACT II, Scene 1
• • • BACKGROUND: It's October 1928 and TEXAS GUINAN visits MAE WEST's dressing room at the Royale Theatre to warn her that the NYC police will raid the premiere of "Pleasure Man" at the Biltmore Theatre and shut it down tonight. TEXAS advises MAE to manipulate the media by playing the downtrodden damsel in distress to evoke sympathy.
• • • MAE WEST: Mae West doesn’t do PATHETIC. (pause) Tex, what can be done to trouble-shoot this?
• • • TEXAS GUINAN: Honey-child, the problem with trouble-shooting is that, invariably, trouble shoots back.
• • • MAE WEST: Aww! My butterflies just went into battle formation. Diamond Lil goes on in thirty minutes. ...
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An art review on the exhibition of a British artist mentioned Mae West.
• • Andrew Graham Dixon writes: The exhibition at Pallant House sets the seal on this sudden resurgence in his critical fortunes, establishing him as one of the more fascinatingly singular and darkly imaginative British artists of the 20th century. Burra’s most highly prized work has until now been that of his earlier career, when he was at his most determinedly peripatetic, travelling to Paris and the south of France, as well as Spain, America and Mexico. After each trip, he would return to his boyhood home in the quiet Sussex town of Rye (“Tinkerbell Town” he called it with affectionate mock-contempt), where he also kept a studio.
• • Andrew Graham Dixon notes: Most of his earlier pictures were created there — — wry, lightly caricatural portrayals of the diverse milieus to which the artist felt drawn. Les Folies de Belleville, of 1928, is Burra’s characteristically camp celebration of the joys of the Parisian music hall: a troupe of scantily clad dancers flaunt their sexuality with such grim, impersonal intensity, they might almost be a chorus line of robots.
• • Andrew Graham Dixon continues: An air of noontime ennui hangs over Dockside Café, Marseilles (1929), as one matelot flirts with a pair of predatory barmaids while another puffs at his cigarette with an expression of faintly menacing boredom.
• • Andrew Graham Dixon explains: In Mae West (1934 — 1935), the feather-crowned film star floats across acres of cheap patterned cinema carpet. A screen goddess, gracing her own premiere, she wears a voluminous white diamanté ball gown while flashing the pearly smile of Hollywood’s number one vamp.
• • “He loved naughtiness,” the jazz musician George Melly once observed of Edward Burra. “He enjoyed depravity and bathed it in a glamorous eccentric light.” The remark is true, up to a point. A great shift occurred in the artist’s work during the second half of the Thirties. ...
• • Source: Art Review: "Edward Burra, at Pallant House, Chichester, Seven magazine review" written by Andrew Graham Dixon for The Sunday Telegraph [UK]; published on 13 January 2012
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2178th 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 • in 1930 • •
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