Friday, February 10, 2012

Mae West: Myra in Manhattan

"Myra Breckinridge" [1970] starring MAE WEST, and directed by Michael Sarne, was a curious 94 minute adaptation of Gore Vidal's novel.
• •
When they co-starred together, Mae West was 77 years old and Raquel Welch was 29. Born on 5 September 1940, the former model is 71 years old now.
• • Raquel Welch grew up as Raquel Tejada in San Diego. The retrospective of her cinema career in Manhattan will begin today and will last for an entire five days. “I had read the novel by Gore Vidal and I thought it was very, very entertaining and kind of a little ahead of the times, you know, issues of sexual duality and everything,” Raquel Welch told a reporter. “So I was anxious to be considered for the role and I told Fox, ‘I don’t know what kind of girl you’re looking for, but I know what Myra represents, about America and Hollywood, and I’d love to do it.’ But the movie they made was not the movie I thought it was going to be.” Mae West would probably agree with that last statement.
• • The film bombed. Time Magazine declared it “about as funny as a child molester.” Looking back at her involvement, Raquel Welch referred to the project as “heartbreaking.”
• • Programmer Josh Strauss noted: One of the most notorious Hollywood attempts to shake things up in the wake of the Sixties was this adaptation of Gore Vidal’s rambunctious satirical novel. Raquel stars as Myra, a brilliant whirlwind who installs herself at an eccentric acting school run by her uncle (John Huston) and proceeds to seduce an all-American student and his girlfriend (Farrah Fawcett). Myra, of course, begins life as Myron (played by New York Observer critic Rex Reed), who, after a Fellini-esque operation, continues to appear to Myra as the film goes on. Adding to the eye-popping proceedings are musical numbers starring 76-year-old Mae West as a sexpot casting agent flanked by dancers, and the fascinating interpolation of old film clips from classic 20th Century Fox productions.
• • Programmer Josh Strauss explained: For five days Film Society is delighted to bring back to the big screen a showcase of rarely screened mainstream classics all on the best projection formats available with the lady herself here to talk about them.
• • Mr. Strauss's most puzzling piece of puffery is his praise of Miss Welch's exquisite (ahem) organic beauty. If extensive plastic surgery and oversized silicone breast implants are "organic," then beware of that "organic" popcorn being sold at the concession stand at the Walter Reade Theatre this weekend.
• • WHAT: "Myra Breckinridge" [1970] shown as part of this retrospective series: "Cinematic Goddess: American Sex Symbol, The Films of Raquel Welch"
• • WHAT ELSE: Raquel Welch in person for a Q&A preceding the February 10 screening, moderated by author, fashion commentator, and window-dresser Simon Doonan, who wrote "Wacky Chicks."
• • WHEN: Screens on Friday, 10 February 2012 at 6:15 PM and again on Monday, 13 February at 4:00 PM. Raquel Welch will participate in a Q&A following the screening on the 10th.
• • WHERE: Walter Reade Theatre, 165 West 65th Street, NYC; T (212) 875-5600.
• • PHOTO: Raquel Welch as she looks today at 71 years old. This September she will be 72.
• • On Friday, 10 February 1933 in The New York Times • •
• • An article on "She Done Him Wrong" was published in The New York Times on 10 February 1933.
• • Signed with the byline A. D. S., the Times reviewer described Mae's character Lady Lou as a woman "whose heart is bigger than her sense of decorum."
• • On Monday, 10 February 1936 in Hollywood • •
• • Joseph Breen wrote to Paramount Pictures about Mae West and "Klondike Annie" several times before he agreed on Monday, 10 February 1936 to the film's release.
• • On Tuesday, 10 February 2009 • •
• • A book about Mae West "She Always Knew How: Mae West, A Personal Biography" by Charlotte Chandler was published in its hardcover edition (336 pages) by Simon & Schuster on 10 February 2009.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Censorship made me."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article in Out discussed "Myra Breckinridge" and Mae West.
• • Out noted: Actress Raquel Welch calls her 1970 film version of "Myra Breckinridge," in which she played a transgender woman, a "stinker" and hopes someone remakes it as the "funny and erudite" movie it should be, in an interview with Out.
• • Jeremy Kinser writes: The iconic star will be the subject of a retrospective of her films at Lincoln Center in New York February 10 — 14 and says her costar Mae West, with whom she reportedly feuded while making the film adaptation of Gore Vidal's best selling novel, was unhappy on the set. Welch recalls a visit to West's home prior to filming. While West was often surrounded by a bevy of musclemen, none were present when Welch stopped by. "But a lot of white furniture," Welch says." A lot of 25-watt pink bulbs around. You could barely see! She was something…" ...
• • Source: Article: "Raquel Welch on Myra Breckinridge, Mae West, and Janis Joplin" written by Jeremy Kinser for Out; posted on 9 February 2012
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2205th 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 • with Raquel Welch in 1970 • •
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