Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mae West: No Fanfare

Was MAE WEST like the characters she portrayed?
• • A leisurely article (317 words) published Down Under on Saturday, 26 February 1938 discussed in great detail all the ways the real woman was nothing like the fictional females she played.
• • The Mirror (in Perth, Australia) wrote: Mae West's characterisation of a motion picture star in "Go West Young Man," the hilarious comedy, which will be screening at the Grand Theatre, Friday next, March 4, strangely enough, is entirely unlike her own life as an outstanding film luminary.
• • The Mirror gave several examples. Here's one: "Go West Young Man" portrays a film star's touring paraphernalia as extremely elaborate, but the real Mae West journeyed to Corona, California for her first ''location" scenes of the picture, in simple fashion. Accompanied only by her driver and personal maid, Miss West's arrival was inconspicuous, and her departure the same — — a decided contrast to the film role (Mavis Arden) she portrays.
• • Here's another example the Mirror printed: In the film, the curvaceous star is driven about in a $25,000 dollar imported sedan — — the most elaborate equipage that could be found on the Pacific Coast. It belongs, incidentally, to another film personage [Constance Bennett]. Actually, however, the off-screen Mae West has stock model automobiles distinctly minus elaborate trappings. ... The throngs of fans surrounding the Triangle A ranch near Corona did not, in fact, recognise Mae West's car until some time after the star had arrived. Further, her characterisation requires that Mavis Arden appears as an extremely self-centered person, while her co-workers in the studio are unanimous in declaring that Miss West in real life is one of the most "regular" people in the film industry.
• • Here's a final example from the Mirror: While on location, Miss West stopped at the famous Norconian Club, a mecca for Eastern tourists. Contrary to the fictionised activities of stars, Miss West's stay at the hotel was marked primarily by lack of display. She mingled freely with the guests — — many of whom were unaware that Hollywood's leading name was among them. ...
• • Source: Article: "Go West Young Man" Mae West Stars in Coming Paramount Attraction printed in the Mirror (Perth, Australia) on page 24, on Saturday, 26 February 1938.
• • G. P. Huntley [26 February 1904 — 26 June 1971] • •
• • Mae West worked with several Broadway veterans in her motion picture "Go West Young Man" [1936], the cinema version of a blockbuster hit onstage.
• • Stage star G. P. Huntley was briefly seen as Philip in the "Drifting Lady" sequence. Born in Boston on 26 February 1904, Bruce Timothy Huntley was the son of two stage players G. P. Huntley (1868 — 1927) and Eva Kelly (1880 — 1948). During his long tenure on The Great White Way, the versatile performer was seen in musicals, Shakespearean tragedies, weepy melodramas, and romantic comedies such as "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" [1926].
• • By 1931 the six-footer had ventured into cinematic fare and was seen in 38 motion pictures such as "Two-Faced Woman" [1941] with Garbo. His final role on the big screen was as Rugged in "Journey for Margaret" [1942] when he was 38 years old. G. P. Huntley died in Woodland Hills, California on 26 June 1971. He was 67.
• • February 1934 issue of Billboard • •
• • The February 1934 issue of Billboard ran this headline: "Mae West's Court Duties Delay 'It Ain't No Sin'" and the article provided an update: Production on the Mae West picture, "It Ain't No Sin," will not get under way at Paramount next week, as was planned. Miss West, who is writing the script herself, has been kept busy at court for the past week and has been unable to finish the script. The date set for production now is February 12. George Raft is slated for the male lead and Leo McCarey will direct.
• • Complications to this scheme were revealed on another page: Charles Rogers' scrap with Paramount over getting the people he wants for his pictures has again resulted in his placing a yarn on the shelf. This is "Nick the Greek," which had been built with hopes of George Raft being set for the lead. Instead Paramount shifted Raft into the Mae West picture, "It Ain't No Sin."
• • Further on, Mae's fans learned: Sam Coslow will act and sing his own song as well in "It Ain't No Sin," Mae West's next picture for Paramount which Leo McCarey directs.
• • Warners hope they have another Mae West in Barbara Blair — — the gal writes all her own material, too.
• • In February 1934 on Newsstands • •
• • "Mae West Loses Her Man" in Screen Book • •
• • The Hollywood Reporter wrote: Screen Book for February (1934) has a slight edge over Screenland. Art is better, and the writers took a little more time over their stories. Helen Louise Walker has two good yarns, "Alice White Starts Another Fight" and "I'll Never Be Afraid Again" (Claudette Colbert). Dena Reed also has two stories, "Mae West Loses Her Man" and "The Ultimate in Entertainment." . . . [text from The Hollywood Reporter, 5 February 1934]
• • Silver Screen for February 1934 ran an article written by Patricia Keats: "The Four Big Shots of Hollywood" (Mae West, Janet Gaynor, Katharine Hepburn, and Marie Dressler).
• • In Silver Play for February 1934, journalist Wilbur Morse, Jr. took readers through the police investigation in Hollywood and described how the jewel thieves were captured in his piece "Mae West Got Her Men."
• • New Movie's February issue offered Dorothy Manners's take on "Mae West's Perfect Day," and the cover price was a dime.
• • In Movie Mirror's February issue the editors ran the third installment of "Mae West's Life Story" by Harry Lang.
• • The February Movie Classic continued Ruth Biery's often-quoted interview with Mae, "The Private Life of Mae West"; this was the second part in a series of three segments.
• • Finale on Saturday, 26 February 1949 • •
• • A revival "Diamond Lil" opened at the Coronet Theatre [5 February 1949 — 26 February 1949] on Broadway. Though the curtain came down on February 26th in Manhattan, Mae kept touring.
• • The Coronet at 230 W. 49th St., New York, NY was renamed the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in 1959.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "And now do you want to hear what I think of the men who support me in the cast of 'Go West, Young Man' — — Warren William, Randolph Scott, Lyle Talbot, high-class guys with plenty of individuality!"
• • Mae West said: "Have your face lifted if necessary. It's easier to lift a sagging chin than to lift the mortgage on a sagging romance."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article about censorship and "dirt" in movies defended Mae West.
• • This "Letter to the Editors" was written by John F. Goodrich in 1934.
• • Dear Hollywood Reporter:
• • Your Kansas exhibitor, writing of dirt in pictures, is right. He's right from a psychological as well as a practical viewpoint. To me, one of the most amazing things about pictures is the appalling waste of money due to the producers' disinclination — — even flat refusal — — to profit by well established psychological laws of group reactions to given situations. Don't they know that for years scientists have been analyzing mental reactions in laboratories just as precise as chemical laboratories, and that, through these far- flung and minutely recorded observations, definite laws have been established, as constant as the laws of physics? . . .
• • . . . Any intelligent psychologist will tell them that there is a natural tendency towards vulgarity and commonness in every man and woman. . . . The more these tendencies are held in check the greater the enjoyment of seeing and hearing vulgarity and commonness.
• • Mae West is presenting what an audience would like to do and say but dare not • •
• • A man loves to see the curves of another man's wife, but he wants his own wife on the square. Therein lies the success of the Mae West pictures. I am not, in any way, casting any criticisms on Mae West personally, but she is the luscious personification of the common and vulgar. Therefore, any censure that may fall on her personality or her pictures is unfair to her. The censure should fall upon the minds of the audience, because Mae West is presenting in a perfectly natural way what the people in the audience would like to do and say but dare not.
• • The motion picture producers see Mae West get away with it and immediately jump to the conclusion that it is what Mae is saying that counts, but in this they are childishly wrong. Mae West saying and doing something is all right; Loretta Young or Janet Gaynor saying and doing the same thing is immoral and dirty. Why? Because Mae West is established as a definite norm of action and thought. Loretta and Janet are definitely established as other norms of entirely different characters.
• • There is a natural place for dirt . . . • •
• • Therefore, when the producer forces a sweet young girl to do things that are all right and proper for Mae West to do, there is but one reaction in the minds of the audience — — some foul-minded employer is prostituting a sweet young thing. There is a natural place for dirt, in its place it is enjoyed by all. Out of its place it is censured justly. If the producers would subject their pictures to an intelligent, scientific, psychological analysis, all dirt would be allocated to its proper environment and to proper characters and not only would such dirt be entertaining, but censure would be absent.
• • Your Kansas exhibitor spoke wisely when he defined dirt as anything out of place. The problem is a simple one: don't show anything or say anything out of place and there is no dirt. . . . The means to eradicate censure are at the producers' hands — — will they accept them?
• • Source: Open Forum: "Dear Editors" written by John F. Goodrich to The Hollywood Reporter; published on page 7, on 28 April 1934
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2221st 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 • Mavis Arden's car, 1936 • •
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1 comment:

  1. Wow, it amazes me has to how much information you have collected over the years. It's soooo good! Keep up the good work.