Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Mae West: First Anti-Hero

MAE WEST and W.C. Fields were among the silver screen's first anti-heroes, according to Allen Estrin, who reviewed films for a campus paper in Illinois. Let's investigate and see if you agree.
• • "Silver Screen" • •
• • Allen Estrin wrote:  Mae West and W. C. Fields made only one film together, "My Little Chickadee."  Both West and Fields were among the first anti-heroes. Their physical appearance contrary to Hollywood hero patterns, their lewd wisecracks, reckless nature, and pretensions were the basis of their anti-establishment characters.
• • Classic bad film • •
• • Allen Estrin continued:  This film is a classic bad film, and you have to be patient for Fields and West's subtle cracks.
• • Allen Estrin noted:  Mae West was at her prime in the pre-Breen code (Hollywood censors) days when she freely spouted lines like this: "Is that a rod [sic], or are you just happy to see me?" The censors banned such banalities after 1933 and Mae was severely restricted after that. Midnight Friday and Saturday at Lincoln Hall.
• • Source:  The Daily Illini; published on Friday, 2 February 1973.
• • On Wednesday, 2 February 1927 • •
• • Pole-vaulted out of the ghetto of the clubby entertainment section, Mae West suddenly became notoriously noteworthy in national news headlines on Wednesday, 2 February 1927 in The New York Times (and elsewhere).
• • On Tuesday, February 1st at 5:00 AM, the Brooklyn bombshell was arrested along with her sister and the director Edward Elsner in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
• • According to The New York Times: Edwin [sic] Elsner of New York, stage director of "The Drag," which opened here last night, and Miss Beverly West of New York, sister of Mae West, author of the play, were arrested at 5:30 o'clock this morning in Miss West's room at the Arcade Hotel and will be arraigned in the City Court on Wednesday on technical charges of breach of the peace.
• • The arrest at the Arcade Hotel is dramatized in the play "Courting Mae West." Beverly's drunken antics and Mae's strategies are featured in Act I, Scene 2 in this serious-minded comedy based on true events. Producers and ambitious directors seeking good material that attracts an audience, please take note.
• • On Thursday, 2 February 1933 with Rudy Vallee • •
• • The collection "Mae West — Original Radio Broadcasts" includes her rendition of "Frankie and Johnny" which was aired on "The Rudy Vallee Show" on Thursday, 2 Febru­ary 1933.
• • On Wednesday, 2 February 1938 in Variety • •
• • Though "Every Day's a Holiday" did not do big numbers in certain cities, ticket receipts totaling $57,000 at the box office in New York City would indicate that Mae West definitely attracted a full house in her hometown.
• • Variety's headline was "Benny Goodman — West Boffo B'way for $57,000" [Variety Magazine on 2 February 1938].
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Zola's Nana is, like Mae West, a song and dance lady.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said:  "Is that a gun in your pocket — — or are you glad to see me?"
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • A Palm Springs newspaper mentioned Mae West.
• • "Art Lasky, Former Ring Figure, Opens Office Here" • •
• • Art Lasky opened his first office in Hollywood where he became well known by treating top movie celebrities such as Mae West, Clark Gable, Robert Taylor, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, and Richard Arlen. 
• • In his offices, located at 457 North Palm Canyon Drive in the Hotel Penthouse building, Lasky said, "I wanted someday to come to Palm Springs and set up a practice. I came to really like the desert when I used to come here to train as a fighter.” ...
• • Source: Item in The Desert Sun; published on Monday, 2 February 1953
• • The Mae West Blog celebrates its 11th anniversary • •    
• • Thank you for reading, sending questions, and posting comments during these past eleven years. The other day we entertained 3,497 visitors. And we reached a milestone recently when we completed 3,300 blog posts. Wow! 
• • By the Numbers • • 
• • The Mae West Blog was started ten years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 3368th 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: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/

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• • Photo:
• • Mae West • in 1935

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