The latest MAE WEST motion picture was seen by the "Screenings" columnist S.J.G. who attended Columbia University (when he wasn't hanging out in New York City movie houses). Here's the viewpoint of an Ivy League student in 1933. It's obvious S.J.G. saw the stage play because, while Gus Gordon is into white slavery in the playscript, Paramount neutralized his mercenary enterprise to that of a counterfeiter in the film. Bah.
• • "She Done Him Wrong" — Paramount • •
• • S.J.G. wrote: "The Bowery, the Bowery the things they do and the things they say," they're all there in "She Done Him Wrong," the saga of Diamond Lou, "the finest woman who ever walked the streets," by her own admission. With Mae West, originator of the stage role, taking the part of Lou, that red-hot mama of the Gay Nineties, the Paramount presents a film which is making the S.R.0. sign useful again.
• • Diamond Lou was a wise woman, wise enough to know that "when women go wrong, men go right after them," and she never forgot this practical motto. To her a man was a meal-ticket who was satisfied with caresses; she was no thrifty one with hers. Chick Clark, who was sent up for ten years, but escaped to die at the bidding of Lou; Gus Jordan, boss of the ward and white-slaver on the side; Dan Flynn, who wanted to displace Jordan in ward and affections; Serge Stanieff, gigolo for the madame of the white-slave ring; or Captain Cummings, the "dick" whom they called the Hawk — each one displaced the other in the arms of the Bowery Queen.
• • With all these stock characters of the Nineties, the producers did not forget the atmosphere. They made a good job of it and not a bubble of beer foam nor a policeman's hat is out of character; the prisoners at the penitentiary even wear striped uniforms and the feathers on those monstrosities which women called hats actually look like the outer accoutrements of an ostrich.
• • Perfection Incarnate • •
• • Mae West performs her role of Lou with amazing skill and with that incomparable charm that makes a melodramatic plot seem real. Her rendition of some Bowery songs, including the proverbial "Frankie and Johnny" is perfection incarnate. Needless to say her frequent curves make the modern "eighteen-day dieter" look like a mere morsel of flesh and bone.
• • The remainder of the cast seems to have captured the spirit of Miss West and it has succeeded in rounding out the film into one of the most enjoyable which Broadway has seen since the advent of the talkies. — — S.J.G.
• • Source: "Screenings" column in Columbia Daily Spectator, Wednesday, 15 February 1933.
• • On Tuesday, 15 February 1927 in Manhattan • •
• • In New York City on 15 February 1927 there had been a hearing against "Sex" in the Magistrate's Court, closely followed by The New York Times and other newspapers.
• • It was on that Tuesday in mid-February that Mae West's obscenity trial officially began.
• • Police inspector James Bolan was called as a witness for the prosecution in West Side Special Sessions Court. "He produced a sheaf of yellow paper, adjusted his eyeglasses and read in a solemn tone that suggested a church service," went one newspaper account of the courtroom's activities published on 16 February 1927. "The inspector's lean, grave face ministered to the effect."
• • At the beginning of her trial, Mae West was still shuttling back and forth from Jefferson Market Court on Sixth Avenue in the daytime to Daly's 63rd Street Theatre in the evening to perform onstage in "Sex" — — eight times a week — — as usual. But there was nothing "usual" about this.
• • "Playing the publicity angle for all it was worth, the producers and the cast of 'Sex' applied for, and were granted, a jury trial instead of a trial before three judges in Special Session," wrote Emily Wortis Leider in Becoming Mae West. "In early March (1927) the grand jury returned an indictment against the management and part of the cast. Mae West and the other indicted cast members entered their plea: Not guilty."
• • "Courting Mae West" is a stage play that dramatizes these events. Interested?
• • On Saturday, 15 February 1936 in Motion Picture Herald • •
• • An article "Klondike Annie" was printed in Motion Picture Herald (page 44) in the issue dated for Saturday, 15 February 1936.
• • On Sunday, 15 February 2009 • •
• • Book reviewer Tricia Springstubb wrote: The sofa is gilt, covered in eggshell satin, and the extended hand is baby soft, dripping with diamonds. But look out. Those diamonds are "old-cut" and sharp enough to scratch your palm. According to Mae West, that's the best kind, and what better authority than Diamond Lil herself?
• • Book reviewer Tricia Springstubb continued: "She Always Knew How," a biography from Charlotte Chandler, reads like an extended conversation with this witty, provocative, surprisingly sweet woman, and it's hard to imagine better entertainment than the musings of a "girl who climbed the ladder of success, wrong by wrong." . . .
• • Source: Review: "Sexy, sassy and smart, Mae West ruled the screen and her own career" written by Tricia Springstubb for The Cleveland Plain Dealer; published on Sunday, 15 February 2009.
• • Overheard in Hollywood • •
• • Ruby Keeler, spotted on a Boulevard shopping tour, wore one of those naughty black satin Mae West-ish hats.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "When women go wrong, men go right after them."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • A syndicated columnist mentioned Mae West.
• • "Mae West Still Knows How to Steal the Show" • •
• • Wednesday, Hollywood, Los Angeles — — According to reporter Bob Thomas, this memorable evening was scheduled as a tribute to James Stewart, Mervyn Leroy, and Mae West. Predictably, Miss West stole the show. It was one of those annual banquets of the honorary cinema fraternity at the University of Southern California, and the gathering was a curious mixture of the academic and entertainment worlds. . . .
• • Source: Syndicated column written by Bob Thomas rpt in The Express (Lock Haven, PA) on page 12; published on Wednesday, 14 February 1968
• • The Mae West Blog celebrates its 11th anniversary • •
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