Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"I see a man in your life." -- "What, only one?"

Another actress first for me... Mae West! I've seen clips of her all my life, but never watched a complete film. She's so instantly recognizable, so cariactured she's almost a cartoon figure, and yet there's a whole lot more to her in a full movie. She's pretty, fun and saucy, smart, and actually rather stand-offish with her men. More flirt and talk than action. And despite the patented way of talking, she's unexpectedly genuine. I liked her a lot!

I watched two films, Night After Night (1932) and I'm No Angel (1933), off disc 1 of the "Mae West: The Glamour Collection" dvds. I netflixed the disc for Night After Night, which is a George Raft movie, and was actually going to skip the second film. Mostly because Cary Grant is in it, and while I like older Cary Grant, he just bugs me when he's really young. So, I put it on only to see how it started and then saw the following credit:

Well, then I had to leave it on. Story, screenplay, and dialogue by Mae West? That I wanted to see! I'm not sure how many "Suggestions" there were from Lowell Brentano, but it was a quite amusing film, with a witty script, full of snappy one-liners and trouble and love. It suited her perfectly and I'd like to think most of it was hers. I particularly like her character's knick knack shelf, where she keeps pictures of her various suitors next to animal figurines that match their personality: skunks, snakes, etc. Hee. The courtroom scene is unorthodox but note perfect for Mae West and a highlight of the film.

Night After Night was also amusing, but not as good, mostly because I really disliked the Park Avenue broad slumming around George's speakeasy, looking for a "pirate." Of course, he ends up falling for her. Gah! No no no. She needed to go. She was annoying and full of all the wrong kind of airs. George was way too smart and interesting and funny to fall for a dumb dame like her. But the best parts of the film had nothing to do with her, cuz the best parts of the film belong to Alison Skipworth. She played Miss Jellyman, a matronly school teacher George hires to teach him how to be an educated gentleman. Their scenes are hilarious, and even better... her scenes with Mae West. Boy, those two together are priceless. Alison Skipworth definitely steals the movie. I love her! According to IMDb, she was 69 when she made this movie, but I would have guessed her younger.

(Mae West in I'm No Angel -- love her smile!)


  1. I'll have to add these to my Netflix queue.. the only Mae West movie I've seen is My Little Chicakdee, and I really don't like WC Fields, but Mae West was great in it.

    Wow, someone else with that Cary Grant opinion! I seriously think he was like wine, he got better with age. My favorites of his are actually the 1950's, in color (strange because I'm such a b/w fan!) He just looks better in those movies :)

  2. You know, I don't think I've ever seen a whole Mae West movie...though I did watch part of one -- the one with Cary Grant -- and I really didn't like it, so I've always thought, "Oh, I don't like Mae West..." but honestly, I should give her more of a chance. The way you describe her, she sounds delightful! :)

    And I'm kinda the same way as you and Kate on Cary Grant: except I really like him from 1940 and up; most of his stuff from the '30s is a bit hard to take.


    This is a really funny write-up, dKoren! Glad to hear you're still enjoying George Raft. :)

  3. Oh, I wanted to ask you: have you seen BERLIN CORRESPONDENT?

    I watched it for the first time the other morning...Dana reminded me of Clark Gable, with that little mustache. And did you notice his legs (when he was in underwear): yikes! I think they were disappointing. I always imagined Dana's legs would be much more manly. They were, weren't they? In FROGMEN. I think I recall thinking Dana looked sexy in his little swimming-trunks.

    Sorry. I'll be quiet now... ;)

  4. Kate - yes, I agree. Cary Grant does nothing but improve with age. I always liked his looks best in Operation Petticoat and To Catch A Thief. He's great in Philadelphia Story, so I also tend to think he comes into his own from the 1940's on... (though I do like Bringing up Baby, which is earlier). But those really early ones? He just wigs me out a bit.


    Ginger - I don't like the circus stuff in I'm No Angel. Circus stuff bothers me, so I had to get past that before I relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the film. I think it helped that I watched Night After Night first, because she's only in about 15-20 minutes of it. It was like a prep-film. (And she's cooler in that one, too) Then I was ready for the next one where she's in just about every scene. :-D

    And yes, I still can't get enough George Raft. Obsession very much still in full swing. Except I'm just about out of available DVDs, sigh.

    And yep, I've seen Berlin Correspondent. Funny little movie. He cracks me up when he has a moustache! Without putting in on again, I just remember that he was oh-so-young and still a bit scrawny, whereas in Frogmen, he'd bulked up a bit with age and, yeah, was quite manly and sexy in his swim trunks. :-D

  5. What's this I hear about a LiveJournal with Randolph Scott in the header?? ;)

    Kidding. I'd be interested to see it.

    I hope you're doing well. :)

  6. hahah! Okay, you asked for it... Really, it lets me look at my beloved Sierra Mountains, Joel McCrea, and is a reminder of one of my favorite Westerns.

    It's a 95% friends-locked journal for personal stuff, so what's visible is probably really boring.