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Anyone Watch American Masters-Mae West Dirty Blonde?


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I stayed up way past my bedtime to see this. For the most part is seemed to be just a big discussion about how "revolutionary" she was, very little information on who she was personally. (or I may have missed that, dozing off a few times)

As I understand it, Mae West was brought up in a rather unusual household- her Mother especially loved show business and often invited all sorts of performers into their home. Mae was exposed to serious thespians, strippers, musicians, acrobats, singers, etc of every shape, size & color. I suspect one of her motivations in women's equality was people equality, a result of her unusual upbringing. 

The doc mentioned her Mother doted on Mae but I didn't hear mention everyone in her family supported her career because Mae supported them monetarily their entire lives. She was a fascinating woman who lived during a fascinating time.

I'm not sure this documentary really brought that to light. Anyone Else?

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I think what it really brought to light was how difficult it was to bring anything to light about her, how difficult she was to know.  She claimed to only dwell on the positive and to put everything else out of her mind, but even an amateur thinker like me knows how that works: It doesn't. When the Production Code took over and the year ended with her being replaced by Shirley Temple at the box office, it must have really thrown her and I doubt she only saw the positive side to that.  I forget which of the interviewees said she basically had no friends, though her final relationship with Chester Rybinski seems to have been strong and enduring. What came through most for me was what a scrapper she was and how tenacious. And calculating; she was smart enough to look at what wasn't working for her and to change it, such as when she glammed up her persona to attract (very successfully) more women to her audiences. She seems to have made Adolph Zukor jump through hoops for her when she first came to Hollywood and won herself unheard of creative control, though it's true that Paramount was hanging by a thread and needed her as much as she needed them. She insisted on using black actresses, which gave them work and exposure, but always as identifiable subordinates (usually maids) and always with the banter and camaraderie focused on herself. In a way it's understandable that in her later career there were rumors that she was really a man, which goes to show how little of herself she had given to the public other than the tightly controlled image. 

Overall, I really liked the show (and Mae) and there were more that a few laugh-out-loud moments for me. I can't say I came away knowing more about her inner workings, but I was again reminded (as I am every time I watch her) of how much she added to the conversation.

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A bit late for me too.  I might just take the plunge and order the DVD from PBS.  They're good about that.  I too, might suggest their AMERICAN NATIVE documentaries on DVD.  VERY interesting and enlightening information.  :)

Sepiatone

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THE RED SKELTON HOUR 1960 – Before we go any further Ms. West may I feel free to ask you any question at all?

“Of course, but please use a little discretion, I understand the censor has a weak heart” – Mae West

We’d like to hear about some of the unusual men, the men who were off beat.

“Well, a smart girl never beats off any man.” – Mae West :lol:

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It was pretty good. I thought it odd they didnt mention her being on the Box Office Poison List of 38 or 39 from exhibitors. No mention of many of her later films except My Little Chickadee.  (The horrible Sextette and embarrassing Breckinridge were covered though)

Although Chester was devoted to her, she stiffed him in her will, he didnt get anything. That wasn't mentioned. I think she was a very self centered person. It's no wonder she had few friends. Everything revolved around her. That's all she cared about. Herself.

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I thought the documentary was very well done.  I liked how Mae didn't compromise on her vision for her characters/films.  I liked the self-confidence she had in her decisions.  I thought her one-liners were pretty funny and clever.  I thought it was interesting that Marlene Dietrich was one of her few Hollywood friends.  

I also think it's interesting that what was considered risque in the 20s-30s was still considered racy in the 50s.  I would have thought that the puritanical attitudes would have progressed a little bit by then.  I also thought it was interesting that by 1960 (when Mae did The Red Skelton Hour), she was still considered too scandalous, but at the same time, she was a parody of herself.

On the whole though, I enjoyed the documentary.  

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2 minutes ago, speedracer5 said:

I also think it's interesting that what was considered risque in the 20s-30s was still considered racy in the 50s.  I would have thought that the puritanical attitudes would have progressed a little bit by then.  

If anything, it regressed in the US after the Roaring 20's.  The 1950s were one of the most conservative decades.  A similar thing happened in the 1980s.  

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I love Mae West. I thought the documentary was pretty good, although it succumbed to the usual cliche that her movies were tame after the Code. The post-Code Klondike Annie is one of the lewdest of her films, and it was totally misrepresented in the documentary.  Just look at the opening: Mae singing "I'm an Occidental Woman in an Oriental Mood for Love." What do you think the line: "And I feel the thrill of China when I see a yellow Buddha moon above" refers to?, particularly with all those Chinese men leering at her, and her exchanges with Chan Lo? 

And the filmmakers (pretty apt) references to Mae's work with African-American actors ignored Louis Armstrong's wonderful appearance in Every Day's a Holiday.

So, an honourable tribute to the work of the great Mae, but could have been much better.

 

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“Mmm, hi cowboy…how tall are you without your horse?”

Well ma’am, I am six feet seven inches.

Well, never mind about the six feet, let’s talk about the seven inches.”  -Mae West 🌡️

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I enjoyed the documentary. The first part about pre code, vaudeville America was excellent. I think it hit the  important parts of her career. I don't rate shows based on what isn't there, I simply watch what is there and give my opinion of it.

5 hours ago, txfilmfan said:

If anything, it regressed in the US after the Roaring 20's.  The 1950s were one of the most conservative decades.  A similar thing happened in the 1980s.  

I find it fascinating that she actually outlived the production code and was able to at least do a couple of roles the way she wanted them. They weren't great but, I see it the way Ringo did," its Mae West, that's all that matters !"

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