3 out of 5 stars
Per Wikipedia: “West reportedly wrote the original screenplay, with Fields contributing one extended scene set in a bar. Universal decided to give the stars equal screenplay credit, perhaps to avoid the appearance of favoritism, but the move incensed West, who declined to team with Fields afterward. The stars spoofed themselves and the Western genre, with West providing a series of her trademark double entendres. ” I like the way she stood up for her work and didn’t want to share the credit with someone who only wrote one scene.
An interesting side note is that one of the main characters in this movie was an actress named Margaret Hamilton, who you know as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. My husband thinks she is the scariest character EVER.
The movie wasn’t that bad and it had some funny quips but to be honest Mae’s schtick got old kinda quick. W. C. wasn’t funny and obviously attempting to use his comedy to make up for something. Watching the movie got me thinking, who was Mae West? What was her deal? So, I checked this book out of the library.
Mae’s story is quite interesting. She didn’t put up with crap and really had the career she wanted and not what others wanted for her. I bet she was a helluva woman especially for her time. She knew what would sell and how her audiences reacted to her and she gave them what they wanted. She made her own money and was very wealthy.
She was also a very tiny woman and that doesn’t really come through on her films. That’s because she wore platform heels. And by platform, I mean huge platforms. Check these out. Click on the shoes for an interesting article on how she wore them.
She wrote homosexuality and cross-dressing into her scripts. She didn’t appear in movies until she was 40! I think she is the bee’s knees. And PBS does too as there is a new documentary, Dirty Blonde, coming out on her that I learned about today!
In “She Always Knew How,” her wonderful new biography of legendary actress Mae West, acclaimed biographer Charlotte Chandler draws on a series of interviews she conducted with the star just months before her death in 1980. From their first meeting, where West held out a diamond-covered hand in greeting and lamented her interviewer’s lack of jewels, to their farewell, where the star was still gamely offering advice on how to attract men, Mae West and Charlotte Chandler developed a warm rapport that glows on every page of this biography. Actress, playwright, screenwriter, and iconic sex symbol Mae West was born in New York in 1893. She created a scandal — and a sensation — on Broadway with her play Sex in 1926. Convicted of obscenity, she was sentenced to ten days in prison. She went to jail a convict and emerged a star. Her next play, Diamond Lil, was a smash, and she would play the role of Diamond Lil in different variations for virtually her entire film career.
In Hollywood, she played opposite George Raft, Cary Grant (in one of his first starring roles), and W. C. Fields, among others. She was the number one box office attraction during the 1930s and saved Paramount Studios from bankruptcy. Her films included some notorious one-liners — which she wrote herself — that have become part of Hollywood lore: from “too much of a good thing can be wonderful” to “When I’m good, I’m very good. When I’m bad, I’m better.” Her risque remarks got her banned from radio for a dozen years, but behind the clever quips was Mae’s deep desire, decades before the word “feminism” was in the news, to see women treated equally with men. She saw through the double standard of the time that permitted men to do things that women would be ruined for doing.
Her cause was sexual equality, and she was shrewd enough to know that it was perhaps the ultimate battleground, the most difficult cause of all. In addition to her extensive interviews of Mae West, Chandler also spoke with actors and directors who worked with and knew the star, the man with whom she lived for the last twenty-seven years of her life, as well as her closest assistant at the end of her life. Their comments and insights enrich this fascinating book. “She Always Knew How” captures the voice and spirit of this unique actress as no other biography ever has.0