Thursday, April 30, 2009

I can see what's good, tell me the rest...

My Little Chickadee is the perfect film to see Mae West playing Mae West. It's also the first film in which I've seen Mae West at all, but she was well represented throughout my childhood in icons ranging from Betty Boop to Jessica Rabbit. I'd always taken those to be caricatures -- greatly exaggerated portrayals of Mae's most famous habits. I was actually surprised at the feeling of déjà vu that I got upon seeing Mae speak those first lines from inside her carriage. I had definitely seen this somewhere before.

Of course, as close as the cartoons I grew up with came to the real thing, nobody can do Mae West like Mae West. The slinky walk, the batting eyelashes, the smokey delivery of each and every line... The actress definitely overshadowed the character, but I can't say I didn't find her fascinating to watch anyway. I tend to be drawn to larger-than-life performers, so I can easily see myself becoming a big fan of Mae.

I found it a bit funny that after the film, Robert Osbourne said Mae West had been angry because she'd been overshadowed by her co-star and co-writer, W.C. Fields. Don't get me wrong, Fields' performance was stellar (and quite a bit more dynamic than Mae's), but my eyes were on her the whole time.

Mae West's Mae West-ness aside, I really enjoyed this movie. The script was witty, although not all of the jokes hold up in the present day. Still, it was a fun film that pitted two great performers against each other. Regardless of what they thought of each other when the cameras weren't rolling, the way they shone together was timeless.

What a charmer!


  1. I watched this on TCM recently, too - and it was the first Mae West movie I saw also. She definitely stole the show! I actually thought WC Fields wasn't funny... I agree with Mae that she should have been starring opposite handsome leading men-- she still looked young and pretty enough. Now I can't wait to see I'm No Angel with her and Cary Grant!

  2. And I just watched my first Mae West movie just two nights ago! Mine was "Night After Night" and I was watching it for my current obsession, George Raft, but Mae West was absolutely fascinating in her scenes. You summed it up perfectly, and there is a weird sort of déjà vu watching her. And larger than life is right. What a fascinating performer she was!!