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Mae West: Glamour Collection

Mae West , Cary Grant , Alexander Hall , Archie Mayo    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 22.99
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Frequently Bought Together

Mae West: Glamour Collection + The W.C. Fields Comedy Collection: Volume 2 (Poppy/Never Give a Sucker an Even Break/The Old Fashioned Way/You're Telling Me!/Man on the Flying Trapeze)
Price For Both: CDN$ 65.94


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The triumph of personality is beautifully demonstrated in Mae West: The Glamour Collection, a bundle of five comedies featuring the never duplicated (if often imitated) Ms. West. Never altering her insouciant, sexed-up persona, Mae West sashays through these films like a tour guide in a well-lit bordello, cheerfully cracking herself up with a series of perfectly-timed one-liners. Since she wrote her own material, there was no separation between the lady (what a feeble word) and her scandalous dialogue.

If you doubt this, check out Night After Night, her film debut. The first half of the picture is an unremarkable gangster comedy: George Raft in his usual inert form, Constance Cummings the good girl, capable comic support from Roscoe Karns and Alison Skipworth. Then West blowses in, and it's all over. Within a minute she's tossed off an eternal signature line (hatcheck girl: "Goodness, what beautiful diamonds." West: "Goodness had nothin' to do with it, dearie") and disrupted the high-class aims of gangster Raft. The other actors look agog at this unapologetic force of libido. Watching this, you might recall the first time you ever saw Groucho Marx or Bill Murray on film--the movie itself disappears, replaced by gratitude that someone like this exists.

I'm No Angel followed her first starring vehicle (She Done Him Wrong, not included here), and its lunatic plot--Mae as a lion tamer taken up by New York society--does nothing to slow the barrage of sexual innuendo. West hums her way through the film with the kind of confidence that must have inspired countless fans to try something disreputable. Cary Grant is the bemused recipient of West's attention. Goin' to Town is nearly as good, as dance-hall gal Mae inherits an oil fortune, then sets her cap for the haughty Englishman working on her, uh, wells. West's style is undiminished (she was in her mid-forties already), although by this time the Production Code--concocted in part as a horrified response to her first films--was trimming her entendres.

Tamer still is the tongue-in-cheek Go West Young Man, although the spectacle of West (playing a "temperamental" movie star) leering after hunky Randolph Scott is pleasant. My Little Chickadee, made at Universal after her run at Paramount ended, is the legendary pairing with W.C. Fields. It's full of great bon mots from both drawlers, even if the sum is less than its parts. Disapproving Margaret Hamilton tells Fields of West, "I'm afraid I can't say anything good about her." Fields replies, "I can see what's good, tell me the rest." These five films are a good introduction to the rest. Beulah, peel me a grape. --Robert Horton


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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WC Fields Feb. 17 2009
Format:DVD
I consider WC Fields one of the funniest men that ever performed on the 'silver screen'. His comedy plays on the foibles of human nature without resorting to vulgarity, something that many of today's comedians seem to be incapable of. I can't imagine anyone watching a WC Fields movie and not being moved to laughter at least a few times. I thoroughly enjoyed this compilation of his best known films and I heartily recommend it to anyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellente Mae West March 21 2012
By jonas
Format:DVD
Avec sa dégaine de loubarde, ses oeillades appuyées et sa silhouette à l'opposé des canons actuels (mais qui avait fait d'elle un sex-symbole de son temps) Mae West peut paraître démodée. Cependant, intelligente, rouée, à la répartie qui fait mouche, sympathique, Mae symbolise la revanche du petit peuple américain sur les aristocrates anglais d'abord et ceux qui, américains, se prétendent plus ou moins en descendre, celle aussi du vrai bon sens contre les conventions et les "bonnes" manières, enfin l'affirmation de la liberté (de ton, d'allure, de conduite dans la vie) par rapport aux standards figés des années 30.Si on les replace dans leur contexte, la plupart de ses films - dont elle écrit la plupart du temps le scénario et les dialogues - ont extrêmement bien vieilli et apparaissent même si décapants, si originaux qu'ils en deviennent "jouissifs". Ce coffret regroupe cinq de ses films les plus célèbres et permet dans de bonnes conditions techniques (excellents transferts, belle présentation, VO sous titrée français) de se familiariser avec une des figures les plus populaires et les plus originales de l'avant guerre américaine.
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Format:VHS Tape
MY LITTLE CHICKADEE was originally released to mixed reviews, but by the 1970s a revival of interest in both W.C. Fields and Mae West sparked renewed attention to the film--and while it is somewhat uneven and does not give us either actor at their best, this single pairing of two of Hollywood's most legendary comics offers enough amusement to keep us watching right through to the end.
By every account available, Fields and West absolutely loathed each other. After Field's death West went to considerable effort to belittle both Fields and his contribution to this film, insisting that she herself wrote the story and the script and Fields was responsible for his personal material only. Ironically, her claims re this are hardly flattering to her talent, for the great weakness of CHICKADEE is the actual story itself, which is remarkable for its lack of imagination: Flower Belle becomes mixed up with an outlaw and is run out of town--and told she can't return until she can prove she is respectably married. The opportunity to do precisely that arrives in the form Cuthbert J. Twillie, an inept con-man who becomes her dupe.
Although uninspired, the plot does have the benefit of allowing both West and Fields to do their own thing both separately and occasionally together--and when it works, it goes off with a bang. Their meeting on the train, their wedding night, and West's unlikely stint as a schoolmarm (teaching the young about figures, of course) are all hilarious bits, and Margaret Hamilton gets in some good moments in the supporting cast. The film only sinks whenever it returns to the storyline of West and her bandit lover--so all in all, although not the best, it is well worth a watch, particularly for Fields and West fans. Recommended, but don't expect too much.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Sad Relic of Mae, a Fine Example of Fields Dec 20 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Mae West was certainly not your classic beauty, but sauntering into Hollywood at the age of 40 (!) she was somehow very attractive, if more in a "just can't take your eyes off" sort of way than one of genuine good looks. She had a saucy charisma and brash femine confidence that made her age and weight oddly desirable, and within the start of her film career a bonafide sex symbol. But by the time of "My Little Chickadee," at 48, it seems her age has finally caught up to her, and she is reduced to making cheap imitations of herself. The magic and allure is all gone, and though she makes a brave attempt at salvaging a last piece of that brazen bombshell of films like "She Done Him Wrong" and "I'm No Angel," her success is poor. What's more her self-confidence has seemed to become a self-centerdness, and she no longer seems to be acting, but standing alone quoting herself. She no longer really reacts to anyone, but is completely self-contained, as if she was the only actor in the whole picture.
But old age, weight, and wrinkles, the things that most dragged down West, only add to the charm of Fields, who turns in a delightful and suitable performance. For Fields, "My Little Chickadee" only helps to better define his screen presence, and at times he would be very funny. I say "would be." Perhaps it is the admirable struggle and fail of a star who could have nearly retired by the time she was just starting out, but the film has an air of sadness that... well, just isn't funny.
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