They made two films about Jean Harlowe, two feature films. Judy Garland got a film finally (and Renee Zellweger won an Oscar for plaing her). There were also many TV films about Judy. Marilyn Monroe has had multiple feature films and many TV movies about her -- actresses like Michelle Williams, Ashley Judd, Mira Sorvina, etc. have played Marilyn.
But Mae West?
She was one of the biggest film stars of the 30s and she saved PARAMOUNT from bankruptcy. She came to film from Broadway where she was a huge success and scandal. She knew how to get publicity.
As a film star, she carved a role for women that did not really exist. And there would be no Bette Midler, for example, if Mae had not paved that road.
She wrote her own lines and her own scripts. I'M NO ANGEL, SHE DID HIM WRONG, GOIN' TO TOWN, GO WEST YOUNG MAN, KLONDIKE ANNIE, BELLE OF THE 90S, EVERY DAY'S A HOLIDAY and MY LITTLE CHICKADEE -- those are some of her comic gems and film classics.
Tonight, I watched MAE WEST. It is a TV movie from 1982 and, I believe, it is the only film about Ms. West that has been made.
Ann Jillian gave a great performance -- one nominated for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe. Piper Laurie also deserves praise for playing Matilda West, Mae's mother, and James Brolin and Roddy McDowell also delivered strong performances.
But where is the feature film?
Is Ms. West too threatening even in the 21st century?
It is not as though her life is not interesting. This is a woman who lived on her terms and who did not play the virgin. This is a woman who led an exciting life and achieved tremendous fame. She was pro-gay when the world was homophobic.
How do you not make a film about her?
G MY WAY
This is C.I.'s "The middle finger snapshot:"
but that, in the end, there was
a certain sense of order there;
something worth learning
in that narrow diary of my mind,
in the commonplaces of the asylum
where the cracked mirror
or my own selfish death
And if I tried
to give you something else,
something outside of myself,
you would not know
that the worst of anyone
can be, finally,
an accident of hope.
I tapped my own head;
it was glass, an inverted bowl.
It is a small thing
to rage in your own bowl.
At first it was private.
Then it was more than myself;
it was you, or your house
or your kitchen.
And if you turn away
because there is no lesson here
I will hold my awkward bowl,
with all its cracked stars shining
like a complicated lie,
and fasten a new skin around it
as if I were dressing an orange
or a strange sun.
Not that it was beautiful,
but that I found some order there.
There ought to be something special
in this kind of hope.
This is something I would never find
in a lovelier place, my dear,
although your fear is anyone’s fear,
like an invisible veil between us all…
and sometimes in private,
my kitchen, your kitchen,
my face, your face.
flee on your donkey,
flee this sad hotel,
ride out on some hairy beast,
gallop backward pressing
your buttocks to his withers,
sit to his clumsy gait somehow.
any old way you please!
In this place everyone talks to his own mouth.
That's what it means to be crazy.
Those I loved best died of it—
the fool's disease.