Tag: Mae West

April 6, 2007 / / Film Notes

Even today Mae West would be breaking all the rules. There she is in all her glory in 1933’s She Done Him Wrong: defiant, smart, curvy, and past forty, declaring herself “the finest woman ever to walk the streets” and suggestively yowling her appreciation for “A Guy What Takes His Time” (“I’m a fast moving girl that likes ‘em slow,” she sings with cheerful vulgarity). I came to Mae West already knowing the persona – having already gleaned the distinctive voice and the mannerisms, the outrageous diamond jewelry, and the immortal “Come up and see me sometime” from clips and impersonations – but I still found her brassy presence galvanizing the first time I saw one of her films. In her own time West made a splash with her risqué humor, but even now her brazen onscreen persona and off-screen chutzpah carry more weight than simply that. She’s the anti-ingénue, tough and worldly and unapologetic. She made a career of playing women who took care of themselves, and was one of very few classic era actresses to wield a great deal of control over her own image.