Classic Movie Review: What a Dame: Remember Mae West

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Classic Movie Review by Ellen Bunton

(and her eager assistant, Meatball)


A Regular Monthly Feature

  The first Wednesday of the month.

December 2 2015 


mae west dates




Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, marked the the 35th anniversary of the death of a remarkable woman: Mae West.

Writer, actress, and comedian, Mae was born in Brooklyn on August 17 in 1893 to a German immigrant mother and a prizefighter father.  She made her first stage appearance at the age of five at a church social.

What an ironic debut.

She played in vaudeville and on the Broadway stage long before Hollywood beckoned. She wrote and starred in a play called “SEX” and although the play was a success she was arrested and prosecuted on a morals charge and actually served eight days of a ten-day sentence.




She received two days off for good behavior and, no,  I am not kidding.


She went to Hollywood in 1932 and her movies “She Done Him Wrong” and “I’m No Angel” helped save Paramount Pictures from bankruptcy. When the censors cracked down on movies in the 1930’s she had to depend on double-entendres to circumvent the powers that be.




mae westShe even made it into the dictionary when WW2 troops referred to their PFD’s (Portable Flotation Devices) as “Mae Wests” because, when fully operative,  they resembled a buxom woman.



A lot older than most “sex symbols” of her day, her wit is what probably will be remembered the most. She wrote and delivered some of the most memorable lines in Hollywood history:


“When I’m good I’m very very good, but when I’m bad I’m better.

“I used to be Snow White, but I drifted”


“Good sex is like good bridge. If you don’t have a good partner, you
better have a good hand.”


Mae West was able to avoid the marriage, alcohol, and drug issues many others of her day encountered. I always said she laughed herself all the way to the bank and into Hollywood history.

What a dame!



There are no hints that Lydia Roper was a Mae West, but the search for her is fascinating nonetheless.  For a great read, and a wonderful Christmas present, buy several copies of Looking for Lydia; Looking for God 

Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

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3 Responses to "Classic Movie Review: What a Dame: Remember Mae West"
  1. Dean Robertson says:

    To my classic movie reviewer, Ellen Bunton, thanks for making it happen one more time. I know it’s often a trial, but you’re writing one of the website’s most popular blogs and teaching me a lot I didn’t know about classic movies.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s fun to hear more about the iconic Mae West, she was certainly a character. Thanks, Ellen, I always learn something from your articles about the stars of yesteryear/

  3. Anonymous says:

    Cousin Dean, your Mae West photo and quote put me in mind of Alabama’s own Tallulah Bankhead and my favorite quip of hers: “Daddy always warned me about men and alcohol, but he never said anything about women and cocaine.”

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